Everything old is new again. Much like the age-old testimonial that has been well used for years, and is still around today, it’s time to make that statement again, but perhaps a little more modernly now and with the question “But can it run Crysis… Remastered?”
Genre: First Person Shooter
Release date: 17 Sep, 2021
I have to admit back in the day when I first tried to play Crysis, my fairly new system, struggled to play it maxed out. I did have some concerns with trying to play it with my current setup because, much like many of you reading this, I have been unable to purchase a new graphics card due to the shortages. So, I was a bit worried, based on the history of the game that perhaps even current gen graphics cards would struggle, but I was pleasantly surprised. I was able to run it near maxed out settings even with my aging tech. Fortunately, a friend allowed me to try it with their ray tracing enabled RTX 2080 Ti so I am able to talk about both older hardware and modern hardware for this review. Since I don’t spoil stories, I’ll talk about all three games somewhat simultaneously although a reveal of the first game does get a bit spoiled but since it happens so early on I doubt you will mind too much!
Welcome to the Jungle
The Crysis series is your standard First Person Shooter at its core, but it has enough other elements attached to that core to set it apart from many of the others. The first Crysis sees you as a man in a cybernetically enhanced suit entering a warzone to look for a research team. This quickly goes sideways when you encounter more than you expected. The second game picks up shortly after the first game ends with alien creatures attacking a city as well as a corporation taking advantage of the situation. The third game, predictably, picks up after the second game, where the aliens have been pushed back but the corporation is enslaving the world… plus you know the aliens are still around in diminished capacity and need mopped up. The common thread in all the games is a man named Prophet and a kind of super soldier suit.
Let’s talk about the suit. The suit enhances the wearer’s abilities and is linked to the user. It allows for superhuman strength, ability to jump higher, gives tactical data, and protects its user with camouflage and enhanced armor. The suit can also be upgraded to further enhance its abilities. It’s not however so overpowered that you can just go be a bullet sponge and shrug off explosions though. It also has a limited amount of energy that will regenerate when its abilities are not in use. This means that in an extended firefight you might be in serious trouble, but if you play tactically, you can pop in and out lean around corners and basically be a one-person army.
While the games are a bit linear, they give a decent amount of latitude on how you want to get from A to B. For example, you can go in guns blazing and mow down anyone in your way, you can be stealthy and try to slip by unnoticed, or you can do a bit of combo, throwing objects to distract enemies and doing silent takedowns. For the first game for example, you start out near the water. There are boats in the water which you can steal and follow the coast rather than hike through the jungle. As long as you get to your destination blip it really doesn’t matter how you went about getting there. The tactical visor will show you key information about possible routes as well such as it suggesting you sneak past or avoid something, snipe a lookout, or otherwise avoid direct conflict, but I mean, if you have the ammo, direct conflict is still okay! If you are out of ammo, you can still stab enemies or choke them. I liked grabbing the aliens. It was kind of like, “this is probably the neck, so let’s just go ahead and squeeze and lift them by that.”
In some games the stealth mechanic is a joke, where the NPC AI will assume that it was just the wind that entered, put a bucket on their head and robbed them blind. While that can hold true here too, where you can sometimes make some noise and the enemy will verbally comment that it was probably nothing and carry on, that usually won’t be the case though. The AI in this game is almost too good for its own good. Sure, of course the game knows where you are, even if you are hiding or cloaked because unlike reality, the game needs to know you are playing and receives your inputs. The AI however, seems to cheat a bit and has access to this data because they are very good at spotting you, even when cloaked, when they didn’t know you were there in the first place. There is a meter on the screen that tells you how stealthy you are being and how alerted the enemies are to your presence, but if it is yellow or higher, it may as well just be red because they know you are there! This is not exactly a bad thing though; it makes the game more challenging. On higher difficulty settings this AI precognition can get very deadly very quickly if you are trying to sneak in and do a stealth kill and the AI gets alerted before you are in range. Hiding is almost pointless after the enemies have been alerted, they will swarm you even if you cloaked and have moved somewhere else completely. On the lowest difficulty setting, the same holds true with the overly sensitive AI, but it is more forgiving to you stumbling around the battlefield, even if they still will shoot at you, they tend to miss a bit more or at least don’t hurt quite as much. I have to say despite what it might sound like above; I actually liked the fact the AI was not overly forgiving and will also call for backup, it made it more rewarding for the times you didn’t fail to be sneaky.
