Combining 3 historically brilliant FPS titles, does the Crysis Remastered Trilogy package upgrade the nanosuit to modern standards? The Finger Guns review.
Back in 2007, the release of a not-so-insignificant shooter named Crysis was the talk of the gaming world, namely because of the memes that spawned from the “but can it run Crysis?!” question. I remember hearing all about it online and from friends at school, the mythical Crysis game that would bring ruin upon virtually every PC foolish enough to attempt to start it. As a series, Crysis 2 elevated it during the peak era of shooters, becoming a household and popular name, before Crysis 3 proved to be the last in line before Crytek lost their way.
So, here we are now – 14 years later, with the trilogy of FPS titles being neatly bundled together with some graphical upgrades and… well, not too much else, in fairness. I played a metric nano-ton of Crysis 2 back in the day upon its release and completed Crysis 3, so it’s fair to say I had some soothing nostalgia about being able to re-experience those old games. There was excitement too, about being able to finally play the original and see what all the fuss was about back in 2007.
Crysis of Confidence
It seems fitting to first discuss what made the series so well-known and popular – the graphics. As mentioned before, the first Crysis became renowned for its incredible graphics, lighting and texture work for the time, dazzling the 0.1% who actually had the rig to run the thing. Crysis 2 and 3 were certainly no slouches either. Despite making the move to console, both games were absolutely stunning back in the day and wowed many a player with how they pushed the hardware of the era.
Jumping into Crysis 1, I could still see why there was such a furore around how it looked. The environments still, even in 2021, look lush, vibrant and at times downright gorgeous. Water and lighting effects are excellent, the jungle foliage is intense and colourful, the island of Lingshan you explore visually is presented as somewhere you’d love to holiday, minus the explosive barrels and bloodthirsty soldiers. Similarly, the sequels still look fantastic in their own right, Crysis 2 with its decimated city feel and heart-pounding spectacles as buildings collapse and you traverse a slowly crumbling New York. Crysis 3, with its beautiful post-apocalyptic feel, complete with brilliant texture work, enemy design and attention to detail as you rampage through the remains of civilisation.
The games looked great is what I’m saying. So much so I couldn’t quite believe how they actually managed to make them work on PS3, Xbox 360 and early PC hardware. It’s mind boggling, really.
So the question then becomes, do the remasters actually improve the already phenomenal graphical performances which still hold up today? Well, the answer is a bit mixed. One of the biggest “improvements” has been to the lighting, which is now more natural and organic. Surfaces and character models reflect realistic lighting in the game world, rather than light artificially happening from places of no light source. Sounds great right? Not quite. In Crysis 2 for example, the starting level’s environment was designed with increased lighting, which is taken away by the new system. It makes the whole sequence now incredibly dark (no light sources, ya see), so all of the little details that were illuminated before are completely hidden away now.
This happens in all 3 titles, but is most noticeable in 1 and 2, where character model details are now completely washed out in cutscenes when there isn’t enough lighting. In the open expanses and outside areas where the gameplay occurs, the game fares much, much better and the new lighting system can gleam, with some ray-tracing effects even evident that weren’t in the originals. Characters too are a mixed bag, with the nanosuits now brimming with new details and effects which make them even more badass than previously. Again though, main characters seemed to have, weirdly, lost facial details and definition, causing them to appear like they’ve been through an NPC creator on a Souls title. What makes this so baffling, is that random NPC character models look so much better than in the originals and have loads of new detail.
A lot of this sounds nitpicky, I know. But when the primary reason to sell this collection is that they’re enhanced, you’ve got to make sure your enhancements are to the benefit of the game, not just there for the sake of it. In general, the improvements make the environments and levels shine like they never have before, but the issues with lighting and loss of textures in some aspects felt disappointing in places. There’s plenty of breakdown videos you can check out should you wish to which’ll give you more detail, if that’s your thing.
In terms of gameplay, there’s very little, if any changes that have been made to the core gameplay of the Crysis Trilogy. As you may know by now, each game is an FPS which focuses on having open sandboxes for levels. None are open-world, but each level will be large, giving you freedom to explore, develop strategies and tackle objectives in whatever style suits you. Crysis 2 is probably the most linear of the three, offering tighter areas with more emphasis on direct combat and cleaner engagements, compared to the more chaotic affairs of 1 and 3.
