Crysis has always been the game to test a new PC's technical prowess. If Crysis doesn’t perform well, you have no right to brag about your specs, past achievements or how big and black it is. One game defines your machine.
Then it all sort of fell away with Crysis 2. The lacklustre sequel was more intent on making money in the lucrative console market than developing an industry-leading PC game. It was flavourless and I’m really struggling to remember anything of note about it.
Crysis 3 is returning to the PC domain. If you’re not playing on PC, you’re doing it wrong. At least, from a technical standpoint.
The PC build during a 20-minute hands-on session looked amazing, bordering on next generation, with grass rustling in a gentle breeze and glimmers of light shinning awkwardly through cracks in a decayed wall that provided makeshift cover. The gameplay in such a short demonstration was fairly restrictive, but gave a decent overview of what we can expect.
I accidentally shot a big red barrel which triggered an explosion on a preciously hanging bus and sent me into a frenzied panic.
Moving through a confined but expansive level (pictured above), I employed my natural FPS strategy: kill everything. I thought it was going well until a turret unleashed fired, pinning me down while other hostiles either flanked or spawned behind me.
Either way, the results were catastrophic.
After trying another three times, it suddenly dawned on me that Crysis was once a stealth game. Using the visor to scan my surroundings and tactically plot subtle executions proved far more successful, until I accidentally shot a big red barrel which triggered an explosion on a preciously hanging bus and sent me into a frenzied panic.
Once again, I dashed into plain view of the dastardly turret. From a hands-on session back at E3, I knew I could hack the stationary machine gun and turn it against my opponents, but under a barrage of fire, it’s hard to gain the composure required to carry out such a cunning plan.
Instead, I pulled out Prophet’s new weapon and one of the biggest additions to the Crysis 3 world: his bow. As well as standard arrows, it came pre-loaded with a range of alternate attachments, including an electric-tip arrow that proved extremely useful against my overpowered adversary.
For such a futuristic world, the bow and arrow feel horrendously out of place (even if they’re modernised) compared to the explosive firepower that is also on offer. Yet, it works.
It adds a point of difference not only to the protagonist versus his opponents, but also to the game on the whole, to differentiate it against previous instalments and the wider first person shooter genre. Having played so many stealth games in 2012, gamers are in the perfect frame of mind to approach Crysis 3 in sneaky-style, and that suits the new armament perfectly.
What about the multiplayer?
As well as a PC single-player hands-on session, I also had the opportunity to go hands-on with Crysis 3’s multiplayer component. Only, on Xbox 360.
Hunter is multiplayer’s flagship mode and pits a bunch of cell soldiers against a ‘hunter’ -- massive characters similar to Prophet, armed with a deadly one-hit bow and a cloaking device which makes them almost entirely invisible.
When a hunter kills a soldier, they respawn as a hunter, suggesting that the hunter class should dominate the puny soldiers and their shotguns. However, I found the opposite to be true.
Despite being invisible until they are right next to you, hunters are noisy and comparatively slow. You know when a hunter is near and the deadly bow takes forever to reload.
In two matches, I killed three hunters as a solider. In my one game as a hunter, I got no kills and never felt even close to achieving what sounded like a simple objective. The only situation in which I can see the hunter having a fighting chance is if a soldier foolishly stands still. As long as they are moving, it is almost impossible to hit the buggers.
Maybe practice will make turn the tables.
Overall, it felt more like an ill-fated concept than something that will develop a strong online community. I commend Crytek for trying something other than the standard team death match and capture the flag modes (and they are here too), but Hunter Mode isn’t looking promising.
As a single-player game, however, Crysis 3 promises to return to what made the original instalment a must have PC title.
Crysis 3 will be released in Australia on February 21 for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.
By Ben Salter
Why are you excited for Crysis 3?