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Video Game Review: Creative Chaos of EA’s ‘Crysis 3’

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CHICAGO – Considering the hoopla surrounding “Aliens: Colonial Marines” it’s pretty fascinating that “Crysis 3”, is the best “Alien Vs. Predator” game of all time. With the small addition of a very versatile bow, “Crysis 3”’s Nano-suited leading man Prophet feels quite a lot like “Predator”’s namesake, down to the lethal arrows, fancy heat vision, futuristic technology, and jungle-esque environments. Engaging in a cycle of cloaking, tagging foes, sneaking up on them and snapping their necks 180 degrees around, sniping the rest from afar with a variety of arrow types, all the while dodging turret fire and jumping over ledges, is a transcendent experience — you truly feel like you’re stalking prey.

HollywoodChicago.com Video Game Rating: 4.0/5.0
Video Game Rating: 4.0/5.0

In addition to the arsenal of pistols, assault rifles, grenades, and high explosives you’ll amass from enemies and weapon stores, your Nanosuit provides a litany of functions, including armor (activated via LB) a super jump (via the A button), a cloak (via LB) and most importantly a “Metroid Prime” esque visor that lets you tag (the numerous) unseen enemies, items, and upgrades in a given area. Using the visor to survey the soon-to-be battlefield is of paramount importance for success, and going into a situation blind will likely leave you dead.

Crysis 3
Crysis 3
Photo credit: EA

Once your action plan is formulated, the fun begins. A theme of verticality permeates a lot of “Crysis 3”’s larger battles. One particularly enthralling portion finds you in a wide-open, bombed out, overgrown, and partially submerged subway station with roughly two dozen enemies littered across four levels of sight lines and cover. There are nearly limitless ways to approach this scenario. Do you get the enemy’s attention, draw them to a closed-in area of the map and kill them with an exploding thermite arrow? Do you wait for them to all walk into some water and use an electrified arrow to zap them via the laws of conduction? Or do you simply sneak up on each enemy, one-by-one, using a silenced pistol and your bare hands to eliminate the ground troops before turning your attention to the snipers? Heck, if you’re boring, you could just turn your armor on, equip a powerful gun, and “Rambo” it up. However you choose to tackle your mission, you’ll feel every bit the badass you’re portrayed as.

Crysis 3
Crysis 3
Photo credit: EA

If at this point you’re enthralled, but not 100 percent sure what a “Crysis” is, here’s the skinny: The “Crysis” franchise is a series of games by Crytek, who released the astoundingly-beautiful, resource-hogging “Crysis” for PC in 2007. Thanks to that game, for about 6 years, the number one question posed to people who owned a beefy CPU was “But can it run Crysis?” — mine could not. So, while interesting, I figured the fantastic world of “Crysis” would be one I’d never explore. But, I was wrong. “Crysis 2” made its way to consoles and was a fairly enjoyable experience that I spent some time with, but didn’t blow me away.

“Crysis 3” doesn’t blow me away either, but it’s a really really brisk wind. Part of the problem is very possibly my own for not having played “Crysis 2” all the way through, and a lot of plot elements seem to be relying on previous info I simply don’t remember. While there are a few helpful “previous on Crysis” style menu options, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Also, practically every facet of “Crysis 3”’s plot will remind you other, better sci-fi adventures. There’s traces of the aforementioned “Predator”, cult-classic “Guyver”, “District 9”, and even a dash of “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” here. And while the references aren’t explicit, you’ll often feel a strong case of can’t-put-my-finger-on-it deja-vu surrounding the game’s location, characters, themes, objectives and set pieces.

Crysis 3
Crysis 3
Photo credit: EA

Which is kind of a bummer because those characters, settings, themes, and set pieces are magnificent looking. The CryEngine3 looks great — even when scaled down for consoles. Your cohort ‘Psycho’ animates beautifully, with human facial reactions, glimmering eyes, and real personality — as do the handful of other AI characters. The settings and locations are all beautifully rendered, and the New York City meets “Fern Gully” aesthetic is as fun a playground as any for sci-fi shenanigans. The physics are neat too. A small highlight was an early mission where I threw a barrel through a glass window (without prompting) in order to proceed through to the next way-point — a small but impressive detail. You have the ability to kick cars, throw barrels and enemies, and some impressive chain reactions occasionally occur — but nothing too insane, this isn’t “Red Faction: Guerrilla” or anything.

Ultimately, how you feel toward “Crysis 3” depends on your appetite for stealth action gameplay. There’s been a lot of it recently between the *excellent* “Far Cry 3” the middling “Assasin’s Creed 3”, and now “Crysis 3” (Wow, that’s a lot of 3s). But “Crysis 3” is the only one that doesn’t make stealth feel like a last resort. You needed stealth in “AC3” and “Far Cry 3” because you’d get riddled with bullets and stabbed to death if you weren’t sneaky. You were one man against an army, and had to sneak, hide, and try not to draw too much attention because you were weak compared to the unstoppable force of your enemies. In “Crysis 3,” YOU are the unstoppable force.

Crysis 3
Crysis 3
Photo credit: EA

However, “Crysis 3” isn’t perfect. There aren’t nearly as many large scale, “you vs. the world” encounters as I would have liked, the campaign is relatively short (6-7 hours), and the plot is assembled via a winning sci-fi cliche bingo card. The multiplayer is deep, but rapidly descends into chaos since everyone can turn invisible for 30 seconds at a time.

As this console generation comes to an end, the capacity for hype seems to have dwindled among gamers. What’s left of it appears reserved for “BioShock: Infinite” and “GTA V”. Pretty much every other major release seems to sneak up on us these days. “Far Cry 3,” “Crysis 3”, and “Tomb Raider” are all major titles that seem to have released out of thin air and devoid of anticipation, and have pleasantly surprised audiences with their quality - much like “Crysis 3” does. Not bad for a franchise that’s known more for it’s style than substance, eh?

“Crysis 3” was released by EA and developed by Crytek. It was released on February 19, 2013. The version reviewed was for the Xbox 360 but the title is also available for the PS3 and PC.

HollywoodChicago.com video game critic Paul Meekin

By PAUL MEEKIN
Video Game Critic
HollywoodChicago.com

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