Crysis Remastered Trilogy Review: Identity Crysis

You can fuse high-tech suits to your brain, kick cars across the street, and even vanish from sight completely, but you can’t stop the ravages of time. Not in Crysis, at least. Crytek’s sci-fi shooter series is back with Crysis Remastered Trilogy, collecting the three numbered Crysis games into one package.

Sadly, that means Warhead is out. This set could have benefited from the additional content, and maybe some remakes instead of remasters, true. The original Crysis remains a weak entry in an otherwise interesting and challenging series. While Crysis 2 improves in nearly every way, it’s not until Crysis 3 the series finally develops a solid understanding of itself.

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Crysis Remastered Review

Crysis Remastered review
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Crysis Remastered had a standalone release in 2020, making this essentially the same game bar a few patched tweaks to graphics and performance. Nomad (you) and a group of special covert-ops soldiers parachute into Korea, ostensibly to rescue a researcher, but in a game with aliens involved, things are never that simple. Governments and companies fight to control technology from the alien Ceph species, though the story’s execution is pretty rough.

Crysis suffers from Resident Evil 5 syndrome. The initial setting in a contested archipelago with North Korea as the antagonist feels tacky, especially in light of recent jingoism and anti-Asian sentiment. The worst part is the setting doesn’t even matter. Any other nation could be seeking the ancient Ceph relics, so it’s an odd choice.

Crysis is a messy shooter in other ways as well, though it does have some standout features. Nomad’s nanosuit lets him become invisible or bolsters his shields while the suit’s energy lasts, and these two seemingly simple features have a surprising effect on Crysis’ depth. Or they would, if everything else wasn’t fighting against you.

Crysis Remastered bow
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Apparently the latest military technology doesn’t extend to Nomad’s guns. Nearly every gun except the pistol is plagued with frankly ridiculous levels of recoil, but only for you. KPA soldiers can empty an entire magazine with perfect accuracy. You hold the trigger down for half a second, and it’s like you’re trying to shoot the sun. Combine that with confusing UI, shoddy writing and acting, and you’ve got a bit of a slog on your hands.

Crysis Remastered's also the least visually appealing part of this trilogy. The environments are fairly bland, and there’s less chance to show off texture improvements than in later games.

It’s a shame, since Crysis’ open map lets you approach objectives from several different angles. Sure, hijacking a military jeep and running over everything in front of you is always the best solution, even with cloaking and armor powers on the table, but you can be subtle and professional about it if that’s your thing.

Crysis 2 Remastered Review

Crysis 2 remastered
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Crysis 2 remedies almost all of the original’s faults, and there’s a fairly evident shift in direction in what Crytek wanted out of the series. Nomad is gone, nowhere to be seen, and Prophet takes center stage this time - as much as he can, following some rather inconvenient complications with his nanosuit. A new Marine recruit caught up in a devastating accident dons the suit and hurls himself into the battle between the Ceph, the nefarious C.E.L.L. corporation, and humanity.

Biological mutations, squid-like alien races called “Ceph” (cephalopod), and a bad-guy group called “Cell” that wants to manipulate biology - Crysis is very on the nose with most of its story and presentation. However, better pacing and a more coherent narrative make Crysis 2 more of a fun, campy sci-fi story than its predecessor.

That comes at the expense of Crysis’ more open design, though. Crysis 2 funnels you through New York City for most of the campaign, but it suits Crysis’ style better than the original’s vast islands. An abundance of sizeable arenas like parks or garages mean you still have flexibility in approach each fight. The more confined spaces force you to plan an attack route, and how you use the nanosuit’s abilities more carefully than the original.

Crysis 2 remastered graphics
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Crysis 2’s combat feels much better as well. There’s a significant difference in how each gun handles and even a handy pop-up telling you how the new weapon compares to your current one. Swapping weapons and throwables is easier, there’s actually a point to your melee strike this time, and recoil is toned down to much more tolerable levels.

That’s a good thing, since this sequel presents a steeper challenge, even on the lowest difficulty. Fortunately, a few other quality-of-life improvements mean you’re better equipped to deal with Cell and the Ceph. Energy use feels better balanced and won’t deplete rapidly while sprinting.

The visor’s tagging function has a purpose and is sometimes even invaluable as well, though checkpoints are still spaced frustratingly far apart. Expect to play through the same lengthy segments several times if you die.

At least you’ll have plenty of nice things to look at, though. Janky character models aside, Crysis 2 Remastered looks brilliant, even better than some late-gen games from the PS4 era.

Crysis 3 Remastered Review

Crysis 3 remastered
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Crysis 3 Remastered gives you a bow, and that’s important - mostly because using it is unbelievably fun, but also because it’s the biggest shift in the Crysis trilogy. It’s not the only one, either. Crysis 3 feels like the series at its best, with a more considered narrative, better combat, and a heavier emphasis on what makes this series unique.

The story is still campy and rough, but it’s so earnest you can’t help but feel immersed in the story. Prophet, or what’s left of him, once again takes the starring role and is the only one who can help save the world from impending doom at the tentacle-hands of the Ceph. He’s not some special chosen one or superpowered warrior, though. His powers of prophecy - hence the nickname - are a less-than-pleasant side effect from the nanosuit.

Crysis 3 picks up what Crysis 2 started by exploring the tension between this military technology that lets you do cool things and how both the technology and the actions irreparably change the human using them.

It’s not a deep exploration - the end goal is still very much to make you feel like a powerful soldier with cool space gear - but it’s a story with more ambition and direction than before. Crysis 3 even has optional lore pickups explaining more about the people and forces involved in shaping this conflict.

Crysis 3 remastered combat
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It’s a shame Crysis only found what it wanted to be in the third game, but it bodes well if Crytek makes Crysis 4.

Crysis 3 changes little in combat compared to Crysis 2, but the subtle alterations make a substantial difference. The (fantastic) bow lets you keep cloaking activated while taking out enemies, though limitations of cloaking and restricted ammo keep it from feeling overpowered. It’s a smart evolution of the cloaking/armor powers that involved more planning than I anticipated in most encounters.

Crysis 2 fell into the Naughty Dog trap fairly often, where it was pretty evident you’d sauntered into a combat arena. Crysis 3 seems even more restricted than the second game at times, but the fights also feel natural and more strategic as a result. Take the opening sequence, for example, where Prophet and another former nanosuit wearer infiltrate a C.E.L.L. stronghold. You’re forced into tight spaces ill suited to combat, sometimes with limited ability to even see your attackers.

Crysis Remastered Trilogy - Is It Worth It?

Crysis takes a minimalist approach to the space/sci-fi shooter genre, dropping you in fierce combat with few tools at your disposal. The first game remains a challenge to get through for the wrong reasons, but Crysis 2 is still fun to play, despite not capitalizing on the series’ strengths.

Crysis 3 is the highlight, but if anything, it just underscores how much better Crysis 4 could be. Re-releasing the trilogy on modern consoles makes it more accessible, sure, but I’d rather see how the series can continue evolving instead of re-experiencing its struggles to define a clear identity.

Score: 3.5/5

The publisher provided the PS4 copy of Crysis Trilogy Remastered for this review.

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