A Victim Of Current Trends Within The Games Industry
Way back in 2007 the original Crysis was unleashed on the gaming world, a technically impressive first person shooter seemingly light years ahead of it’s nearest rivals. It gained more attention for it’s visuals than it did gameplay but there was no doubt that Crytek were on to something potentially great with Crysis. 2007 also saw the release of Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare which forever changed the first person genre much like Halo, Goldeneye and Doom before it.
Crysis 2 came along sporting a new “console” attitude and ditched much of what made the original stand out, it felt more like a Call of Duty clone with a some Nano suit abilities than it did a sequel to Crysis. Fast forward to 2013 and we’re already on the third game in the series (forth if you count Warhead) which aims to offer the best of both worlds, in many ways it succeeds but in the end Crysis 3 isn’t as great as it could or perhaps should be.
Right off the bat Crysis 3 begins by highlighting it’s impressive visuals, the console version isn’t on par with the PC version but Crysis 3 is still some of the best graphics you’ll see coming out of the PS3 & Xbox 360. That’s not to say that Crysis 3 can’t be faulted, alien design for the Ceph is forgettable and sometimes the vistas look a little bland which is a bit of a far cry (see what I did there) from “destroyed beauty” the game is aiming for. Crysis 3 goes for the kitchen sink approach with it’s visuals but much of the time proves to be a little more than what the ageing PS3 & Xbox 360 can handle. One area I wish Crytek had been more careful with is motion blur, calling it excessive would be putting it nicely.
What’s impressive is that Crysis 3 runs more smoothly on consoles than Crysis 2 did even with the new larger environments. It never turns into a slideshow and even holds up nicely in 3D mode, keep the 3D depth at 50 or less to keep the crosstalk/ghosting at a minimum. The environments initially are pretty small giving you that “nasty Crysis 2″ feeling of being confined to linear paths but the more you play however the more you start to notice the open ended nature of the areas.
You might be wondering what the big deal about open ended areas are and it’s simple, it gives the player more options. The Nano suit is the name of the game when it comes to Crysis, it allows players to became a walking tank or a stealthy predator carefully picking out targets. The problem with Crysis 2 is that due to the nature the closed off environments there was never much opportunity to truly flank the enemy so it instead encouraged everyone to Rambo their way through the game. Crysis 3 isn’t as big as the original Crysis but it’s open enough so that there’s plenty of different ways to progress through the game.
The campaign in Crysis 3 isn’t very long, players can expect to blow through it in under 5 hours on the easier difficulty modes. Playing Crysis 3 on easy and dashing to your next objective defeats the entire purpose of the game, I highly recommend bumping up the difficulty and taking your time to explore areas. The Crysis series is much more enjoyable when taking the stealth approach and given how short the campaign is, it’s obvious which way Crytek would rather have you play.
On paper many are likely to dismiss the Crysis 3 campaign as something of a throw away but it’s far from it. Unlike Crysis 2, the campaign whilst short does not overstay it’s welcome, it ends pretty much once you’ve had enough. The pacing at the start is a little slow but pick ups during the second half, your annoying “Physco” friend will even start to grow on you, if only a little. It’s still not a good story by any means, three Crysis games in and I still don’t really know why the humans are fighting the Ceph alien race. The ending didn’t even make any sense until I spent a little time reading forums, then again it’s not like the games industry is known for satisfying endings.
The biggest fault with Crysis is that the game sounds great when you describe it to someone, a suited up solider with super human powers thanks to the Nano suit holds much promise from a gameplay preceptive. The level design in Crysis 3 seems like a perfect fit for the stealth element of the game, stalking your prey never gets boring. Unfortunately in reality the cloak does not last very long, even worse is that you’ll never truly know how you were spotted in the first place. The stealth element looks great in the trailers but when you’re the one holding the pad, it’s a different story.
What’s great about Crysis 3 is the ability to power up the Nano suit through the game, from extending the length of time you are able to stay cloaked to faster reloading times, it’s all very exciting. Sadly since the campaign is so short, unless you go out of your way, you won’t be making use of any of these therefore the whole concept feels under utilized. In fact the whole Nano suit feels less awesome than it should, you’ll never feel a sense of empowerment the Nano suit SHOULD provide.
I want to punch someone so hard that they go flying right through the nearest object or building, I don’t want to activate armour mode as I run away until my heath regenerates after another failed stealth attempt. I want to be both a walking terminator and a predator, not a solider with some perks.
Sound design in Crysis 3 is generally pretty good, the music hits a few high points but most of the game it’s drowned out by the sound effects. There’s nothing to write home about regarding the sound effects, everything sounds and works as one would expect but it’s not exactly the deafening experience that is Battlefield 3. Voice acting fares better with the cast all providing natural believable performances, if anything sounds stupid it’s down to the writing more than the actors playing the roles.
As with every first person shooter these days, Crysis 3 features a multiplayer component. It’s largely forgettable and even requires players to join EA’s stupid Origin service if they’ve not yet done so. In terms of content it’s basically what you would expect from the typical modern day first person shooter with the extra Nano suit abilities the series is known for. The only mode worth mentioning is Hunter, basically the game select a pair of players to become the Hunters whilst everyone else is a standard soldiers with none of the Nano suit abilities. It’s pretty fun and I personally enjoyed being hunted rather than do the hunting, it feels far more exciting going up against something that can kick your ass.
All in all Crysis 3 is a good first person shooter but it isn’t a great one, at least not in it’s current state. The original Crysis with it’s large open ended environments was great, I loved the sense of wonder and discovery it brought. Everyone hated the latter part of the game where it became linear and alien based, for some stupid reason that’s exactly the direction Crysis 2 decided to go in. Rather than continue building on what they had, Crytek chose to chase the console Call of Duty crowd and we have two sequels that have a hard time topping the original.
Crysis 3 is a bit of a strange game in that it’s chasing the console crowd by attempting to change it’s game design in order to better suit that market. At the same time the game is aiming to continue to set the standard when it comes to visuals which would have you believe that this is a series better suited to the PC crowd. By trying to do both, you’re pissing off the PC crowd by “dumbing down” the game to suit the console market but you’re also pissing off the console crowd by offering up a game that clearly should be played on a high end PC.
At the end of the day Crysis 3 tries to please everyone and instead does neither particularly well meaning no one really wins. When it’s good, Crysis 3 is an awesome game but when it’s not, you can’t help but feel disappointed in the wasted potential. The game assumes console players are stupid and tries to accommodate them by sacrificing it’s game design in the process.
The main problem with Crysis 2 and to a lessor degree Crysis 3 is ironically in it’s title, the games need to decide what they want to be because as it currently stands, the series is suffering from an identity crisis.