For years, the Crysis were games the master race lorded over console warriors; and now all three are in the Crysis Remastered Trilogy.
Since 2007, the original Crysis has been a long running meme for benchmarking a PC’s specs. This was a very demanding first-person shooter that required substantially high clock-speeds to display at max settings, featured advanced physics, and the most detailed environment seen in a video game for the better part of a decade.
When the seventh console generation came, so did ports of Crysis to mixed results. A sequel would follow that would streamline the Crysis experience; and would deemphasize on vast, open-ended, dense, photo-realistic jungle maps. Instead it would be set in a tight and linear, urban environment.
The third Crysis would bring the story to a close, and would find a sweet middle ground between the first two entries, as well as refine the game mechanics. The nanosuit would reach its full potential by this point, with the widest range of abilities the series ever had, but was the series ever good to begin with?
Now that technology has finally caught up, all three entries have been remastered and ported to every platform in the ninth generation. Were these more than tech demos? Or is Crysis more than the sum of its parts?
Crysis Remastered Trilogy
Developer: Crytek / Saber Interactive
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One (reviewed)
Release Date: October 15, 2021
Price: $49.99 USD
The games in Crysis Remastered Trilogy are very much of their era. The first Crysis was primarily set in vast, open ended jungles with almost no barriers to stop the player from exploring. There is a big emphasis on making the setting feel as realistic as possible, with lots of destructible geometry and wild life to make the North Korean jungle believable.
Crysis may resemble an open-world Far Cry-like action game, but it’s actually stage-based. Every level is played out in a linear point A to point B, but the paths to points are wide-open and full of variables. On top of side objectives, the original Crysis manages to have some of the best aspects of an open-world, by making each scenario focused with a goal and maximizing the space of every level.
Nothing is wasted, and the player always has a defined goal. Thanks to the vast scope of every area, the linearity is never suffocating, and the freedom allowed to the player gives options on how to negotiate any encounter; be it stealthily or violently. This is Crysis at its best, and thanks to the features of Nomad’s Nanosuit, gamers can approach situations in all kinds of ways.
Every entry in Crysis Remastered Trilogy puts the player in the nanosuit. This advanced equipment is made possible with alien technology, and expands the user’s abilities by switching between various modes. When going into stealth mode, the suit behaves like the alien in Predator, turning invisible with refractive distortions. It’s limited by regenerative energy consumption, so use with caution.
Energy is balanced by actions like moving, melee, jumping, and while having any of the modes active. While invisible, dashing is a quick way to completely drain the juice, and a tactical player will have to plan accordingly to take cover to allow the battery to regenerate.
The other mode the nanosuit has is an armored setting, that allows the user to absorb gallons of bullets and explosions, at the expense of energy and movement speed. This is handy when getting caught, since the suit only offers nominal protection when not hardened, and is a crutch for less skilled players who struggle with combat tactics.
Other than having to toggle between these modes with the shoulder buttons, nanosuits do have passive abilities that can be performed at the cost of energy. Power-kicks allow the wearer to send large and heavy objects reeling several yards, which can also be a cheeky means to crush the bones of any North Korean who unwittingly gets in the way.
The inputs to pull off these power moves involve holding down the melee button and this kind of “charge” comes at the expense of playability. This is made worse when trying to do a power-jump. Jumping is something most gamers will have hardwired into their reflexes, and in order to gain the extra height in Crysis Remastered Trilogy, players will have to account for the charge time delay when leaping.
This never feels natural in any of the titles in Crysis Remastered Trilogy. The idea is that the nanosuit is building up energy; hence the charge. In this instance, something like a double-jump would have made the controls feel more fluid to get the extra height. The time to fully charge for a power-jump makes the playability feel delayed and sluggish.
It’s too bad that this remaster does not take the opportunity to make the controls consistent across all three games. The first Crysis feels stiff and jerky compared to the sequels, and the third game feels the most fluid and responsive. Crysis Remastered Trilogy should have had an option for purists who prefer the feel of the first game, and a setting that makes it have the parameters of either sequel.
With Crysis 2, the game design drops the sandbox approach to the level design and becomes more like a tired Call of Duty clone. The sprawling jungle becomes a tight and claustrophobic urban setting, with plenty of waist high blockades to hide behind. Of all the titles in Crysis Remastered Trilogy, it’s the second game that feels the most dated.
