Crysis Remastered Trilogy PC Review

Last year brought the, after a few rumours, remastered release of the original Crysis. Crysis will forever be cemented in PC history because, at the time of release, it was a stunning looking and exceptional playing first-person shooter. It stood out due to its open approach to gameplay, thanks to the power of the nano-suit, and the elements of the jungle filled Lingshan Islands that gave its combat a non-linear feeling across its chapters. Every person could approach combat in multiple ways, using the tactics of the suit or the destructiveness of the buildings that would lead to everyone having their own experience with the, at the time, pretty decent enemy artificial intelligence. Crysis also pushed the hardware which was available back in 2007, so much so that any new hardware release was met with “But can it run Crysis?” due to the game accounting for future hardware to enable it to run on its maximum setting at above 60fps. Crysis remains a good game. It is not quite as amazing if you are playing it for the first time in 2021, but still offers a distinct experience that is quite hard to find in other video games.

It felt it was only a matter of time until Crytek would announce the remastered versions of Crysis 2 and Crysis 3. They are available to purchase separately on the Epic Game Store, but can also be purchased as a group in what is called the Crysis Remastered Trilogy. Each game was worked on by both Crytek and Saber Interactive (World War Z, Snowrunner) to bring touched up editions of titles that were already rather good looking back in their day. These games will still bring PCs to their knees, thanks to the inclusion of newer graphical features, such as real-time ray tracing.

It makes sense to start from the first game, and so there is some good news about Crysis Remastered, as already mentioned, this title was released last year as a stand-alone title, but it was not without some issues that irked some fans of the original game, especially on PC. This was due to the build being based on the re-release of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, which actually had the level, “Ascension”, taken out, but thankfully was patched back in before this Trilogy release. This means the game is now back to full content bar anything relating to editors or multiplayer. The performance has increased since its original release, and the ability to use the old nano suit power wheel rather than shortcut keys is now an option in the menu. It still suffers from being focused on running on a single core of the CPU, so trying to run at 4K resolution on the “Can it run Crysis?” setting is still going to hamper performance. Turning everything on maximum does mean that you get unlimited draw distance and a level of detail that stretches far into the distance, plus all the shiny new real-time ray tracing. If you are wanting high resolution and all these visuals, then you will need to use Nvidia’s DLSS feature to hit that 60fps target.

In reality, to allow me to run Crysis Remastered at 4K, 60fps with the RTX 3090 and Ryzen 5800x, I had most settings on maximum bar three, which were set to High (Shadows, Objects and Vegetation) and DLSS on Quality. I did not bother with ray racing unless I was setting the DLSS to performance to be able to get to 60fps, but this added distance blur that I did not feel was worth the trade-off in image quality, so reversed back to Quality DLSS. This does help the game to look marginally better in some instances, and there is so much foliage packed within these levels that it does give it a wonderful sense of being stuck on a tropical island. The issue is that the original Crysis has been out so long that there are now well-popularised mods and other features available for the original game, this remaster does not visually look that much of an improvement over modded Crysis, and some people might not like the new oversaturated colours.

I explained why Crysis was a big deal back in 2007, and still to this day there is stuff to enjoy about the game. Its age is showing, such as the game’s forgettable dialogue and writing, and there are issues that come to light in 2021 with the gameplay, such as some dumb AI responses, some clunky interactions with the physics and environment. But on the flip side, you get the sheer joy of freedom in the combat with the suit’s powers, sneaking around with the cloak for silent kills, going full armour and causing destruction with heavy weapons or using strength and punching pieces of metal shacks into the face of the unexpected soldier on the other side. It all puts a smile on my face. Even the simple inclusion of being able to make on the fly weapon adjustments, where attachments can be taken off and on with the click of a couple of buttons, embraces the players choice – it is just chaotic fun. It does lose this appeal towards the latter half of the game because the big open environments to abuse the suit’s powers become replaced with indoor alien combat and more linear outside gameplay elements, losing what makes the first half of the game so attractive.

Crysis 2, which originally released back in 2011, took the series in a different direction, an almost reverse of what was the vision of the original game. Crysis 2 is set in New York City, replacing the openness of the jungles with the more close compounds of the tall buildings and square streets of the Big Apple. The story continues three years after Crysis. In this time, the aliens, called Ceph, have managed to infest Manhattan with a virus that breaks down its host on a cellular level. Panic and unrest have caused martial law to be in place, with the Department of Defence and a private military contractor called CELL, run by the Crynet corporation, are drafted in to help reduce the mayhem. A group of United States Marine Corps are sent into the chaos to extract a scientist, Doctor Nathan Gould, who has information on fighting against the aliens, but the infiltration is stopped short by the Ceph. Alcatraz, the protagonist of Crysis 2, gets injured and eventually saved by Prophet, one of the nano-suit soldiers from Crysis, who gives Alcatraz his suit to stop him from succumbing to death. Prophet then kills himself, due to his infection and to stop the symbiotic link between suit and host, leaving Alcatraz in a “what the hell just happened?” situation. Going on Prophet’s last words, it is down to Alcatraz to save and extract Gould while fighting against the military power of CELL and the new alien invaders.

