Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Version tested: PC
Set inside the C.E.L.L-built New York nanodomes, Crysis 3, as you’d expect, looks spectacular. Considering these are artificial forests set within a virtual game, they look startlingly real. Since the first Crysis launched back in 2007, the wizards at Crytek have consistently produced some of the most technically stunning videogames ever burned to disc. Crysis 3 is no different.
Graphical prowess is now part-and-parcel of a new CryEngine game; it’s pretty much a given at this point. There’s only so far HDR lighting and deferred shading will get you, though; the game’s got to be fun, and, based on our admittedly brief time with it at the Eurogamer Expo last week, we’re glad to say that it is just that.
We jumped into a few rounds of a new multiplayer mode called Hunter. Sixteen players start the round – 14 are C.E.L.L operatives, two are hunters. The hunters are basically Predator, if you’ll excuse my laziness, and the idea is for them to take down their prey before the time runs out. Once you kill a foot soldier, they become a hunter and must fight with you to eliminate the remaining C.E.L.L forces. This game mode should be familiar to anyone who’s ever played a zombie shooter – think Infected in Call of Duty. The objective for C.E.L.L forces is to survive for two minutes – a feat which is easier said than done.
The hunters are armed with a bow and arrow and, for all intents and purposes, are invisible to their adversaries; as an operative, if your spidey-senses tell you that a hunter is nearby, you can throw a special grenade that will de-cloak the pesky blighter, allowing you to fill him full of led. It’s an interesting mechanic, and you’ve got to be fairly certain that there’s an enemy nearby, otherwise you’re just needlessly giving away your position, and more crucially, the positions of your teammates.
Initially, the hunters seem grossly overpowered, but as the rounds progressed, the operatives started to survive for longer and longer; it’s all about learning the hunters’ habits and being extra diligent when you’re moving around. Standing out in the open is a big no-no, as you’ll simply get taken out, but standing near bodies of water can prove to be useful as you can see the hunters’ ripples as they trudge through the swamps towards you.
Playing as an operative is tense, suspenseful, and at times, genuinely quite pant-shittingly terrifying. It’s true that the game is balanced ever-so-slightly in favour of the hunters, but that’s the point. Surviving the full two minutes would give a proper sense of accomplishment – one that I have yet to savour.
Personally, playing as a hunter is where it’s at. I tend to play FPSes covertly anyway, almost always opting for the sniper class, so the use of the bow and arrow was perfect. Creeping around amongst the bushes, studying my prey and analysing their movements before pulling the bowstring taught and releasing pointy vengeance upon the corrupt C.E.L.L forces was definitely one of the more satisfying things I experienced at EGXP. The bass-y ‘thud’ upon the arrow’s impact coupled with some lifelike character death animations was worryingly cathartic.
You can ‘Become the Hunter’ when Crysis 3 launches in 2013.