All the way back in 2007, FPS shooters were going through a renaissance period, with titles like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Bioshock setting a new standard for what was capable within the medium of gaming. The innumerable recreations of Saving Private Ryan’s D-Day landing would soon be a thing of the past, giving way to a more diverse list of shooters, each with their own unique story to tell. However, there are arguably none within this time that done so with quite as much visual splendour as Crysis.
Back in the day, one of the biggest flexes one could throw other gamers way was that your PC could run Crysis on the highest settings. Granting you access to the purest version of a game that revolutionised the gaming landscape not only with its impeccable presentation but with a varied and intuitive mechanics, a sci-fi narrative that gripped the player from start to end and all the necessary FPS tropes to make this a title that would go down in history as a classic.
So thirteen years on, Crysis becomes the next game to get the illustrious remaster treatment, aiming to bring one of the most polished games into the current generation and share this iconic title not only with the younger generation but with console players who may have missed this one entirely. In this review, we answer all the important questions. Does this remaster capture all that was special about the original? Is the Nano-suit still as cool in the harsh light of 2020 and most importantly, will your console run Crysis? Here is our review of Crysis: Remastered.
Nomad, You Still With Us?
Jumping into the game, what you’ll immediately notice is that a graphical masterpiece in 2007 doesn’t come close to achieving the same acclaim in gaming’s current generation. This title plays host to visuals that while being undoubtedly the best representation of this title that we have ever seen on console, simply look like graphics that you could have found at the end of the Playstation 3’s life span. It certainly adds some polish to visuals that are over a decade old but in doing so, the game runs into a series of presentational problems.
The first comes in the form of it’s frame rate. Back in 2007, perhaps it would have been unreasonable to ask for your game to run at a constant 60fps, especially considering all the moving parts within the open areas that Crysis has you explore. However, now that expansive open-world shooters such as Far Cry 5, Fallout 4 and The Outer Worlds have been able to deliver outstanding experiences with little to no technical errors, it doesn’t allow the Crysis series to use its usual excuse. This game is not too powerful for its own good anymore and for this reason, you have to blame the developers for poor optimisation.
These drops in frame rate become most apparent when you start shooting down destructible assets of this landscape and the game can’t keep up all the action on the screen. This leads to a choppy display and suddenly, you begin to consider that outside of Crysis’ strong visuals, perhaps it wasn’t that strong of a title in hindsight.
If you happen to be playing on PS4 Pro, there are a number of added graphics options to choose from that will help optimise the game depending on your preference. These are the Ray tracing system, performance setting and the quality setting which is set as the default option. The ray tracing adds a much more demanding set of changes to the overall presentation that made shadows and lighting much more crisp in areas, however, this does come at the cost of a slight drop in texture and resolution quality as a whole, especially in open, outdoor areas. This mode may not run any better or smoother than the quality mode but it certainly doesn’t run worse with frame rate and frame drops being just as regular. In short, this one feels like the middle ground between quality and performance.
While the performance mode aims to solve the frame rate issue by cutting back on the visuals in the hope of delivering much more smooth gameplay. While it certainly is much smoother in this mode, the game was still only able to manage about thirty frames a second and we also still witnessed frame drops. The performance mode is definitely the way to go if you have the option but it doesn’t do anywhere near enough to rescue the games underlying performance issues.
You’ll witness many other presentation related issues in this game too with one frustrating and immersion-breaking problem being the checkpoint system. For some unknown reason, the developers have decided to take away your ability to save the game on the fly and it’s had a really negative effect on the game as a whole. When a player reaches a checkpoint, the game will bring proceedings to a halt in order to update the save file and load assets ahead of the player, shaking the screen in the process and breaking immersion entirely. If you need a point of reference, it’s rather like what The Elder Scrolls Oblivion‘s loading screens that would occur during natural play. In this current age of gaming, this sort of issue is laughable, and perhaps goes to show just how little actual work went into this title outside of making it look slightly more aesthetic in areas.
Then while on the subject of the enhanced textures, it’s clear that even these are inconsistent. While foliage, water and other environmental effects do look like they’ve had an overhaul, it’s clear that others haven’t, creating a jarring contrast that only serves as an eyesore. Rocks, inanimate objects and character models outside of cut scenes are the real culprits in this respect, offering textures that aren’t in keeping with the enhanced one’s added by the development team.
Crysis in a state of Crisis
The complaints sadly don’t end there because even though the blueprint for the gameplay was there to be replicated, this game finds a way to drop the ball. While it would be very easy to go after the games outdated gunplay or mechanics that fail to meet their potential but we will only mention the aspects that the remaster has brought to the series. In short, what it has brought is a litany of performance and gameplay issues and a tonne of bugs.
Within the first thirty minutes of our playthrough, we saw the enemy AI continuously run into a wall in an attempt to reposition. We also exploited the speed mode of our suit so that when we ran out of energy it ran infinitely at top speed until we shot a bullet from our firearm. We began using a turret at an enemy camp only to get stuck in place and have to reload the checkpoint only moments later to come across an enemy soldier sitting thirty feet in the air, floating and simultaneously manning said turret. Plus, when entering various battle sequences there seemed to be no real change in impetus from the musical score, leading to a really drab and lifeless gunfight with only the unenthused voice acting of the enemy NPCs to fill the airwaves. You really wouldn’t expect a game of this calibre with this much respect to be so poorly made and yet that’s exactly what you can expect from this title.
There also isn’t a very comprehensive tutorial for players to learn how to use their wide array of abilities. A section that is very important considering the move to brand new hardware. The game will show you how to move, use your gun, melee and change gun attachments but doesn’t go into detail on anything else. Which would be fine if they didn’t have the audacity to change how some of these abilities worked in action. Let’s take the armour mode as a prime example.
