I only recently jumped aboard the Crysis bandwagon last year when I picked up the second instalment for an outrageously unexpected price of $5 at the local Mom & Pop used game store and quite honestly, I was impressed. I never usually get lucky with impulse game purchases; I wanted to try something new and didn't have the time to actually look around as much as I would have liked. I saw Crysis 2 on the shelf, remembered a few videos I watched earlier in the year and picked it up. I was almost literally blown away - cinematic action that felt different than other games of its genre, stellar visuals and undeniably fun gameplay. Naturally, when Crysis 3 hit the stores, it was almost irresistible. Now, I wish I could have resisted.
Crysis 2 takes place in 2023, three years after the events of the first game, in a destroyed New York City which has since been evacuated due to alien infestation. The game begins with news footage of a large outbreak of the "Manhattan" virus, a gruesome disease that causes complete cellular breakdown, civil unrest and panic about an alien invasion by the Ceph: the tentacled, squid-like alien race behind the incident of the previous game, Crysis. Manhattan is placed under martial law, and under contract from the US Department of Defense, soldiers from Crynet Enforcement & Local Logistics (or simply "CELL"), a private military contractor run by the Crynet corporation, police the chaos.
As expected, Crytek [arguably] successfully blends the most stand-out elements of the original Crysis and it's immediate successor and throws in a few new features, updated graphics and thus Crysis 3 was born. However, one has to wonder exactly how much thought was put into that concoction. When you look back on the original Crysis game released in 2007 and compare it to the sequel released in 2011, you'll notice a disappointing activity: condensation. In Crysis 2, the vast and free-roam jungle of the original game was ditched for the restrictive roads of a post-apocalyptic New York. Of course there were some choices in terms of going left or right, but it was much more linear than the previous game and the AI seemed to have been downgraded. Crysis 3 exceeds some of these markers in some ways, but pales in comparison in others - and to some, the more important elements.
Crysis 3 does players a favour and takes the war-worn New York City landscape and made it reminiscent to the original Crysis. Vegetation has ripped the city apart, and combined with the mighty skyscrapers this mostly feels like a natural foundation and a nice little homage to the classic game. Let's not forget what Crytek does right: visuals. The game is undeniably beautiful - everything is wonderfully rendered and something players have come to expect in this generation of gaming. The scenery provides the feeling of decay and so much so that it feels almost dystopian and peaceful - in a futuristic world, you forget that foliage actually exists. Rays of light shine through tree branches and forest creatures skitter about and when you think about it, all that's left of New York is just the remains of the previous civilization. Visuals are well done, especially in the faces of the characters you encounter. They're about on the same level of Far Cry 3 but with better lip-syncing and facial animation.
I don't wish to nitpick or make insults, but I've seen better artificial intelligence on Playstation 2 video games and that's horribly disappointing. Crysis 3 features enemies that seem to be more passive than aggressive - even on the highest difficulty settings - and their tactics and methodologies are questionable. Feeling somehow overwhelmed even with these marshmallow enemies? Just activate your stealth suit and run a few feet away from your opponents. Your melee attacks are still just as brutal as Crysis 2...even when the enemy sees you coming.
You can upgrade yourself to turn the protagonist into a stealthier, faster and deadlier man/machine/manchine. Ammunition is plentiful unlike in Crysis 2 where you'd often find yourself at an impasse. However, while overall combat is seemingly lacking, your arsenal - thankfully - is not. The game provides a steady stream of new and entertaining ways to shoot those bastards dead, from a compound bow with secondary explosive arrows to experimental rifles that seem somewhat out of place. The vast array of weapons will prevent you from holding onto the same one for long but there are a few you'll find yourself continually avoiding such as shotguns; you'll rarely get the opportunity to use one effectively.
Multiplayer has jumped on the bandwagon and now offers the familiar model of experience point unlocks. As a common staple in games of this genre, you'll earn a little XP at a time from killing your enemies and earn chunks of it for completing in-game challenges. You know, "Get 10 kills with the shotgun in one round." Not exactly new, innovative or enticing. You can also unlock abilities as well as equipment, deepening your specialization as a sniper, scout, heavy gunner or an agent of stealth.
I'm not big on multiplayer as it is and needless to say, the multiplayer in Crysis 3 did not hold my attention for more than two matches. There was nothing I hadn't seen before and most of which are things I do not enjoy in multiplayer components.
Overall, the game is fun. There's gorgeous visuals, a mildly interesting story and entertaining gameplay. However, that is not enough in this day and age to distinguish between worth buying and worth trying. Quite frankly, I could have lived my life without experiencing Crysis 3. Nothing truly stood out aside from the graphics and the unforgivably short campaign was not worth the $60 price tag.
I take this as a learning experience: don't judge a sequel based on its predecessor.