“All problems in computer graphics can be solved with a matrix inversion.” –Jim Blinn
Thirteen years after Crytek released their breathtaking Crysis, they would produce a remaster to one of the most iconic first person shooters of the 2000s, adding new lighting and shadow effects, upgraded textures and support for real-time ray-tracing. Crysis Remastered was launched to cold reception back in 2020; based off the console port, Crysis Remastered suffered from significant performance and optimisation issues that meant even the most advanced computers struggled to run it, and bugs from the console version, which hadn’t been present in the original PC game, were also degrading player experience. Being based off the console port, Crysis Remastered has inferior physics behaviours compared to the original, and the enemy AI behave poorly – sometimes, they will manage to find the player with perfect precision even when one’s got their cloak engaged, and at other times, they will ignore one even if they’re directly in front of a squad. To round things off, an unintuitive control scheme and the omission of an entire level, left players feeling thoroughly disappointed. Crytek, however, stuck to their guns, and over the course of a year, they polished Crysis Remastered, ironing out the larger bugs and restoring the VTOL mission. Although still not quite as polished asd smooth as the original Crysis, Crysis Remastered is presently in an acceptable state, bringing modern visuals and rendering techniques to a classic game whose visuals have aged remarkably well. While this speaks to the original Crysis‘ extreme level of ingenuity and innovation, Crysis Remastered‘s biggest improvements over its predecessor come through real-time ray-tracing, which produces more realistic and dynamic lighting effects. These are most apparent in the early missions, where Nomad traverses the coastal areas of Lingshan Island and is able to wander the island’s beaches. The interaction between light and water is far more detailed than it’d originally been, and the beaches look even more stunning than they had originally, which is no small feat. Thanks to real-time ray-tracing, light interacts with everything with an unparalleled realism: if were possible, Crysis Remastered looks better than real life, and one can practically feel the tropical humidity as they explore these maps. Although critics suggest that the original Crysis, at maximum settings, looks almost as good as Crysis Remastered with everything set to “Can It Run Crysis™”, the newfound detail in Crysis Remastered is such that it felt like I was playing the game new, for the first time. However, because Crysis Remastered was based on the console port, there are several, key artistic differences. Lingshan is generally more saturated compared to the original, which feels distinctly drab in comparison, and during the fifth mission, players fight under sunny skies, whereas the original had been overcast. The shift in mood doesn’t impact gameplay in any way, but it does feel as though the stakes are different; in the original, the humid, grey skies coincide with the American forces’ push up the valley to capture critical positions ahead of reaching the mountain where strange events are unfolding, and by swapping this out, the fifth mission suddenly feels more like a tropical vacation.
Changes to the aesthetic in Crysis leads to the question of how tightly coupled a game’s aesthetic design is to its experience, and this is something that different individuals will have different answers for. Remasters thus represent a case where it’s possible to see for oneself if a game’s visuals contribute greatly to the experience by altering the game’s atmosphere. In Halo: Combat Evolved, for instance, the Library is one of the most famous levels. The original level features dark, labyrinthine corridors swarming with flood, and being dimly-lit, the Flood can lurk in said corridors, lying in wait of their quarry. Lack of any features on the monotonous walls could cause players to get lost, and coupled with the overwhelming presence of the Flood, this contributes greatly to the tensions in the mission as players must fight through wave after wave of Flood to reach the Index. However, when Halo: Anniversary, added additional lighting elements to the library that made the walls more detailed, and increased the lighting, the sense of tension is lost. Foes become more visible, and one’s mind can focus purely on slaughtering Flood, versus how in the original, one could never be too sure of what lay in wait around the corners. When remasters overhaul the visuals to an extent where the original vibes are lost, players tend to react negatively. On the other hand, with Halo 2: Anniversary, 343 Industries took a more restrained approach, upgrading the lighting and details in each level without altering the aesthetic, and as a result, Halo 2: Anniversary looks precisely like what one expects Halo 2 to look like if it released in 2014. Here in Crysis, the increased saturation improves the game’s aesthetic. Warmer, richer colours reiterates the fact that, minus the Ceph and North Korean invasion, the Lingshan Islands are a tropical paradise, a sandbox that beckons one