News, Views, and Reviews
With my single player review, I made the point that the improved quality of the PC version of Crysis 3 elevated it above other shooters, including the console versions. I’d like to make a stronger point about the multi-player: the PC version isn’t just prettier than the console version, it’s practically a different game.
Features: Crysis 3 has eight modes and twelve maps. That’s a little higher than most EA-published games, yet still falls behind the amounts of maps and variations found in the Call of Duty or Halo games. The eight modes are: Deathmatch, and Team-Deathmatch, Assault, Capture the Relay, Crash Site, Extraction, Hunter, and Spears. The Crash Site and Hunter modes gained the most attention, as they were available in the multi-player demo a few weeks before the game was released.
“Assault” is a team “offense versus defense” game with no respawns. The Assault team, offense, has to download information from key points on the map while the defense team tries to stop them. After each round, the teams switch position.
“Capture the Relay” is just what it sounds like, Capture the Flag, but the “one flag” variation where the “offense” team has to sneak into the enemy base and capture the relay and return it to their base. After each round, the teams switch position.
“Crash Site” is basically “crazy king-of-the-hill” where an alien pod crashes to the ground and each team gets points if they stand near it. Eventually, that pod blows up and another pod will crash at a different, random location.
“Deathmatch” is the only free-for-all mode in Crysis 3.
“Extraction” again faces an “offense” team versus a “defense” team, like Assault, but with respawns. The offense team tries to extract as many devices as possible from key locations on the map in 5 minutes. Then the teams switch, and the other team tries to get more point.
“Hunter” is the real standout. Two players start each round as a “hunter” and the other players are regular soldiers. The hunters are equipped with permanent stealth and the predator bow. When a soldier is killed, they return to the game as a hunter, until all of the players have turned into hunters. Then, it starts a new round with two different players starting as hunters. Similar to the “infection” modes made popular by Halo and then Call of Duty, “Hunter” stands out because the soldiers are equipped with a “proximity alarm” that gets louder and louder as the invisible hunters get closer. That really ramps up the tension!
“Spears” is a “domination” game mode, with both teams trying to capture and hold three locations on the map. Once captured, players don’t need to be near the “Spears” to acquire points. The first team to 100 wins.
“Team Deathmatch” has no other objective than gaining more points than the other team by killing them the most.
Maps and Mobility: Wearing the nano-suits give players a great deal of mobility, from sprinting to sprinting into a slide, and from jumping to vaulting up to a higher ledge. To accommodate this amount of movement, the maps range from medium to large, and contain a lot of levels and overlapping structures that allow players to climb, tunnel under, and hide from one another. Most of the maps feature the same rich detail as the campaign; various ruins in New York City, toppled building and other structures, overgrown by dense foliage. Other maps take an alien variation to that, and add the “Ceph” metallic structures that also act as obstacles or winding paths and perches. The console and PC versions have the same maps, but I feel the game is being slighted by not mentioning them in more detail in most reviews. These are GOOD maps. There is a great combination of confined and open spaces, and enough structures and obstacles to showcase the mobility and abilities of the nano-suits. Even on the larger maps, matches have a frantic pace, especially the objective-type game modes. Cyrsis 3 does have “kill streak rewards” for getting so many enemy kills without dying, but you have to run out and collect the fallen enemy’s dogtags to start earning points towards those rewards. That’s a great touch. More importantly, those details that enhanced the campaign also apply to multi-player: paying attention to lights and shadows, moving foliage, and sound effects, are really important to the game play. These finely detailed elements elevate Crysis 3 above other shooting games.
Weapons: The Crysis series has always been a strange hybrid-combination of “modern military” and sci-fi shooters. Multi-player represents this by pairing the “sci-fi” nano-suit paired with “modern military” weapons. The alien weapons are considered “power” weapons in multi-player, and spawn at key locations on the map. Limited ammo keeps them from being too over-powered. Some maps also feature neutral vehicles. A non-pilotable VTOL jet hovers around on its own, but you can try to jump into the back and control one of its turrets. A controllable “mech” can be pretty devastating to the unlucky team that doesn’t get to it first, but it can be destroyed with enough fire power, or hijacked from above. No review would be complete without mentioning that famous predator bow. It practically sounds cliché already, but I’ll say it anyway: the bow is awesome! It is a one-hit-kill weapon, but it’s limited zoom keeps it from completely replacing sniper rifles, as does its unique “drawstring” fire-rate. The main advantage of the bow is firing from stealth without your cloaking ability turning off, as it does when other weapons are fired. Beyond all that, though, it just FEELS so rewarding to bring a compound bow to an intense “modern-military/sci-fi” firefight! Again, I feel these differences shouldn’t be overlooked, as they do help Crysis 3 stand out.
As I write this, the forums are flooded with console gamers complaining of matchmaking issues and lag problems. These issues may be sorted out, but it deserves mentioning that I’m having ZERO problems connecting to PC matches. Beyond that, there are key differences, OBJECTIVE qualities to consider, that elevate Crysis 3 (PC version) above other shooting games:
1. Sixteen players versus twelve players. Sure, that’s only four more players, but it adds more depth to objective game modes, and increases the tension and keeps the pace consistently high in any game mode.
2. Better graphics. As I’ve mentioned several times, the fine details in Crysis 3 ARE important. The little tells: flickering cloaked suits, moving foliage, ripples in the water, etc. are KEY to game play.
3. Smoother, higher frame rates. This is a fast-paced game. Every frame matters. The smooth, nearly lag-free game play of the PC version just makes it so, so much better.
4. Custom game types. OK, what? Why has nobody mentioned this, in ANY review? This is huge!
Customization, to me, can morph an “OK” shooter to an “amazing! I have to have this!” shooter. Crysis 3 *should* give players a virtual sand box to play in: nothing but predator bow matches, pistols only, no cloaking allowed, super-super sprinting enabled, the list is nearly infinite. Granted, the method of customizing matches is still a little obscure to me. It has something to do with renting dedicated servers from EA. All I know is that I’ve fallen in love with one great customized variation: playing as regular soldiers. That’s right, no nano-suit. If nothing else in this review has made my case that the PC version is so different than the console version, that should say it all. YOU CAN PLAY AS A REGULAR SOLDIER. Hopefully, the customization capabilities will become more fully realized, as games like Halo have developed STRONG communities by letting the players make their own custom game modes and even map variations. I’m not expecting a map editor for Crysis 3, but let us have more tools. Why not let us create a crazy off-road vehicle race mode? Or nano-powered melee matches with broken poles and blown up cars as our only weapons?
Conclusion: Crysis 3 DOES have enough to stand out from the crowd. PC and console gamers are going to get great maps, mobility, unique game mode variations, nano-suits, and predator bows. The PC version is just going to look better, run smoother, and have more players…and allows for *some* customization. Giving players even more options would elevate Crysis 3 even higher, perhaps even beyond Halo, but what is here is still outstanding.
Crysis 3 is available, February 19th, for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. It is Rated ‘M’ for Mature for: Blood, Strong Language, and Violence.