I don’t get packages often, folks, but when I do–and this isn’t a “Most Interesting Man In The World” thing–it’s always a surprise. This time, it was a preview copy of the Crysis 3 strategy guide, made by Bradygames.
Now, I’m no stranger to strategy guides. I played many a JRPG in my youth, and got the strategy guide along with the title to ease my way along. My last strategy guide was for a recent JRPG, a big hardcover book, with a stylized format almost an inch thick.
First, the book itself. The book is made of high quality stationary, and has a big picture of the protagonist, Prophet, on the cover. Once I wrangled it out of the packaging, it flopped around a bit. I wasn’t sure what to think.
That changed when I settled in to play Crysis 3 with the book next to me.
The book’s soft stationary and non-rigid cover fixed the largest problem I had with my last, not-to-be-named strategy guide; the hardcover book would randomly close on its own. The Crysis 3 guide can sit, unattended, open on the cushion next to me. It sits, patiently waiting for you to turn the page. It’s relaxed, knowing that your style of play may take more time per page than others.
Before I get to the content of the book, some background about me and the Crysis franchise first. I’ve not played the first title, and the second was something I enjoyed quite a bit. I lacked some background on the setting, though, and the second game was a bit hard to follow due to my lack of knowledge. The book in my hands took care of that though.
The first section of the BradyGames guide summarizes the happenings in the Crysis universe. It details the rise of the squid-like alien Ceph; the humans involved in the story; and their totally sweet Nanosuits.
I skimmed the controls section (as I had played the game before, and many other shooters at that), but still found some content interesting around the Nanosuit upgrades, which are summarized in four easy-to-read tables. It helped me pick out a combat suite for my playthrough quite nicely.
A neat summary of enemies was next. I had issues telling enemies apart in the game. Skimming this gave details about weak spots, weapons used, and locations throughout the game.
I read through the weapon section, though. The fiction around each of the guns, as well as the “dot-table” for describing strengths and weaknesses, was intriguing. I’m a sucker for a good setting, and it gave me pause and helped me take advantage of a few of the weapons I’d left unused so far.
In the walkthrough section, the real meat of the book, I noticed there are two separate playthroughs; one for the Sam Fisher / Solid Snake folks, and one for those of us who favor the Rambo / Schwarzenegger approach to problem solving. I took care to read through both.
I’m usually cautious about running into spoilers in these books. Have no fear folks, this strategy guide glosses over the major points of the story and doesn’t show detailed maps of single-palyer areas. The descriptions of the areas you traverse are covered with still frames and an easy-to-follow narrative.
The stealth walkthrough focuses on an almost pacifist approach, with tips for getting through certain areas with many of the enemies unharmed. The action playthrough, however, revels in every opportunity to dispatch as many of your enemies as possible with extreme prejudice, using fists, arrows, bullets, and high explosives. These two walkthroughs gave me a reason to play through a few troublesome areas again. I found myself saying, “Hey, there is a tunnel over there” more times than I’m proud to admit. That said, it added a layer of replayability to Crysis 3 that I hadn’t anticipated.
The last section of the guide focuses on the multiplayer content. I’m not a big fan of competitive multiplayer, but the toughest barrier to entry is getting to know the maps. Here is where the guide shines; it has detailed overviews of the game types, maps of the areas, and tactics for getting the most out of your time spent chasing others around a closed arena. It also details the many modules you work with in multiplayer.
In summary, this guide may not have added strategy to my rather boorish approach to shooters, but it did add replayability. It showed me the places I had overlooked in my mad quest to recover all my precious arrows. It gave me some alternate ways to get around the areas that had caused me frustration. The details on weapon types and uses helped me get the most out of my equipment, which would have helped a lot in my first few hours as the K-Volt isn’t the greatest for taking down soldiers. Who knew?
All in all, the book lowers the barrier to entry for multiplayer, adds richness of content to Prophet’s story, and gave me a reason to play Crysis 3 again. So if you’ll excuse me, I have some new hiding places to try out. That Predator bow won’t fire itself.