The Xbox One X can run Crysis, but not as well as we hoped it would
- Developer: Saber Interactive, Crytek
- Publisher: Crytek
- Release date: 18th September 2020
- Genre: FPS
- Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch
- Reviewed on: Xbox One X
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
A shaky start
We’ve been playing Crysis Remastered since before it launched, and it had, shall we say, a few issues. Attempting to run the game with Ray Tracing and HDR on caused a weird screen-in-a-screen-in-a-screen effect. Turning off HDR, and restarting the Xbox did actually remedy the problem, but the game was plagued by performance issues. Even in performance mode, the game fluctuated wildly between 30 and 60 fps, and quality mode struggled to maintain a solid 30 fps.
We have held out on publishing our review until the patch was issued. As of today (23rd September), the patch has been released, and I’m happy to report it has made a significant improvement.
Now that the game runs as intended, on with the review!
Saving the world again, again
I have fond memories of Crysis, playing through it on PC originally, then on Xbox 360. Now, some 13 years later, I’ve completed it again on Xbox One X.
Everything about Crysis feels the same as it did the last time I played it, which is both a good and a bad thing. I instinctively mastered the controls, dipping in and out of stealth and armour mode as I sneaked through the game on Delta difficulty. All the tactics I used still work, and the AI is still as viciously observant and accurate as ever.
Level design was always a strong point in Crysis, and the same is true today. Where many games revolve around dark, gritty, war-torn environments, Crysis is set in beautiful landscapes, with waterfalls, rolling hills, towering mountains and scenic rivers. Much like Far Cry, it’s a welcome change from monochromatic wastelands and it’s a much more enjoyable setting.
The sandbox-style level design isn’t as open in structure as more modern games, but it gives you a reasonable expanse to go about business how you choose. On medium difficulty, it’s a run-and-gun extravaganza, and you can rush up to enemies, choke-slamming them through fences and blasting away with your shotgun with merry aplomb. On Delta difficulty, trying this will see you drop dead in mere seconds, as you get nailed from an enemy you hadn’t even seen. Stealth, patience and proper use of cover are needed if you want to survive.
Despite Crysis’ reputation as a system testing monster, the gameplay is actually really good fun. It’s a classic FPS campaign, with interesting primary and side missions, and great gunplay that, despite a slightly dated feel, still holds up against modern games. On the hardest difficulty, it’s still possible to finish the campaign in around 10-12 hours, but it’s a hugely entertaining romp.
Polished but not perfect
Graphically, it’s not quite up to the standards of modern titles, which is a little disappointing, but it’s still a good looking game. On the quality preset, Crysis Remastered runs at 4k and hits a mostly stable 30 fps. Foliage is rich and detailed, and the environments occasionally look stunning, but there are a few textures brought forward from the older versions that can look a little flat.
Pop-in is still present regardless of the quality settings you use. In one section I spotted an enemy walking in the open, so I whipped out my precision rifle to take a shot, only to see a bunch of containers were actually in the way when I zoomed in.
On performance mode, it’s a much smoother experience and it gets close to 60 fps, though even after the patch it’s still not properly stable. It runs at 1080p in performance mode, which gives some textures a soft-focus appearance. If you are in a closed-in environment, this is a great way to play, but as soon as you reach an open area (of which there are plenty), the lack of clarity at distance is a significant hindrance to gameplay. As such, I found myself switching between Quality and Performance mode quite often.
Ray Tracing, HDR
One of the big selling points of Crysis Remastered is the software-based ray tracing. In the parts where it is most visible, the effects are remarkable, with reflections and lighting cast with incredible detail compared to the standard rasterised graphics. Crysis was made way before ray tracing was dreamed possible on a game, and as such, there aren’t that many instances where there are surfaces or lighting to properly showcase the effect.
When it is given a chance to shine (pun intended), it looks incredible. If only they had made a full remake, they could have added more scenarios to allow it to properly showcase the tech, because it is genuinely impressive. As it is, though, it feels more like a polished up version of the Xbox 360 release than a true current-gen graphical showcase.
Audio quality is very good on the remaster. A rousing score runs as the backdrop to gameplay and it still holds up well today. It has classic sci-fi action movie vibes, with an orchestral score and driving military drums, and suits Crysis perfectly. Environmental sounds are also well represented, with bushes rustling as you creep through, and your footsteps crunching along the ground.
Your suit’s AI voice is as satisfying as ever, and I never tired of hearing that classic, Crysis defining sound, “Cloak, engaged”.
Early in the game, I had the sound cranked up far louder than I realised, as I had been running around with a silenced rifle. I picked up a sniper rifle, lining up my shot, and gently squeezed the trigger…
A little bit of poo nearly came out. A deafening crack blasted from my surround sound system, and the report of the rifle reverberated through the speakers, echoing back around me. It was a genuinely exhilarating moment. Despite some of the weapons not packing as much punch in terms of damage, they certainly sound the part.
As enjoyable as ever
Considering this was my fifth playthrough of Crysis, I enjoyed playing it as much as I did the first time. If you have never played it before, I can imagine the occasionally dated feel and slightly janky NPC movement and appearance would be a bit jarring, and you may wonder what all the fuss was about.
For fans of Crysis, though, it’s exactly what the doctor ordered, serving up a nicely polished piece of nostalgia. The core gameplay is basically identical to the original, and it comes from a time where a solid FPS campaign ran at around 10 hours, with a focus on packing a large variety of epic action and tense stealth around a very entertaining, if somewhat cliched, story.
If you never played the original, it’s definitely worth the asking price of £24.99, but in comparison to newer games, the short campaign and relatively limited feature set and variety of weapons may be underwhelming.
For me, I enjoyed playing through Crysis Remastered, and achieved all 1000 gamerscore. If they bring out an Xbox Series X enhanced version, I’m sure I’ll play through it again, too.
Crysis Remastered on the Xbox One X is an entertaining return to the roots of the franchise. The inclusion of software-based ray tracing is often very impressive, but the performance hit makes it more of a novelty than a must-play feature. Now that it has been patched, it’s a much more stable experience that fans will surely enjoy, but newcomers may be left wondering what all the fuss was about.