to explore. In this way, Crysis Remastered can be said to be how I remember Crysis looking back when I first played it a decade earlier. Playing through Crysis Remastered now brings back memories; from the incredible graphics, to the fact that my computer’s fans will immediately spin up the moment the game loads, I vividly recall the experience I had a decade earlier, when I had built a new desktop that was powerful enough to handle the game; shortly after finishing Battlefield: Bad Company 2, I turned my attention to a game that was legendary for giving even the best-built PCs trouble, and while my machine’s fans would spin up whenever I loaded Crysis, I marvelled at the fact that my then-new desktop, a mid-range budget gaming setup, was able to run Crysis with everything cranked up, at the 1080p resolution and a smooth 60 frames per second. Nowadays, although I’ve got a computer that outstrips what I’d previously had, Crysis Remastered still puts my current machine and its GPU through its paces, although just like ten years ago, my machine runs the game without trouble, achieving about 80 FPS at 1080p when everything is cranked up to the “Can It Run Crysis™?” settings.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Crysis‘ first sunrise is an iconic moment in gaming, equivalent to when players storm the beaches in Halo‘s Silent Cartographer: as night recedes and the sun rises, players in Crysis are treated to the first light of day filling the landscape and throwing everything into sharp relief. By having players hit Lingshan before dawn, Crysis simultaneously maintains some authenticity by having a Delta Force team insert under the cover of darkness and also, gives players a chance to acclimatise to the controls before blowing them away with the visuals.
- I first played Crysis in 2010, when I’d been an undergraduate student: one of my friends had a copy of the game because he’d been itching to see what his then-new Alienware M17x could do: having struggled with a custom desktop and its 8800 GTX SLI, the Alienware had proven to be a more portable and powerful machine in comparison, boasting an i7 processor and a single GTX 280M, giving him the ability to play at 30 FPS. Upon borrowing the game and installing it to my XPS 420, I was able to run the game at 30 FPS with everything set to medium, and in this way, I ended up completing the game.
- My initial impressions of Crysis were that the first half of the game was iconic, with the sandbox-like environment really allowing the game to accentuate its visuals and giving players quite a bit more freedom in choosing how they’d complete their objectives. For instance, in this first mission, one could hijack a boat and completely bypass the KPA patrols, allowing them to reach the other side of the island without getting into any firefights. After enter the alien ship, Crysis nosedives in quality and becomes a more run-of-the-mill, linear first person shooter with limited options for exploration. In spite of this, I still enjoyed the game greatly, and after finishing for the first time, I was quite pleased that my desktop could run Crysis to some capacity.
- I would return to play Crysis at 1080p three years later: after completing my undergraduate degree in health sciences, my parents bought me a new PC as a graduation gift, and I immediately found myself wishing to see if this machine was powerful enough to run Crysis. By then, Crysis had been six years old, and despite being an impressive-looking game even then, by 2013 most mid-end computers could run the game at 1080p and 60 FPS without much difficulty. In the present, fourteen years have elapsed, and Crysis isn’t quite as visually impressive as it’d been back then: here, the differences between Crysis and Crysis Remastered are apparent.
- As the story goes, I began playing Crysis after Otafest had concluded, and made some headway before my convocation ceremony. By this point in my summer, I’d finished putting together our undergraduate yearbook with contents my classmates had provided, and in the days leading up to convocation, things had been quite quiet, affording me some time to begin seeing how my new PC was handling. Equipped with an i5 3570k and the GTX 660, this desktop was built to be a light gaming machine with an expected service life of about six years, but in 2016, I upgraded the GPU to a GTX 1060: with performance comparable to that of the GTX 980, my old desktop ended up in active service for nine years in total.
- In retrospect, the fact that my previous desktop hadn’t broken a sweat running Crysis at full settings was a good sign of its longevity, speaking to how even with a mid-end build, one can still configure a computer in a way that is both economical and capable. All too often, I notice that a lot of people out there tend to over-build their PCs by buying the most expensive components, reasoning that bigger numbers and more features will justify the cost and help them to future-proof their machines. I find that, more often than not, the 10-20 percent increase in performance isn’t usually worth an extra hundred to two hundred dollars; how powerful one’s computer needs to be is strictly determined by what one intends to do with it.
