Set in New York 2047 (25 years after Crysis 2), Crysis 3 sees the return of Prophet, the Nanosuit soldier on a quest to rediscover his humanity and crush the mysterious CELL Corporation and Ceph alien threat as well. Decades of war has taken its toll on the once-great city of New York, which has been encased in a nanodome, known as the Liberty Dome, by CELL, in the hope of quarantining the last remnants of the Ceph. Inside the dome, the practically uninhabited city has now become an urban jungle, teeming with plant life, overgrown trees, dense swamplands and raging rivers.
Early on Prophet meets up with his former squadmate Psycho, and through him is introduced to the resistance, a force fighting against the CELL Corporationís unsavoury business practices, which includes slavery. The resistance believes the Ceph are all but eliminated and CELL is the real threat, but Prophet knows they have that bass ackwards. And so itís up to him - and the Nanosuit Ė to take down both CELL and the Ceph, and maybe save the world in the process.
If you fancy taking a stealthy approach then all you need do is turn on the suits cloaking ability. With this on Prophet is all but invisible, allowing him to stealthily dispatch enemies, or sneak past them if youíre feeling like a pacifist. If you prefer to meet your enemies head-on (or if youíve been caught stealthing) simply turn on your armour, which reduces the damage taken significantly. Both of these abilities burn through suit energy (which replenishes when neither ability is active) though, so youíll need to use them judiciously.
The suitsí Tactical Visor helps you make the best use of your abilities, allowing you to scout your enemies and the surrounding areas before engaging in battle. The visor can see through solid objects, allowing you to spot and tag enemies, as well as other things of interest such as ammo crates and intel files. Once an enemy has been tagged their icon remains visible once the visor has been closed, allowing you to track them with your cloak or armour turned on.
The Tactical Visor can also decrypt, i.e. hack, most secure systems you come across. There are a bunch of hack-able objects around including sentry turrets (which turn on your enemies when hacked), land mines (which are disabled) and security panels. Hacking something involves a minigame where you press the square button as a wavelength hits the sweet spot indicated on-screen.
Throughout missions youíre tasked with primary and secondary objectives. These show up at the top of the screen when you first receive them, and are then displayed on-screen as waypoints for you to reach. Making it to a primary objective waypoint advances the story, while secondary objectives are entirely optional, but often have handy items, such as Nano Modules (used to upgrade the Nanosuit) and ammo lying around to make completing them worth the effort.
Speaking of Nano Modules, there are a bunch of them to be found throughout the game. Upgrading the suit requires 1-3 Nano Modules, with better upgrades obviously cost more modules. For example one module might grant you increased sprint time, or a radar upgrade, while three modules will give you stronger melee attacks. Each upgrade can be further enhanced by completing tasks listed on the upgrade page. For example the Assassin upgrade, which grants 25% faster stealth kills, will be enhanced to make stealth kills 50% faster once you perform 25 stealth kills with the Assassin upgrade equipped.
So yeah, the Nanosuit is one impressive piece of equipment, but letís not forget that Prophet needs weapons if heís to take down CELL and the Ceph. There are stacks of weapons in the game, ranging from handguns to rifles to Ceph weapons (stolen from their cold, dead hands). Prophet can carry five weapons at a time Ė a standard gun, a special gun, explosives (including a rocket-launcher), grenades and the all-new Predator bow.
The Predator bow isnít the only weapon that can shoot multiple ammo types - some other advanced weapons can as well. Many weapons also have multiple attachments, changing the way in which theyíre used. For example you might add a scope to a weapon to take down distant enemies, or add a silencer so that youíre harder to detect. Changing ammunition and attachments can be done on the fly by holding down the select button, but time doesnít stop while youíre doing it, so itís best to change in between battles, rather than during a firefight.
The campaign definitely favours a measured approach to combat, using the visor to plan your attacks, and finding a balance between stealth and force. The multiplayer changes that completely, emphasizing all-out action for the most part. There are twelve different multiplayer modes to play, including the now standard deathmatch and capture the flag modes.
The most unique mode is undoubtedly Hunter, which pits two invisible CELL hunters against up to ten resistance fighters. The hunters have just two minutes to track down and kill all resistance fighters, but the twist here is that every resistance member killed is respawned as a hunter. As a member of the resistance youíre only warning that a hunter is nearby is a proximity alarm that gets faster and faster the closer the hunters get. Itís an adrenaline-filled mode, and is the one most likely to draw you back. You earn XP for your performance in all game modes, and as per usual leveling-up unlocks new character classes and upgrades.
Speaking of intel files, one thing I found annoying is the information within the files often outstrips the main story. If you take the time to read the files as you find them youíll spoil some of the bigger plot twists, and itís annoying that Prophet reacts like the information is new when you get to the next cut-scene. The vehicle sections are lackluster too, though there arenít many of them (which is another disappointment). Finally, the mini-map could use a bit more function, indicating when enemies are higher or lower than your location. You can suss that out with the visor, but it would be much quicker if the map showed you.
One area where Crysis 3 excels is in the visual department. Crytekís CryEngine 3 engine is a beast, offering top notch visuals while being free of technical hitches such as screen-tearing or slow-down. The opening scene, which sees you on a boat in terrible weather, with rain bucketing down, sets the bar high, but that standard is kept throughout the game. Walking through long grass, wary of ambushes but unable to see them on account of the grass is another exciting experience. It wasnít until much later in the game that the standard slipped a little, and even then it was only because many of the visible buildings are at the edge of the draw distance, and thus lack much detail.
The music, voice-acting and sound effects all do an excellent job of bringing tension and atmosphere to proceedings. Often youíll find yourself on the edge of your seat, or with your heart pumping, and that has a lot to do with the sound. Surround sound is used to great effect as well, with enemies giving away their location through clicking sounds, or their footfalls. A cranking stereo (or quality headphones) will add much to your aural experience with Crysis 3.
The voice-acting initially seemed over the top to me, particularly Prophet, but before long the characters had drawn me into the story better than I expected they could. Psychoís performance is a standout for me Ė you can almost feel his passion and pain when he talks (or yells, which seems to be his default setting). Thereís plenty of swearing in the game, but most of it feels natural enough.
Outside of a few small niggles I really enjoyed my time with Crysis 3. Itís technically excellent, particularly in the visual department, and being able to switch between stealth and aggression with the push of a button is a lot of fun. The biggest problem facing Crysis 3 is its length and the lack of reasons to replay the game. The multiplayer offering is ok but, outside of the Hunter mode, thereís not a whole lot new or exciting here. If the short length doesnít put you off then Crysis 3 will be a worthy addition to your collection.
Review By: Mike Allison