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Crysis 3 is nice to look at, hollow on the inside

The Crysis series is a graphical fashion show. Before anyone asks I did not play this game on PC. I have neither the time nor the cash to build a computer for the sole purpose of playing games that have “pretty graphics;” opting instead for the visually downgraded console version on Xbox 360.

Picking up around 24 years after the events of Crysis 2, Crysis 3 is once again set in New York City, or at least what’s left of it. We are placed in the shoes of Prophet, a special forces soldier who killed himself at the beginning of Crysis 2. His memories were stored in the Nanosuit he was using, and somehow assumed control of the body of Alcatraz, the protagonist of Crysis 2.

The aliens known as Cephs have mostly been defeated, but now the CELL Corporation, the makers of the Nanosuits, have used the Ceph technology to conquer the world. Now it’s up to Prophet to stop CELL from awakening the Alpha Ceph, the leader of the Ceph who he learned about through visions.

In retrospect, the Crysis series has never really been known for having good writing. Without a probable explanation, do they seriously expect us to believe that the stored memories of a dead guy can just automatically take control of another person’s mind?

What’s interesting about Crysis 3 is that while its plot is a bit dumb, the dialogue and character development are decent, such as the chemistry between Prophet and his former comrade Psycho.

The character Psycho, in particular, has an interesting character arc; he started out in the first game as a super soldier and an adrenaline junkie, who became addicted to the powers of the Nanosuit. At the start of Crysis 3 he is angered when it is stripped from him, but is ultimately able to cope with the loss and becomes stronger as a result. And Prophet actually speaks in this one, unlike Alcatraz, who never made as much as a peep.

Crysis 3 isn’t breaking any walls in the gameplay innovation department. It works well and can be fun when large numbers of opponents swarm your position.

Screen shot of Prophet on a hunt, provided by Electronic Arts Inc.
Screen shot of Prophet on a hunt, provided by Electronic Arts Inc.

Your Nanosuit has three basic abilities: cloak, maximum armor, and agility. Cloak turns you invisible, allowing you to sneak around for a period time, but since the level design has very linear paths there aren’t many opportunities for stealthy maneuvering or exploration like in Crysis 1 where you had expansive environments.

Maximum armor temporarily makes you invulnerable to bullets and explosions, turning you into a walking tank; unless you’re facing more than three enemies at time, at which point these engagements will sap your suit’s energy and have you cowering in the corner waiting for it to regenerate. Agility, or what could just as well be called parkour mode, allows you to sprint, slide, and jump at higher speeds and heights.

The game is a bit of a cakewalk, because the enemies are comprised almost entirely of morons that run around spraying and praying ‘till they hit something. Most of the time you can just cloak and sprint your way through the majority of the level.

The only new addition to the gameplay is a compound bow that, unlike normal weapons, can be fired while cloaked, but since you can get stealthy kills by equipping a silencer on any of your guns, the bow wasn’t of much use.

Really, more gameplay seems to have been taken away with each new installment. Crysis 1 had an interesting anti-gravity section and fun vehicle sections, including the chance to pilot a helicopter. Crysis 2 still had several vehicle sections but not much else, and now Crysis 3 has been boiled down to only two short vehicle sections and one turret section.

The Crysis series is enjoyable, but it seems it’s slowly being dumbed down in the name of Crysis’s all-powerful CryEngine 3 — the graphics engine that PC gamers spend a small fortune on a supercomputer on which to run the game on minimum settings.

Crysis 3, as all the other installments, looks graphically impressive even on console, but does it really matter so much that for the first time a game character’s foot can cause tiny blades of grass to move with it? What’s the point if the gameplay is average and the campaign only takes five hours to complete?

Crysis 3 is ultimately a pretty, yet lackluster experience. Not to mention a Hot Pocket could be microwaved in the time it takes to complete the game.

3 out of 5

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