- For instance, if one intended to use their computer to browse the internet, watch videos and pay bills, then even a tablet will suffice. On the other hand, someone involved in heavy video or graphics editing will need the best hardware money can buy. For most people, the quality of the parts they need will fall somewhere in the middle, and the best way to build a computer is to start out with one’s intended budget, as well as an understanding of what they need to do with the computer. Typically, gamers tend to be the trickiest demographic to build for, since games vary so greatly in terms of what they need, and for these users, I always start by picking out lower-to-mid end parts for the power supply, motherboard and SSD. This is because the more expensive options usually have more features but won’t otherwise impact performance by too large of a margin.
- Once that’s done, I move onto picking out a CPU. With the CPU, gamers will find that the i5 and Ryzen 5 line of CPUs are more than adequate – while i7s and Ryzen 7s are superior, the cost-to-performance improvements aren’t so significant they warrant an upgrade. On this note, if one is an intermediate content creator who games, an i7 or Ryzen 7 is easier to justify, since their improved multi-threaded performance makes things like using photo and video editing tools easier. Once a CPU is picked out, the next exercise is determining what GPU one needs.
- The choice of GPU is usually the trickiest for most consumers, although in the present, I would argue that the resolution one intends to play at, and the refresh rates on their monitor, should be the biggest factor in determining what one gets. Players who want to game at 4K will benefit most from the high-end GPUs (e.g. NVIDIA –80 series or AMD’s -800 series), while 1440p players should, if their budget allows it, go for a mid-range video card (–70 series for NVIDIA cards, and -700 series for AMD). For most players, 1080p remains a dominant resolution, and so, the mainstream cards (e.g. NVIDIA –60 series or AMD’s -600 series) will get the job done. Players looking for a little more framerates at lower resolutions may benefit from picking GPUs from a tier higher, although using higher-end GPUs for 1080p60 gaming is generally overkill and won’t yield any appreciable gains.
- Finally, RAM and non-volatile storage can round things out. In the present, 16 GB of RAM is still adequate, although heavy gamers and content creators would benefit from 32 GB of RAM. This is the decision-making process I follow for laying out the hardware I’d need for a computer, and in this way, I’ve been able to build long-lasting computers that strike a balance between performance and cost. Besides machines for my personal use, I’d also advised my first start-up on recommended machines for Unreal Engine 4 development, and when that company dissolved, the machines still sold for a decent price. Similarly, I’ve also given suggestions to friends who’ve wound up with builds they were happy with.
- Back in Crysis, I’ve returned to a scene I’ve been careful to replicate every time I come up here: after reaching a KPA site at the top of a hill, I collect a precision rifle with a high-powered optic as the sun begins setting. The scene had looked quite different at medium settings in the original Crysis, and here in Crysis Remastered, things look a shade sharper and better-polished. The precision rifle and SCAR are my two go-to weapons in Crysis: the former is a bolt-action rifle with impressive stopping power for long-range combat, and the SCAR is a versatile assault rifle that’s more accurate and hard-hitting than the FY-71, the KPA’s service rifle. Although ammunition for the FY-71 is plentiful, I prefer using the SCAR on single-fire mode.
- With the high-powered scope, the SCAR turns into a makeshift sniper rifle. Crysis was revolutionary for introducing the ability to dynamically change weapon attachments on the fly, and this feature wouldn’t make it into a mainstream first person shooter until Battlefield 2042. Throughout Crysis, players have access to a fair array of firearms, from assault rifles to shotguns, and one can also pick up guided anti-tank missile launchers and C4 explosives along the way, plus a range of grenades. However, Crysis‘ most iconic element is the Nanosuit, which enhances the player’s abilities. By default, armour mode absorbs incoming damage and allows the suit to recharge quickly, while strength mode enhances one’s ability to throw things, jump vertically and stablise their weapons.
- Speed improves movement speed, as well as reduces weapon switch and reload times. Finally, cloak renders players invisible to foes, allowing them to sneak past entire areas without instigating a firefight. The tools available to players make the first half of Crysis an open world sandbox that lets one to approach things in any manner they choose, and this creates much of the game’s memorable moments. In Crysis Remastered, the main gripe I had about the game was the fact that the key bindings are optimised for the console and set up similarly to the Nanosuits in Crysis 2 and Crysis 3.
