Energy Critical

HIGH The original Crysis is still both a technically and mechanically exceptional shooter.

LOW Way too much content missing to be considered a true “collection.”

WTF …Boy howdy, centering the series around a pandemic was a bad call in hindsight.

A remaster of 2007’s Crysis has been out for over a year on PC, PS4 and Xbox 360, and it was a baffling product.

As a remaster of the 2011 Xbox 360/PS3 version, it was surprisingly playable, but a lot had to be downgraded in order to get it to run on those machines, including cutting an entire late-game level that featured flying in a fighter jet. Port developer Saber Interactive chose to do this because Crysis in its original form is still a total CPU hog. It was designed in 2007 with massive single-core CPUs of the future in mind, but companies instead switched to multi-core CPU designs — as such, the anticipated single-core CPUs never came to fruition. The result of that missed guess means that it takes a beefy PC to run Crysis on max settings and a high framerate/resolution even today.

In light of all this, Saber did what they could to bring the console version up to speed, but 2021’s Crysis Remastered is a strange mish-mash of graphical fidelity where some parts actually look better than the original, while other aspects (namely the physics and draw distance) are worse. It also launched in a fairly buggy state, but Saber has been diligent in cleaning it up. Performance has improved, most of the bugs have been squashed, and they even put the flying level back in.

In April, they added enhanced backwards compatibility for PS5 and Series S/X owners, and playing on PS5 gives access to three different display modes.

Quality mode targets 1800p with improved visuals and a mostly-stable 60FPS, but there are occasional dips in performance when things get hectic. Performance mode tones down the graphical effects and targets 1440p to achieve a more solid 60FPS. It is more stable, but in larger levels the framerate still takes a small hit. On top of that is a rather crazy Ray-Tracing mode that uses the engine to artificially simulate ray-tracing, and it’s surprisingly successful at it. With that said, it doesn’t have the same effects as Quality mode and it only targets a 1080p resolution. I would recommend Quality mode, as Performance mode isn’t stable enough to make the cuts to resolution and fidelity worthwhile, and ray-tracing mode at its lower resolution (which gets even lower in many situations) will look blurry on modern TVs. The game was tested on PS5 for this review, but various reports suggest performance may be slightly better on an Xbox Series X.

So even today the experience is not perfect, but it’s worth celebrating the fact that there is now, finally, after nearly fifteen years, a good version of Crysis on consoles. It’s always been lauded for being a technical marvel, but apart from that, Crysis is also an exceptional first person shooter in its own right.

Crysis takes place on one giant island with levels that task players with capturing various objectives split into multiple levels. The game’s calling card (outside of its environments) is the Nanosuit, which allows players to enhance their armor, speed, or to cloak themselves with invisibility.

The scale of Crysis‘ levels and the variety of ways players can choose to handle encounters is still immensely satisfying, even today. Want to rely on cloaking and sneak around opponents? Go for it. Wanna go full-blown Rambo, turn on extra armor and blast through everything in an explosion-filled spectacle? Equally valid. Into tagging enemies from afar and sniping them one-by-one? Can do. See that boat over there? Steal it and skip half the level.

Crysis does not limit the imagination of its players, and this flexibility adds tremendous replayability to the campaign. It does get more linear as things go on, but the shooting mechanics are strong and it has no problem delivering excellent setpieces. When one factors in how good it still looks, Crysis has aged shockingly well for a first-person shooter, and anyone into the genre who has never had a beefcake PC capable of running it properly would do well to check it out on next-gen consoles.

…Oh wait, I’m reviewing the whole trilogy? I suppose I need to talk about Crysis 2 and 3.

Let’s start with the good. Both look outstanding on PS5. Saber Interactive used the original PC code for these remasters, and they run at what looks to be near-max settings, along with some new light filtering targeting full 4K resolution and a rock-solid 60FPS (neither 2 nor 3 offers the multiple display modes of the first). This represents a tremendous leap forward when comparing them to the terribly performing Xbox 360/PS3 versions. The audio design is excellent as well, and gunfire packs a punch. This pair doesn’t look too far off from modern shooters, which is rather impressive considering their age — it’s just a damn shame I found Crysis 2 so profoundly uninteresting.

