Video Game Review: Crysis 3 [Xbox 360]

Crysis 3 [Xbox 360]

Crysis 3
System: Xbox 360 [also on PS3 and PC]
Genre: First Person Shooter
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Crytek
Release Date: February 19, 2013

In a year already loaded with big name sequels (i.e. Bioshock Infinite, Dead Space 3), somehow Crytek’s Crysis 3 got lost in the shuffle. Surely, a big budget first person shooter with gorgeous visuals would manage to snag a large slice of the pie, right? Unfortunately, no, that is not the case here. Instead, Crysis 3 offers more of the same with little to differentiate itself from its superior predecessors.

The story, never a strong suit in this series, is basically a rehash of before. Aliens are still invading the earth, and the evil CELL organization is up to no good. It’s up to the Prophet character and his powerful Nanosuit to save the day once again. Even the game’s setting is familiar; whereas Crysis took place in the jungle and Crysis 2 in New York City, Crysis 3 is set in a jungle in New York City. Yeah.

The plot is absolutely ridiculous and is just there to pad out an already thin single player campaign, which itself can be completed in a mere 4-5 hours. The campaign feels even more linear than Crysis 2, as much of the game’s progression requires following along Prophet’s old comrade, Psycho, from checkpoint to checkpoint. Occasionally there are wide open areas that allow some semblance of freedom, and that is when the game is most fun.

Crysis 3 [Xbox 360]

Using the Nanosuit remains a real treat, as the abilities to use both heavy armor and cloaking features are what sets Crysis apart from other FPS titles. Being able to go invisible for short bursts at a time allows the game to be played stealth-like; this is especially convenient when there are nasty enemies lurking about. The heavy armor feature is helpful, too, for those who just like to go in with a heavy rain of fire.

The biggest addition to Crysis 3 is a bow. At first, this feels like an underwhelming inclusion, and Prophet even remarks as such when he first receives it. However, this is not an ordinary bow; it’s basically an all-in-one killing machine. This new weapon is incredibly overpowered, as it allows Prophet to stay invisible while firing, and it can wipe out enemies from a significant distance. Using the bow almost makes the game *too* easy, and I found myself not even using it unless truly desparate.

Crysis 3 [Xbox 360, 2013]

The actual combat and shooting are solid, and the controls are tight. There are plenty of weapons to choose from, and the enemies are diverse enough to keep things interesting. It’s just a shame that the campaign is a mostly unmemorable affair that never fully utilizes the groundwork laid by the core gameplay mechanics. There are no noteworthy set-pieces as found in the first two games, and it truly feels that Crytek were just going through the motions with this effort.

The multiplayer is extensive and has the ability to be a huge plus; unfortunately, it is nearly dead just three months after its release. I have put in a few hours online, but never saw more than a few hundred people playing at a time. Nearly all of them were playing Team Deathmatch, and several of the other playlists had no gamers at all. That is absolutely sad for such a new release, especially since the stealth/armor mechanics are a refreshing change of pace from the Call of Duty series.

Crysis 3 [Xbox 360]

When you do manage to get into a full game, the experience is enjoyable. The maps are pulled straight from the campaign, and they are big enough to take advantage of all aspects of the Nanosuit. Perhaps the recent price drop will bring in a bigger online community, but I’m not holding my breath.

In a nutshell, Crysis 3 is a visually stunning game — one of the prettiest on the Xbox 360 — but it is a hollow one. This had the potential to be truly special, but the rushed campaign is a huge disappointment and a major step down from the first two games. There is still a competent shooter underneath, but there’s no question that this will be known as the black sheep of the Crysis series.

7/10

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The Top 12 Video Games I Played In 2011

By all accounts, 2011 has been lauded as a great year for gaming. I am still playing catch-up myself, as I missed out on several of the big holiday season titles (Skyrim, Uncharted 3, Batman, etc.). Since I am not really in a position to provide a proper top 10 list of my favorite 2011 titles, I have opted to select the best games I played for the first time last year. There are a lot of 2011 titles, but there are a handful of older releases that really impressed me one way or another. I plan on doing a proper list in the future, but here are my top 12 video games that I played in 2011:

12) The Saboteur [Xbox 360, 2009]

Criminally overlooked sandbox adventure title that expertly uses a mixture of color and black & white environments.

Singularity [Xbox 360, 2010]
11) Singularity [Xbox 360, 2010]

Another underrated game, this one takes the best elements from Bioshock, F.E.A.R. and Half-Life to make a memorable FPS experience.

Crysis [Xbox 360, 2011]
10) Crysis [Xbox 360, 2011]

Yes, it can run on consoles, and yes, it is still a pretty damn good shooter today.

