There is a reason why our Crysis 3 review is a touch late: we weren’t happy putting pen to paper before we had set eyes on the PC version of the game. It took a little longer, but we've finally had the game ticking along on our rig for a few days now.
As you might have expected, it is incredibly impressive. On the right system, Crysis 3 is going to make those PS4 demos look like old news. What is even more amazing, however, is just what the game manages to do on consoles. We have no idea what sort of dark art Crysis 3’s developers worked to get it looking as slick as it does on the Xbox, but it is jaw-dropping.
We will talk about all the graphical flourishes later, first on to gameplay and the beginning of the problems we have with Crysis 3. In a nutshell, take away the bow and arrow and it is very much the same game as Crysis 2.
The nanosuit does the same things, bar an upgrade system, guns from the last game return and you lay waste to quantities of human and alien soldiers alike. Really then, Crysis 3 is more like Crysis 2.5. It just doesn’t move progress along in the way the sequel to the original did.
You return to your role as Prophet, a nanosuit-wearing supersoldier who is capable of incredible strength, invisibility and even deflecting bullets. Prophet is a lone ranger character, unleashed on the world to hunt out man and machine, wrecking everything in his path while stopping the crazies of this world from trying to put an end to things.
The story in Crysis 3 isn’t hugely gripping. It continues from the fairly convoluted madness of the end of Crysis 2. In that game, you play as a character who you believe to be Prophet, but who turns out to be someone called Alcatraz and then eventually becomes Prophet in the end.
New York, the city in which you fight during the second game, has now been transformed into an overgrown wilderness. The majority of the alien enemies from the second are now replaced by elite soldiers.
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In all honesty, none of this really matters. Crysis is about tearing things up, it is about feeling super-powered and smashing and shooting as much as possible. You can go the stealth route when you really need to, but this is a game best played with cut scenes skipped and the shooting ramped up to 11.
While it lasts, it's fantastic. A combination of graphics, slick and balanced gunplay and varied environments that make you think about what plan of attack to take, all work together to make a great shooter. Sadly though Crysis 3 gives you just five or six hours of this gameplay to enjoy, which is short at best.
The game is also deceptively linear. It opens with a Call of Duty-style boat fight sequence, with you following around Psycho from the first game, who has now lost his nanosuit. This then turns into the jungle-filled sprawl of New York, for a brief moment, until you are led along again by Psycho. Rinse and repeat.
It is really frustrating because clearly the play area is incredible. New York is massive and looks stunning, so why has Crytek forced us into so many bottlenecks? We imagine it is to save on development time, but then don’t quote us.
Crysis 3 can be viewed in two respects: as a game or as a technical exercise. This is the F1 car of PC games, and fans of graphics cards and clock speeds are going to enjoy it.
We ran the game on a quad-core i7 rig with a Nvidia GTX 580. It managed to run the whole lot on very high settings, with the anti-aliasing turned way down. It looks utterly mind-blowing at times, but inexplicable frame rate drops ruin things.
Optimisation seems a touch off to us and without getting bogged down in geek terms, any form of particle effects or dramatic shifts in lighting seem to kick the frame rate right down, before it jumps back up again.
Leave the whole lot on medium and everything chugs along nicely, but its irritating to see the potential the game has to run and for things to slow down rather inexplicably. Once again, a Crysis game is almost incapable of running on full resolution in even a high-end rig.
On the Xbox, Crysis 3 does understandably take quite a major hit in the appearance department. This is all forgivable when you think how old the Xbox 360 is. Anyone who thinks that current-gen consoles are on their last legs, fire this up and prove yourself wrong.
So from a technical point of view Crysis 3 is outstanding, when it runs smoothly. In this respect, the game is perfect for the PC gamer with a serious system who wants to show things off. You will play through it just to see how it looks.
Crysis 3 has multiplayer, but we aren’t hugely fussed about it. If you want a console-based shooter for the multiplayer, then Black Ops 2 has that well and truly covered.
The fun of invisibility is still here, as is the ability to jump several feet into the air and smash down on the heads of your enemies, but really little is moved forward in terms of gameplay. Gun upgrades on the fly are a nice touch and the new "hunter" mode - which pits cell guards against a single nanosuited player - is fun. Really though, multiplayer just isn’t that persuasive a package.
Crysis 3 is more of a tech demo than anything else. The storyline isn't really a great reason to play it and the campaign is short enough that you don't really get your value for money.
What this is, is a game for you to show off your hardware. It's all about who has the best PC, but right now, thanks to some poor optimisation, no one looks likely to get the most from Crysis 3.
Naturally, most of this will get itself patched, and when it does, this is going to be one hell of a graphical show. The choice is yours: spend your money and show off or save some cash and opt for Far Cry 3, which looks almost just as good and plays a whole lot better.