The Game Jar Files: Review – Crysis 3 Multiplayer

Originally published on The Game Jar.com – 12/03/2013

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After tackling the single player campaign in my earlier review, it’s time to turn my attention to the multi-player portion of the game. Any First Person Shooter that’s not called Call of Duty faces a tough task when it comes to commanding gamer’s on-line time, so if Crysis 3’s multi-player is going to stick around longer than a few months, it needs to be good, damn good. Time to buckle up the Nano Suit then, and go pwn some noobs.

The first thing that struck me was the amount of options available. Granted, it doesn’t quite match the (nearly insane) amount of game modes that Black Ops 2 has, but it more than holds its own. Crysis 3 offers up eight different game types, and twelve maps on which to play them. Extra variety is added by the inclusion of three different modes; Standard mode, Maximum Mode, and Cell versus Rebels Mode. Not all game types use all three modes, Assault and Hunter for obvious reasons only utilize Standard and Maximum. Standard mode is the Nano Suit infused variety of combat; jumping higher to exploit map verticality, cloaking up with the stealth camo, or reducing damage taken with the armour ability. Maximum mode is a hardcore version of Standard. On-screen information is kept to a minimum, and you have greater damage. Cell versus Rebels is the more traditional, human on human action, and perhaps could be considered the mode that does the worse job of showing off Crytek’s map designs, as you lack the Nano Suit’s extra mobility,

With a selection of twelve to choose from, I won’t be going over each individual map, that would take up far too much time. What I will tell you is that Crytek have done a pretty good job of providing fun and interesting environments for players to fight in. The art style ties in to the main game, there are lots of overgrown and ruined buildings, alien caverns, destroyed landmarks, and it all looks as good as the main game. My personal stand outs (based purely on the art style) were Chinatown, East River, and Central Cavern, they really do look nice. As I said, the environments are fun to play in, and that’s because Crytek have made sure that they compliment the Nano Suit’s range of abilities. Once you’ve retrained your brain to start thinking about moving up, as well as forward, traversing the terrain becomes a joy.

Team Deathmatch and Deathmatch shouldn’t need much explaining – shoot anyone who isn’t you, or on your team. Crytek have added some variety to these well-worn modes by using three different mode settings described above. I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from either of these modes. Lets face it, we’ve all played Team Deathmatch many times before, so the chances of Crytek’s take on it feeling fresh and new are slim, right? Well, I judged too soon, as the extra mobility of the Nano Suit really does add a healthy dose of enjoyment to the mix. Being able to scale walls, jump bigger gaps, and cloak up is really good fun. I wasn’t expecting much, but I came away suitably impressed.

Hunter is one of two game types that sets Crysis 3’s multiplayer apart in my opinion. The attacking side wear Nano Suits, are equipped only with the Predator Bow, and spend the whole time cloaked. The defending side are regular humans, and are tasked simply with staying alive for as long as possible. Even though players are divided into to two sides, you’re not really working as a team. Anyone who’s played Halo’s infection mode will be familiar with the dynamic, you kind of want to work together, but only if it doesn’t hurt your own score.

Crash Site is the Headquarters/King of the Hill type mode. An alien pod drops on to a random spot on the map, and it’s your team’s objective to capture and hold the pod. Once again, it’s a standard kind of mode, Crytek have added a slight wrinkle by making the pods explode after a period of time, but there’s nothing too groundbreaking here.

Spears is Crysis 3’s Domination mode. Dotted about the map are three fixed alien spears that need capturing. Hold all three spears and your score increases at the fastest rate. Again, this is pretty standard faire as multi-player modes goes, in Cell vs Rebels setting it’s plain old Domination really, with the nano suits though, stealth and map verticality play a much bigger part.

Capture the Relay, rather shockingly, is a Capture the Flag mode. Each team has an opposition relay to attack, and their own to defend. The relay itself is quite small, you hold it in one hand, so you’re able to sprint and carry a pistol at the same time. Interestingly, you can cloak up too, so relay retrieval can be rather hectic.

Extraction is best described as One Flag CTF. One team has two power cells on the map to defend, and the other has to capture them, and make it back to the extraction point. In true traditional asymmetric game modes, the teams switch sides at the halfway point, and the winner is the team with the most points overall. Like the Capture the Relay game mode, it’s the Nano Suit that make this mode interesting. The extra abilities add just enough to make these modes feel fresh.

Assault is the second game type that interested me most, perhaps because I couldn’t think of anything to compare it to. Another asymmetrical mode, Assault pitches an attacking Nano Suit wearing, lightly armed team up against a much heavier armed CELL team. The attacking team has to hack data from one or all of five different terminals on the map, and the defending team has to stop them. Assault is a great mode, but only if your team communicates. Get a room full of silent players, and Assault losses some of its shine.

Overall, Crysis 3’s multi-player is a very accomplished companion to the main game. It has the same high production values as the single player, the combat is just as solid, and perhaps more crucially, is it’s a great deal of fun to play. I still have my doubts as to whether gamers are willing to migrate to Crysis 3 from their current favourites for any prolonged period of time, but that shouldn’t stop you from playing it in the meantime.

Summary –

Good Points – Hunter and Assault game types are fun. The maps look lovely.

Bad Points – As in campaign, the weapons feel lightweight. Will the servers stay full for a year?

Why an Eight? – It’s quality demands nothing less. As good as the campaign, maybe better.

The Game Jar Files: Review – Crysis 3 Single Player

Originally published on The Game Jar.com – 04/03/2013

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If it’s at all possible for a new video game release to come with baggage, then Crysis 3 definitely does. Everyone I mentioned this upcoming review to, had something to say about the game, often based on their previous experiences with the first two games. Not wanting to pre-judge the game, I didn’t pay too much attention to their comments, but it did throw up an interesting question; Could Crytek finally set the first person shooter market alight with the third game? In this campaign review, I dive in to the single player half of the game to find out.