L.A. Noire
9) L.A. Noire [PS3, 2011]

A handful of flaws do not ruin one of this year’s more unique adventure titles; a must play for fans of Film Noir and detective stories.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves [Playstation 3, 2009]
8) Uncharted 2: Among Thieves [PS3, 2009]

A sequel that ups the ante with even more insane action sequences; about as close to a movie as a video game can get.

Fallout: New Vegas [Xbox 360]
7) Fallout: New Vegas [Xbox 360, 2010]

Bugs and glitches be damned; this is another great entry into the Fallout series.

Wipeout HD [Playstation 3, 2008]
6) Wipeout HD [PS3, 2008]

White-knuckled racer with a pulsing techno soundtrack and one of the most fun racing modes I have played (Zone).

Deus Ex: Human Revolution [Playstation 3, 2011]
5) Deus Ex: Human Revolution [PS3, 2011]

Cerebral adventure with breathtaking Blade Runner-esque environments.

Gears of War 3 [Xbox 360, 2011]
4) Gears of War 3 [Xbox 360, 2011]

The most refined Gears experience yet; an amalgamation of the best features from the first two games.

Bastion [Xbox 360, 2011]
3) Bastion [Xbox 360, 2011]

Undeniably stylish and full of charm, this indie gem holds its own against the AAA heavyweights.

Dead Space 2 [Xbox 360, 2011]
2) Dead Space 2 [Xbox 360, 2011]

More action-oriented than its predecessor, yet it delivers an even more tense and creepy atmosphere.

Heavy Rain
1) Heavy Rain [PS3, 2010]

This “interactive drama” remains one of the most unforgettable gaming experiences I have ever had, and it is a must play for any serious gamer.

That’s my list. What’s yours? What were the best games you played in 2011?

Video Game Review: Crysis 2 [Xbox 360, 2011]

Crysis 2 [Xbox 360, 2011]

Crysis 2
System: Xbox 360 (also on PS3 and PC)
Genre: First Person Shooter
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Crytek Frankfurt
Release Date: March 22, 2011

The original Crysis gained a tough reputation due to its demanding PC hardware requirements. It was deemed to be “unplayable” on consoles, and it took four years before it was finally able to be ported over. Apparently Crytek realized that it would be better to have multi-platform releases, so the inevitable Crysis 2 was designed with consoles in mind. The new CryEngine 3 graphics system has made all of this possible, and the end results are stunning. This is one of the best-looking games on the Xbox 360.

Set three years after the original, Crysis 2 takes place in New York City, which has become a warzone thanks to both a nasty virus outbreak and an alien invasion. Yes, those Ceph bastards are back, and they are wreaking havoc on the city. The main protagonist this time is a soldier codenamed Alcatraz, who survives a brutal submarine accident upon deploying NYC. With little other options available, Alcatraz is essentially selected as the “Chosen One” and he receives the same Nanosuit that Prophet wore in the first game. From this point on, his goal is to rid the planet of those nasty aliens while also fighting off U.S. Military personnel that are hellbent on destroying the Nanosuit.

The Nanosuit is the centerpiece of the Crysis series, and it is at its best here. There is no question that Alcatraz has the holy grail of armor, and it makes him out to be a huge badass. All of the suit’s capabilities return from the first game, including cloaking and advanced defensive mechanisms, but everything is intensified. Even better is the fact that the Nanosuit can be customized and upgraded over time. As aliens are killed, their technology can be collected and used to bolster four different areas: Armor, Power, Tactical and Stealth. This essentially allows the game to be played in different ways, as an emphasis can be placed on stealth, gunplay or a mix of both.

I love that the game offers this ability, as it is a great thrill to sneak past a group of aliens and then open up and let them have it in the next area. As the game can be completed in different ways, this adds to the overall replay value.

One thing that I enjoyed from the first Crysis was that most of the game took place in a large, open world. This is not the case here in the sequel, as Crytek have opted to make this a more linear shooter. It’s not quite on the levels of Modern Warfare’s strictly on-rails gameplay, for example, but there is little to explore on the streets of New York. That’s not to say that this is a bad thing, it’s just different.

The game’s campaign has been stated to be close to ten hours, but I finished it in less than seven. I used a mix of stealth/action combat techniques, so the time length may vary depending on what style of gameplay is used. In comparison to the first game, the campaign is notably easier with a seemingly endless supply of ammunition available. I had a hard time finishing Crysis on “normal” mode, but here it was almost too simple. While Crysis 2’s campaign is certainly a lot of fun to play through, it has less “holy shit” moments than the original, and the final “boss” is a bit of a letdown. In this department, it is slightly disappointing, even though the Nanosuit is much more powerful.

