No longer the bastion of PC gaming; the heavyweight that brought consumer hardware to its knees with its kitchen-sink approach to rendering, spawning the veritable "but can it run Crysis?" meme: Crysis isn't in the public consciousness like it used to be. Eleven years after Crytek transitioned to multiplatform development, audiences are treated to the Crysis Remastered Trilogy. Your association with the quality of this remastered package depends on whether you come from a console or PC gaming background; even more so than most other AAA titles. Consider this a console-centric review of the Crysis Remastered Trilogy with focal points that may not reflect someone's PC experience.
The original Crysis is where this console and PC divide is most apparent. It feels like a janky PC to console conversion. The remaster attempts to retrofit Crysis 2's context-sensitive suit modes into the first game by default. In the PC original, the stealth, armor, power, and speed modes were selected through a radial menu. In the console version, stealth mode automatically activates when crouching meanwhile sprinting activates speed mode, etc...
This implementation doesn't work because it's too restrictive for the original's sandbox approach to game design. Crysis wasn't designed around this system. Crytek does offer an option for a classic control scheme, relegating the nanosuit modes to a radial menu like PC. This makes it much more playable, however, there's still the sense that it never feels quite right on consoles. Switching modes isn't as fast as PC, making certain action-chains more difficult to accomplish in a way that always felt like a slight hindrance.
If control scheme jankiness were all there was to it, Crysis would be a fine conversion; one that's limited, but gets the intended experience across for console-only gamers. Unfortunately, the console version suffers from bugs not present on PC due to the nature of not needing to certify for patches on the platform. This means the PC version has gotten better post-launch support than consoles since last year's release.
I can't say how common it is, but in my experience, console AI is broken. Playing on the normal difficulty setting, stealth was borderline useless. Enemies would spot me from across the map even when cloaked and standing still, gunning me down with an inhuman level of accuracy. Digital Foundry's resident Crysis expert looked at the PS5 version when the next-gen patch released earlier this year, commenting that the AI's sight-lines and accuracy on normal seemed more akin to the hardest setting. I suspect that's what I experienced in my playthrough. There was also another bug that prevented the final boss from transitioning into its second phase. No amount of dying, restarting the system, or following online videos of the fight did anything to fix it.
It's a shame Crysis Remastered is still in such a state, showcasing the original project's limitations and the extent to which the powers involved care about the property. It is the most interesting game in the series with expansive levels that offer a startling level of freedom during its first half at least. With so many different approaches to areas and objectives, this conversion fails to capitalize on that sandbox with AI that breaks one of its core pillars.
Crysis 2 Remastered
Crysis 2 Remastered is a much more successful representation of the project it's built off of. Already developed with consoles in mind, there are no console-specific quirks to navigate through. It feels more refined from start to finish in spite of its less ambitious design. Crysis 2 is an interesting fork in the franchise, attempting to find a middle-ground between the original's open-ended design and the traditional console linear shooter that dominated that era.
Its maps are smaller than its predecessor without feeling compromised. Each level is comprised of smaller open areas with multiple feasible approaches to objectives. Areas aren't so large that finding your bearings proves daunting, but they're also large enough to invite replayability. With that said, Crytek didn't give gamers enough credit with binoculars that detail every possible tactical option in a given area. The extent to which the binocular signpost comes across as condescending, letting players know that tactical option A is a good sniper spot while tactical option B is a sneaky route into a compound, etc...
On a more positive note, Crysis 2's moment-to-moment gameplay sees a marked improvement, circumventing the original's indescribable floatiness. Its overhauled weapon handling makes a world of difference for firefights. Guns feel meatier, providing a gratifying level of feedback that almost makes you want to go in guns blazing even if it is more difficult than abusing stealth.
This feedback mixes well with the visually stunning presentation. The console versions of Crysis 2 and 3 don't get any form of ray-tracing, unlike the first entry. This isn't much of a loss seeing as the original rendered ray-traced reflections in software on last-gen consoles with no additional benefits for PS5 or Xbox Series X, resulting in a grainy, low-quality implementation. By limiting next-gen consoles to running under an enhanced backward compatibility layer, there wasn't much wiggle room in that respect. What console owners do get is a pristine presentation. Without dividing resources between multiple modes across several platforms, Saber Interactive and Crytek were able to focus on polishing a singular performance target per system. The end result is impeccable image quality and performance on Xbox Series X. Combined with the improved visual presentation, which includes the addition of sparse voxel octree global illumination, Crysis 2 Remastered looks great stacked up to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One-era shooters.
Crysis 3 Remastered
Crysis 3 expands Crysis 2's concepts, addressing its minor faults in the process. Its levels are much larger, honing in the freeform gameplay that gave Crysis its identity. Coupling that expanded scope without the extreme hand-holding of Crysis 2's binoculars makes for the best Crysis experience on consoles.
As a game, Crysis 3 pushes against the preconceived notions of what a AAA shooter can be. Within the confines of its mechanics, Crysis 3 sports impeccable level design that feels tailor-made for the protagonist's various abilities. Even with the industry's homogenization, pushing more and more franchise's into open-world territory, few offer Crysis 3's level of flexibility. Crysis 3 even usurps the original by not devolving into a linear corridor with uninteresting enemies that offer no tactical options during the second half of its campaign. Some sections are more linear than others, but it's a more consistent experience from beginning to end. This includes gunplay, which feels just as great as it did in Crysis 2.
As a remaster, it leaves much to be desired. Despite presumably sharing much of the same core technology as Crysis 2 Remastered, including the SVOGI implementation, the presentation is less polished. Image quality takes a major nose-dive from the last game with low-resolution textures showing up more often. Perhaps Crysis 3 Remastered showcases the limits of a project of this scope. Without the resources to enhance every single asset, some are bound to go untouched. The team had to prioritize the best visual return for the amount of work they were putting in.
This was easier to accomplish with Crysis 2's smaller levels. Crysis 3's larger scope may have presented issues for identifying low-quality assets. Whatever the case, jumping into Crysis 3 after Crysis 2 feels like a downgrade. It's as if someone stepped in and downclocked your hardware. This lack of visual polish impacts the gameplay experience. With more complex environments, often filled with dense foliage and miscellaneous objects, scenes are much less readable than Crysis 2 thanks to this reduction in image quality.
Prophet Has Spoken
The Crysis Remastered Trilogy is one of the more frustrating packages in recent memory. Crysis is the most ambitious entry with the most interesting ideas, but its console conversion is marred by broken AI and janky controls. Crysis 2 is a more tailor-made console experience, complete with the best visual presentation in the entire collection. With that said, it holds players' hands too much. Crysis 3 comes closest to capturing the first game's freedom, even surpassing it in terms of consistency, but its visuals are less pristine than Crysis 2. If you're a console gamer that's never dipped into the franchise, the Crysis Remastered Trilogy is a fine package for those that know what they're getting into.
TechRaptor reviewed the Crysis Remastered Trilogy on Xbox Series X with a code provided by the developer/publisher. This collection is also available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC.
- Crysis 3 is a legitimately great game
- Crysis 2 looks shockingly good
- Crysis 1 is still incredibly buggy on consoles
- The remastered presentation varies significantly between games