Whether you’re new to the series, or a hardened nano suit veteran, your first ports of call should be the tutorial and the “previously in Crysis” movie. The tutorial is done in a VR style, and takes you through everything you need to know about combat in a super suit. There’s quite a bit to get to grips with, so new players should definitely spend some time working out what the various buttons do. Personally, I struggled to remember how to equip grenades to begin with (like a complete noob), so maybe going through the tutorial more than once is a good idea. The “previously in Crysis” movie gives you a potted history of the events that took place in the first two games, and does a good enough job of ensuring that you’re not totally lost when you begin the third game. The story is, well, it’s good enough I suppose. This is a first person shooter after all, so expecting some sort of magnum opus is a little silly. So long as the combat is solid, I can put up with a little cliché.

Talking of cliché  Crysis 3’s characters have that well and truly covered. First you meet the old army buddy character. He’s an angry, sweary sort of chap. The loyal but reckless kind of guy you can always rely on. Then there’s the “one that doesn’t like you, but has to work with you” character. In traditional fashion, she eventually warms up to you, but only after you’ve spent many missions doing her bidding of course. Next up is the shifty scientist that you never quite trust. Quite why he has to be German, I don’t know. Finally, just to make sure that all the character archetype check boxes are ticked, there’s the character that you play, Laurence “Prophet” Barnes. He’s the very model of a tragic hero, a man who sacrifices his very humanity to save others. Admittedly they do serve to keep the story moving along, but I never really cared about any of them. All of them felt like cookie cutter characters, straight out of the “How to make an FPS” manual. We’ve seen them before, hundreds of times previous, in many other shooters.

The first half of the game concentrates on your conflict with CELL, and is largely Ceph free. The Human forces are more squishy than their alien counterparts, and seemingly less alert. As a result, it felt like a prolonged introduction to the game, despite the fact that fighting two factions has always been a series staple. Once the Ceph do turn up, it feels like the game finally gets going. The Ceph are a tougher, more alert foe, and I found that they required more direct tactics to defeat. The other thing the Ceph bring to the table is variety, from turret like creatures, to walking tanks, the Ceph demand more flexibility when fighting them. The stealthy tactics I employed against the CELL were abandoned in favour of maximum armour and a gun to the face. As you progress on, both factions become a factor, and it’s then that the Nano Suit’s multitude of abilities come in to their own. Crytek have placed a well thought out selection of tools at your disposal, and at higher difficulties, you’ll need to get used to switching between them.

The combat is very slick. Almost every weapon you pick up is configurable on the fly. Holding down the BACK button brings up the weapon customization screen, and allows you to switch between the various options, covering sights, barrels and ammo. If I had a criticism with the weaponry, it would be that too many of the guns feel a little lightweight. Still, it is the future, so they’ve probably perfected projectile weapons at this point. The Nano suit itself is obviously another key part of the combat, and again, Crytek have added a very neat way to swap upgrades on the fly. Once unlocked, you can allocate four different upgrades to one of three different preset slots, called Packages. Fill each Package with a different build of four upgrades, and you have the ability to adapt your strengths to the situation at hand simply by pushing the BACK button and selecting Y, X or B. The LB and RB buttons take care of the suits most used abilities; Armour and Cloak. They’re both pretty self-explanatory, Armour beefs up your resistance to damage, and Cloak makes you invisible. A depleting energy bar ensures that you can’t simply walk round with them active all them time, and switching on one ability switches off the other.

Everyone likes a super powered helmet, and thankfully Crytek has you covered there too. Pushing up on the D-Pad activates the Tactical Visor mode. The best way I can describe it is to get you to think of Batman’s Detective Vision, then combine it with Far Cry 3’s camera. The Tactical Visor mode allows you to mark enemies, spot hackable turrets, find collectible data and suit upgrades, and locate weapons and ammo. Like Batman’s Detective Vision, it’s hard sometimes to not just leave it on all the time, and make things easier for yourself. Thankfully, Crytek has thought ahead, as you cannot interact with things besides performing hacking when in Tactical Vision mode. Your helmet also has a nifty night vision mode built-in, called Nano Vision, and it also consumes energy when in use. Nano Vision isn’t quite as useful as the Tactical Visor, but it does help when trying to take a stealthier path through the game, there’s a fair few tunnels and vent shafts to crawl down, if you go looking for them.

Campaign length is about par for the course these days, I got through it all on Soldier difficulty in just under seven hours. I think that’s too short personally, but increasingly it seems, I’m in the minority there. Value for money then, like with all modern FPS games, is going to come from the multi-player side of things. Does Crysis have enough of a fan base to give Crysis 3’s multi-player a long-term future? Only time will tell, I guess. I also found the campaign to be rather un-engaging at times. As I said, I never really cared about any of the story’s characters, and that’s probably because the game felt a little cold to me. It’s certainly very pretty, some of the environments were stunningly beautiful in fact, but it still lacks a certain passion, that mystery X factor that causes you to love something for the way it makes you feel.

In conclusion, Crysis 3 is a very well made, very pretty, but ultimately soulless first person shooter. Almost every part of the game exudes precision engineering, but in a cold and passionless way. Throughout the whole game, I felt that Crytek had spent far more time making Crysis 3 a benchmark of visual excellence, rather than making it a lovable, enjoyable experience that you’d want to go back time and time again. I marvelled at its good looks, I appreciated its finely crafted combat, but not once, at any point in the game, did I fall in love with it. That said, the level of technical excellence here still deserves nothing less than an Eight of Ten in my opinion. As unlovable as I may find it, I cannot deny how well made it is.

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