- While it is possible to reset the controls to their classic setup, there are a few moments where the changed bindings threw me off. This was about the only gripe I had about Crysis Remastered – beyond the occasional bit of muscle memory causing me to carry out an unexpected action, I had fun revisiting familiar locations given a new coat of paint. It suddenly hits me that I’ve not written a Crysis game for quite some time: according to blog archives, the last time I wrote about Crysis was a final reflection on Crysis 3, dating back to December 2015.
- The last time I set foot at the harbour where the North Korean cruiser is docked, it was 2013. By this point in the game, Nomad and the other operators have discovered there’s more to the artefacts on Lingshan Island than initially thought, and the American armed forces subsequently deploy with the aim of securing things before the North Koreans do. This results in allied forces appearing, and players suddenly have support from friendly forces. However, the KPA have dug into the island and placed anti-air emplacements in a few areas, requiring one to clear them out.
- Crysis Remastered is so visually impressive that I caught myself stopping to admire the scenery on more than one occasion, and I found that the remaster looks its absolute best whenever one is around a body of water. With lighting effects being computed via real-time ray-tracing, Crysis Remastered requires a GPU with dedicated ray-tracing cores in order to really shine, and at present, I’m definitely glad to have purchased my RTX 3060 Ti when I did. I had originally been planning to buy an RTX 4060, but changed my mind after a flash sale in September saw the card going for 110 CAD off. The rationale behind my decision was simple: the RTX 3060 Ti was a card with known properties and was available in that moment, whereas the RTX 4060 is slated for release in July and has unknown performance (I’d expect it to provide 3060 Ti-like performance for the 3060 price tag).
- The biggest deciding factor, then, was the choice between waiting a then-indefinite amount of time for the newer card, or paying a little more for a card I knew was going to perform well. In retrospect, my decision stands because, having now seen the Lovelace lineup, it becomes clear that any performance gains in the RTX 4060 would swiftly be offset by the fact that I could begin using the RTX 3060 Ti right away: having nine more months of enjoyment with a reasonably powerful GPU far outweighs the minor efficiency and performance increases the newer GPUs offer. As a result of this extra time, I was able to experience Modern Warfare II and get back into Battlefield 2042, as well as do this reflection on Crysis Remastered a full ten years after I played the original Crysis.
- The lesson here, then, is that sometimes, it is better to action something when things are close enough to one’s requirements and work with things from there, versus, waiting for something perfect or better to come along. This approach allows one to get the most with their time, and work with knowns, versus going without something in the hopes for an uncertain future. The same approach, surprisingly, also applies to potential relationships – all too often, people turn others down because they’re holding out for something perfect, and in doing so, they continue to deny themselves even the possibility of turning what’s in front of them and cultivating something that could exceed all expectations.
- The idea is that, if one is reasonably confident about a relationship, there is no loss in stepping up and seeing where things go: taking a good relationship and maturing over time will allow one to grow it into something much bigger, whereas clinging to the idea that there’s “always better” means one isn’t even allowing for the possibility of this growth. I find it amusing that it took a well-timed GPU flash sale to make me realise this: at the time of my convocation a decade earlier, I was also guilty of holding out for better, and ended up paying the price for it. This is a story I will recount in the near future, but I can say that, in the present, I am now able to make snap decisions and make the most of what I’ve got in front of me, versus dreaming about what could be and then never even having a chance as a result.
- Crysis‘ tank level is the most iconic for me, and admittedly, I actually do prefer the sunny weather of Crysis Remastered over the overcast, gloomy weather of the original Crysis. I vividly recall that, on the day I reached this mission, I was speaking with my parents about finding a suitable barber for a haircut ahead of convocation, and while I’d originally been planning to go to the barbershop on campus, they recommended one a little closer to home. After this conversation, the fact that I was graduating suddenly hit me with the subtly of a freight train. I had spent the last four years of my life as an undergraduate student, and all of this effort had now culminated in my satisfying the programme requirements for a health science degree.
