Crysis 3: Welcome to the (Urban) Jungle

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One of Crysis 3's sci-fi superguns fires 500 rounds a second. That would be 30,000 rounds a minute, math fans, if you didn't have to reload after near enough every squeeze of the trigger. With each squeeze, the Typhoon assault weapon emits a low buzz and minces whatever is standing at the business end of the barrel--making it a sound and logical advance for futuristic weapon design, if not a great feat of imagination (why not 5,000 rounds a second, while you're at it).

That's a bit like the general approach for Crysis 3. Set in 2047, two decades after the end of Crysis 2, it closes out the Crysis shooter trilogy, says Crytek, setting aside stand-alone expansion Crysis Warhead. Where the first game was set on an island covered in tropical jungle and the second in the ruins of New York, Crysis 3 is set in the ruins of New York covered in tropical jungle. It's a neat and consistent kind of progression, if not a great feat of imagination.

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The cybernetic alien Ceph and the human forces of corrupt private military outfit CELL return to be shot and stabbed by the nanosuited Prophet, who returns from the first game and from the dead (see Crysis 2) to exact vengeance on CELL for sealing New York under a dome in its quest for world domination. Prophet begins the game in a CELL facility, escapes, and ends up in New York's Liberty Dome, which was installed to capture Ceph and cleanse their presence with accelerated biological growth.

As a result of that growth, nature has reclaimed the city. Crytek says its city has undergone a full transformation, making it more of an "urban jungle" and less, say, like the New York of I Am Legend--a recognisable city overlaid with wilderness. The demo we're shown takes place at night in the remains of Chinatown, where Prophet arrives with Psycho (Brit protagonist of Crysis Warhead) nattering advice over his radio. The superpowered nanosuit's augmented visor display is familiar, tagging enemy fighters and the like.

As promised, there's more jungle than concrete to Chinatown. Swamps and leafy vegetation are more prominent than the occasional ruined buildings, though both look mighty pretty; the plentiful rays and detailed shadows come courtesy of an "enhanced" version of CryEngine 3. There, Prophet skulks around in the undergrowth with his Predator-like nanosuit cloak up, stealthing up to the bipedal Stalker Ceph and knifing them in the fleshy, unarmoured parts. His vengeful intentions manifest as post-kill quips addressed to no one in particular ("I'm going to kill you all one by one" and "We'll see who gets hunted").

Shooting from stealth is encouraged, too. Prophet's newest toy is the composite bow: a sleek, fold-out bow and a selection of arrow warheads not unlike Hawkeye-style trick arrows, with explosive, pointy, and electro arrowheads populating Prophet’s nanoquiver. With that bow, and from stealth mode, Prophet can silently skewer distant enemies, in keeping with Crytek's vision of Prophet as a hunter in the urban jungle.

Twang!
Twang!

Other weapons include those high-tech heavy weapons pinched from alien enemies, such as a heavy mortar called the highpoly. Other enemies include the Scorcher Ceph (small, crawling enemies that turn into flamethrower turrets when they halt and rear up) and Ceph aerial remotes (flying, seeking drones that strip off your stealth cloak). There's a new hacking mechanism, too, that lets you remotely reprogram enemy gun turrets, though don't expect a hacking minigame; the idea, says Crytek, is to add another battlefield element to strategise with, not to tack on a hacking puzzle system.

With our first look being a hands-off presentation, it's not possible yet to gauge how sandboxy the world and action of Crysis 3 will be, but at first blush it's flexible much in the same way as Crysis 2--far from free-roaming, but open to multiple plans of attack. Where and how much it does diverge from the last game, beyond the technobow and the New York jungle, we'll see as we go.

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