First Impressions: Crysis 3

After spending about a week playing the open beta for Crysis 3, I can tell that the game is going to look fantastic when it finally hits stores later this month.

The two available maps showcased the stunning graphics developer Crytek is known for creating. The environments were just a taste of the lush, crumbling “urban jungle” the developers have promised players throughout the game’s development. From the graphics of the maps to the detailed high tech look of the iconic nanosuits and futuristic weapons, it certainly looks like Crytek will deliver on giving players a gorgeous game. And that’s just from seeing it on the Xbox 360. No doubt Crysis 3 will look even more spectacular on the PC.

But beyond the eye-catching graphics, the meat of the game’s multiplayer experience wasn’t anything to write home about.

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The beta is strictly multiplayer, so I can’t speak to what the games single-player campaign will look like, but the competitive online play felt generic, despite Crytek’s attempts to add some new elements to the multiplayer gameplay.

The beta introduced players to a new game mode, called “hunter”. This mode splits teams into a group of gun-toting C.E.L.L. operatives and invisible, bow-wielding hunters. The hunters, well, hunt, and C.E.L.L. operatives they kill respawn as hunters themselves.

The other available mode was “crash site”, a popular mode from Crysis 2 which tasked each team with securing and defending downed alien “pods”.

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While I enjoyed hunter mode, as well as the cloaking armor ability that let you play multiplayer matches in a more stealthy manner, I really didn’t feel like it was any huge step forward in the FPS genre.

Yes, the cloaking device and other nanosuit enhancements are fun, but they aren’t really that different from the armor perks system in any modern iteration of Halo. Sure, the hunter mode is fun to play, but it’s really just a twist on a traditional “search and destroy”-style mode found in games like Call of Duty and others.

In the end, the multiplayer I played left we wondering why I would pay full retail price for a brand new FPS title that isn’t offering much innovation other than looking really, really good.

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While the gameplay itself didn’t get me particularly excited for Crysis 3, it did make me curious to see just what the future holds for the Xbox 360, even as it transitions to the twilight of its life as a Microsoft’s flagship console.

Crysis 3 clearly pushes the limits of what my console can do, and showed that there is still a lot of potential left in the 360, and the rival PS3. The slew of promising new titles set to come out this year (Metal Gear Rising: Revengance, Dead Space 3, Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite just to name a few) make me wonder if we are perhaps rushing drop our hard-earned money on the “next best thing” when there is still plenty of life left in our current systems. I look at those titles and feel like these consoles may are hitting their peak, not on the downward spiral into irrelevance that necessitates replacement.

Is it really time to move on to a new generation of gaming consoles? Are the PS3 and 360 really past their prime, or is that just something we are being told by companies eager to make a profit?

The answer to those questions is likely irreverent. We will be swept up in the hype and excitement of the new consoles when they are announced by Sony and Mircosoft later this year. We will watch the demos and read the reviews and argue on message boards and in the end, we will go out and buy them.

2013 saw the end of production of the PS2, with Sony continuing to release titles for the system through 2012, allowing gamers continue to play games on that system. I hope that 360 and the PS2 have second life after they are inevitably overshadowed by the next generation of hardware, and that in we will not be as willing to put consoles out to pasture before their time in the future.

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