Xbox One, PS4, PC
September 19, 2020
Back in 2007, Crysis was the video game that overheated computers and melted motherboards. A single player, FPS classic that developed quite the reputation for its dedication to graphical fidelity. It was also the game that solidified the CryEngine as a powerhouse of a tool in video game development and pushed the boundaries for what gaming could achieve. 13 years later and this beloved game has gotten a facelift, so how does Crysis Remastered stack up against such a legendary legacy?
Crysis Remastered has players take control of Jake “Nomad” Dunn, a U.S. soldier sent on a hostage rescue mission alongside a small squad of other U.S. soldiers. The game opens as a fairly standard military shooter but with one big difference. Nomad and his fellow U.S. soldiers are equipped with Nanosuit technology, turning them into super soldiers who can withstand extra blows, sprint at super speeds, leap high into the air, and even turn themselves invisible.
The opening segments of the game play out a little too much like a patriotic power fantasy for my liking, with the good guys America parachuting down and killing North Koreans, all whilst calling each other by their badass code names. It may have been a little too overdone for my liking but it doesn’t last too long before you realise that Crysis actually takes things in a different direction. This game isn’t just your standard military shooter, it moves pretty quickly into the realm of science fiction and suddenly you realise the North Korean forces aren’t the big threat here, it’s the intelligent alien species who are invading and occupying Earth.
“Crysis Remastered is a lesson in why working smart is better than working hard.”
I don’t want to give too much away for those who are yet to play Crysis, although there’s a moment in the game where the environment you play in switches up quite drastically, bringing about new challenges and different gameplay mechanics. It’s smart too, because Crysis, and therefore its remaster, definitely had the potential to become quite a boring and samey military shooter. Although the change of pace and scenery gave new life to the game and propelled it in a direction that was far more interesting.
The gameplay in Crysis Remastered feels pretty good, for the most part. Crysis was always an adept shooter and it still feels quite good today. Having the extra capabilities of your Nanosuit also proves to be quite a fun gameplay element, allowing players to activate traits within their Nanosuit to help them in whatever situation they find themselves in. The world is open but not too open, allowing for a traditional linear story to unfold but giving players an opportunity to move around more freely than your typical linear game. With super speed and higher jumps it makes sense for a larger sandbox to be available to play in. I will say however that I never realised how poor the turning circle was on your super sprint until playing through the remaster. It made utilising this skill less appealing to me as I run straight into yet another rock or tree.
Having the ability to turn yourself almost completely invisible was such a big win back in 2007. A fun gameplay element that gave you a new way to approach encounters and take on the world around you. In the remaster, the ability to turn yourself invisible is still a useful skill, although you can also see the shortcomings. The “stealth” gameplay in Crysis feels alright but not spectacular. You can see how Crysis was never designed as a proper stealth game and so the ability to go invisible feels a little tacked on. Other games and franchises that permit multiple approaches to encounters such as Deus Ex or Dishonored have just eclipsed Crysis since the original released. It’s not a terrible thing, but you can definitely see where the Crysis franchise could improve should they ever choose to revisit it with yet another sequel.
All in all, the gameplay in Crysis holds up surprisingly well. Although I had to admit, it was rather disappointing and confusing to see certain gameplay elements and features missing from the remaster. It means that in a few ways, Crysis Remastered actually feels like a bit of a regression.
Whilst the narrative and gameplay of Crysis Remastered are worth discussing, I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t open up a pretty detailed discussion surrounding its graphical fidelity and performance. Crysis was the game to play to try out your new high end PC back in the day. In fact it was still the benchmark years after its release. When Crysis Remastered was announced, it was no surprise to hear fans craving a similar identity for the remaster. The developers could feel it too, already needing to delay the game presumably due to backlash of leaked footage. In fact they even directly referenced their own meme when they announced a graphical mode called “Can it Run Crysis?” for PC. This is essentially a “very very high” graphical setting that should theoretically make the game look as good as it possibly can and push your PCs hardware to its limits.
Here’s the problem though, my PC apparently can’t run Crysis. For context, I have an Alienware Aurora R9 Gaming Desktop that utilises an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super graphics card. When playing the game on “Can it Run Crysis” mode, I’m met with an unstable and low frame rate that honestly made me feel a little nauseous to experience. I could, of course, turn down the graphical settings and play the game just fine, however. Reports have suggested that even the newly announced Nvidia 3080 isn’t capable of running this game smoothly on its highest settings. On one hand it’s cool that Crysis is once again reclaiming its position as the beast that destroys computers. However there’s one pretty sizable difference between now and 2007. In 2007, Crysis looked phenomenal. In 2020, Crysis Remastered looks… pretty decent. It’s unfortunate but it doesn’t matter if you have 8k textures, huge draw distances, and built in ray-tracing if you’re game is also lacking in so many other ways. You can tick off plenty of boxes and call your game a graphical beast but if the art direction, animation quality, motion capture and more is lacking then it brings the entire experience down regardless.
Crysis Remastered is a lesson in why working smart is better than working hard. You can push hardware to its limits and introduce all the latest bells and whistles, yet still come out somewhat underwhelming. I’d suggest that The Last of Us Part II, a game running on a 7 year old console, looks better than Crysis Remastered running on the very best of modern PCs. Suddenly the fact that Crysis Remastered pushes your PC to the limit isn’t so impressive, and it instead raises concerns of optimisation failures.
Graphics aren’t everything though. Crysis Remastered is still a pretty decent FPS romp, even if I came away disappointed by what I could get out of the visuals.
- Still a fun shooter
- The Nanosuit introduces cool gameplay elements
- Sci-fi narrative changes the pace of the game at the perfect time
- Capable of pushing PCs to their limits
- Feels a little less unique and special compared to 2007
- Some elements of gameplay could benefit from advancement
- Not as visually stunning as one would hope
I’m glad I was able to dive back into a game I genuinely consider to be one of my favourite shooters from back in the day. It feels a little more cliché now than it did back in 2007, but you can still see why Crysis was able to make such a name for itself. With more than serviceable gameplay and narrative, Crysis Remastered is worth a play for those who are yet to check this title out. Although with visuals that feel a little underwhelming, I wonder if those who already own the original would get much out of this remaster.