Crysis 2 has an advantage in that it includes a deep multiplayer mode. This uses a leveling-up system similar to that of Modern Warfare, complete with killstreaks and custom classes, but it differentiates itself with the use of cloaking/armor abilities. Unfortunately, the online community is very, very small at the moment, so it may take some work to get a good session going. However, when that happens, the multiplayer aspect is a real treat and offers a nice alternative to other online shooters.

Crysis 2 [Xbox 360, 2011]

I would be remiss not to discuss more of the game’s visuals. This is simply one of the best looking shooters available on a home console, and it is a huge step forward from the original’s recent port (which wasn’t too shabby itself). New York City, despite being utterly war-torn, is beautiful, and much of the game is based on real locations. To really show off its graphical power, there is an obligatory level that takes place in the rain — truly a work of beauty.

While I prefer the open-world nature of the original, Crysis 2 still has a lot going for it. The mix of gameplay tactics is brilliant, the campaign is a fun ride, and the game itself is a technical marvel. I wish there were more memorable moments like its predecessor, but this is still one of the more underrated releases from 2011. Fans of FPS and action titles should definitely look into picking this up, especially as it can be found for as low as $9.99 these days.

8/10

Video Game Review: Crysis [Xbox 360, 2011]

Crysis [Xbox 360, 2011]

Crysis
System: Xbox 360 (also on PS3, originally on PC)
Genre: First Person Shooter
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Crytek Frankfurt
Release Date: October 4, 2011 (PC release: November 13, 2007)

Released in 2007 strictly for PC, the original Crysis gained a bit of notoriety in the gaming world due to its demanding hardware requirements. A high-end gaming rig was necessary to be able to run the game, and not many could play it at max settings. It was famously stated by Cevat Yerli, the director of Crytek, that Crysis would never be able to be played on consoles.

Well, four years later, we finally have Crysis on XBLA/PSN, and it looks pretty damn good.

The new CryEngine 3 was created with the console in mind, and the developers took advantage of this new technology to bring the original Crysis experience to a brand new audience. Stripped down to its single player campaign, the game comes as a $20 downloadable title.

Set in the year 2020, Crysis places gamers in the role of soldier Jake Dunn (codename: Nomad). Nomad, along with the rest of the elite Raptor Team, has been sent to a remote island off the coast of the Eastern Philippines to investigate a distress signal sent from U.S. scientists. Upon arriving, it is discovered that North Korean forces have taken over the area and are well on their way to unleashing a powerful ancient alien artifact found in the middle of the island. It is the Raptor Team’s job to put an end to the entire threat, taking down North Korean and alien forces along the way.

Crysis [Xbox 360, 2011]

It’s a pretty daunting task, but Nomad is aided in the form of his high-tech Nanosuit, which provides enhanced strength, speed, armor and a cloaking ability. These features can only come in bursts, however, as the suit needs to be recharged after a certain amount of time. Being able to switch between cloaking (temporary invisibility) and beefed-up armor is a unique feature, and it allows the game to be played in multiple ways. Depending on your preferred style of play, you can run through guns-a-blazin’ or stealthily maneuever past most enemies. Since you are only able to use the functions in limited doses, it often takes different strategies to accomplish certain goals.

While Crysis plays as a linear shooter (at least in terms of providing mandatory objectives), it is presented in a wide open world that allows for deep exploration. There are multiple ways to get to the intended targets, and there are also secondary objectives that can be completed along the way. For those that revel in sandbox glory, this will be a very rewarding experience.

Weapons are mostly standard fare — assault rifles, shotguns, missile launchers, etc. — but they can be customized from the get-go to suit your needs. Flashlights, laser dot sight, scope sight, and upgraded ammo are just a handful of traits that can be changed with every acquired weapon. This impressive amount of features, everything from customizable weapons to the badass Nanosuit, helps make Crysis stand out from other like-minded shooters.

Crysis [Xbox 360, 2011]

Graphically, Crysis looks great (considering its age), but it does suffer from some small issues. Minor details, such as blades of grass, are rough in appearance, and there are occasional problems with graphics being drawn in on the fly. Still, it’s a major feat just to be able to play this on a console, and it can hold its own with some of the early generation Xbox 360/PS3 titles.

As a $20 downloadable game, Crysis is a pretty good deal. The single player campaign lasts 8-10 hours, and the achievements/trophies are set up in a way that rewards at least two separate playthroughs. Crysis is the type of shooter that we don’t see as often on consoles, as it presents a great open world that allows for some flexibility on the part of the gamer. It also helps to have some variety in the form of enemies, as the transition from enemy soldiers to badass aliens is a welcome one.

The bottom line is that Crysis is a mandatory pickup for those who have been curious about it over the years, and it is a great buy for fans of first person shooters in general.

8.5/10

(A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review.)