The term “can it run Crysis” was once a derogatory term used to challenge the benchmark of a newly released PC. And there was a perfectly fine reason for that. Crysis was once a graphical powerhouse that used up every megabyte, and developers Crytek knew they pushed the boundaries in AAA gaming. That was back in 2007, things have changed. Technology has advanced, and we can now pack all three Crysis games onto a single machine, and the benchmark to run it is miniscule in comparison to what it was before. Crytek have now released the trilogy with updated graphics in the Crysis Remastered Trilogy to bring this once key series back to the forefront of everybody’s minds.
Let’s start at the beginning. The game that started it all is a first-person shooter at its core. You are Nomad, a member of an elite team of soldiers who are dispatched to Lingshan Island to investigate a distress call from your comrades. It’s not long before things take an extraterrestrial turn as it seems it wasn’t humans that decimated your fellow colleagues. The story isn’t amazing, and it is very predictable, but it is more than enough to carry the game forward, and Nomad and his Raptor Team associates, Prophet and Psycho, are voiced well enough.
The element that sets Crysis apart from other first-person shooters is the Nanosuit, a second skin that turns the average soldier into some sort of super soldier by granting them abilities that make them a cut above the rest. The first Crysis fell down at the first hurdle when it came to this potentially awesome suit. The game encourages you to use the suit’s cloak ability to sneak up on or past unsuspecting enemies. You can only do it temporarily as using the suit’s powers uses up its energy. Why do I complain? Well, the dodgy enemy AI seems to know exactly where you are when the cloak is disengaged. Hiding in deep foliage does not help one bit. The remastered version has some beautiful greenery that is enhanced to fit the aesthetic of the setting; however, it does nothing to hide you. And once you’re spotted, there’s no escape until every enemy is dead. Also, even though the game encourages stealth, there are no takedown moves at your disposal if you do happen to sneak up on an unaware foe. Once bullets start flying though, the game picks up. Treating Crysis as a standard FPS is by far the best way to go as the suit is better in these situations. Things take a turn around halfway when you are up against the Ceph, a squid-like race who are more of a threat than the soldiers, but still, my earlier complaints remain.
Crysis is a slog. The dumb AI, useless Nanosuit abilities and a predictive story take the charm away from the beautiful environments that Lingshan Island has, which look even better with the graphics option turned to ray tracing.
Crysis 2 feels better across the board. The graphics are better, the story and gameplay are more streamlined and defined, and the plot feels grittier and more serious. The Ceph have penetrated New York, and it is up to you as new protagonist Alcatraz to stop them. There’s also a virus raging the city, but thanks to Prophet, who you’ll recognise from the first game, he enables your survival by handing you the newly improved Nanosuit 2 before committing suicide (told you it was grittier). You’re also up against CELL mercenaries who were hired to police Manhattan and kill anything that is infected by the virus, including Alcatraz.
Crysis 2 is more compact than the first game. Areas are more carefully designed, and thanks to your new suit, you’re able to use its visor to scan and tag enemies, ammo caches and explosives. This adds a satisfying degree of strategy to every encounter. There is a trump card though. Crytek has improved the suit enough to finally grant the stealthy option. Alcatraz can use the cloak to sneak past grunts with ease or use his knife for some stylish takedowns. It feels better this time, and in 4K it’s stunning. The Nanosuit’s alternative mode is a little more useful too. I failed to mention it in the first game’s snippet of this review simply because it was practically useless to me. The Nanosuit’s Armor Mode hardens the suit to allow you to take more damage. This time though it is vital for survival in the more hectic firefights. Crytek finally gave us a suit worth using.
The environments are more urban, with fights taking place in subways and crippled buildings. Crysis 2 looks better at night. The new lighting effects are way more prominent. Light peering through windows and reflecting off of nearby surfaces stand out beautifully. Crytek learned a lot from last game’s complaints, it seems, and capitalised tenfold.
Then comes Crysis 3, the crème de la crème of the trilogy. Crytek have now mastered the elements adopted from the previous two games and created this fantastic piece of software. Everything has ramped up in terms of quality here, from the story, performances, graphics and gameplay to the Nanosuit’s abilities.
We now play as Prophet as he returns to New York, which is now encased in a protective dome structure. He hunts the CELL operatives who manufactured the dome and searches for the truth behind its construction. Obviously, in true Crysis fashion, CELL isn’t the only foe he’ll be facing. The Ceph remain a threat too, but saying why here would definitely spoil the game. From the moment you begin the game, it is clear how far the series has come. From the stormy weather effects to dense shrubbery, Crysis 3 covers all bases in terms of environmental hazards. They hide you now too. The Nanosuit’s powers are more useful than ever. Even though the enemy remains super smart to your location, they are more inquisitive when they see something they are unsure about. You’re soon given a new weapon to play with, namely the bow. The bow is a departure from the firearms we’ve seen in the past, and it is overpowered to Hell, which in my opinion, makes it a marvel to use. It has crunch here, as do all weapons in the game. You can now hack things using the visor of the suit to open doors, gain valuable intelligence and even acquire Ceph technology. The suit can be upgraded too to increase the its abilities and make you more sustainable when it comes to the increasingly formidable enemies you’ll face as the game progresses.
It is easy to tell you to start the series at Crysis 2 or 3 and skip the first game as it is a forgettable slog, but playing through it will give you insight as to why things happen with regards to the overall plot of the series. You’ll be forgiven to ignore this though. It isn’t an easy game to play through. Crysis 2 is more accessible and a crap-tonne more fun. Then there is Crysis 3, it is a joy to play and home to some jaw-dropping locales. I wouldn’t say it was worth the hefty price tag, however, for a bog-standard shooter with some ambitious but failed ideas, a serviceable sequel and a great third act. Maybe wait until the price falls.
Developers: Saber Interactive, Crytek
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 15th October 2021
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Crysis Remastered Trilogy was provided by the publisher.