The biggest element of Crysis’ gameplay, as a series, is the Nanosuit. A symbiotic-enhanced super suit, it gives the protagonist – Prophet – and you as a player access to abilities unimaginable to those of mere mortal capabilities. Stealth cloaking, an armoured exoskeleton, higher jumps, faster sprinting, tearing off LMGs like they’re made of polystyrene, the whole series is designed to make you feel like a badass supersoldier here to kill aliens and chew bubblegum… and you probably already know how much bubblegum you don’t have.
If you played the original versions, nothing has really changed. Each mission gives you primary objectives – go here, kill this, help these people, defend X etc – with some deviation through side objectives which either help you complete your mission or give you access to bonus rewards like upgrades or collectibles in Crysis 3. It’s a solid formula, very representative of the shooter craze from the early 2010 era where FPS’ were basically the only games being made. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, with 2 and 3 playing very well even by today’s standards, with smooth mechanics and satisfying gunplay. Crysis 1 however – Fuck. Me.
Starting Crysis 1 you’ll be tempted to just not bother within about 15 minutes. The gunplay, as is set up by default, is clunky, slow and horrendously imprecise. It was genuinely painful, to the point that when I bought Crysis 1 remastered a few months ago, I quit after less than hour as it was just too bad to slog through it. They haven’t really fixed anything, I’m sorry to report, but pumping up the sensitivity to max and pushing through the first hour did make it tolerable. I eventually got used to it and did come to enjoy it by the end, but just be prepared for it feeling terrible in comparison to modern day shooters which are much slicker and smoother to play.
The sequels introduced some new mechanics like improved visor tracking, upgrade paths for nanosuit abilities, hacking turrets and mines, as well as the compound bow in 3. They’re small iterations but playing each in succession actually showed just how good the formula was once they perfected it, with 3 being the best to play by a significant margin.
Funnily enough, each has the same abusable mechanics, just in slightly different form. The stealth system is so effective on all 3 games, it becomes trivial to achieve objectives or use the pop-out-of-stealth fire a shot pop-back-in-stealth to cheese through any encounter. It’s nice that stealth is a viable method in all the games, but it can quickly become exploitable once you understand how the AI works with it. I played all 3 remastered games through on Supersolider difficulty and this virtually becomes the only full-proof method of progress. I’d recommend playing a higher difficulty though, as it encourages you to mix up your playstyle and utilise everything at your disposal like the visor and preparing for assaults properly. It’s much more tactical and enjoyable this way, in my opinion.
The Crysis games are still a blast to play and mechanically it’s clear just how much it improved by the final iteration and I thoroughly enjoyed romping through them all over again.
The Missing Links
Though not unexpected, the remastered trilogy does leave out quite a bit of the original’s content. The multiplayer modes for all titles are absent now, which is common for remasters. While I was never bothered about 3’s, I played dozens of hours of Crysis 2 online back in the day and adored it’s gameplay. Ripping off an LMG on New York’s rooftops and shredding multiple enemy combatants in a slew of bullets and gunfire is a memory I still hold clear in my mind. It would have been nice to get to experience it again, but sadly no luck here. I can’t hold it against the game, but just be aware that there’s only the single player offerings in the remastered trilogy.
Also missing is the Warhead expansion from Crysis 1. Released just under a year after the original title, it addressed some of the shortcomings of the original and added some extra content and improvements. Sadly, there’s no sign of Warhead here either, which is a shame given it was something fans had hoped would be in attendance. Not to be, I suppose.
While the absences don’t detract from what is a very good value package, it does feel like part of what made the complete experience is missing to some degree. In some ways, I think this is a decent move as it streamlines the trilogy and provides an upgraded version of the best element in the campaigns, but for those who appreciated the multiplayer offerings like myself, it does leave a bit of a void.
A Prophetic Story
The narrative of the Crysis trilogy remains unaltered by the remasters too. Crysis 1 follows the footsteps of Nomad, a soldier who is part of an elite squad sent to Lingshen island to discover what a North Korean force is up to while rescuing hostages of a science variety. The story isn’t particularly special, coupled with some appalling dialogue and overactive voice acting, it doesn’t exactly provide the most stellar or engaging of yarns. However, there’s some intrigue and decent background lore that develops for the rest of the series.
Crysis 2 follows on the events of Lingshen island not too long afterwards, with a new protagonist – Alcatraz – being placed into the boss-ass suit and donning the role of saviour of New York from an assault emanating from an all new threat. Crysis 2 ups the stakes significantly, with the whole city of New York engulfed in conflict and you trying to disarm the threat before it escalates to wipe out the whole of mankind itself. It’s very big-action-movie with ridiculous set pieces and massive spectacle that’s light on character development and heavy on the bombastic action, but it works well enough to structure the gameplay.
