Crytek was kind enough to let us get a hands-on preview of Crysis 3 today and opened by telling us that Prophet will be the main character – apparently he didn’t die in Crysis 2. Why? How? You’ll have to wait and see, we are told. On that note I was dropped into a New York cityscape invaded by the elements, sprawling with jungle plants and trees from street level to skyscraper and the CryEngine (with a bit of help from some very expensive computers we were playing on) had made it look stunning.
After having been sealed under a dome by the Cell Corporation, New York has become rather steamy and different sections of the city have been transformed into different types of jungle environment including canyons and swamps.
The area I was playing in, apparently a middling-sized level, laid out chasms filled with rubble and pools of water between toppled buildings that provided great vantage points for sniping and provided about 3 or 4 distinct pathways just from the outset, diverging and converging thereafter. There’s a clear emphasis on letting sandbox gameplay have its place amongst the scripted story, which is commendable.
The new weapons help with this player agency providing new stealth weapons like the bow that’s able to be fired right from stealth. However, if trying to stay inconspicuous all goes south you can just as easily select your explosive arrows and thereby arm yourself with a mini-rocket launcher. In addition to this, electric arrows can kill enemies standing in water and thermite arrows, my personal favourite, can straight-up burn through and blow up enemy cover, affording you a better shot.
It also appears the nanosuit has received a few timely upgrades allowing you to hack enemy turrets and now pickup gigantic alien weapons to unleash unnecessary destruction, as my unsuspecting enemies found out once I’d managed to fix the mouse sensitivity. There’s also a full suite of new weapons available thanks to Cell Corporation including a close-quarters machine gun I was told shot 50 bullets a second – no expense is spared in making the player feel like predator.
There are out-and-out brand new features but the new hybrid environment offers the best of both worlds from the previous two games, combining the lush and exotic environments of the jungle and the structured, tight-cornered streets and verticality of the city, and with Crytek’s graphical prowess that’s an interesting prospect.
The extent of the sandbox approach, however, is a little hard to gauge in just one level, though I certainly wasn’t funnelled down any corridors and I felt as though a little more exploration (had I had the time) could have rewarded with me with new routes through the environment and different ways to avoid guard detection.
Regardless, the new weapons, and the bow in particular, are genuinely great fun to play with, so if nothing else, Crysis 3 will be a great stress release and a good action experience. But if they really capitalise on the environment and the sandbox gameplay fans responded to in the original, this sequel could end up as a contender for shooter of the year.
Crysis 3 is out February 2013.