In the original game, armour mode was not a function that cost any energy for the player and this worked well as a defensive tactic, especially in the more tricky difficulties like Delta mode. However, this game decides to have your armour mode cost energy, often leaving you exposed in firefights and relying on some cover to stay alive until it replenishes. In the game’s defence, you can turn this change off in the settings mode if happen to be playing on PC but for PS4 players, this is a burden you’ll have to live with. Meaning players will have to suffer through a frustrating series of fights that needn’t be as rage-inducing.
Load times are also incredibly slow for a title released in 2020. Between each chapter, you will find yourself waiting at least a minute if not more before the game decides to let you get on with the next. While it’s a small gripe, you have to consider the flack that games as recent as a few years ago such as Bloodborne or Marvel’s Spiderman got flack for this same reason, so we don’t see why this title should get any preferential treatment.
Quality of Life
Though putting aside the mass of issues that the remaster adds to the title when porting to console, a lot of the game’s shortcomings come from the developers not adding any quality of life fixes to the game. The most relevant example being the AI. While no one wants the core gameplay, story or mechanics to change all that much, there is some wiggle room for change if needed. Yet bafflingly, one thing this game decides to keep exactly the same as the 2007 version, is the braindead enemy AI.
When playing sections of this game you’ll be able to walk up to enemies in their line of sight and have them look straight through you. The enemies will almost never be able to find you if you make any sort of effort to evade them and if you shoot their pal, well, that’s no cause for alarm according the KPA soldiers, for them it’s just another day.
Other small issues worth noting are the inability to skip cut scenes which can be a pain depending on your preference, the soundtrack could really have used a facelift as the score for this game feels generic and dated and if you are talking to characters when not in cut scenes and you walk away from them, you simply won’t be able to hear them at all, which can lead to the player losing out on important story exposition. These are all areas that really needed dragging into the modern era with a touch-up and the developer’s decision to change nothing really shows the rushed nature of this games development.
If You’ve Got Nothing Nice To Say
With so many negatives being so blatantly on show for this title it can be hard to see the small moments of light in the darkness. However, the game does a few things right, one of which being the button binding and control system. With such a wide variety of mechanics to play around with on the original PC title, it was obvious that the PS4 version would have to make some sacrifices. For example, you won’t be able to lean anymore to get a shot off from around a corner. Thankfully though, the intuitive way that the developers have incorporated the suits modes into the natural actions the player will make is really smart.
To access speed mode, you simply have to sprint and it will happen automatically as you run To access strength mode, simply hold X to strength jump or pick up huge objects as and when you need to. Armour and cloak mode are easily accessed by the left and right triggers and you can jump between these options on the fly, still allowing for the same tactical combat options that the original managed to offer.
Let’s be clear these controls are far from perfect. The way you access the weapon attachments with the touchpad button is clunky and slow and doesn’t lend itself to a fluid combat scheme. Plus, thanks to this compact way of representing the various suit modes you lose full control of some aspects such as the power of your strength jump, which will now always jump to maximum height. Plus with speed mode always activating when you run there is no way to move fast without a vehicle to conserve energy. It’s a flawed system but one that probably does the best job it can of delivering intuitive controls to a console version.
On top of this, the game does still have high points that are a product of the success of the past version. The story is still a well-told sci-fi adventure, the destructive environments while wreaking havoc on your frame rate are still rather impressive when they do function smoothly and the ability to approach missions any way you see fit is still very much present, leading to emergent gameplay that encourages replay value. The only problem with all this, however, is that you have to make a lot of allowances for the game’s shortcomings in order to truly enjoy the experience.
To summarise what this game does right and wrong in an attempt to deliver Crysis to the current-gen population, it’s a whole lot of wrong and not much right. The game does a decent job of cramming the controls onto a console controller, it has all the same narrative and core gameplay high points of the original but sadly, that’s where the praise stops. Sadly the developers have been unable to deliver the high-quality visuals that the original offered and they certainly haven’t been able to improve them either. Often you will find textures turning into pixelated messes, you’ll find objects clipping in and out of the map and there are deep inconsistencies with the textures that show as they are intended. However, despite the poor visual presentation, the problems don’t stop there.
The AI is dumb as rocks, the vehicles all still control like bulky tanks, load times are laughable for the time of release but above all of this, the sound quality is perhaps the biggest problem. The musical score is dated and often it will play at inappropriate times with tranquil ambient music playing during gunfights and intense fight music starting up long after the enemies have been taken out. The mixing of the music is also poor, often being too quiet even with the use of headphones and these issues all culminate to make the game very hard to enjoy and almost impossible to immerse yourself in.
That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy yourself at all though. After a while, you will find yourself reluctantly coming to terms with the shortcomings of this game and accepting it for what it is, a straight port of a 2007 title that you can play on your PS4. There is still a lot of joy to be found in this game if you view it this way but if you go into this one expecting a polished and definitive Crysis experience, you are going to be extremely disappointed. Is it worth the price tag? Absolutely not as this game seems broken beyond repair at this point. Does it do the Crysis franchise proud? Again absolutely not. Then of course, the all important question, can it run Crysis? The simple answer is yes but just barely.
So that’s our rundown on Crysis: Remastered. Did you pick this one up at launch? Has this title met expectations for you or has it been a real let-down? Do you think that the original Crysis can still compete with the amazing library of games on offer today? Let us know in the comments.
Summary: What begins as a simple rescue mission becomes the battleground of a new war as alien invaders swarm over a North Korean island chain.
Genres: First-person shooter, stealth
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4(Review Version), Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Release date: September 18, 2020
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