Crysis 3 Preview

Make Crysis 3. ???. Prophet.

At EA's New Year's Eve event, they showcased a number of titles but saved Crysis 3 for last in their presentation. A visual heavy-hitter from Crytek known to strain PCs, even those built for games, the latest in the series is getting a boost from director Albert Hughes (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents, From Hell, The Book of Eli) in the form of videos showcasing the environments of the urban jungle the developers have dubbed the "7 Wonders."

We got a sneak preview of the first of these short films. It showed Prophet stealthily taking down C.E.L.L. soldiers in an overgrown urban grassland, cutting from a cinematic presentation of the soldiers falling one by one, to a first-person view as the nanosuited hunter switched from weapon to weapon, used different augmented abilities, and finally drew the Rambo-esque Hunter bow. Suffice it to say, I was eager to get my hands on it.

In a digitized abandoned trainyard warehouse overrun with grass and rusted fixtures, I tried my hand at the game's bow-hunting stealth. It was difficult to say the least. Killing one foe alerts the others that you are in the area; kill a second, and they use that info to further triangulate your location, increasing their state of alertness. However hard it was, though, it was still thoroughly satisfying to hear one C.E.L.L. soldier say to another, "He's hunting us!"

Stealth notwithstanding, the battle soon devolved into a series of firefights that ended with me dashing off to lick my wounds somewhere hidden to plan my next attack. I took my time, so that I could pick off as many C.E.L.L. soldiers as possible.

After ziplining out of the trainyard warehouse, I found myself in a field of tall grass between the odd derelict train car. Ceph grunts dashed in and out of the grass like lions on the hunt. The fastest way through was jumping from justed hulk to rusted hulk until I met up with Psycho, at a location that he needed to be defended while he made contact regarding the objective. In this section Prophet moved from hunter to hunted and had to hold enemies off using a mounted grenade launcher.

The demo ended with a brief but exciting on-rails section that involved riding a gas car down a closed train track overflowing with C.E.L.L. soldiers; riding a giant firebomb into enemy territory to move from one of the game's Seven Wonders to the next (which remains unseen, since the demo ended before the new location was revealed).

For the multiplayer section they showed off a Hunter mode. In this mode, set in an overgrown airport, the gameplay is team deathmatch, but with a catch. One side plays as augmented C.E.L.L. soldiers, and the other as hunters in nanosuits armed only with bows. Teamwork amongst the C.E.L.L. operatives is key, because when one of them gets killed, he respawns as an invisible hunter. On the other side, the goal for the hunters is to convert all the C.E.L.L. members within the round time limit.

To even the odds, the C.E.L.L. operatives have an EMP device that would the hunters visible while in its vicinity, and earn points for both staying alive and for taking down any invisible foes. My favorite moment was when an invisible hunter clubbed me to death with a ten-foot-long drainpipe he must have picked up along the way, which was also rendered invisible by the suit's powers.

The multiplayer, which was running on Xbox 360s, suffered noticeably in visual fidelity compared to the single-player demo, which was running on PC. There's a reason for those ridiculously high performance specs that Crytek recently released for the game. Still, there's a lot of time to beef up those textures, and again, I had just come from what was probably a really hefty PC build beforehand.

On a whole, from the time I got to spend with the game, I was impressed with the graphics (as one would expect from a Crysis title) and its challenging stealth options. In multiplayer, the Hunter Mode presented an interesting Crysis specific shift that highlighted the stealth-based bow hunting as a core aspect of both single-player and multiplayer. It's shaping up as a gorgeous game with intense action set pieces in a beautiful environment that looks to combine some of the most notable aspects of the first and second games in the series.