|System: Xbox 360*, PS3, PC|
|Release: February 19, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Strong Language, Violence|
by Robert VerBruggen
Crysis 3 isn't just any video game. On consoles, it's a swansong for the current generation, and on PCs, it's a showcase of what games will look like a year or two from now. Of course, there's a lot more than graphics to any Crysis game, but what's most striking here is how Crysis 3 shows the way forward on a purely technical level.
Crytek's CEO has said Crysis 3 "maxes out" the hardware capabilities of the current consoles. I played on the Xbox 360, and it shows—this is perhaps the best-looking game the console has seen. The cutscenes and facial animations in particular look amazing. Occasionally the word "photorealistic" even comes to mind. And somehow, the game fits on a single disc and doesn't take forever to load, even without hard-drive installation. This is what a decade of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 development has been leading up to. It almost certainly will not get any better than this.
But to someone who's played high-end PC games over the last few years, even Crysis 3 is lacking on consoles. The minor flaws all seem to burst out of the screen: the textures that could be just a little more detailed, the slightly imperfect anti-aliasing that seems to make objects twinkle around the edges, the same foliage pop-in that plagued the original Crysis. It turns out that maxing out current consoles just isn't enough—they're too old and too weak to pump out graphics that please the modern eye. It's been almost eight freaking years since the Xbox 360 came out, after all.
If you want to experience Crysis 3 in all its glory, you'll have to either buy it on PC or wait for a re-release during the next generation. Of course, if you play it on PC today, it will cost you—the system requirements are so high that only a powerful system with DirectX11 will support it, and maxing out the settings will require top-of-the-line components. It might not be worth a few grand to you to see tomorrow's graphics today. But if you can afford it and love having the latest technology, that's the way to go.
Okay, enough about the graphics—despite all the well-deserved hype about them, we shouldn't forget there's an actual game under there. When you strip away the fancy visuals, Crysis 3 is a fitting end to the trilogy, nothing less, and a little bit more. Two decades have passed since the events of Crysis 2, and the Prophet has returned—along with his sidekick Psycho, who’s lost his Nanosuit—to do battle with CELL and the Ceph again. New York has been turned into a “Nanodome” with seven different natural environments, and it's time to kill some stuff.
As pedestrian as the Crysis storyline is (Alien attack! New York City destroyed! Evil corporate military faction!), the games have always played a little differently than your standard FPS. Crysis manages to do what smaller-budget projects like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and ARMA could only attempt—it gives players a huge map and lets them approach each situation any way they want, and yet it doesn't become frustrating. The accessibility is thanks to the Nanosuit, a handy explanation for all the unrealistic features players have access to, from rechargeable health and shields to a ridiculous jumping height. And, of course, a cloaking device makes stealth play a lot easier.
This basic gameplay has been tweaked rather than overhauled for this third installment. It's easier to tag enemies from your visor so you can keep track of them, and there's a bow-and-arrow setup that's useful (but hardly necessary) for silent sniping. Also, there's a fairly elaborate upgrade system; you can equip several perks at a time and put together sets of them that work best for various situations. The most dramatic addition is vehicles—but the less said about them and their ridiculous handling, the better.
Otherwise, Crysis 3 is the same game we've loved for years. For each set of enemies, you take a look at the situation, decide how to approach, and consider handling secondary objectives for various bonuses. You might choose to sneak around and minimize your killing. You might try to stealth-kill everything in sight, though I found it difficult not to be seen while doing this. Or, you might just open fire on everything and deal with the consequences—which will include batches of reinforcements and very intense A.I. tactics.
Essentially, Crysis 3, like its predecessors, will do whatever you want it to do: It can provide a series of complicated stealth puzzles, or it can just throw groups of bad guys at you so you can mow them down and cackle demonically. And, of course, it can also do a little bit of both. My usual approach is to employ a mixture of stealth and open conflict, and I flee the scene if things get too hot.