Crysis Remastered Trilogy review: A second chance

Crytek is back with a bundle featuring most of the Crysis saga, updated for the new consoles.

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They say timing is everything. With the right game at the right time, no amount of success is unreachable. On the flip side, we sometimes see games that launch too soon and are crippled with bugs. It is also possible for some games to fall through the cracks for a variety of reasons. While the release of the Crysis sequels did not go unnoticed a decade ago, the circumstances around their development and release ensured that they never really had a chance to reach a wider audience. This holiday season, developer Crytek has assembled a package of the three mainline Crysis games that have been polished up for deployment onto the two generations of consoles that followed those games’ original release dates. 

Biting off more than you can chew

Around this time last year, I dove headfirst into Crytek’s first big remastering project, Crysis Remastered. I found the release to be incredibly disappointing by nearly every measure, from its performance issues to missing content, and the fact that it didn’t look like much of an upgrade over the fifteen-year-old original. In the year since, Crytek has stuck with the project, bringing in bug fixes, optimizations, restoring all campaign levels, and finally adding ray-traced effects and DLSS support. The proper version of Crysis Remastered is included in this release, but I will be focusing mostly on the new versions of Crysis 2 and Crysis 3, as they make their debut as a part of the Trilogy.

The story of Crysis is well-worn material at this point, but a refresher couldn’t hurt. Crytek went all out for the 2007 release of Crysis on PC. Using all its resources to build a game that was only possible on high-end PCs was a big gamble in that era and, due to piracy, steep system requirements, and some public backlash over said requirements, the original game was not the financial success Crytek envisioned. At the same time, Call of Duty 4 was slaughtering sales and player engagement records, changing the way AAA video games would be made moving forward.

Crytek took the lessons learned from Crysis and set out to make its sequel available on PS3 and Xbox 360 in order to reach a bigger audience and recoup some development costs. Because those consoles were so far behind the hardware standard needed for the original game, adapting the engine and game design for consoles proved to be an impossible challenge. The final released console versions of the game looked like a blurry mess and, at its worst, saw frame rates that were routinely between 10 and 15 fps. Its level design was also much more cramped and linear than Crysis 1, disappointing die-hard fans with its push to be more like a Call of Duty campaign. The PC version was also released with controversy, with Crytek later adding DirectX11 support and the enhanced graphical features expected of a PC Crysis title.

Just like that, Crysis 2 came and went. Now that the game has been resurrected by Crytek for the new generation of consoles, I suspect that it could find an audience that either never played it originally or wrote it off (justifiably) for the awful older console releases. The studio has gone over nearly all parts of the original game in order to whip it into shape for this release. Most of the textures have been replaced with high-resolution upgrades, the lighting system has been overhauled, and the original teal/orange color grading (that seemingly all games of the 360 era had) has been altered to match the original game. 

The lighting overhaul brings the most improvement in how light interacts with various surface materials. The use of Crytek’s SVOGI global illumination technology gives thousands of spots in the environment the illusion of proper light bounces. Gun animations have also been improved and are no longer locked to 30fps. Crysis 2 already had a nice shotgun, but the new smoothness at which the remastered version operates is *chef’s kiss.*

The PC version also picks up support for ray-traced reflections and DLSS. For the most part, though, the PC and Xbox Series X/PS5 versions are mostly identical. On the console front, the new consoles power through the remastered game at a rock-solid 60fps, improving visuals, controls, and the overall enjoyment of playing. The difference between the PS3 original and PS5 version (both PS5 and Series S|X run the games in enhanced compatibility mode, they are not native applications) are staggering. Think about the difference between the original Demon’s Souls and the recent PS5 remake and you’ll be in the right ballpark.

Thanks to this remaster, many will get to see what Crysis 2 really is. The changes in level design, pacing, and mission structure ensure that it never feels like a real sequel to Crysis, which worked against it during its initial launch window. That said, taken at face value, there is some good stuff to be had here if you fancy yourself a fan of the first-person shooter. It is a linear affair that moves between setpieces at a brisk pace, but the fantastic gunplay, AI battles, and tactical opportunities provided by the series’ iconic NanoSuit work in concert to provide a great weekend of alien-slaughtering action. I’d also be doing the game a disservice by not mentioning the wonderful bit of score provided by Hans Zimmer. Not too many games can get your blood pumping with orchestral music that plays while you configure your mouse sensitivity. That said, it still suffers from the same narrative inconsistencies that dogged it at release, but at least making no sense never looked or felt so right.

For Crysis 3, the changes from the original PC release are much more nuanced. This is not a bad thing, as anyone who has played the game on a stout PC in the last ten years can attest. The original Crysis 3 could launch today as a AAA shooter and people wouldn’t bat an eye. As it pioneered many of the graphical techniques that came to define the PS4/Xbox One generation, it always looked like a state-of-the-art release. Obviously, the original PS3 and Xbox 360 versions were mega-bad. While not quite as abysmal as the PS3 version of Crysis 2, poor frame rates and compromises made to get the game to boot on those old consoles ensured that Crysis 3 endured the same fate as its predecessor.

