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Previews

Crysis 3: The best-looking game we've ever seen

But Crytek wants you to love how its threequel plays too...

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In this preview version, framerate is the casualty, silky smooth when demoed to us on a presumably NASA-donated PC (never-dipping under 90 frames-per-second) but likely the main concession for now six-year old consoles. Like Crysis 2 it'll churn and struggle during intense moments of debris-scattering mayhem, and the fire and lighting effects alone look too gorgeous not to send consoles to a crawl, but Crytek have ways around that. Bow, meet arrow.

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BOW STREET RUNNER

The bow and arrow are key to less CPU-straining stealth, a pointed example of your new survival skills. The go-to weapon of ancient conquerors maybe, but Sun Tzu never customised his with explosive arrowheads, fire modes and scopes. Rasmus coyly alluded to different ammo types too: "There's going to be a variety. They don't all just do damage."

Your Meccano-like bow is ultra-customisable and packs a punch: a cam that tracks your kill-shots to their gruesome conclusion looks like something straight out of Hollywood, and frag arrows make a more accurate alternative to vague grenade lobs. When all else fails? A trusty knife and a close-up execution. However, you're not the only one with expensive new hardware.

The Ceph are licking their wounded tentacles since the hydraulically-powered kicking you gave them in the last game, but they've returned locked and loaded. Flamethrowers, plasma mortars and stealth-disabling cameras swell their space arsenal and sit comfortably alongside massive Ceph tripods (think AT-AT's designed by Hideo Kojima) and hulking Devastator Units. And they're not alone.

You've also got to watch your space-age-fibered back against C.E.L.L. soldiers, who wield near-future tech like the returning SCARAB rifles and Jackal shotguns. Both factions represent different threats, different angles of attack. The Ceph are faster, bigger and stronger, but humans have tanks, jeeps and turrets. If it's anything like the last two games you'll be able to drive them all.

If the two come into contact? They'll fight each other, recalling heart-in-mouth moments from Crysis 2 where the Ceph took aim at tanks by flinging giant arching balls of white plasma during a night siege. The core powers of your suit are once again the focus: armour, stealth and power mode, along with your visor's heat vision and tracking binoculars - open different avenues for combat.

Crytek wasn't willing to be drawn on how the suit will differ from its predecessor, other than it will be "enhanced", but we know already that, through the suit, you'll be able to hack into alien turrets and control extra-terrestrial weaponry. The bigger fun for some, however, is shooting real people in competitive multiplayer.

CITY ON FIRE

It was an underrated hoot in the last game, combining a CoD control scheme and Brink-like parkour with high-powered armour abilities seemingly straight out of Halo Reach. "You don't even know yet if there's going to be a multiplayer, and you're not going to be able to rhetorically lure me into saying that there is one!" joked Rasmus. Oh come on, what's going on the back of the box then? "We're not talking about that now, but that will be revealed later on." We'll take that as a yes, then.

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Nature's reclaimed New York, and Crytek's reclaimed Crysis. There will undoubtedly be framerate issues on hardware less than a few minutes old, and those turned off by Crysis 2's invasion plotline and at times staggeringly dumb AI might find old issues remain - but it's hard to argue with high-tech weaponery, wide swathes of self-enclosed and stunning sandboxes, and do-it-your-way combat that packs a punch.

Welcome to the urban jungle.

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