In the opposite of sneaky, you can also steal quite a few vehicles in this game and just go barreling around in them. Some of them even have their own weapons. This is a good way to just say “screw it, I am not fighting my way through that” and just crash the gate doing ninety-eight. Sure, the vehicle will likely get shot to pieces, but you should come out of it relatively unscathed. I remember back in the day when being able to drive a vehicle in an FPS game was such a novelty. I think the first game I played that had that was Command & Conquer: Renegade. It was such a novelty to me back then, now it is a bit more commonplace. I’m aware there were games before that, such as Halo: Combat Evolved, which had driveable vehicles, but C&C: Renegade was the first one I remember experiencing it in. Getting back to Crysis, the vehicles I encountered all handle very well although the first game I found them to be a bit more awkward to control effectively and their physics was a bit floaty when hitting bumps. The civilian vehicles were kind of dull to run around in by design, but the military ones were fun.
Another element that was very unique for me back in the day was environmental destruction. It was Worms 2 where I first encountered it although it was better highlighted in Red Faction. One thing that early video games, and actually many games today still suffer from, is the fact that objects are pretty solid. Strapping a wooden fence with napalm and explosives and then firing an RPG at it, should, in theory, at least scorch the paint a bit. A lot of games have completely solid environments. That fine bone China teacup that can survive armor piercing bullets can really break immersion. Red Faction had highly destructible environments so your poorly (or deliberately) aimed shots could really wreck up the place, bringing walls down among other things. In Worms series, you could damage the floor to the point there is no floor there anymore! Crysis is quite similar, for example in the first game you could bring down trees with your weapons fire or smash apart a fence and otherwise kind of wreck up the place. I enjoy it when the environments are deformable although I can understand why some games elect to skip that due to the complicated coding needed to pull it off correctly.
Let’s talk a little bit about each of the titles in the off chance you can only choose one to pick up.
The most primitive in terms of gameplay, Crysis 1 sets the stage for the next two games. I feel you would be doing the story a disservice if you skipped this title. Sure, wandering through some parts of the game got a bit confusing, especially when I would do silly things such as stealing a boat or car rather than taking the proper path. For example, in the first part of the game you are in the jungle looking for the research team. I eventually got to the point where I could steal a militarized truck. After grabbing the truck I drove back and forth trying to figure out how to get to the destination marker. Ultimately, through a combination of my reckless driving and the enemy soldiers being very rude by shooting at me and throwing explosives at me as I drove by, I lost my truck. As I wandered my way back to grab another vehicle, I noticed a walking path into the woods and started heading up it. I hit a checkpoint, the game saved; I had finally found the right way to go! I continued on and then my stealth failed at a very inopportune time and enemy soldiers started coming out of the woods at me… the game saved again… uh oh. I did get gunned down the first time, and when I respawned at the checkpoint… well wouldn’t you know it, those enemy soldiers were still there, and they still hated me for being different. Through blind panic strategic planning, I managed to overcome the soldiers and proceeded to get lost in the woods again looking for the destination. I followed the road to the top of the hill then couldn’t figure out where to go from there, heading back down I found another path off to the side… and managed to progress the story at that point. From there I didn’t really get lost ever again… I’d like to say anyway.
Building on the first game, Crysis 2 really hits its stride. It offers enhancements and tweaks over the initial game although only offers one suit voice which is a bit disappointing. It’s acceptable though because I do like the default voice, just having the option in the first game makes its absence in the second and third game more noticeable. This time the game is mostly set in a city, and I won’t possibly get lost in a city…oops… I got lost in the city, but not as badly as the jungle! The tactical visor made it easier for me to see the various tactical paths I could make in the city and then completely ignore and go in guns blazing because someone spotted me scouting the area from what I thought was suitable cover. Going back to the AI being a little too clever, there was one part early on where I snuck into the sewers, my stealth meter still rather low, yet I heard one of them comment that I was in the sewers, despite the fact I am pretty certain no one saw me stealth in. Maybe they heard the splash and assumed it was me, who knows. Either way I managed to alert the entire base to my presence, so I dropped being sneaky and just started blasting my way through. While this game is older than Red Dead Redemption 2, I have to say the scene with the alien for some reason reminded me of Arthur Morgan’s unfortunate encounter with a tuberculosis infected individual while on his mission. Rather than getting TB from the alien, you end up getting your suit infected. This leads you on a mission to find a cradle and the aid of a scientist to diagnose the suit and has your infiltrating C.E.L.L..