- Surprise soon turned to excitement, and I remember how, in the week following, things had become busy as I began preparing for things, from getting all of my photos taken, to submitting the last of the paperwork. I started Half-Life 2 at this point, and had gotten into things enough so that I put the brakes on playing Crysis – I ended up continuing after the Great Flood of 2013 swept through the area, and after campus was closed, I found myself with unexpected free time, so I was able to start the missions of Crysis that I was least looking forwards to, and finished the game before campus reopened. Observant readers will have noticed there that the tanks I’m operating have unlimited ammunition for their main cannon, whereas in the original Crysis, tanks only have thirty rounds available to them.
- According to the blog archives, after finishing Crysis in June, I started writing about the game on a per-level basis, and stopped in July, before resuming in September. Nowadays, I try to write about a game while the thoughts are still fresh before I move on: if I finish a game at breakneck speed and move on, I may forget about my experiences. Here, I take a moment to admire the world-space reflections in one of the ponds before proceeding to the final step of the secondary objective, to destroy the AA emplacements in the valley: the blue skies of Crysis Remastered make everything in this level pop, a far cry from the gloom of the original, and now that I’ve had the chance to go through Crysis Remastered, I am glad that I made the call to go through this game, as it allowed me to experience Crysis from a different perspective.
- In the end, I can happily conclude that yes, I did get value out of Crysis Remastered and the RTX 3060 Ti. Value is ultimately something that determines how I make decisions for my purchases. I define value as the ratio of utility to cost and time. Something has more value if it offers good utility at a reasonable cost or its utility saves me time: in this case, buying the RTX 3060 Ti the time that I did gave me more utility, and in this way, paying a little more to save time was worth it. On the other hand, I picked up Crysis Remastered during a sale for 5 CAD: for me, five dollars to revisit a game which is tied to my memories of the June from a decade earlier isn’t a bad value in my books.
- Frugality and cost-effectiveness is ultimately why I tend to buy most games on sale, and why when I build PCs (or recommend builds to people), I always keep costs in mind. When it comes to building computers, I tend to build according to the “what you need right now, plus a 10-20 percent overhead depending on your budget” approach. In my case, a computer with an i5 and a slightly-improved mainstream GPU was satisfactory for my needs and fit in my budget, so it was a no-brainer. On the other hand, I have heard stories of folks who end up with expensive builds that are under-utilised. For instance, a local sliding pin maker was boasting on Twitter about their new PC, which is a pre-built machine with an i7 13700k and a RTX 4070.
- However, this individual’s computing is limited to watching anime, running their online store and engaging with people on Twitter, and from their Tweets, they’re barely making ends meet on the essentials. From a rational perspective, one does not need an RTX 4070 to watch anime and use Twitter, so this machine is going to be under-utilised. At the end of the day, I do not have the authority to tell people how they ought to manage their finances, but I am allowed to have an opinion on folks who buy pricey computer hardware without considering their other expenses: if one commits to such a decision, then they cannot complain about the consequences, or expect others to bail them out, either.
- Buying a powerful PC and not fully utilising its capabilities is akin to buying a super car and only using it to drive to the local grocery store. While I’m not one to tell people how to spend their money or use their possessions, this does seem wasteful – I am reminded of Ali Al Saachez’s comment to Setsuna in Gundam 00, that the power of a Gundam is wasted on Celestial Being since they pull their punches during combat engagements and usually avoid unnecessary casualties while carrying out their armed interventions. In Saachez’s hands, the Throne Zwei goes from being a threat to being a near-unstoppable terror. This is a common theme in most Gundam series, where the performance of a machine is dictated almost entirely by pilot skill. Graham Aker and Char Aznable both go toe-to-toe with Gundams while piloting inferior machines, mirroring how even a weaker computer is still useful in the right hands.
- The Witch From Mercury appears to challenge this, suggesting that a machine’s characteristics is also a factor in determining the result. However, I disagree: the reality is that giving an inferior operator a superior machine won’t make much of a difference in terms of performance. From the computing analog, the typical Twitter user likely won’t know how to even begin getting the most out of an RTX 4090, but a skilled user can make even a lower-end computer produce magic, using nothing more than a text editor and the terminal. For a gamer like myself, I don’t use enough processing power to justify purchasing top-end parts: I still game at 1080p, so the mainstream GPUs and CPUs are more than enough for me in the foreseeable future.
