The Rolling Stones once [badly] sang about time being on our side. We’re always told that things always get easier or better over time. If you’re into your wines, we’re often told that something has aged “like a fine wine”, as if that’s a good thing. Personally, I don’t see it. Wine tastes the same whatever year it was made or who’s feet have stamped all over it.
It also leaves a sour taste in the mouth, much like Crysis Remastered does. It wants to be this pedigree, this vintage of a game that once brought many a PC to its knees with its demanding graphical requirements. But whilst it still looks the part, underneath the facade is a thirteen year old title that refuses to get with the modern times.
I don’t mean the homogenised, cover-based messes we get now, but the refusal to accept that whilst Crytek can make pretty looking engines, the enemy AI is still stuck in an era of jank that has moved so far forward since then.
It’s not all bad, and there are some stellar moments in Crysis Remastered. It’s just whether it’s worth putting up with the mess, the glitches and unfair AI to actually experience them. Fire up your super suit, we’re going in…
Blinded By The Lights, Flashes and Ray Tracing
I wasn’t lying earlier when I said about Crysis being a tough mistress to the PC master race back in 2007. It brought a new level of notoriety with it, a sense of challenge when it came to high-end PC’s. “Your PC may be good,” you’d ask, “…but can it run Crysis?” was always the follow up.
Of course, it later transpired that it wasn’t solely the high graphical output that would strain the expensive units, but that the game was also poorly optimised being a contributing factor as well. In layman’s terms, it was some behind the scenes stuff that didn’t help, but it was a demanding effort when it came to looking good.
And I will say, as a somewhat backhanded compliment, that when Crysis wants to make an effort it absolutely shines. Walking through a crop of bushes and seeing that massive, vibrant expanse of an island open up is spectacular. Taking in rays of light interspersed through tree leaves, crashing waves on the shoreline and a sense of a once lived in island before the North Koreans tool over is a literal sight to behold.
Which, unfortunately, gets abruptly ruined when you notice a tree can’t decide where it wants to be planted, or the far off mountain regions either do or don’t have snow capped peaks. Or my favourite: the feeling that you’re in a simulation going through a stress test, as red boxes, screen tears and all other manner of eye-straining glitch attack the land.
All of which is made more laughable when you realise that on PC the highest graphical setting is literally called, “Can It Run Crysis?”. Turns out: No, it can’t. Nor can my PS4 Pro, it seems.
Why Do We Fight?
The premise is pretty simple: The island of Linshan has been taken over by those pesky North Koreans, which is unfortunate for a team of archaeologists that have just happened to log a distress call about some radical discovery they’ve found. Also, beware of the following for mild spoilers, but… this is a thirteen year old game. If you’ve done this far without knowing, well done.
Anyway, in response to the Koreans invasion, the United States Army sends in the Delta Force’s Raptor Team to find them. That’s you, Nomad, and the rest of your team: Prophet, your commanding officer; Psycho, what Americans think all British people sound like, and two redshirts by the name of Jester and Aztec. I would characterise those last two more, but that’d be more time spent on them than the game gives them.
It doesn’t take long before you discover that bigger things are afoot than “North Koreans take over island and you save dig team”. For you see, the artifacts found are alien by nature, and that’s the other force on the island indiscriminately wiping out both you and the North Koreans. Aztec snuffs it early on, Jester not long after, your contact is actually CIA and it’s not too far in that the US Army mount a full scale attack on Linshan.
Does that summary sound half-assed and almost lackadaisical in its reading? Well, it’s not entirely unlike how the story itself plays out. It’s corny, it’s unoriginal, it’s about as generic as my description makes it out. It’s an amalgamation of the Red Dawn remake and a more violent version of The Abyss, but with no redeeming qualities of either.
But then, that’s not really what we’re here for, is it? The story is secondary to the action, and when it works, Crysis Remastered does it well.
Super-Suited And Booted
The main draw of Crysis Remastered, and by extension the whole trilogy, is the super suit you’re decked out in. The Swiss Army Knife of whole body protection, the nanosuit is all you need to get the job done… well, when the game works.
The best part of a Crysis or Far Cry game is that you are, to an extent, free to approach hostile situations as you see fit. You can sneak about with silenced weapons and archery, or you can go guns blazing and storm strongholds with cracking explosions and bullets galore. This one is no different, and that’s where the suit comes into play.
