Crysis 3 PS3 review – Stealthy shooter will suits you, sir

Despite the campaign’s brevity, the minute-by-minute action of battles is never less than interesting. And that’s mostly down to the freedom these forest-meets-Fifth Avenue levels provide. Designed to make the most out of your Nanosuit’s invisibility cloak, the game’s sweeping marshlands and dense swamps beautifully synch up with your superpowers, allowing you to carefully hunt enemies methodically through the shooty sandboxes. Ooh, a posse of Ceph (Crysis’ squid-like ET dastards) have ventured into that lake in yonder distance, have they? Eat cloaked electricity arrow of death, alien evil doers.

Ah yes, the Predator Bow. Videogame’s in-vogue weapon of 2013 is the star of an otherwise uninspired arsenal. Don’t get me wrong, from the punchy Scarab rifle, the thundering Marshall shotty to the devastating crunch of the Gaus Sabot Gun, Crysis 3’s weapons all handle with über satisfying heft. It’s just that none of the bullet sprayers on display are particularly imaginative. So may futuristic, invisible Jeebus bless the bow that can pin men to walls from a mile off or fire sticky, semtex-tipped arrows that’ll make Ceph go boom. If there’s a more satisfying weapon this year, I’ll come to work in my Metal Gear jimjams (I won’t).

It’s a pity the game can’t cook up some more exciting scenarios for you to wield Robin Hood’s killing tool of choice in, mind. While Crysis 3 maintains a consistent quality throughout (save for a couple of annoying end-game bosses), the action never quite crescendos to the heights it should. The Liberty Dome houses Seven Wonders. You’ve got Dopey, Sneezy, Grump… hold up, that’s short-arse Snow White hangers-on. Anyhoo, the distinct districts of New York are supposed to offer a varied spectacle throughout the seven single-player missions. In reality, the procession of samey flooded streets and overgrown swamps eventually bleed into each other, rarely allowing the otherwise engaging gun battles to evolve into truly memorable setpieces.

The key to any great shooter is pacing. Look at a Half-Life 2 or Resistance 3. Constructed from sharply defined levels and ingeniously engineered atmosphere, I can still remember Gogger’s masterfully chilling Ravenholm section or Insomniac’s shooter taking an unexpected turn by hurling you into a Chimera-infested prison. It’s a skill Naughty Dog demonstrate with every Uncharted. Start slow, establish character with quiet moments punctuated by light shooting then… POW! Hit the player with megaton setpiece spectacle (think the Nepal chopper chase in Among Thieves) that sees your DualShock shimmering with nerve-shredded sweat. Effective pacing needs peaks and troughs; Crysis 3, though mechanically excellent, is flat like Amsterdam’s tulip fields.

That’s not to say Prophet’s quest to save the world from alien destruction isn’t worth playing. On a purely technical level, the work Crytek has squeezed out of Sony’s ageing box is sensational. The engine rarely dips below a supremely sturdy 30fps, as the game dribbles a constant stream of incredible textures, particle effects and stunning character models down your telly box. Though the facial animation isn’t as convincing as L.A. Noire, the sheer detail that’s gone into the supporting cast (take the scars on irritating Jason Statham wannabe Psycho) is staggering. Crytek is inhaling the same rarefied air as Naughty Dog, with Crysis 3 arguably the best looking game on PS3… after Uncharted 3, natch.  

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