After a somewhat mediocre release for Crysis Remastered, Crytek have since gone the extra mile and remastered Crysis 2 and 3, slapped them all in a bundle and released them as a full trilogy. On the face of things this is a solid package of three renowned shooters (minus the multiplayer component) all spiced up for modern audiences on Series X|S, PlayStation 5 and PC, but do these processor pounding behemoths stand the test of time? Let’s take a look.
The trilogy spans an ongoing plot that begins on a jungle island where you, a member of an elite team of agents are sent in on a rescue mission that soon goes wonky. A group of Korean militants have seized control of the Lingshan Islands where a team of civilian archaeologists have made a discovery that could change the world. As your team begin to be killed off by an unknown enemy, things take a turn for the worst as an Alien species known as the CEPH are revealed.
Fast forward to Crysis 2 and 3 where things have gone slightly wonkier, the CEPH have invaded mainland America and it is up to our new protagonist to save the day, not only against the destructive forces of the CEPH but from the scheming political nonsense of the military government because as we know, what else would a government do while being invaded by Aliens but try to start a civil war.
Welcome to the Jungle
In its day, Crysis was considered a benchmark title, one that every ‘elite’ member of the PC community would proudly puff out their chest and say those magic words “I can run Crysis” to which no one really cared but the fact remains, it was a hefty game to run. On paper the concept was pretty cool, play as an elite soldier with a funky nanosuit that resembles a foreskin that could switch between 4 power settings, Cloak, Strength, Speed and Armor, each suited to a specific gameplay tactic. Find yourself at the mercy of a few trigger-happy terrorists, crank up the armour and deflect some bullets long enough to get into cover. Fancy pretending that you’re one ugly motherf**ker and stalking enemies like a chameleon? Then activate stealth and so on.
All this sounds great until you play the game and realise it’s all a load of crap. The armour deflects about 2 bullets, the speed lasts about 5 seconds and the cloak is useless as you uncloak as soon as you perform an action. Yes, that does add a bit of a tactical element to picking and choosing when to strike but it also takes away the promised feeling of being an elite badass assassin. In fact, the majority of elements within Crysis remastered were a shamble of embarrassing levels. The enemy AI, or lack of, was infuriating, terrorists would spot you from about five miles away and pepper you to death or they would be standing right next to you and not have a clue. It makes for a very broken experience and one that is a real effort to get through. Coupled with mediocre writing and a plot that resembles a straight to DVD movie starring Steven Seagal and there isn’t a whole lot to like about this particular entry.
The one positive it does have is the visuals, now don’t get me wrong, they are not stunning by any stretch, they may have been ten or more years ago but now they are just, okay. At a glance everything looks good, the reflections on the water are the true highlight, the jungle looks decent enough and some of the lighting is impressive but as soon as you take a moment to look at something up close, it all falls apart. Textures are muddy, facial animations are dreadful and general animations are laughable! I remember dabbling in this game back in the day and not seeing the great appeal even when it was being held up as the mightiest of shooters but now it just has the look and feel of a rushed indie game and feels like an insult to its fans to even call it a “remaster”.
The City that never Sleeps
So here we go, Crysis 2, what could possibly go wrong? The action shifts from the leafy jungle to the concrete jungle which is a massive plus. The semi contained environment of New York adds plenty of verticality to the missions and allows the stealth element to show some small signs of life. The nanosuit has been overhauled and the abilities themselves now feel half decent with a decent selection of upgrades and mods, the shooting feels tighter and the visuals, well let’s be honest, they look pretty special. Coming straight from the first game that looked like a good 360 title at best, Crysis 2 is like going from standard def to HD by comparison. The visuals are clear, lighting is impressive, and the animations are greatly improved. The enemy selection has also improved by having a selection of CEPH forces mingled in with human entities which on the surface adds some variety, however the variety begins to wear off around the halfway mark as each encounter soon begins to feel the same.
The CEPH themselves are little more than repainted covenant for any Halo players out there and I soon got bored of having to fight hunters… I mean, heavies during every larger incursion. That being said, the tight gunplay did keep things on point and although the story was once again nonsensical and the campaign did drag on a couple of hours too long, I had a good experience with this one and the series felt a lot more like it was reaching its potential.
Set 24 years after the events of Crysis 2 we once again return to the streets of New York which is now a shadow of its former self on a mission to hunt down the Alpha CEPH. This time the game really doubles down on the stealth element that has been poorly implemented thus far to show its quality. The big hook here is having access to a bow, that’s right, going full Rambo here with a selection of arrow tips to suit various occasions whether you want to pick enemies off from the shadows or set traps and cause chaos. Visually, the game looks on par with Crysis 2, although I would actually say that 2 looks better overall. The story is still the same uninspired nonsense with levels now having a blend of the first two games, a ruined city that is overgrowing with foliage. Add in some new enemy types with some returning characters and we have a competent end to a somewhat messy trilogy.
To be honest, it felt like the series was trying to correct the errors of the original to the point where branding it as a “remaster” is just a huge false advertisement. Crysis is such a clumsy, broken shambles of an experience I really doesn’t deserve to have a price tag. The saving grace of this trilogy is that parts 2 and 3 are somewhat improved and at least feel like competent shooters, albeit ones that by modern standards feel pretty stale. It’s always a tricky balance bringing titles like these to a modern audience as so much can change in just a handful of years, some of the gameplay elements this series had a hand in pioneering are all overused and part of the status quo in modern shooters. Sliding around on your ass was once a nifty way of traversing landscapes smoothly, now you can do it in every shooter, even COD has you acting like a dog with worms through 1940’s Europe these days because we all remember the jolly boys of the 101st Airborne parkouring their way through Bastogne don’t we.
This review has been a long time coming, not because of how long ago the originals came out versus the remasters, but because slogging through this package put me in such a slump I haven’t been willing to review another game since or gather the energy or interest to write about this. Crysis is a series that for me is far less than the sum of its ambitions, yes, from the second game onwards the visuals are really nice, but I feel they are a smokescreen for a series that really isn’t that up to snuff and probably never was. It took three games for the stealth elements to come together, considering this is a series that pushes you to play stealthy that’s pretty piss poor.
If you have fond memories of the series from back in the day then you may find some nostalgic fun here but I really can’t see this striking a chord with a wider audience for several reasons that have been mentioned above. As much as I like having older games remastered as it allows fans to experience them all over again and younger audiences to have a taste of experiences from the past, I feel studios should make more effort to give these titles some quality-of-life improvements when needed, in the case of Crysis, it needed to be rebuilt from the ground up, or just erased from existence.
If you can pick this one up for a decent price on sale, then parts 2 and 3 are worth playing, when all the elements come together there are some really cool moments and set pieces to enjoy. But overall, I can’t rightly recommend this to anyone at top dollar as there are so many better titles on the market and a good chunk of them are free-to-play.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, PlayStation, Nintendo, Xbox
Release Date: 15/10/2021
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, FPS
Developer: Crytek and Saber
Download link: Microsoft Store