What can be said about Crysis that hasn’t been repeated ad nauseam since 2007?
A decent amount, actually, if the game is running on a portable.
Crysis Remastered (PC, PS4, Switch [reviewed], Xbox One)
Developer: Crytek (original) / Saber Interactive (remaster)
Released: July 23, 2020 (Switch) / TBA (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Yes, Crysis Remastered is out, but curiously only on the Nintendo Switch (for now).
After blowback concerning the game’s most recent trailer, Crytek put every other version on ice, but opted to release the Switch edition to the world. Yet, it shouldn’t be any surprise that Crysis Remastered actually runs competently on Switch given who worked on it. Saber Interactive was co-lead on the port job, and they’ve done a wonderful job adapting games like The Witcher 3 to the “small screen.” Most of the problems from this remaster actually stem from the original release, not the Switch itself. Let’s start with the Switch-centric stuff.
Upon booting it up, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a very stable 30 frames-per-second framework. While it’s not “look at how amazing Crysis looks on my new rig” impressive, the fact that it runs well even in portable mode is a feat. While things can dip when there’s a lot happening on-screen, the game is heavily predicated on intimate firefights, so it held up consistently. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Switch port preserves the ray-tracing spirit of the other editions, with well-crafted light and shadow work.
At first glance the Switch port isn’t a showstopper, but the devil is in the details: Crytek and Saber could be ushering in a new era of Switch visuals. Portable mode really is one of my favorite ways to play the game, but be warned that the gyro/motion controls are a bit fiddlier. I found that gyro aiming was much more precise with the use of a Pro Controller while the Switch was docked. Thankfully, all of this is optional.
Again, it works, But the truth is, when removed from the technical prowess conversation entirely, Crysis was never that impressive. While the level design of many missions is interesting in that it takes a semi-open world approach, exploring those sandboxes is rarely fun in practice. The joys of the Nanosuit (which is 2020 tech, by the way, according to the in-game lore) are unique at first glance, especially if you hadn’t played that many first-person shooters, but the honeymoon period quickly wanes.
Your main tools are a Predator-like stealth toggle and superhuman sprinting/jumping capabilities, as you weave in and out of a mostly nonsensical narrative involving North Koreans and Matrix-like robot aliens: back when The Matrix was still pretty hip and Alien vs. Predator was looking like a promising film franchise. It takes itself just a little too seriously to really take advantage of the latter — and doesn’t have anything that interesting to say about geopolitics or basically anything else.
Crysis has plenty of pointed moments though (mostly when it isn’t afraid to get linear, in a positive way) that help cement itself as a memorable modern FPS. Gunplay is tight and well done, as is the feeling of jumping up on a tall building and laying down fire from above. When it comes to moment-to-moment fights, Crysis feels worth playing from start to finish. It’s when those moments are temporarily paused that it falters again.
The teams also haven’t pushed this remaster far enough, but that’s not a Switch problem. Sadly the AI hasn’t really been upgraded, allowing it to be gamed often. A “semi-destructible environment” just doesn’t cut it as a selling point either; especially since Red Faction helped pioneer the concept in 2001. The icing on the feel-bad cake is that the Ascension mission is still missing in action on the Switch version: a holdover from the PS3 and Xbox 360 re-releases.
It feels really weird for a new take on Crysis to be releasing so close to the next generation, behind the curve. For those of you who are curious about this series and want to jump in, you could do a whole lot worse on the Nintendo Switch. If you want to play Crysis in the most shiny way possible and own another platform, it’s best to wait.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]