Playing Crysis 2 for the first time back when it was released it was clear to see the different approaches to the gameplay. It felt tuned for a console release, a more linear experience, thanks to the new location that kept everything confined to small areas or tunnelled corridors. This does not stop the use of the nano suit, as this still retains the armour, stealth, strength (sorry, now called power in Crysis 2), and speed abilities from before, but they were streamlined to be used with shortcut keys. These powers still offer tactics for combat, such as stealth or full-on destruction, but is now limited by the setting of the game, although there is more verticality in Crysis 2, due to Manhattan’s high-rise buildings. New York City is not as boring as it could have been, which is helped by the alien invasion, as Manhattan is destroyed, twisted and broken up making it a fascinating setting, especially so when traversing underground and seeing the alien infestation growing throughout.

Coming with Crysis 2 was the nano suit 2.0, which allowed the materials dropped by the Ceph to upgrade the suit to give it more abilities. Options like bullet tracing, silent footsteps or increasing the length of armour or stealth, which for me personally, were some of the best upgrades, as it meant abusing armour and getting in the face of the aliens with my trusty shotgun. I always felt the energy was too short in the original game, and having the ability in the sequel to increase the duration truly opens up the combat for more options. It is almost as if the developers knew the suit was the star of the show and found a way to give the player more time to abuse it.

Crysis 2 already had nice visuals, and the Remastered version takes those and adds updated texture work and real-time ray tracing. The character models do still look like they are from 2011, but the rest of the game holds up incredibly well. Crysis 2 Remastered’s visuals are sharp at 4K resolution, and the PC had no issue running at 4K on maximum settings, classed as “Very High” in the options, and hitting over 80fps. In fact, the game ran ray tracing well with Quality DLSS, but I ran into problems where the game would crash after around 40 minutes with ray tracing turned on. I tried to see if I could find solutions online, and someone even had the same CPU and GPU (5800x and RTX 3090) and had the same crash issue with no solution but to turn it off. I hope a patch sorts this issue because out of all the three games, Crysis 2 seems the one that has been given the best upgrades visually, mainly because Crysis was older and Crysis 3 already looked amazing on the PC back in 2013 and still is used for benchmarks today.

Which segues us on to Crysis 3 and its Remastered release, the latest title in this trilogy, but is still over eight years since its initial release. Crysis 3 brings returnee, Prophet, 24 years after the ending of Crysis 2. The world is a different place. It’s a planet now ruled by CELL, the private military organisation from the second game. CELL is hunting down people with nano suit technology, skinning them of their suits so that the technology can be used elsewhere. Psycho, a nano soldier from the first game (and the hero of Crysis Warhead) loses his suit in this way and ends up teaming with Prophet to get revenge. Crysis 3 is still set in New York City, although a rather different looking place now that the wildlife has been left to grow without restrictions inside a nano dome. This gives Crysis 3 an environment mixture of themes from the first two games (city, forests and rivers), offering a nice balance in gameplay between the openness of the Philippine jungle and the enclosed blockades of city streets. In a way, this is Crytek accumulating its experience of the games before and striking a good balance to satisfy both sides of the fandom that either preferred the first or second games.

Adjustments were made to the suit once again in Crysis 3. No longer is maximum speed an energy drainer, as the powers are split between armour and stealth. The suit also has the ability to switch between a combination of modifiers, similar to Crysis 2. These perks are grouped into slots, so you cannot pick four from the same column. The nano suit has the ability to hack doors and turrets, very handy for combat situations, as once hacked, a turret will take down enemies until it is destroyed. Hacking is done by stopping a dot within an area as it passes through it, the challenge being that it moves at variable speed to throw off the player. Crysis 3 feels like an evolution of the sequel, taking those ideas and putting them into a wider play space, oh, and there is a cool bow to use, which brings back memories of 2013, a year that video games were all about bows. There are times where the player is pushed into large areas as if Crytek understood what makes Crysis, well Crysis, saying “here is your open space, go at it how you wish”. Overall I feel this makes it an improved game over Crysis 2, but a bit shorter, lasting around 5-6 hours depending on how you go about doing side objectives.

Graphical settings are close to Crysis 2. This third game does look better and more appealing, which is down to the variety in the environment. It is possible to run it on very high with medium ray tracing and quality DLSS to get above 60fps, which is how I played the game, as putting on the highest ray tracing means having to use performance DLSS, which again did not offer the clarity I preferred. Crysis 3 was already the best looking in this bunch, and it’s the small details that seem to have been enhanced over the third game’s original release, so it might take someone with an eagle eye to spot these graphical enhancements.

Crysis Remastered Trilogy offers a great insight into the series’ shift in design, from the experimental freedom of Crysis to the linear campaign of Crysis 2. This Trilogy Remastered collection allows the games to be at their visually best and are able to run better now thanks to advancements in PC hardware. Anyone looking for some slick first-person shooting action will most likely enjoy this. Even if new people do not like the now clunkiness of Crysis, they will likely enjoy the polished controls and gameplay of Crysis 2 and Crysis 3. It is a shame the multiplayer modes or the editors are not included, as that would have made this the perfect package, but for everything else, this is a worthwhile collection of some of the PC’s most fascinating sci-fi action shooters.

8 out of 10