- Here, I remark that while this is a Crysis-themed post, and I’ve talked a great deal about computer hardware, as well as my process, the idea was that since Crysis Remastered was so demanding, it was worth considering how I go about deciding on how to build a machine that would, in my case, let me run Crysis Remastered and my other games without devastating my finances. With this being said, everyone has different priorities, and while I favour cost-effectiveness over future-proofing, other people may suggest that one should build their computer in accordance with what they want to do in the next six years, as opposed to what they want to do in the next twenty-four months.
- Back in Crysis Remastered, I’ve skipped ahead to the evacuation of Lingshan Island – I’ve already covered the tips and tricks of these later missions in posts written a shade less than a decade earlier, and therefore have no plans to revisit those specifics in this discussion. Once the aliens appear, Lingshan Island freezes over, and allied forces are overwhelmed. There’s no more sandbox as the focus turns to getting out, and while while Crysis was immensely fun in its first half, the second half is more linear and monotonous. The visual upgrades between Crysis Remastered and its predecessor are less apparent here, although in places where there’s still free-standing water, reflection effects are present to remind players that they’re playing Crysis Remastered.
- In the interest of not creating a monstrosity of a post that is already likely boring readers, I’ll wrap up with a still of me piloting the VTOL. In the original console port of Crysis, this level was cut, and therefore, it was originally absent in Crysis Remastered. A patch would later restore this mission, allowing Crysis Remastered to finally offer a complete update to the original, providing a full experience of the game that had given computers trouble for years after launch. By the time I got around to playing Crysis Remastered, the VOTL mission had already been restored, and I was able to enjoy it in all of its visually remastered glory, which is a fitting way to experience things a full ten years after I first began playing Crysis at full settings and found myself marvelling at the capabilities of my then-new desktop, only this time, I’ve got a more demanding version of Crysis and a computer that has similarly risen up to the challenge.
When it released in 2007, Crysis became infamous for its exceptionally demanding system requirements: in order to run everything at maximum settings, one required a dual-core CPU with a 2 GHz clock speed, 4 GB of RAM and a GeForce 8800 GTX (which retailed for 600 USD when it launched back in 2008). At full settings, Crysis was a gorgeous game that ushered in a new era of mainstream computer graphics, and for years after, the online communities would always ask individuals who were especially proud of their latest computer build: “Can It Run Crysis™?” Within the space of six years, computer hardware would improve to the point where a midrange gaming PC, armed with a third-generation i5 processor and the significantly more affordable GTX 660, could run Crysis. The constant advancement in computer hardware has meant that for game enthusiasts, it’s never been easier to build a suitable computer for the express purpose of exploring virtual worlds at unparalleled fidelity, and of late, it does feel as though the hardware has now outpaced graphics technology. Games of the present generally look consistently good, but at the same time, today’s games don’t look too much better compared to the games of five years ago, whereas a decade earlier, games released five years apart looked dramatically different. However, this doesn’t mean that progressed has stopped: the best-looking games from five years earlier used pre-baked lighting and shadows to achieve some impressive results, but today’s games make more use of real-time methods. This results in less work for artists, instead putting more stress on the computer hardware, and as games become increasingly sophisticated, there are tradeoffs that need to be made. However, as these technologies continue to advance, games will continue to push the boundaries for what’s possible, and in the present, thanks to the sophistication of game engines like Unreal Engine 5, independent developers have been able to produce games that look life-like, as though they were footage taken from a body camera. Bodycam and EXP: War Trauma are examples of games that take a certain aesthetic and capitalise on Unreal Engine 5’s capabilities to produce new experiences. Things have come quite far for gaming graphics, and while in the present, there are a host of impressive-looking games out there, Crysis still remains a milestone title for players; for console players curious to see what all the fuss is about, as well as for PC players who wish to see if their build satisfies the age old question of “Can It Run Crysis™?”, Crysis Remastered is a solid way of checking out one of the most iconic titles in the world of games. On my end, watching my desktop effortlessly pushing out pixels while real-time ray-tracing was present is a reassuring reminder that for me, what I’ve got can run Crysis.