Forget what you thought you knew about the Crysis storyline. Prophet is most certainly still alive and kicking in the gorgeous new Crysis 3. I was able to try a hands-on walkthrough demo at this year’s E3 and came away mightily impressed. The portion I played takes place in a post-apocalyptic New York City that has been overrun by lush jungle growth and foliage. In the game, New York has been quarantined from the rest of the country by a massive overhead dome known as the Liberty Dome.
For this particular mission my target was located inside the Fulton Hydrodam. I started out on a ridge and made my way down to ground level for my first encounter with the opposition. The environment featured both dry land and knee-high water to travel across. Once I first laid eyes on the enemy Cell forces I had multiple options for attack including either head on or stealth, high road or low road. I went with the more direct approach and began firing with my high powered composite bow. Pulling back hard on the bow caused it to travel farther with more speed and force. In addition to normal arrows, by pressing the back button I could access a selection of special arrows that deal much more damage. One type would stick to whichever surface it hit before detonating after a short period of time has passed. Another would explode while still in the air, and the last type would electrocute the enemy hit and any other foe that would happen to be nearby. The bow is important because it is the only weapon you have with you at all times, you're also restricted to carrying only two types of guns at a time.
For the first time in series history, Prophet can pick up and use alien weaponry dropped by enemies. I got to sample a number of the game’s weapons this way, from long range rifles to powerful pistols, but the gun that stood out the most was definitely the typhoon, a damaging SMG that fired off rounds very quickly. Armed with this weapon, I was able to push my way through the gamut of intelligent AI enemies. Though I had one destination in mind, the game did not lead me down a single path to get there. The developers stressed the openness of the game world, claiming it was up to the player to decide how exactly they would get where they need to be.
A good example of this arose when I encountered a turret that locked in on my location and was capable of mowing me down before I got anywhere near it. By pressing the RB shoulder button I activated the cloaking feature of Prophet’s nanosuit which made me invisible for a short period of time. Using this feature I was able to flank the turret from the right, sneaking past all manner of foes, until I was close enough to hack it with the press of a button. Once hacked, the turret would no longer shoot at me and instead fired at enemies nearby allowing me to proceed unmolested.
I then came to an area which was inundated with enemies that had me pinned down from all angles. If I wasn’t careful, a number of combatants would be able to get up close and land more effective attacks. Of course I had to option to use a melee attack but I also found it helpful to combine a jump with either a kick or an arrow from above. Several times throughout this demo I entered doorways that would immediately depleted most of my suit’s energy. That is because they were equipped with tripwires set up by the enemy to leave Prophet vulnerable upon entering and exiting interiors. Thankfully, these could also be hacked so they were no longer a nuisance.
Reaching my destination involved crawling through vents, dropping down onto metal pipelines, and scaling the sides of buildings with ladders. When it eventually came time to plant explosives within the dam. I did so and afterwards a pair of angry helicopters began firing from above at which point I jumped, detonating the charge in midair before grabbing onto a zipline that brought me to safety. After completing the demo I really wanted to have another go at it and attempt to clear the level more proficiently and from another path, but alas my developer-guided, behind closed doors play session was over.
The Crysis franchise has always been worthy of renown for its amazing graphics and that is just as true with Crysis 3. Everything from the way water streams down Prophet's visor to the way the Fulton Hydrodam explodes in a spectacular display of water and debris is beautifully rendered. The colors are lush and all of the animations are top notch. If that weren’t enough, Crysis 3 will seem even more alive when played in 3D. Crysis 3 promises to bring the trilogy to an epic conclusion and let players become the ultimate hunter when it releases in February 2013.