Publisher: Electronic Arts
System requirements: Windows Vista/Win 7/Win 8, 2.4 GHz Core2Duo/2.7 GHz Athlon 64 X2 or better CPU, 2 GB RAM (3 GB for Vista), 1 GB Nvidia GTS 450/Radeon HD5770 or better graphics card, DirectX 11, 16 GB hard-drive space
ESRB rating: Mature
Release date: Available now
I’m a gamer of habit, but while I enjoy a certain type of beverage or music selection while I’m playing on a console, it’s a completely (and far less simple) story with my beloved, albeit aging, gaming PC. See, I want the “maximum performance” out of my game, and if I know there’s something I can do to make my experience better, I do it. For example, I’d format my PC every time I got a new video card or dropped in a significant amount of RAM because I needed to see what the cleanest install and most updated drivers could do. Of course, back in the day I always had a test game — the height of what my PC could handle at the time. Whether it was how big I could make my Doom II window, or how high I could bump my resolution in Black & White 2, there was always that one contemporary that defined the level of my rig. Then along came Crysis…
It was a couple notches beyond what my last PC was capable of, so I played it on the lowest settings so I could at least enjoy some aspects. It was okay, but I vowed that my next PC would be able to run the bloody thing without making the lights flicker in my house (true story). I kept my promise, although by the time Crysis 2 came along I was beyond my need to keep up with the Joneses, so I let my components lapse and didn’t bother with the second installation. So why did I eagerly raise my hand for Crysis 3? Mechanically speaking, this rig’s on its last legs, even with a fairly kick-ass video card and everything else upgraded to whatever the ceiling is for my motherboard. Do I wish swift and fiery death upon my computer? Will the final installment of Prophet and his semi-symbiotic nanosuit go from “maximum armor” to “maximum meltdown”?
Quick answer: no. I was able to play through a brisk eight hours of the most beautiful, cooling-fans-in-overdrive Hollywood blockbuster I’ve ever seen. In fact, I went in search of console-comparison videos on YouTube and I can safely say that (as usual), PC gamers have been blessed with what will be considered “next gen” visuals for those other gamers months from now. The God rays peeking out of the blackness, silky-smooth depth-of-field, character facial expressions and the lushly overgrown New York were truly a sight to behold, and well worth calling a few friends over to show it off. Even if you don’t have the complete computing power to see all the visual glory Crytek has forged, there are still magnificent set pieces to explore and tragic vistas to behold, even on modest settings. Crysis 3 delivers on its hot point — it’s reeeal purty.
But like the really good-lookin’ gal at the end of the bar whose been staring at you hungrily in between sips of ketchup, there are some things great visuals can’t cover up. The story’s alright, but you’re not going to read any fan fiction anytime soon. The stealth and gunplay are sturdy anchors that keep things engaging, but there’s no massive donkey substantially pulling the cart forward. It’s just guns with attachments (although the “typhoon” made me crack a devious smile) and armor with upgrade slots. The campaign only takes eight hours and change to complete, which is just shy of being acceptable. Follow this up (in my experience, at least) with a couple of repeating crashes, like the one right before the last cut scene (thank you again, YouTube) and a finicky, disconnected mouse-feel that had me in and out of the options screen flipping switches and bumping sliders for the first hour or so of play, and the single-player portion of my experience was so-so if not downright frustrating.
But once the configuration gods were sated and I dipped into multiplayer, I found at least a dozen hours plus for any prospective buyer to enjoy. Your standard deathmatch varieties are here, along with capture point, capture the flag and a couple modes that are basically zombies and king-of-the-hill flavored with Crysis 3 cannon. Of course there are levels to gain and upgrades that come with it, so working up the kill ladder to kit yourself out should take awhile. There are even five quick slots to save loadouts, so you’ll always have the right setup for the job. Matches were quick to load, engaging, and carried all manner of back-stabbery and gracefully directed kill cams of yours truly taking one in the skull for the umpteenth time. Yep — lots of death, but lots of fun, too. It’s no wonder they tested the waters with a multiplayer beta first. This is where your money’s going.
So in the end, where does that leave Crysis 3? Is it just a glorified tech demo, filled with potential some PC gamers will never fully experience until it’s too late to care? Could you strip away the graphics and still enjoy yourself? Yeah, I think so. I try not to be too cynical about the whole thing. As long as you know why you’re going to this party in the first place, you should have a pretty good time ogling the single-player campaign, and be perfectly content dream-crushing fools in multiplayer the rest of the time. And yes, if you’re wondering — Crysis 3 is my new benchmark game.