I recently built a new PC to replace the aging laptop I was using for my day-to-day PC gaming needs. Included with my new video card was a coupon for a free copy of Crysis 3 and a free copy of Bioshock: Infinite. While I’m interested in the new Bioshock game, I can’t say I really had much interest in Crysis as a series before now. Getting it free was awfully motivating, though, so I thought I’d check it out.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one:
While fighting an enemy which completely outclasses them, our heroes accidentally manage to unleash a far more dire threat, one that could cause the extinction of all life everywhere. The only thing standing between this alien threat and the end of all life is a single man. With his unique abilities, granted to him by his sci-fi battle armor, he’s got to battle all comers. He’ll need to use every weapon at his disposal, pilot strange vehicles and assault alien outposts. He’s humanity’s last hope…
He’s Master Chief! This is pretty much the plot to the first Halo game.
After a tragic incident, our hero wakes to find himself something more than human. Fused with technology above and beyond anything the world has ever seen, he’s the first of a new breed. However, storm clouds are brewing, and there are evil corporations that would use this technology for nefarious purposes. With all his newfound powers, he must use stealth, martial arts, advanced weaponry, technological prowess and conveniently located man-sized vents in order to evade his enemies and put a stop to the machinations that threaten humanity.
Adam Jensen didn’t ask for this. He’s the unwilling hero of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
In some near-futuristic bombed out locale, one uber-soldier will face off against hordes of mindless soldiers taking cover behind explosive barrels, while staring down the sights of his trusty automatic rifle. His perks, grenades, and the rest of his loadout are all key to his survival. Meanwhile, people will scream military jargon like “oscar mike rio bravo!” and yell orders encouraging him to move up and take the next point. Explosions, tanks, daring rescues, cinematic camera angles and an impenetrably complex plot round out the experience.
Throw in some Russians, and this generic military shooter might as well be Modern Warfare 4.
Except, these are all the same game, and they’re all Crysis 3. Crysis 3is bits of Halo, bits of Deus Ex, bits of your generic AAA military shooter, all mixed up into one. The game’s got your standard assault rifles, alien weapons, perks and loadouts, vehicle segments (tanks and shudder dune buggies – did we learn nothing from Half Life 2?), stealth elements, and so forth.
Although there are some well worn tropes here, I wouldn’t go so far as to say the game feels like it “ripped off” other franchises – certainly there are many games that have similar plot elements. However, I couldn’t shake this feeling of déjà vu, of feeling that I’d already seen this particular plot play out.
Although at first I was pretty excited by this buffet of options, the systems on offer aren’t particularly deep. For instance, although you can cloak and be particularly stealthy, you can’t really dispatch enemies without drawing attention. There’s no way to avoid sounding the alarm and having reinforcements arrive. Not that it matters – the AI does a terrible job of dealing with you when cloaked. As long as you stay crouched, you can stay invisible for a couple of minutes easy, and your energy recovers quickly when you need to take the occasional break. Enemies are generally pretty oblivious while you’re cloaked, even when you’re face to face. They forget you’re there pretty soon after you’ve disappeared. They’ll go and investigate your last known position en masse, forming a conga line of easy to backstab enemies.
The bow and arrow are featured prominently here, although I didn’t find it to be particularly game-changing as a weapon. You can fire it while cloaked, but you can do the same with silenced weapons. Silenced weapons drain your cloak faster, but still, you’ve got a lot of cloak and regenerating it is pretty easy. Arrows can usually kill in one hit, but so can headshots to most enemies. Your arrow capacity is particularly limited, although you do find more ammo regularly. There are a few custom arrow types, although you carry so few of each I found myself hoarding them for sticky situations I never encountered.
Like a Call of Duty game, your hero has a loadout. However, many aspects of this loadout are customizable on the fly. For instance, you can take a break whenever you want to change your weapon attachments. Need a sniper scope and a silencer? No problem. Want a grip to steady your burst fire? That’s fine too. Likewise, your augmentations (think CoD “perks”) are interchangeable at any time.
When it comes to augmentations, you have to make choices, since you can only select one at any given time from four groups of four perks. Each perk has to be unlocked first, which costs points you gain by finding kits scattered around the environment. I picked a combo that made for a good stealth loadout and honestly never really looked back. There’s a lot of garbage augmentations here, and the distribution of augs into categories to choose from means you’ve got some odd decisions to make.
I found myself bored of the carnage at times. I couldn’t really figure out what my motivations were for shooting anything. Most encounters I could just cloak past, without having to deal with the annoyance of dispatching the enemies. If I’d picked a more brute-force approach, I’m sure I’d have no trouble dispatching everything in my path – when it was required of me I didn’t find it particularly challenging. There’s just no reason to bother for the most part. There’s no achievements for getting kills, and there’s no dog tags to collect from downed enemies or anything of that nature.
This game is pretty – very pretty. The only graphical issue I have is that most of the game takes place under a huge dome, so the sky is always sort of a neutral cloudy/gray tone lit by explosions. Other than that, everything looks awesome. Plants, water, destroyed buildings, and the enemies all look and feel fluid and alive. I’m not typically someone who cares about how a game looks, but I did stop a few times here to admire the scenery. The character models are very detailed, and the other NPCs who have on-screen dialog time are very well rendered.
I mentioned that I primarily saw this series as a very pretty benchmarking app, so we might as well cover performance. I just built what I’d consider to be an “upper middle tier” gaming rig. It’s a Core i5 (3470) paired with 8GB of DDR3 and an ATI 7950-based graphics card. I can play the game on the “high” settings at a really consistent 60 FPS, but trying to turn it up to “very high” causes it to drop like a rock and hover around 15 FPS. I didn’t notice that much of a graphical quality difference, but I’m not that picky, so others might disagree.
All in all, what’s here is the video game equivalent of a “popcorn movie.” Lots of explosions and gunfights, not a lot of depth. Try not to think too hard about the plot or you’ll get lost in its holes. It’s not a game that I think I would pay top dollar for, but when I’m in the mood for less thinking and more stuff exploding, it’s a fun game.
Filed under Reviews