Crysis 3 Doesn't Reinvent the Wheel and Probably Won't Need To

E3 2012: Kurtis reflects on his time playing the Crysis 3 demo. It may be more of the same, but that's not a problem when the same is great.

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Crysis 3 made an explosive appearance at EA's conference yesterday. What was shown left many with lingering questions. Where are we: in a city, a facility, or a jungle? Who will we play as? Most importantly, what cool gear and gadgets will we get our mitts on? Today we were able to stop by EA's booth and get a hands-on demo of Crysis 3.

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The demo lasted around 20 minutes and took place about half an hour into the main storyline. The most surprising thing is that you take the role of Prophet, alive and well 20 years after his death in Crysis 2. How he survived eating a bullet was not explained. What is known is that the war with the Ceph left New York a ravaged wasteland. Cell in turn has swooped in and placed a dome-shaped barrier around the city, which has produced a tropical jungle within the urban environment. Our hero Prophet has witnessed a vision where the Ceph have conquered the world, yet there is still time to prevent such a future. There were no aliens during the demo, so all enemies were armed human soldiers.

The playable demo featured some gameplay that wasn't present during the press conference showing. Shortly before reaching the Cell-controlled damn, Prophet found himself outnumbered by Cell troops, but had a height advantage and the element of surprise on his side. We opted for stealth first, but quickly switched to brutal midrange fighting with the use of armor and a trusty side arm. The amount of Cell soldiers was too great, and eventually we sneaked into the main compound. After making our way past both a turret and a hacked door, we arrived at the previously seen demo. Most of the scenario played out the same, but our preference for stealth caused us to bypass the enemy choppers completely.

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From the short preview, one couldn't say Crysis 3 does much to improve on the superb gameplay and design of its predecessor. It's more of the same, but that familiarity is comforting. There are at least some new weapons and tech to make use of. First, the most prominent comes from the highly promoted compound bow. The standard arrows are powerful and felled an enemy with two or three shots to the body (and of course a single hit to the head); you may even collect fired arrows off a Cell agent's corpse, allowing seemingly endless ammo to compulsive hoarders.

There were also several other arrowheads, though most of them will detonate on impact. These included electric arrows that sent shocking pulses when shot at puddles and bodies of water. Pressurized arrows would knock back and damage enemies with a large radius of expelled air. Last was a classic explosive arrow that ignited close-range targets. In most situations the standard arrows were the most practical option.

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Another new improvement was hacking via the visor. Many doors were locked and Cell sentries were hidden around corners. By staring down these hardened bags of bolts, we were able to open new passages and turn turrets against tactless troopers. It required actually standing nearby the active sentry, making cloaking or armor the prime option to manipulate auto-guns.

Despite the new equipment seen so far, Crysis 3 doesn't seem to innovate on the series' staple of player freedom. Honestly, tweaking the already fantastic mechanics is the smart option. The strongest feature of Crysis 3 is the compelling plot and setting that will bring the trilogy to its close. Those who loved previous Crysis games will be foaming at the mouth for this next installment, but there just isn't enough new to sway naysayers. The public may judge for themselves when Crysis 3 hits stores February 2013 for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.

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