Taking place well after the second game, the aliens are mostly gone other than the remnants scattered around. C.E.L.L. however, has become a powerful megacorporation that is controlling the world through alien power. Unlike the previous two games, this one seems to vary the scenery up a bit more. One major change besides some refinement to the suit mechanics, is there are more types of ammo available. In the prior games, it didn’t really matter what guns you had on you, if you found an ammo crate, it magically had exactly the right type of bullets you needed. Now that might not be the case. Sure, a standard ammo crate will have ammo for all standard weapons, but weapons like your handy new bow will need a bow ammo case. There are also special ammo cases for the alternate ammo options for your guns. Taking the bow as an example, you have your standard arrows, which if you go to the downed enemy you can recover, unlike a bullet. However, there are also one-use special arrows too such as the electric arrow which is particularly effective if the enemies are close together and in water. While many people say the second Crysis is one of the best ones, I have to say I enjoyed the third one more. It felt like you got to use your suit’s abilities more. For example, especially early in the first game, the suit felt like a gimmick. The second game made the suit feel more substantial, however, by the third game, the suit feels like it gets made the most of. I enjoyed hacking turrets to have them turn their attention away from me and back on their original allies. The hacking minigame was a bit of a repetitive act after a while, but I still proceeded to do it every chance I got. The hacking minigame is more or less a ball on an elastic string bouncing up and down in varying speeds and patterns. Your job is to stop its motion when it is in the box. This sounds simple enough, because it is, but you have to do it multiple times per hack. Sometimes you have to do many hacks in a row, so you will play the ball bounce game maybe 20 or more times in a row just to proceed a bit further. You then have to do it all over again for the next section.
I won’t go into details about the story, I always hate it when the story gets spoiled in advance, be it a game or a movie. Err… sorry about the earlier Arthur Morgan comment if you have not played that and plan to. The story in this series is delivered very well for a First-Person Shooter. With a mixture of character interactions, radio messages and cutscenes, the story is told to you as you progress through each game. The game is fairly story heavy, but it is in short bursts so it doesn’t take you out of the action for long. While it is a linear plot and you don’t really have much say in how the story unfolds, you do feel part of the action. I enjoy the fact the story is shared between titles, although it does mean you kind of have to play them in order otherwise it will spoil the story for you. There is a really well-made recap available to show you what happened previously if you want to start with the third one though as well as a much better tutorial. From both the regular story telling and some of the more philosophical quandaries the game just kind of lofts at you, I have to say it made me want to continue on just a little bit more to see what happened next. For example, and mild spoilers of the first few minutes of the second game, a smidge of the end of the first game and a touch of the third game, skip to the next paragraph to avoid! In the first game, you played Jake “Nomad” Dunn, with Laurence “Prophet” Barnes being the leader of the group, Prophet went missing and eventually returned a bit of a changed man. In the second game, you play as James “Alcatraz” Rodriguez, who encounters Prophet after an attack nearly killed you. Prophet gives you his suit and dies. However, Prophet left messages in the suit for you before his death. The third game, which I will remind you takes place at least two decades after the second game, has you playing as Laurence “Prophet” Barnes. Now the question is, how can Prophet be alive if he died more than 20 years earlier. That’s the quandary I mentioned before. Is he truly Prophet, his voice sounds like Prophet, he has Prophet’s memories, he goes by Laurence “Prophet” Barnes. In the second game, we had James “Alcatraz” Rodriguez wearing the 2.0 Nanosuit that previously was Prophet’s suit. It raises the question, what makes a person that person. The fleshy bits? Well, those belonged to Alcatraz. The memories and experiences? Those belonged to Prophet. Are both individuals technically dead, Alcatraz’s body was badly damaged before going into the suit? Is the suit itself alive with the fleshy parts acting as some kind of wetware? Regardless of the symbiotic relationship Prophet, Alcatraz and the suit share, anything that was Alcatraz, other than the physical parts, are suppressed and stored in some memory chip of the suit. The physical parts of Prophet are long gone, lost to the progress of time, but everything else that made him Prophet still remains active today. Sure, the game does give you a little better insight through its story telling, but I do try to avoid spoilers as mentioned.