The Crysis 3 remaster brings the original PC release in all its glory to PS5 and Xbox Series S|X. While eagle-eyed fans will be able to spot some changes, it remains faithful to its knockout original incarnation. Like the upgraded Crysis 2, Crysis 3 is a rock-solid 60fps for newer console owners and deserves a closer look if it slipped by you on its first go-'round. The PC version gets ray-traced reflections and DLSS support to bring it in line with the other two games. If you haven't seen Crysis 3 in motion, you are in for a treat. Presenting a lush, overgrown metro area that looks every bit as convincing as the backdrop for The Last of Us 2, the game world is filled to the brim with details - almost enough so to make up for the bad writing and narrative bits.

While I would prefer this release to be the definitive word on the Crysis series, some omissions of content should be noted. Like the standalone Crysis Remastered release from last year, none of the multiplayer portions of these games is included. While this will be a bummer for many dedicated fans who would love to see fresh blood injected into the community (and a chance to break free of the awful GameSpy matchmaking from the originals), it just wasn’t in the cards.

I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t also mention that this pack is missing the best Crysis game. Crysis: Warhead was released only for PC about a year after the first game. It addressed nearly all the criticisms from the original and offers the best campaign in series history by a long shot. Maybe Crytek thinks console players won’t care about a game that never received an abysmal port to the old Xbox 360. This is a real shame, as Warhead is the best of everything that Crysis fans love about the series. I’ll also note that the PC versions do not get the CryEngine Sandbox access that the original releases did.

Maximum smooth

The full Crysis Remastered Trilogy package will set you back $50 on PC and consoles. If you never played these games, only saw them running on ancient console hardware, or if your PC was never quite up to snuff, this is a great time to revisit some games that were ahead of their time in many ways, even to the point of detriment. Owners of PS5 or Series S|X consoles that enjoy shooters from time to time should put this on their shortlist. Just because these are ten-year-old games doesn't mean they look or play the part. Crysis 2 in particular gets the lion’s share of the attention and with its new color grade, looks like a million bucks. While this package is available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, the experience is a noticeable step down due to frame rate and visual clarity. Switch owners on the fence should really check this out, though, as these are now arguably the three best-looking shooters on the handheld.

Some movies work better in theaters. Some games work better on bleeding-edge hardware. The stars have aligned and a premium Crysis experience is available for the masses. There’s never been a better time to put on the NanoSuit than right now. 8/10 8K roach shaders


This review is based on the PC Epic Games Store release. The game key was provided by the publisher for review consideration. Crysis Remastered Trilogy is available now for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

Pros
  • All three games finally get outstanding console ports
  • PC versions get ray tracing and DLSS
  • Crysis 2's new color grade and enhancements are transformative
  • Shockingly strong Nintendo Switch ports
Cons
  • No Crysis Warhead
  • No multiplayer content brought from original releases
  • 60fps modes limited to PC or PS5/Series S|X
From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 20, 2021 3:50 PM

    Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Crysis Remastered Trilogy review: A second chance

    • reply
      October 20, 2021 4:18 PM

      Nice review, I’m definitely I interested now. I played through all three campaigns around the time each was released but never really revisited

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      October 20, 2021 5:42 PM

      HMMMM

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      October 20, 2021 5:49 PM

      How come you mentioned how great the new version of Crysis 1 remastered is but don't even talk about it?

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        October 20, 2021 5:52 PM

        Because I previously reviewed it when it was a standalone release. It is linked in the review for the Trilogy.

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          October 20, 2021 5:53 PM

          But you said it was improved since the initial release and is much better...I wonder what they fixed...

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            October 20, 2021 6:20 PM

            I’m curious of this also.

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            October 20, 2021 6:56 PM

            [deleted]

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            October 20, 2021 7:47 PM

            I mentioned the fixes in the same paragraph that linked to the existing review. The big changes were optimization, bringing back the missing campaign level, DLSS, and Ray traced reflections.

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      October 20, 2021 6:35 PM

      i got the trilogy for free via some intel promo. never played 2 and 3 but excited to check it out.

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      October 20, 2021 6:40 PM

      If I don't care about graphics, Is the gameplay of any of the trilogy actually fun, and perhaps anything like the original Far Cry?

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        October 20, 2021 6:49 PM

        The first one is the closest to original far cry, and probably the best crysis they made.

        The sequels are pretty good for what they are.

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        October 20, 2021 6:55 PM

        I recall the original Crysis was really good. I enjoyed Crysis 2 but never finished Crysis 3.

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        October 20, 2021 7:50 PM

        If you usually enjoy FPS campaigns, then sure. These games aren't Half-Life 2, but you can have fun depending on your expectations. Most people were mad at Crysis 2 at launch because it was a big design departure from the first game, but what is in there (save for the nonsensical plot) is pretty outstanding.

        The first Crysis is the only game I know of that is kind of similar to Far Cry (also the wonderful Crysis Warhead, but it's not included in this package).

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          October 20, 2021 7:55 PM

          Thanks for the addendum! I don't think I enjoy most FPS games these days, but I'll give the OG Crysis a try based on this thread. :) I'm way more interested in novel gameplay or storytelling.

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        October 21, 2021 12:18 AM

        I really disliked the shooting aspect of the first one back in the day, might have to give it a new chance.
        Its sandbox aspect is pretty fun though, allows you to get creative, especially with the suit's power (which were so powerful they can't be used more a few seconds...)

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      October 20, 2021 11:04 PM

      Cool, thanks for the review! Man I really hope they are working on # 4, they have to be right!!!????

      Fingers crossed.

    • reply
      October 21, 2021 1:01 AM

      Might just pick this up. Never got to 2 or 3.

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