Crytek’s Crysis series has always been known for it’s innovative and open sandbox gameplay. And while this has meant Crysis 1 and 2 had some of the more inventive single player campaigns in recent memory, it’s rarely translated favorably into the series’ multiplayer offerings. But now, with the trilogy concluding in Crysis 3, Crytek is taking one final shot at producing a multiplayer offering worthy of notice, finally leveraging the series’ creative nanosuit powers and inventive level design into the multiplayer suite. And from our limited time with the game’s multiplayer beta, it appears they’re somewhat on the right track.
Right from the start, it’s apparent that Crysis 3 is an impressive game from a visual perspective. Environments are detailed and lush, and the game’s character animations have an excellent sense of weight and place in the world. Small visual glitches were present in the matches we played, every game starts with a opening cutscene that is more often broken than not, but even acknowledging that, Crysis 3′s visuals are impressive.
Crysis 3′s beta ships with two multiplayer maps, Museum and Airport, and two modes, Hunter and Crash Site. Hunter is the most inventive and interesting mode of the two, it’s gameplay based around an tense cat-and-mouse dynamic. One team of CELL operatives must hold out against a small group of heavily powered and invisible Hunters. Every CELL player who dies respawns as a Hunter, creating a growing sense of tension and urgency as the game’s ranks become increasingly dominated by Hunter players. It’s a mode that rewards teamwork and cooperation between the weak but large CELL force, even if it’s funest moments come when all semblance teamwork collapses as chaos overtakes the survivors. Both the maps feel designed for Hunter, as well, offering plenty of choke points and opportunities of ambushes. It’s great fun, and only real compliant we have is that the mode’s time limit is set to a meager two minutes. It makes matches feel fast and frantic, but gives both forces far too little time to prepare and strategize.
Meanwhile, Crash Site is less successful. It’s a fairly uninspired derivative of modes like King of the Hill, with two teams vying to maintain control of an alien crash site. It’s a fine idea in theory, but in practice shows some flaws in Crysis 3′s base gameplay. While the gunplay in Crysis 3 is fine for stalking players in Hunter, it’s a little too slow and muddy for something as frantic as Crash Site. It’s something we hope Crytek can fix before Crysis 3′s release, because the base idea here is serviceable, and the addition of nanosuit powers gives it the potential to be something interesting.
Beyond that, Crysis 3 has standard ranking system, each level giving players new guns and abilities to customize their nanosuit with. It’s actually a fairly clever system, considering the nanosystem has always been one of Crysis’s most exciting aspect. It returns in full here, too, allowing even the most low-level players to utilize increased strength, agility, and endurance to their advantage.
Even though elements like Hunter and the inventive nanosuit abilities have made us more optimistic about Crysis 3′s multiplayer, we’re still cautious about it’s long-term appeal. To succeed in the crowded online marketplace, games need to do inventive and unique things. Crysis 3 certainly has it’s inventive aspects, but at the end of the day it’s still fairly basic shooter gameplay, some unique abilities and modes withstanding.