It’s probably time we talk about the combat a bit more in the games. Despite the fact you are wearing a pretty powerful looking suit, you are not indestructible. The armor mode does help quite a bit though. If you remember to turn it on when a grenade lands next to you, you will probably be fine assuming you had enough energy in the suit to withstand the blast. You likely won’t survive another attack unless they give you a few moments for your energy to recharge. This makes the combat both hectic and forgiving. The stealth mode works well enough, although I swear I must shimmer or something because the enemies tend to see me. Your melee attacks consist of punching, kicking objects, stealthily stabbing someone or doing as similar to the start of Star Wars: A New Hope Darth Vader impression of lifting someone up by their neck until they stop moving then throwing them aside. When it comes to weapons, you typically can carry two guns and some explosives. If you want a new gun, you have to throw away one of the ones you already have. Also you can only carry a fairly limited amount of ammo; I guess the nanosuit doesn’t have very deep pockets. It’s fine though because all the people you mow down in your quest to do whatever it is you are up to at the time kindly let you take their weapons. Anyway guns are pretty much just laying out in the open everywhere… mind you the second game is set in America so I guess that makes sense. You also have the ability to add modifications to your weapons, such as changing the sights, adding a silencer, or changing the firing mode.
Body shots tend to take more than one hit, but a clean headshot can often take down a target in one hit. Explosives were a bit hit or miss. I could throw the grenade and have it land among several enemies, but they would easily survive what looked like should have been a nasty hit, get back up and start shooting at me. I have to the say I really enjoyed the third game’s bow, because you could adjust the draw strength, and with the maximum draw you can pin enemies to walls and objects. Sometimes with hilarious results, such as the guy who fell over an edge, except his leg was pinned to a crate so he kind of just dangled there thrashing a bit…then with a large grin of satisfaction, walking over, collecting my arrow and seeing him fall… I know what you are thinking but I am not a psychopath… I am a Prophet!
Considering the original Crysis looked great and was well known to tax systems for years after its release to try to render it in all its glory, the remaster is almost entirely better. Sure, some of the effects in the original looked a little better to me at the time, but that could be the old memory playing tricks on me. With ray tracing turned on this game looks fantastic, but even without it turned on the game is quite a sight to behold. The character models are all quite detailed and expressive. The special effects are mostly really well done. Watching a tree break in half as it falls never gets old. The aliens are not like the popular 1960s sci fi television show style, they actually look … well alien… not of this Earth with their glowing bits and armor plating look. While the first and second games don’t exactly do a lot to vary themselves for scenery, what they have works quite well. The third game really shines here and seems much more diverse.
Pretty much everything in the game is fully voiced, including your suit. The first game let you pick between suit voices although you end up with just one in the remaining two. The sound effects work quite well, and it is quite atmospheric. You are able to modulate your footsteps to be stealthier and you can hear the difference too. Stepping on various surface types also changes the footstep sounds. The guns mostly sound similar, but I mean guns tend do that, although you can hear the difference if you are using a silencer or not. I have to say the voice actors for this game did a wonderful job, and really managed to make their characters sound alive and expressive rather than just reading a script.
Controls and User Interface
The controls are all easy to use and well laid out for the most part. With there being so many different buttons to press, a gamepad probably would be good to help keep track of things. Playing with a keyboard and mouse, like any respectable PC gamer would, had quite fluid aiming and general movement. Sometimes I would forget which button does what and have to look it up and then write it down, but for the most part, everything important was easy to find and use, plus the game generally tells you the button to press if you absolutely need to press it at that time. The vehicles in the first game were a little tricky at first to operate, but that was mostly because I was trying to use their guns, aiming at enemies hiding in the bushes and running into trees in the process. The user interface gets progressively better as the series advances, but even in the first game the heads up display works well.
So, should you pick up Crysis Remastered Trilogy? It’s a shame that Crysis: Warhead wasn’t included in the remaster set because Psycho’s story shines there and makes his return in Crysis 3 more meaningful. With that said, the three main titles offer up quite a bit to enjoy. If you are a fan of FPS games in general, you will probably enjoy the Crysis Remastered Trilogy, it has pretty much everything that makes a great FPS games plus enough things to set it apart from the others to make it feel fresh and original. If you like story rich games, then the Crysis series is probably one of the better ones I have played. Sure, it doesn’t have as in-depth of a story as a JRPG, but for a First Person Shooter, it is remarkably well done. With each game being interconnected and all story threads interwoven it really feels like they went all out to make sure it was a good blend of gameplay and story. Sure, like most FPS games the gameplay can drag on a bit here and there and sometimes you can get a bit confused or lost because of the way the destination markers work, but there is nothing much to complain about there. Are there rough edges? Sure, I did experience some crashing, but it was very rare. Sometimes the spot to jump up and grab is obvious, but you are not quite positioned right to make it properly so the game just assumes you were not trying to grab the ledge and lets you fall back down again. Sure if you are trying to retreat or avoid combat it can get a bit frustrating, especially if your repeated attempts to get up there causes your cloak to fail and get yourself spotted, but that really didn’t happen all that often either. Overall, this is definitely a game to Save.