When I decide on what movies I want to see in theaters, it comes down to who’s starring in the movie, and what the movie is about. Sometimes, though, the visual effects are enough to pique my interest. Just recently, I saw Life of Pi, primarily for its stunning visuals (the story and acting just happened to be outstanding as well). I applied the same philosophy for choosing to play Crytek’s Crysis 3 video game, the newest installment of a franchise renowned for its superb graphics. While I had not played the first two games of the series, I wanted to see the beauty of the scenery and environment of the latest chapter for myself.
In Crysis 3, you play as Prophet, who is trying to stop the CELL Corporation, which has taken over the world by gaining a monopoly on energy using alien Ceph technology. The source of their power is System X, which is located in an abandoned New York City set in the future. As a side effect, System X accelerated the growth of vegetation in the surrounding area, effectively turning the metropolis into an actual “Urban Jungle.” Prophet navigates this world encased in a powerful nanosuit that has many abilities. The suit enables him to enter stealth mode and easily sneak up on enemy soldiers or allows him to absorb gunfire. However, these abilities deplete the suit’s energy and cannot be used in an unlimited fashion. Prophet also utilizes a variety of firearms to kill enemies, including a high powered bow that can be used while staying in stealth mode.
The majority of the game takes place in and around New York City, and it is certainly a stunning visual experience. On the outskirts of the city the long grass sways in the wind and the water ripples with the slightest disturbance. The lush landscape looks like it was ripped straight from a movie. In one sequence, you are forced to wade through a field of tall grass while Ceph stalkers hunt you relentlessly in an eerie manner similar to the Velociraptor scene in The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
In downtrodden warehouses, beams of sunlight shine through holes in the roof and scatter perfectly across the surface. As you make your way through the numerous streams and swamps, Prophet’s heads up display (HUD) glistens from the moisture. The graphics of Crysis 3 make you feel as if you are in the game itself, and on many occasions I wished that I could climb atop one of the skyscrapers that inhabit the city to take in the scenery, much like you can in the Elder Scrolls and Fallout titles.
But Crysis 3 is not like those games; it is not an open world. Instead, the game is a typical first-person shooter with defined levels, predetermined routes, and specific enemies to kill. I was stuck walking through laboratories and buildings at times, rather than roaming outside in the vibrant urban rainforest, and the closed environment seemed to waste some of the beauty of Crysis 3. Having visited New York, I would have been excited to explore the city and the abandoned overgrown ruins of places that I had seen in person.
This is not to say that the game was disappointing. While not long Crysis 3 had a sufficient story and during the game I had fun sneaking around in stealth mode and shooting enemy soldiers with bullets or arrows. I enjoyed finding new ways to kill, such as firing my bow while sliding or stomping on an enemy while jumping off a ledge. As with most first-person shooting games though, the gameplay became repetitive (there are only so many ways to kill waves of bad guys, after all).
In the end, I did not play Crysis 3 because of its story or gameplay. I started the game with the expectations of gorgeous scenery and stunning visuals, and I was not disappointed (however the game looks even better on a powerful PC due to the graphical limitation of consoles). So if you have a free night and an HD T.V., I recommend you pick up a copy of Crysis 3 and simply take in the sights.