When it launched in 2007, the original Crysis shook the gaming industry with its advanced lighting and rendering technology. In many ways, Crysis paved the way for the future of video game graphics — and now, 13 years later, developer Crytek has remastered its visuals up to 2020 standards. But while Crysis Remastered is beautiful in many ways (and even innovates just like the original did), performance issues and a stylistic departure from 2007 Crysis makes this new coat of paint feel disappointing.
Crysis is back
Bottom line: Crysis Remastered has beautiful lighting and textures, but a stylistic misunderstanding of the original as well as technical issues galore make this remaster feel lacking.
- Amazing lighting
- Software-powered ray tracing is innovative
- Excellent texture work
- Great special effects
- Noticeable stuttering, frame drop, and pop-in issues
- Foliage physics are underwhelming
- The art style is oversaturated
- The Ascension level is missing
What you'll love about Crysis Remastered
The technology on display with Crysis Remastered's ray tracing is simply awesome.
Undoubtedly, the best part about Crysis Remastered is its lighting. Crytek completely overhauled Crysis' lighting for the remaster, bringing oodles of realistic illumination to the game's dense forests, sandy beaches, and military compounds. Lighting in interior areas has been massively improved as well, which is a big deal considering that poor interior lighting was one of the original game's weak points. If you choose to run the game in ray tracing mode, you also get to enjoy the benefits of realistic light reflection in environments as well as visible reflections on water, glass, and metal.
You do have to reduce your resolution and framerate to 1080p and 30, respectively, instead of the quality mode's 4K resolution and 60 framerate, but nevertheless, the fact that there's ray tracing at all on current-gen consoles is awesome. It's not as advanced as what you'll get with hardware-accelerated ray tracing that's available with the best graphics cards or the upcoming Xbox Series X, but it still looks great.
Secondly, Crysis Remastered is also sporting some excellent new textures, with landscapes, foliage, and the iconic nanosuit in particular looking gorgeous. In an age where many "remasters" just feature a bump in resolution and simple post-processing effects, it's really nice to see Crytek go all out with the textures along with the lighting.
Finally, I'm impressed with Crysis Remastered's special effects. From the massive explosions that occur when you blow helicopters out of the sky to the sparks, dust, and water droplets kicked up by stray bullets in firefights, Crytek paid a lot of attention to detail in this department.
What you'll love less about Crysis Remastered
The performance issues with Crysis Remastered on Xbox One X are incredibly frustrating.
While Crysis Remastered seems awesome based solely on the visuals, that sadly isn't the case due to the game's performance issues. Stuttering, frame drops, screen tears, and texture pop-ins were all semi-common occurrences regardless of which mode I was playing the game in on Xbox One X. In particular, I recommend avoiding the quality mode right now, as these issues seem to happen even more frequently when everything is rendered at 4K. The game is far from unplayable, but these problems make it difficult to get immersed.
Next, the foliage physics, which was smooth in the original, is incredibly choppy and strange. The best way I can describe it is that when you walk into the game's flora, the leaves and branches look like they're moving at a lower framerate compared to the rest of the game. It's really jarring, and it's sad to see considering the foliage physics is one of the coolest parts of Crysis.
Thirdly, the overall artistic direction of the remaster misses the mark for me. Whereas the original Crysis was more realistic in its presentation, Crytek opted for a very vibrant and saturated look for Crysis Remastered. It still looks good, but it feels more like Far Cry than Crysis.
Finally, the Ascension level from the original is missing in the remaster. This level involved piloting a dropship and dogfighting with alien aircraft. It was a controversial level due to its rough controls, which is probably why Crytek didn't include it in the remaster. Still, I would have liked to see it.
Should you buy Crysis Remastered?
While Crysis Remastered is technically a much better-looking game than the original, the oversaturated art style doesn't sit right with me. In addition to that, the numerous performance issues with Crysis Remastered on Xbox One X make it hard for me to recommend it right now. Crysis is still a blast to play all these years later, but not when you have to deal with screen tearing and immersion-breaking texture pop-in.
Make no mistake: what Crytek has done with Crysis Remastered's ray-traced lighting and textures is nothing short of an achievement. However, when performance bugs get in the way, none of that really matters. I recommend picking Crysis Remastered up when it's more stable, but for now, you should hold off.
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