The Crysis series has always been known for its demanding graphical capabilities rather than its gameplay and with Crysis 3 promising to “melt down PCs”, this trend looks to continue. A multiplayer beta was recently released for both consoles and PC so that players could experience what the new game has to offer in this department, but it’s immediately evident that Crytek should spend more time on gameplay than lighting and motion blur.
A few hours with the multiplayer reveals a painfully mediocre experience. There’s a frustrating feeling that something interesting could be achieved with the game’s undeniably solid shooting mechanics if more time had been spent considering map design and game-modes and polishing the unreliable net code.
Hunter mode, where underpowered CELL operatives must survive being stalked by invisible, super-powered Hunters, strives for tension but settles for tedium. Every round is a glorified game of hide-and-seek where the CELL operatives retreat to the most obscure corner of the map and camp there, aiming at the doorway for two minutes, or until a Hunter runs through.
Anybody attempting to deviate from this tactic will find themselves swiftly dispatched by the Hunters who, thanks to graphical adjustments since Crysis 2, are now impossible to see. CELL operatives are given a proximity alarm but instead of creating tense scenarios like the proximity sensor scene in Aliens, most of the time it just emits a strained bleep to let you know when you’re going to die. In its current state it is borderline unplayable.
Crash Site is a Headquarters inspired game-type where players must capture alien pods that fall onto the map, and hold them to win the game. In design terms this actually works well, however more glaring faults soon emerge. The biggest problem is frame rate lag on PC, which can be atrocious at times. Even running modest specs on a high-end PC the lag is unbearable and this will regularly get you killed.
Weapon balancing is also an issue and, coupled with erratic net code, it is almost impossible to anticipate the effect pulling the trigger will have on you or your enemies. Furthermore, the pitiful elbow melee is a one hit kill, which is absurd as you’re lucky to get a one hit kill with a shotgun from the same distance.
Environments are also filled with physics objects and makeshift weapons such as cars and lamp posts. In theory these provide entertaining, inventive ways to crush and smite your enemies but in practice they rarely have the desired effect, stopping short of their target or snagging on cluttered geometry.
These issues are also present on consoles but as the graphics and physics have been watered down so much to get the game running on these machines, there isn’t even much spectacle to distract from the technical and design deficiencies.
The Crysis 3 beta contains a myriad of faults and is a poor attempt at an FPS multiplayer in an already crowded marketplace. There are free to play games that vastly exceed this £40 car-crash. The game looks spectacular, but this does not even begin to make up for the terrible gameplay. The campaign could still be a lot of fun as many of these faults are caused by atrocious net code and unfortunate technical compromises to get the game working online, but the multiplayer simply isn’t worth your time.