‘Crysis 3′ immerses gamer in the story of the ultimate hunter

2.22_Crysis

(Photo courtesy of Crytek)

Released: Feb. 19.

Pitchforks: 4/5

 

What would it feel like to be the ultimate hunter, a being so unstoppable that enemies cower and have nervous breakdowns at the sound of your footsteps?

“Crysis 3,” the sequel to 2011’s critically acclaimed “Crysis 2,” vigorously immerses the gamer into this role with astonishingly gorgeous graphics, near-perfect controls, respectable multiplayer mode and a well-paced, action-packed campaign that is backed by a surprisingly emotional story.

The game continues the adventure of “Crysis 2’s” protagonist, Alcatraz, now code-named Prophet, and his goal of stopping humankind’s eradication.

Once again, most of the story revolves around the Nanosuit, a symbiotic armor that makes its wearer the most versatile weapon imaginable. The Nanosuit delivers a stupendous array of combat possibilities by granting the ability to toggle invisibility, super-human strength, leopard-like bursts of speed and damage mitigation stronger than a M1-Abrams tank, all of which are necessary to survive. However, unlike its predecessors, the plot distinguishes itself in some ways from the spectacle of a Hollywood action movie.

“Crysis 3″ also explores the human aspect of the Nanosuit and the ramifications of losing it through Michael “Psycho” Sykes, a former super soldier from the original “Crysis” who unwillingly had his armor surgically skinned off him by C.E.L.L., which is contracted by the U.S. government to capture the technology.

Interactions between the two protagonists are wonderfully written and articulate each man’s suffering. Prophet struggles because he’s losing ground in his fight for humanity, and Psycho grapples with the reality that he’s no longer an invincible killing machine. Juxtaposed against the ensemble cast, the game smoothly integrates characters from all three games into one pleasantly cohesive tale.

In addition to a more empathetic plotline, “Crysis 3″ improves the series’ already streamlined control scheme. This time around, Prophet is able to modify his Nanosuit and weapons on the fly, even mid-combat, without entering a secondary menu. Furthermore, the Nanosuit’s visor is now able to hack enemy turrets, minefields, door panels and weapon caches. It’s a simple puzzle of matching a wavelength with its proper frequency, but some of the hacks are incredibly challenging and time consuming. Overall, it’s a neat addition: Watching enemies flee from their own turret never gets old.

However, the best new addition is the over-powered Hunter bow, a futuristic take on an ancient weapon. The bow fires four different arrows: armor piercing, electric, thermite-tipped and one that acts like a frag grenade. Thanks to Prophet’s inhuman strength, arrows kill nearly every enemy in one hit for the first five hours out of an eight-hour campaign. Watching enemies freak out after you have silently eliminated their entire squad with the bow is priceless. It excellently embodies the idea of a powerful hunter.

But despite a few nifty innovations and a better story, “Crysis 3″ isn’t quite good enough to surpass its predecessors.

“Crysis 2″ is one of the best shooters I’ve played in the last five years. Its astonishingly excellent graphics, intelligent enemies, combat fluidity and addictive multiplayer helped it soar above many others. But instead of expanding and innovating what worked extremely well in “Crysis” and “Crysis 2,” developer Crytek dumbed down some of the series’ greatest qualities.

Enemy intelligence in “Crysis 2″ is one of the game’s best attributes. In it, every enemy unit works together by quickly seeking cover and aggressively flanking for disastrous coordinated assaults. Sadly, the AI feels disturbingly unintelligent in “Crysis 3,” even on the hardest difficulty.

They ignore environmental clues to where Prophet is hiding, such as moving grass or thrown objects, randomly chuck frag and EMP grenades instead of flanking and wander off alone to painfully die much more than is necessary. Although the firefights can be challenging, the stupidity of the soldiers makes picking off entire squads far too easy. Sadly enough, the numerous turrets scattered around the surreal landscape are often more of a deadly hassle than human or Ceph combatants.

Despite the campaign being much more immersible, it’s also about four hours shorter and includes a ridiculous amount of invisible walls. In some ways, “Crysis 3″ blends the sandbox environment of “Crysis” with its sequel’s open-linear model, but in others, the game is more restrictive than ever about exploration. Ledges Prophet should easily be able to grab and mantle are unreachable; he falls short when lunging between buildings and hits his head on an invisible ceiling when trying to scale rubble.

The Crysis franchise is known for giving players the opportunities to engage combat as they see fit, be it with a sniper rifle from a ruined skyscraper or by ramming a knife through a C.E.L.L. soldier’s throat. The environment has always been Prophet’s playground. Some levels capture this feeling of immense power better than ever, but the rest fall short of seizing the exploratory possibilities.

It feels like the quick, two-year turnaround pushed Crytek to ship a game that has a few negative irregularities when compared with its past work.

The multiplayer of “Crysis 3″ is superior in several ways to that of “Crysis 2,” but it fails to address already established problems regarding overpowered invisibility and unbalanced weapons. All of the previous playlists are back, and a few new options are present, the best of which is Hunter. This mode is similar to the flood playlist, in “Halo 4,” where two players begin cloaked in Nanosuits wielding bows and track down the opposing team of C.E.L.L. operatives. After a hunter kills an operative, the deceased respawns as a hunter. Rinse and repeat until the time runs out, or everyone is a hunter. It’s simple but fun.

Overall, “Crysis 3″ is a great addition to the franchise’s library. Although it succumbs to setbacks in some areas, it excels in others and is definitely a worthwhile adventure.

 

Reach the reporter at tdmcknig@asu.edu