Crysis 3 then fast forwards a number of years to a futuristic and dilapidated New York which is simultaneously decimated but beautiful thanks to nature taking back control of the ruins of buildings and skyscrapers. The story attempts to be somewhat more grounded and character-focused but doesn’t truly succeed. There are emotional moments thrown in but they don’t totally land or impact as much as what they were probably going for. The ending is climactic and pretty epic though, to its credit.
I’ve kept details to a minimum because if this is your first time going into the series, it’s worth exploring it for yourself. I was pleasantly surprised with how cohesive the trilogy’s story actually was, despite it being decidedly action-movie focused. 2 and 3 have improved dialogue and voice acting, while the lore and background history are fleshed out well and provide needed impetus to the core gameplay. I’d forgotten just how much story and game there was to these titles, with it having been so long since I played them, so I was pleased when I noticed returning characters or put the pieces together which I’d left jumbled from eons ago.
Not Quite Cataclysmic Performance
Boasting upgraded frames and higher definition resolution on PS5 and Xbox Series X, the remastered trilogy hopes to deliver the butteriest gameplay experience yet. The trilogy aims for a maximum 60fps for all 3 titles and between 1080p to 4K. Framerate wise, it remained stable and consistent throughout all 3 games, even when the action was heating up and the smoothness of the gameplay shined through regularly during gunfights and action.
Incredibly though, despite each game having been out for at least or almost a decade, there were a number of bugs that existed across each title. Crysis 1’s final boss just decided not to spawn for me, leaving me with the most unfulfilling “epic” boss fight in existence, requiring me to restart the level. Crysis 2 introduced me to logic-defying dead body ragdoll physics when stuck on that 1cm worth of geometry it didn’t like, as well as guns disappearing in cutscenes and bullets hitting debris that just wasn’t there when trying to kill enemies. Crysis 3 was the most well-polished of the 3, with only a few minor issues with texture pop in and some buildings/items disappearing and reappearing depending on where the camera was orientated.
Nothing damaged my experience with the trilogy, but it did break immersion a few times and took me out of the world, which considering how well these games hold up visually, kinda sucks. Overall though, the level of detail that’s been added to things like the weapons you acquire and the stunning locales you visit overpowers the technical problems and luckily never got in the way too much. The AI is stupid as sin, but I can’t blame the remasters for that, the enemies always enjoyed funnelling themselves into a doorway of murder in the originals too, so at least it’s consistent to the original vision I suppose.
A Crysis Worth Enduring
I smashed out all 3 Crysis remastered games over a 4 day period and I have to say, despite the lingering issues and the lack of significant upgrades from the originals, these are still excellent, brilliant games worth checking out if you never played them. For veterans of the series, there’s not a lot new worth coming back for, especially without the multiplayer or expansion offerings. If you loved the world and gameplay however, it’ll be a nostalgic trip with a new coat of paint that makes some of those elements pop with vibrancy that’ll be worth shooting through again.
Each game takes approximately 4-7 hours to complete, depending on skill, difficulty and how much you explore. There’s plenty of collectibles in Crysis 2 and 3 which makes repeat playthroughs rewarding, with an abundance of exposition and lore items to uncover if you want to learn everything about the world.
Available for £39.99 on the PS store, it’s absolutely a package worth purchasing if you’re an FPS fan with a penchant for more tactical gameplay and you’ve never played the originals. For everyone else though, it may be more prudent to wait for a price drop. In some ways, the remastered package offers the best version of all 3 games’ single-player offerings. But for purists who appreciated the original’s presentation and graphical systems, I’m not sure all of the alterations necessarily improve the titles. What hasn’t changed though, is how much explosive fun you’ll have playing them, provided you can get past Crysis 1’s abysmal first impression.
Sporting two of the best FPS experiences of the early 2010s and the original, mindblowing graphical powerhouse that busted many a rig in 2007, the Crysis Remastered Trilogy offers hours of solid, smooth and satisfying FPS action. Not all of the improvements hit the mark, but the core of these titles is left intact. If you’ve never played Crysis before, now’s your chance to save the world in style with your ass-kicking Nanosuit. Just watch out for the first impression.
Crysis Remastered Trilogy is available now on PlayStation 4 (review platform), 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.
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