The two biggest draws to the suit are its armour and stealth abilities. The former lets you harden the suit and absorb more damage, the latter cloaks both you and whatever weapon you’re holding in an almost-invisible cover. I say almost invisible, because enemies still spot you a mile off , but we’ll get into that.
When it works, it works well. Reinforcing yourself and superhero landing into a base to wreck up the proverbial shit is a joy to behold. Crashing into a base in a jeep, hoofing grenades, collapsing buildings onto bad guys before Rambo-ing away in another jeep is pure ecstasy.
Likewise, scouting ahead, marking your targets, going in quiet and not raising the alarm is equally fun, if that’s how you play. Sticking a suppressor on your pistol, getting up close and personal for the quiet kills is great… when it works.
Unfortunately, it must have been made in the same department as Gordon Freeman’s hazard suit, as it has the same problem: One power source runs everything. So if you’re looking to sprint whilst cloaked, don’t expect to get very far before revealing yourself to everyone. And then not being able to toughen up when you inevitably get shot at.
When it works, Crysis Remastered is a reminder of why we loved it the first time around. A mostly organic sandbox that lets you tool around the landscape in vehicles causing mass destruction, or sneaking through the lush island plantlife in your stealthed up nanosuit.
However, the more you try and stick it out it becomes less about the “when” and more the “if” it works.
An Island Riddled With Bugs
The reason this review has taken longer than expected is because as it stands, the game is a mess. As mentioned earlier, graphical pop-ups indecisive flora are just one of the issues that plague this port. Walking around what should be beautiful landscapes views only to see ugly red boxes crop up like you’re playing Fez is not what you expect from a once-legendarily beautiful game.
Even under the skin it’s awful, with some of the worst AI that I thought the CryEngine had rectified after the grief the Far Cry games provoked. What is the point of densely packed vegetation if an enemy three miles out of shore, on a moving boat, can pinpoint and shoot you accurately with an assault rifle?
Worst still, what’s the point of giving me the option to go nigh on invisible and silent if a group of guards patrolling away from me can yell, “Enemy spotted!” and all turn on me some thirty feet away? It’s frustrating, especially when you’re nowhere near them or provoking them.
I had to put the game down to Easy, not because I suck at first person shooters, but because of the AI. Progressing from objective to objective was painful, as I couldn’t go more than half a mile without my radar telling me someone had seen me. Next thing I know, every hit from all around was hitting me with shocking accuracy.
This isn’t fun. It’s also disgusting that a game of this prestige has been released like this; a buggy messy that feels like torture to play. Even worse, it was delayed from a July release window because Crytek didn’t feel it was ready. It still isn’t now!
It also highlights the shocking reliance on expecting consumers to buy a product on the promise of “We’ll patch it later”. Alright, I was fortunate enough to get a review code so I haven’t lost any money, but if you’d dropped £25 on this and were told to wait, you’d be annoyed.
In cases like No Man’s Sky, it wasn’t that it was buggy but lacking in content. It’s taken five years to be a full game, but it wasn’t broken. Whereas this, this is a mess. This could have taken longer in the oven as there was no great rush to get it out, it’s not a new IP. Instead we have a half baked port that not even prettier visuals can cover up the horrible blemishes underneath.
Exit Stage Linshan
I want to recommend Crysis Remastered. I want to tell you it’ll get better, just stick with it, it’ll all work out. But I don’t have faith in it.
It’s been a fortnight and only the Xbox version has had a patch. For us PS4 and PC players, it’s coming… apparently. I hear the Switch one works, though, but I’m not forking out for that in the name of comparisons. I shouldn’t have to: if a game is coming out across the board, it should work across the board.
I shouldn’t be looking at large expanses of tropical island with “Will patch later” graphical errors riddling the screen. I shouldn’t be spotted from behind a tree, at night, in a dark suit by someone a literal country mile away.
Considering how excited I was for this port, you can imagine my disappointment. Sadly, this is a cautionary tale: If it gets patched down the line, then possibly dabble then. But for now, avoid. Don’t be fooled by the pretty screenshots and boasts of 4K goodness, it’s an ugly port of a game.
What could have served as a reminder to how good it once was, Crysis Remastered is instead a broken mess that needed a lot longer in the oven. Terrible AI and awful graphical glitches just suck any semblance of fun out of this.
Crysis Remastered is available now on PlayStation 4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.