[Several years ago, a copy of Crytek’s latest Nanosuit-toting adventure was dispatched to Tarryn. Then SimCity happened, and Tarryn’s city o’ trashmongers devoured all of her attention, leaving Crysis 3 all alone. It wandered the streets, hungry, sad and filled with bittersweet memories of its short time with Tarryn, Oh, how they had laughed and played and Maximum Stealth-ed together! Then, in a freak accident, Tarryn hit the hunger-dazed game with her car when it crossed the street without looking both ways. Carrying it home in her arms, feeling much remorse for leaving it to fend for itself in an angry, dangerous world, Tarryn nursed the once-forgotten game back to health. In the process, the pair became inseparable, their legendary bond one for the ages. Or at least a bond worth a few hours of Predator Bows and kicking cars into soldiers. This is their story.]

New York, 2047. Some 24 years have been and gone since the events of Crysis 2, and things have only gotten much, much worse. It’s kind of obvious because of the graphics, but the story is a convoluted, largely incomprehensible muddle of half-realised concepts and easily missed exposition, and it was only after reading a plot synopsis on Wikipedia that I found out what actually happened in the game. Maybe I was just distracted by the graphics, though. I’ll get back to that.

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In the meantime then, Crysis 2 protagonist Prophet/Alcatraz (it’s complicated) has been captured by CELL agents, and shipped to a top secret facility ahead of some almost certainly unethical medical procedures. After a dramatic rescue by original Crysis co-star, Crysis Warhead hero, and ranked pottymouth Michael “Psycho” Sikes and his team of underground resistance commandos, Protraz and his magic spandex leotard set off to save the world. Again, but this time for realsies, or at least until the next sequel.

If you’ve played previous games in the series, there’s not much new here in terms of core gameplay, although the cover mechanic introduced in Crysis 2 has been removed for some reason (boo). With its enhanced armour, cloaking, and mega-strength modes, the Nanosuit accommodates variable approaches to the game’s scenarios, but – as before – I found myself using stealth to pretty much bypass most of the dangerous shooting stuff. You could accuse me of cheating the system, perhaps, but I prefer to think of it as giving those CELL baddies a second chance to make up for their crimes. Maybe some of those guys really turned their lives around later, you know.

You can also collect Nanosuit Upgrade Kits to boost your stats, including things like extra cloaking time and increased speed, and save these in up to three custom configurations of four modules each. With my own cheating focused strategy, I found myself using just one of those configurations for the entirety of the game, but players who prefer to mix things up a bit will find loads of options here.

To keep things interesting, Crytek decided to add the all-new, all-primal Predator Bow to the weapon lineup, plus four ammunition types for contingent purposes and big explosions. The biggest draw, so to speak, is that using the Predator Bow won’t break your cloak, making this one the go-to weapon of choice for maximum discretion. It’s a bit tricky to aim – and with no reticule on Supersoldier difficulty, very tricky – with the added complication of adjustable draw weights according to force and distance required, but it’s also something a bit different in a game that’s otherwise fundamentally more or less exactly the same as the last one.

It hardly needs to be said that Crysis 3 is very impressive to look at, but I’ll say it anyway – Crysis 3 is very impressive to look at. Even on console, this is a game that’s visually so far ahead of (almost) everything else, it’s sort of astounding. Levels sprawl on a scale seldom seen in today’s standard corridor-based shooters, with a density and fidelity of detail that’s simply unprecedented plus huge, magnificent set pieces that make Crysis 3 a worthy buy just to see the state of where game graphics are now, and will be in the next generation.

That kind of cutting-edge technological sophistication doesn’t come without its own inevitable issues, though, and the game suffers somewhat for it. I’m not usually one to complain about bugs in games, but I had to replay a whole chapter after something went wrong right at the end of it and the game couldn’t progress any further. Elsewhere, some of the achievements are glitched on Xbox, so I didn’t get one for completing the game on Supersoldier difficulty – an occasionally tedious slog I’d much rather not repeat. Even on lower difficulties, the enemy AI at times seems almost sorcerously aware of absolutely everything, everywhere, so hiding behind ostensibly solid surfaces, for example, isn’t always as reliable as it should be.

Evaluating a game like Crysis 3 is a perplexing proposition because its razzle-dazzle graphics notwithstanding, it’s only just a competent FPS with nothing substantially innovative or even interesting about it. I could make a compelling argument in favour of Crytek keeping things the way they are just because they work, I’m sure, but if you’re looking for something that’s really going to revolutionise the genre or your perception of it, this is not the game to do it. Make no mistake, it’s heaps of fun and it’ll definitely keep you entertained for a few hours, but two weeks later, you’ll probably mostly remember it for the pretty face.