Crysis 3 is a game without a reason to exist, much like the character of Prophet. Ousted briefly for the 2nd installment, Prophet has taken over the body and more importantly, the suit of Alcatraz, the playable character from Crysis 2. He is now a soul without a body, and this has left him in conflict in how to view the Ceph and their hive mind.
With this installment, Crytek is banking a great deal on their promise to sell world-class graphics as an experience. The graphics are indeed fairly exceptional, conveying a sense of dynamism to the many environments. Crytek has imagined a New York city that has returned to nature, with thick brush covering all the outdoor areas. All the shaders, lighting effects, and particle effects are impeccable. This is probably one of the best purely realistic style game to be made, and scales well from PC down to console, although the console versions are beginning to show their age. Many of the maps are ingeniously designed conveying an impressive architectural depth, with a great degree of maneuverability. The world is far less open, however, than either previous entry in the series.
Like Adam Jensen from Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Prophet experiences a transhumanist existential crisis, as he begins to wonder how much of the man is left behind the visor. Unfortunately, many of the suit powers your character wields now seem rote after the extent of Jensen's abilities. These include the returning stealth, speed, jumping, and strength powers. The player can also hack many objects in the world to intelligently alter the battlefield. One major addition to this entry is the compound bow, a weapon that is introduced as drawing on the suit's strength, explaining why it is the single deadliest weapon in the game. Players are encouraged to utilize stealth for much of the experience, as the bow has the ability to fire silently and in combination with stealth mode. Prophet also gains the ability to pick up powerful alien weapons.
The game opens with a very Metal Gear Solid type experience, as an underpowered Prophet is unfrozen by a suitless Psycho from the previous games. Psycho bring Prophet up to speed on the last 20 years, with a multinational corporation named CELL coming to rule the world due to their control of an energy-source of unlimited potential. They make their way out of an underground compound and into the heart of New York City, site of CELL's energy project.
There are several different enemy types, ranging from the human CELL commandos, enforcing the rule of a corporation that has dominated much of the earth, and the eventual return of the Ceph fighters. Boss encounters are fun, and most of the levels are best played with stealth, as the commandos call for reinforcements without much provocation.
The gameplay experience feels passionless, like even more of a tech demo for CryEngine 3. Enemy encounters can be fun and challenging, yet so much of the game design feels somewhat shrugged off. Some occurrences will have players feeling deja vu, with moments like a dune buggy sequence straight out of Half-life 2, several images reminiscent of Halo 4, or even a Dam level from GoldenEye. The experience is better lead in one sense, with a clear throughline that follows only around 3 characters, and challenges Prophet to cause some epic destruction.
However, with a campaign lasting only around 7, the player will be left wondering where this series has gone from part one to the present, with Crytek limiting options and streamlining to the point of ineffectiveness. The game is short, and doesn't seem to have a lot of replay value. True, you could replay each level, since they are so segmented, but given how the average player experiments with gameplay types, most players will already have experienced all they're going to want to with a single playthrough of the campaign.
The multiplayer functions very similarly to the Call of Duty series, with large maps, and the full range of abilities including maximum armor, speed, and stealth. The best unique mode is Hunter Mode, a zombie style gameplay mode where one player starts off with the Nanosuit and the others spawn as regular soldiers. As the hunter takes out more players, they join him as a hunter.
Overall it is hard to look at this game as anything more than a failure of creativity, or perhaps Crytek's is best displayed in what they put on the screen, a triumph of aesthetic.