It’s almost the stuff of legend and has become a trope for benchmarking PC hardware – so you’ve upgraded everything, but can it run Crysis? For a 15 year old game it’s impressive that it still gets that recognition. Crytek’s seminal open world (sort of) tactical sci-fi shooter has been reissued a number of times over the years, and now it’s time to see how current generation console hardware copes with the lush visuals, destructible environments and open ended gameplay in Crysis Remastered. Things have moved on a lot in the FPS genre over the last decade and a half, we’ve had numerous Modern Warfare games for a start (including circling around to a reboot/prequel) – so will it stand up compared to them, as well as delivering on its promise to melt graphics chips? Have Sabre Interactive done the original game justice? Can the fancy software based raytracing technique in the CryEngine deliver on current gen hardware? We’ll find out.
Telling the tale of a team of spec ops soldiers in hi-tech nanosuits, you were playing as Nomad, part of the troop sent to infiltrate a remote island occupied by the North Koreans. In constant radio communication with your unit and command, it was largely a one-man army affair that used a blend of stealth and suit abilities to traverse the tropical island and get the upper hand. Nomad and his squad’s skills are enhanced by what they’re wearing, and it effectively makes them supersoldiers able to run faster, jump higher, shield themselves to take more damage, or become invisible. The suit power makes the use a tactical decision because it’s not infinite, and it’s balanced by recharging that acts as a cooldown, but it’s a small price to pay to be able to make it through platoons of enemy combatants. Add an intriguing story that makes sure all isn’t as it seems by the end and it’s a neatly packaged game that spawned two sequels to continue the adventures. Crysis Remastered is an update to the original game to include all the bells and whistles that current hardware can offer, but there’s a catch… it’s an overhaul of the PS3/Xbox 360 version and not the original PC release.
Crytek’s original masterpiece was lauded for its freeform approach to combat, the large scale maps, inclusion of vehicles, and the ability to level just about anything that got in the way. On-the-fly weapon modding adds to the flexible approach where a simple button press allows for most parts of a gun to be swapped out at will. This adaptability lets you jump from sneaking through a facility and taking an objective with minimal fuss, and armouring up for a full on assault. If things start to get too hairy, vehicles dotted around provide an escape, and there’s always the surrounding jungle to disappear into and regroup. Only simple objective markers on the map point to the locations, so it is very much a case of exploring the world and watching your six for any patrols that might sneak up. The emergent behaviour of the systems at play make for a dynamic experience that’s not easily forgotten, and there’s plenty of scope to experiment with different weapons and abilities without feeling restricted.
What we’re really here for with Crysis Remastered though is the graphical update. Boasting quality, performance and raytracing modes on the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X there’s a fair amount to get excited about, and it’s that draw that’s going to get the punters in. Will we be able to finally declare “YES! I can run Crysis!“? No. Emphatically no. This review has been held off for several weeks in the vain hopes of a patch that will come and fix the issues and maybe add some optimisation, but it’s never arrived and there’s no word on one either. On the PS4 Pro the only mode that isn’t affected by a truly awful blur across 3/4’s of the screen is Quality. In theory this is running at 4K 30 fps, and it’s perfectly playable, if a little sluggish in response. Raytracing does work, it’s just the amount of graphical glitches and texture drop out make the scenery distracting rather than part of the experience. Performance mode has the same issues just without some fancy water reflections. Any excitement about seeing what it would look like with some beefier tech behind it is crushed after the slowdown riddled intro and the appalling artefacts. Check out the video for a scene 10 minutes into the game, and look out for the offset box of blur that’s more noticeable when the ADS is in use.
It’s not that it doesn’t look pretty at times, there are some nice moments to stumble across, even if these tend to be let down by old models and textures on the buildings and NK forces. For a remastered game it doesn’t seem like a lot of remastering has actually taken place. If you let those things slide and find the most stable graphics mode (that will still have slowdown when it gets busy), there’s the gameplay to contend with. Innovation in the time since Crysis was released means some of the clumsier elements really stand out. Enemies can spot from a far greater distance than you can spot them, and through foliage too, so you’ll find yourself getting shot with no clue where from. Aim assist only assists in missing the target, though ignore that and bullet spread will also mean a miss too. It seems random on how much punishment the opposing forces can take, usually it’s far more than Nomad can even when fully armoured. Mounted weapons are deadly to trees and not much else… it goes on. It could simply be stepping back into an unrefined genre piece that’s causing the disconnect, though some of these elements should have been addressed.
Despite the issues though, I’ve found myself having the odd bit of fun with it. The tank section through Onslaught is still great; the stealth is solid when you’re back into the swing of recharging cycles; and the scavenging for weapons and ammo adds another layer that’s largely been dropped from games over time. Crysis Remastered’s story is obviously unchanged and that’s got some intriguing moments too, assuming you can hear them because the audio mix is diabolical at times – Nomad sounds like he’s been muted, and even in full scale battles there’s a weird lack of atmosphere. Again, you can argue it’s a product of its time and we shouldn’t expect top tier mechanics from it, but what’s the point in the remaster moniker then? If you’re looking at this expecting a graphical powerhouse that will wow with the visuals and gameplay then expect disappointment from an unfinished port. However, if you want to simply experience the game because you’ve never played it and can look past the faults, then there’s worse things to spend your money on.
A PS4 review copy of Crysis Remastered was provided by Crytek’s PR team, and the game is available now on PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC for around £25.