Crysis 3 Preview: Took a Grenade-Arrow to the Face
If you’re just tuning in to the Crysis series, here’s where we’re at: you’re a solider guy with a super-suit, which gives you two key powers: A). Activate a cloaking device, Predator-style, and slowly hunt your enemies; B). Flick on super armor, and power through your enemies as their bullets richochet. The graphics are insane, it’s really sci-fi and it’s great.
This basic gameplay template is unchanged in Crysis 3–set 20 years after the events of Crysis 2–but what has changed is the character. Prophet, the original suit-wearer, has returned for real this time, and he’s had a vision. A vision of Earth without humans, completely taken over by the Ceth–the alien species that threatens humanity throughout the Crysis series–and he’s on a personal mission to prevent that vision from becoming reality. This time, Prophet isn’t affiliated with any other organization. He’s out for justice, hunting instead of being hunted.
Standing in Prophet’s way is Cell Industries, the requisitie evil corporation that’s up to really bad stuff. They’ve constructed a massive “Nanodome” over a bunch of cities, which contains an urban rainforest in New York. Cell’s MO is to harness the power of Ceth technology, with no regard for human life. Prophet’s own suit is actually a combination of human and Ceth tech, which gives him superhuman speed, vision and durability.
The dome is divided into seven distinct environments, nicknamed “the seven wonders” by Crytek, each with a distinct look and feel. In April’s announcement trailer, we saw the area known as “The Swamp,” a dark, gritty…swampy place.
The demo I played at E3 earlier this week took place in The Canyon, a much more open, sandboxy area full of tall, crumbling buildings, flooding waters and rivers. Yes, the sandbox-style level design from Crysis 1 will return in Crysis 3, a welcome change.
I have to say, Crysis 3 looks pretty amazing (no real surprise there, but still). It’s built on CryEngine 3, like Crysis 2 before it, though apparently Crytek have been busy tweaking and re-optimizing the engine for better visuals. It looked extremely sharp and bright, and my demo station was running on some sort of demonically-powered PC. I asked the Crytek rep what was going on under the hood, and he coyly said “a really powerful video card.” Judging by the NVIDIA logo on the station, if I’m a betting man, I’d say it was some variety of the GTX 600 series.
Prophet’s mission in The Canyon is simple: infiltrate a gigantic dam operated by Cell, plant some bombs on it and blow ‘er up. Navigating to that objective, the sandbox emphasis is pretty clear in The Canyon. You have an objective marker way off in the distance, and numerous possible routes that snake over to it. How you get there is up to you. I used a tactical combination of stick-and-move-invisibly, and panicked running, which seemed to work well.
I almost exclusively used the new bow during the mission, which takes some getting used to but is pretty badasss. It’s actually a part of Prophet’s suit, meaning you always have it equipped, and it–unlike regular firearms–does not pull you out of cloaking when fired. It can be devastating at long range, provided you understand how it arcs. Hold and release quickly, and it’ll arc like crazy. Hold for several seconds, and it’ll fire further, and straighter.
The bow has 4 equippable arrow types: regular, explosive, electric and–my personal favorite–airbust. Fire a round of airbust a few feet over an enemy’s head, it’ll explode in mid-air, and rain little bombs down on them. It’s very handy, particularly for enemies in clusters.
Also new to Crysis 3 is the ability to pick up and use alien weaponry. I found such a weapon in the map, called the X-PAC–a shoulder-mounted mortar-firing weapon, which was marvelously over powered. It fires several blue-colored alien bombs, which creates a huge explosion and is just really overpowered, but fun to use.
Then there’s the Typhoon, a new rifle-looking weapon in Crysis 3. It fires a bunch of flechettes, which are downright devastating at close range, chopping down foes with brutal finality. It’s bad are long range, though, so it’s best to get in close with stealth, and chop people down one at a time.
If none of your own weapons satisfy, you can hack enemy turrents by zooming in on them with Prophets visor and holding B. When hacked, turrets will attack enemies for you automatically, which again, seemed kind of overpowered. The turrets are placed in very tactical positions in the Canyon, so if they’re on your side, everyone is sort of dead. The choice of different combat techniques, combined with the sprawling nature of The Canyon made for some good fun overall.
Not everything was great about Crysis 3, and some of that has to do with the fact that it’s not coming out until February 2013, and the build I played was pre-alpha. Enemy death animations were sort of awkward and sad. The AI also seemed a little confused, at times having psychic knowledge of where I was, and other times acting like dumb turkeys begging to be shot.
And there are still a lot of questions. How do the other six wonders measure up in terms of level design, especially given that CryTek is pushing level diversity so strongly? We’ve seen one area in action–will the others play as well? What about multiplayer, or mod support, and the overall story? There’s still a lot we don’t know, but luckily we–and CryTek–have a long while to unravel the mystery.
Pre-alpha jitters aside, Crysis 3 definitely has me interested. It looks beautiful, it’s more sandboxy and it sports kick-ass new weapons. So far, so good, CryTek.
Crysis out February 2013 for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. Stay tuned for more on Crysis 3 from Game Front.