Crysis 3 sorta begins where Crysis 2 left off, with New York in trouble. This time the CELL corporation has incapacitated the city and pretty much kept the world out. As CELL has collected so much profit over the years with massive amounts of energy for it to sale (or barter for slavery), it's in their best interest to keep it safe and guarded. That's where Prophet steps into the light. Hell bent on stopping the CELL at all cost, and fighting visions of a doomed future for the planet Earth, Prophet wants to bring down the entire organization as quickly as possible. Helped by longtime friend Psycho, he looks to do just that.
I'm always appreciative of a good story in games. Crytek hits another home run with the story elements for the latest Crysis 3. They seem to bring a strong sense of consistency from game to game, which is impressive on so many levels considering how rare a good story is in the video game world these days. Even though the campaign is roughly 6-8 hours of non-stop gameplay, it's still nice to see a developer give a damn about an experience. So, if you're going into Crysis 3 wanting to continue Prophet's adventure from the last two games then you won't be disappointed by what Crytek delivers. They seem to take the BBC route for storytelling and stop the story when the story needs to be stopped. It's easy to stretch out a game to fit in more hours, but sometimes you have to shorten its lifespan to get it 'just right'.
Does that give it a pass for the small amount of hours? Maybe it does. If you walk away from it satisfied with what you experienced then maybe it's just the right amount. For hardcore minute counters out there, you will probably feel cheated a bit. With that said, turn to your shelf right now and check out what you own. Do you own Battlefield 3? Call of Duty: (pick one)? Well, if you're in love with those games then you have no reason to bitch about Crysis 3. Those titles give you roughly the same amount of campaign time with half the amount of story attached (though, I do have to give Black Ops II props for a strong tale). Anyway, campaigns in the first-person shooter genre usually don't last beyond the eight hour mark these days. This isn't an uncanny occurrence, rather it's a common one. It's the way it's going these days and most gamers know this. Again, if you like those games then you have no right to bitch about the time it takes to complete Crysis 3. It's a perfect amount of time for the appropriate amount of story. I'm a huge movie buff, so I can identify a good story when I see one, and Crysis 3 is a fun story that fits perfectly in the overall equation of the Crysis series.
With that great issue out of the way let's get down to the nitty-gritty; gameplay. The initial gameplay has improved in Crysis 3. You still get the same type of control scheme that you're familiar with in the series, but it still brings some new elements as well. The weapon upgrade system has been simplified greatly, as has the hub. When you need to switch between ammo type or add/subtract elements to particular weapons, you're a 'select' button away from it and then a tap of another button (X, triangle, etc.) to quickly scroll through your choices. It's surprisingly easy and, more importantly, fast to navigate. I'm not saying that you're not going to be jarred a bit during the learning process, but by the end of the game you're going to thank your lucky stars that Crytek did it this way. It's a natural fit to an already fast game.
Another improvement to the gameplay, and something that is damn simple if you have great reflexes, is the ability to hack computer equipment. Hacking equipment is basically matching up a square icon in a particular zone of the screen. For example, if you were to hack a door in Crysis 3, the screen changes to an audio waveform that has certain spots (above and below) that the player must get a vertically moving icon to matchup in. In hindsight, it's an incredibly easy way to do things (the worst hacking you'll run into during the game is when the speed of the vertically moving square is upped considerably --- and it's still no biggie). Much like the loadout screen improvement, Crytek clearly had 'constant flow' in mind when it came to gameplay elements and gameplay flow. Nothing seems to stop the campaign's story from continually moving forward. That could be why people are complaining about how quick the campaign is when they play it. Every element of the single-player experience is fast, which makes for a quick run through.
One of the bigger elements, and something that was widely smiled upon (and a little frowned) was the inclusion of the bow and arrow. To be honest, I wasn't too thrilled by the Predator Bow announcement. There have been plenty of games out there that have featured a bow and arrow, but none were thrilling. Hell, I hate using one in Castle Crashers, and that game is super simple when it comes to firing the weapon. I never dreamed that arming Prophet with a B&A would prove entertaining. Let me just say that it's fun as hell to use that sucker. Using it cloaked and from a distance is a blast. It's so much fun, in fact that I was deeply saddened by the lack of ammunition for it. I found that to be a real pain in the butt, but I understood the 'resident evil' scarce ammunition element to the game.
Still, I smiled big time when I happened upon ammo for it, as it truly is that much fun. Who would have thunk?
Shifting gears just a bit, if you haven't seen the PC version of this game (and if you haven't seen the Killzone: Shadow Fall demo) then you will fall in love with the console version's looks. Truly it's impressive to see how much depth and detail that Crytek went into to make this game simply stunning. The environments are vastly improved with Crysis 3 in comparison to the previous titles. You have more of a sandbox feel to this, as you can travel outside of the linear path to discover hidden (and sometimes useless) landscapes that you possibly didn't see before. For example, in one mission where you have to blow up a certain CELL facility (which I won't go into incredible detail about). You get to parade around the busted streets of New York, which have become nothing short of a jungle. The area you have to infiltrate is at the end of a long winding road of deep jungles, which can be explored thoroughly. Picture the giant cityscape of Crysis 2 and then multiple that by at least 3-4. It's very impressive on a horizontal level. Of course, the game is also epic on a vertical level as well. The vertical depth of this layout is also quite nice on the eyes, as you can jump up to broken building areas, cliffs and multiple stories. If you can see something that looks close and jump-able, then you might try it to see if you can access it. Virtually nothing is off limits.
With all this gushing aside, you will catch the textures in the game rendering themselves in-between levels. It's not a huge deal because five seconds after being plain they are rendered and all the details show up. If you played the game RAGE (I hope you did) then you understand what this means. RAGE had the same problem because of how much detail that iD Software applied to the game. You probably won't see this on a high-end PC, but you're definitely going to see it on the consoles. I would say the PS3's lack of RAM probably contributed to this happening. I would give my left (bleep) to see this game run on a PS4 or the Durango. I bet you there wouldn't be any rendering necessary (le sigh, why can't Fall 2013 be here).
With that said, the visuals are just simply extraordinary. Much like the Crysis games before, you get one of the best looking and immersive visual experiences that you can find on this generation of consoles. Prepare your mouth with a drool bucket.
On the audio side of things, expect one of the strongest soundtracks to grace the series. Borislav Slavov one-upped Hans Zimmer in my opinion. Enjoy it with bass WAY up.
So what else do you want from Crysis 3? Well, how about a multiplayer option? While I know that Crytek was just getting their feet wet with Crysis 2's MP, they have vastly improved the scope and depth of this mode. Taking a page out of CoD's MP, they prepared some extensive loadout features that will keep you mix and matching for months. They've got a wonderfully quick 'promotion' system that encourages the players to get better and better; rewarding with a lot and asking for so little in return. Having that really balanced upgrade curve with MP is vital and Crysis 3 does a good job with it.
As for modes, you get your standard deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flags (or beacons) type of gameplay. One mode in particular called 'Hunter' really does stand out from the rest, as you have two players in stealth hunting down CELL operatives who are trying to evacuate from the area. It's a strong mode, but not for the weak of heart. All in all, Crytek does a strong job of bringing fun modes, but there isn't much you haven't seen before from games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II or Battlefield 3. Unlike other FPS developers these days, Crytek seems to want a stronger single-player experience rather than a deep MP immersion. Again, that doesn't mean they skimped on the MP side of the game, but you can clearly see what they wanted out of the entire package the most. You MP nuts will still love what it has to offer, but you won't be giving up your CoD anytime soon to replace it with Crysis 3.