Adam Rosenberg: Personality Crisis in Crysis 3?

The esteemed Circle member and writer for G4TV, Digital Trends and other websites looks deep into the face of Crytek and EA’s Crysis 3. Upon completion, he notes that he didn’t always like what he heard and saw.

by Adam Rosenberg

It’s really hard to fear the threat of total global annihilation when news of its coming is dipped in a big, ‘ol pool of melodrama and delivered with overtly dramatic pauses for effect between each word. It’s a small complaint in Crysis 3‘s larger tableau to zero in on, but it captures the Crytek shooter’s fundamental disconnect between narrative and play.

When you’ve got your bow out and your cloak up, Crysis 3 is serious business. The overgrown, domed-in remains of New York City turns out to be an excellent sandbox for hunting C.E.L.L. forces and Ceph survivors. Slight tweaks to your supercharged Nanosuit result in a faster pace, and a varied assortment of weapons and tools — your bow in particular — allows for a multitude of approaches to any challenge.

It’s just too bad that the story is delivered in such an utterly ridiculous manner. The A-to-B progression is a bit too steeped in series lore for newcomers to make much sense of it, but the biggest grievance by far is the actual presentation. Voice acting ranges from wooden to downright unconvincing, and the music layered behind each cutscene is so generically Blockbuster that it starts to take on the character of white noise.

Play is what’s important, sure, but narrative is an undeniable focus in Crysis 3. If a game is going to emphasize story, then said game should also be held accountable for its narrative sins. Melodramatic script. Laughable performances. Forgettable music. The sins here are legion.

Things get a lot better once Crysis 3 lets go of the leash. The sandbox environments are massive, providing a multitude of approaches to most of the challenges that the game puts in front of you. Your Nanosuit and field-procured arsenal offer similar flexibility; whether you go for stealth, action, or some mix of the two, the game allows it in nearly every scenario.

Choke points become a bit of an issue as you move from one sandbox to the next. Each open space is typically connected to the next one by a single, sometimes hard-to-find access point. They’re too obviously Video Game, creating the impression that you’re wandering through a series of interconnected play spaces, and not a seamless, living world.

Inconsistently intelligent enemies don’t help much either, at least in the console version of the game. You might one-shot an enemy out in the open and watch as none of his mates respond to the potential threat. Or you might uncloak behind an enemy who has his back to you, only to watch as he suddenly goes into alert mode with no discernible justification.

It’s frustrating. Great swaths of Crysis 3 offer lots and lots of fun, memorable moments, but that momentum comes to a crashing halt every time you hear some ridiculous line delivery or spend too much time looking for the one doorway that leads into the game’s next wide, open space. Crytek’s overgrown New York City looks beautiful, even on consoles, but the uneven presentation renders it a shallow beauty.

The multiplayer portion of Crysis 3 is serviceable. There’s a crowded market for online first-person shooters, which means there’s a need to bring something different to the mix if you’re not called Battlefield or Call of Duty. In the case of Crysis, it’s your Nanosuit abilities. A handful of modes switch the rules up, but most of the time you’ve got full access to the Nanosuit.

The flow of the online matches is pretty similar to the fast pacing of small-team, rapid respawn shooters like Call of Duty. Maps are fairly elaborate, but considerably more vertical in design than most games of this type. That’s because of the Nanosuit’s capabilities, of course, and it happens to work well in the context of adversarial multiplayer.

Crysis 3 slots in somewhere between the forward-thinking excellence of the first game and the deeply flawed reining in of the second. It’s not the definitive Crysis experience, and it stumbles consistently on the more frustrating aspects of its design and presentation, but it’s mostly fun to play while effectively evolving some of the more undercooked ideas of its predecessor.

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