Crysis 2 might have been impressive when it was on PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, but now there is nothing about it to distinguish it from any other first person shooter. The only saving grace it has is that it further fleshes out the story that was just slightly different than 1987’s Predator, and aims to establish characters and build upon the thin foundation set from the first game.
Crysis 3 is where the series finally hit a fair balance between all the best aspects from the last two games. It’s still a series of linear stages, but they are much wider than they were in 2. Where Crysis 3 shines most is the various scenarios and stage gimmicks that makes for a more memorable experience.
The main setting is a rundown urban environment that is covered in overgrowth. It’s post apocalyptic and full of points of interactivity to allow different approaches for players to combat PMCs or aliens. It doesn’t reach the vastness of the North Korean jungle, but each stage is packed with various routes and verticality to make each environment feel convincing.
Not all Crysis games are made equal, and because of this playing them all in the Crysis Remastered Trilogy will offer a lot of gameplay variety. Getting tired of being funneled through city blocks with soldiers on patrol? Jump into the first Crysis for freedom. Feel that the Nanosuit in the first game is too restrictive? Crysis 3 has mods to customize a playstyle.
One thing nobody ever talks about in regards to the Crysis trilogy is the story. While the first game is derivative and almost an afterthought, it does set up characters and plot elements that come into play in the sequel. Crysis 2 has the player assume the role of a silent protagonist known as “Alcatraz,” who is put into a nanosuit previously worn by Prophet.
Prophet was originally a supporting character from the first game, and during the course of 2 and 3 his role is greatly expanded. The alien technology in the nanosuit makes the wearer have a dependence on it, and there is some kind of biological melding that occurs too. When Prophet arms Alcatraz with his suit, a part of Prophet is copied; like his soul is left inside, and gradually infects the mind of the wearer.
This terrifying body-horror plot is something that is a big part of the emotional core of the trilogy. It’s one of the better aspects of the games that is executed well enough that it draws the player into the game world.
The overarching story may not be deep, but it’s competently told. The only issue with the narrative is how rushed it comes to a conclusion in Crysis 3 due to it being really short- roughly half the length of the prior games.
These were fine looking first person shooters in their respective gens, and in Crysis Remastered Trilogy they look even better. The Cryengine managed to produce visuals that looked a generation ahead since the first game, which was dense with photorealistic foliage throughout. The only visuals that looked out of place were the human characters, who had a limited range of animation and resemble CPR dummies.
With Crysis 2 and 3‘s smaller environments, the artists at Crytek were able to focus on finer details in the world. Crysis 3 especially looks incredible due to it being the later entry, when the developers had completely mastered their tools. Character animation and detailing looks very lifelike, and the realistic lighting with subsurface scattering effects makes flesh feel tangible.
On top of the incredible graphics that mostly hold up well, the frame rate on the Xbox Series S version is a very solid 60 frames per second. Crysis Remastered Trilogy is a series of games that do feature advanced physics, weather effects, and lots of destructible environmental details which could buckle the fluidity. It’s something that can happen, but generally it won’t except in very specific circumstances.
Crysis Remastered Trilogy has a few highpoints in the action, but usually it follows a milquetoast design philosophy that was played out even when it was relevant.
The first entry is very much just a tech demo with some ambition with the vast environment, wildlife, and drivable vehicles. Having fun in Crysis is the responsibility of the player to get creative. Crysis 2 goes too far in the opposite direction, to a point is becomes insufferable.
Crysis 3 is the most polished, and is the most varied the series can get. The nanosuit gets more abilities than ever, and the inclusion of the customizable compound bow gives more stealth options. The technology to make these games possible is still impressive, but it doesn’t amount for much when the gameplay is just OK.
For its price, Crysis Remastered Trilogy is a bargain for first person shooter maniacs. The only issue is that the collection is incomplete, since the Warhead DLC is missing from the first game, and all multiplayer modes have been gutted. It’s understandable that the multiplayer modes may not have been possible to preserve, but to lose single player DLC seems wasteful.
Crysis Remastered Trilogy was reviewed on Xbox Series S using a copy provided by Crytek. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.