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Nano-Suit Up!
R.J. Carey

Welcome to New York City, 2047—a landscape of decaying urban structures within a tropical rainforest. Sound like a fun place to stalk and kill vicious genocidal aliens or an evil corporation’s combat units? Then you’re in luck! In Crysis 3, you traverse this environment, called “The Liberty Dome,” as Laurence Barnes, the wearer of a high-tech nanosuit whose call sign is Prophet. The suit’s main special abilities are an invisibility cloak and a protective shield, staples of SF first-person shooters. Your closest ally in the game is your old squad-mate, Michael “Psycho” Sykes, a profanity-spewing soldier with a cockney accent hell-bent on revenge against the people who tore him from his own nanosuit for their research projects.

 

The first half of the game is almost completely devoted to fighting the combat forces employed by the “CELL” organization, alongside Psycho and a ragtag resistance group led by his romantic interest, Claire Fontanelli. CELL gained control of the Liberty Dome by monopolizing the energy industry with a limitless energy source known as System X, and then hiking up energy bills until people were forced into labor to repay a debt they could never work away. Prophet tries to convince Psycho that the alien Ceph are a more pressing threat, and that he has had apocalyptic visions of the Ceph wiping out humanity, but Psycho and his rebel buddies convince him to take things one step at a time, which puts dismantling CELL by shutting down System X at the top of his to do list. But eventually the Ceph threat becomes the main focus of the game, and as Prophet uses his suit to learn more about the Ceph’s plans, it becomes clear that Prophet and the nanosuit’s powers are humanity’s only hope.

The characters and SF plot are pretty well fleshed-out for a first person shooter, but not on par with SF RPGs such as the Mass Effect or Fallout series. When it comes to dialogue, think action movie one-liners with gratuitous F-bomb dropping, and the cut scenes are about 50 percent character development, 50 percent massive explosions—enough to keep Michael Bay himself satisfied.

As far as gameplay, Crysis 3 is a bit less of a straight shoot ’em up than some other FPS titles, considering how heavily you must rely on your suit’s cloaking and shielding abilities. These functions are temporary and must be used strategically to allow the suit’s energy to recharge. Stealth is a must, and to help keep the dispatching of enemies quiet, you’re given “The Predator Bow,” which takes some getting used to, but turns out to be the most versatile and fun weapon in the game. While all of the weapons in the game can be customized mid-gameplay, the predator bow comes equipped with four different types of arrows, some of which will blow your enemies to smithereens if you’re feeling indiscreet. The pull-up menu for mid-game weapon customization allows you to adjust your fighting style to fit different scenarios. It can slow down the action a bit, but not nearly as much as the suit’s “hacking” ability, which requires you to line up a series of dots inside of targets by timing them correctly. This skill feels more like something out of a golf game than a first person shooter, and it’s used with annoying frequency to open doors, disable minefields, and turn the enemy’s turrets against them.

Crysis borrows elements from some of its major competitors in the genre, with controls that feel a lot like the Call of Duty series, and high tech armor abilities similar to Halo’s Mjolnir armor. Crysis’ stand out aspect is how good it looks, running on the developers’ proprietary “Cryengine 3.” The clever design concept of the urban jungle environment creates some nice eye-candy for the graphics fanatics. This makes it all the more frustrating that most of the cut scenes are pre-rendered, compressed video, and are noticeably pixilated as a result. It also would have been nice to see some more recognizable decaying New York City landmarks integrated into the maps like the awesomely dilapidated, overgrown Brooklyn Bridge you get to fight your way across in one of the missions.

Ultimately, what makes Crysis 3 worth the price tag is the online multiplayer mode. There’s a solid variety of familiar game types, the maps are well designed, and the ability to earn weapon and nanosuit upgrades as you raise your rank and improve your skill will make you want to keep coming back for more. Modern Warfare fans will likely find Crysis 3 a worthy addition to their online gaming library.

Click here for our interview with Crysis 3 writer, Steven Hall

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