There may not be a franchise more affected by an industry-wide fervor to find “The Next Call of Duty” than Crysis. What was once a huge, open-ended sandbox of mayhem designed with cutting-edge PCs in mind had to be reeled back in order to make another urban military corridor shooter that could run on home consoles while executives prayed for That Modern Warfare Money. I’m not a fan of Crysis 2, and I never have been. The shooting mechanics are quite good, but I found going through generic streets with a nerfed Nanosuit to be underwhelming. I barely felt the need to use my cloaking or armor powers, as simply shooting dudes in the face seemed to work well enough in most encounters.

Also, I know Crytek had absolutely no idea that COVID-19 would upend the entire world when they chose to make Crysis 2 about a pandemic that wipes out New York City, but I really, really do not want to play a game centered around a pandemic right now. The first Crysis didn’t tell a particularly good story, but story wasn’t a focus. The sequels take a now-touchy subject and do a piss-poor job of presenting it to the player. It’s all a little too in-your-face with the whole “stacks of diseased bodies” thing and it doesn’t have the tact or subtlety necessary to make it anything other than distasteful.

While 2 does nothing for me, Crysis 3 is better than 2. It takes place years after the events of the first Crysis and is set in a reforested New York, which makes for a more interesting locale that brings back the original’s atmosphere and the scale of the environments was expanded. Stealth feels like a more viable option than in 2, and there’s a rad bow to use. The story is still rather middling, but the campaign is enjoyable.

While three campaigns in one place is fair value, it’s a good thing they called it the Crysis Remastered Trilogy rather than the Collection, because there’s quite a bit of content missing. The most glaring omission is multiplayer, which was cut from all three titles — of special note was Crysis 3’s very Predator-like “Hunter mode”. However, more disappointing is that the expansion pack title Crysis Warhead is MIA. It was an excellent standalone campaign that may actually be my favorite Crysis-related content.

Further, while the results are great for enhanced backwards compatibility, I would have liked true next-gen versions of these titles. I would like to think that fully harnessing the PlayStation 5 would have ironed out the first Crysis, and it definitely should’ve helped with the load times. All three feature exceptionally long loading screens when booting from their main menus, not to mention that adding haptic feedback on the Dualsense controllers would’ve made Crysis 3’s signature bow even more enjoyable.

Overall, the Crysis Remastered Trilogy is a weird product. While it’s great there’s a (mostly) high-quality version of the original Crysis available to console players, it’s also the only real highlight. Crysis 2 remains a dreary scaling-back of its predecessor, and while I like Crysis 3 more than the second, it’s not particularly noteworthy. The most compelling argument to be made here is to players who’ve been curious about Crysis after hearing about it for years — now, here’s a great way to play it. Getting the other two is just a bonus.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Disclosures: This trilogy was developed by Crytek, ported by Saber Interactive. and published by Electronic Arts. The game is available on Playstation 4 (with enhanced features for PS5 users), Xbox platforms, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on Playstation 5. Approximately 16 hours were devoted to playing the game. The first Crysis was completed, while Crysis 2 & 3 were tested for technical competence and have been completed by the reviewer previously.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and features Blood, Strong Language, and Violence. All three of these games are in fact M-rated shooters with a fair bit of blood, mangled corpses, and military men swearing a lot. Nothing really rises above that, but parents with kids experiencing COVID-related trauma from the current pandemic may find Crysis 2 in particular to be unsuitable.

Colorblind Modes: The game features no colorblind modes.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game features voiced cutscenes, and the dialogue is presented in white font. The text is not resizable. All dialogue and instructions are provided in text, and there are no necessary audio cues. With that said, for those who want to play stealthy, being able to hear enemies in the environments is key to success, so that could bring up issues for some players.

Remappable Controls: The games controls are not fully remappable, but each game features multiple control layouts.

Jarrod Johnston
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