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Crysis Remastered

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: Crytek
Release Date: July 23, 2020

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Switch Review - 'Crysis Remastered'

by Andreas Salmen on Aug. 6, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Crysis Remastered offers first-person shooter fans the best-looking, evolved, and innovative gameplay, enabling players to adapt in real time to survive.

Crysis hasn't received enough praise for what it achieved over 12 years ago. Any discussion is quickly directed toward its visuals that can still cause serious strain on PC systems today. "Can it run Crysis?" is still a benchmark for hardware aficionados. It's remarkable that we have reached a point where the Nintendo Switch can answer that question with a semi-confident "yes." While it looks like an impressive port on paper, there is still a healthy amount of skepticism when looking at any resource-hungry port on the system. Crysis does run remarkably well on the Switch, but if given the choice, I'd prefer to play the game elsewhere.

The game is set on a tropical island that's under North Korean control. We are part of a special forces unit that's armed to the teeth and dropped onto the island for a mission that quickly goes awry. Our squad is separated, and we are soon confronted with soldiers and uncooperative alien life forms. Thankfully, we have some advanced technology on our side. Our full-body armor can grant us extraordinary powers that can be used in a variety of ways, ranging from superhuman strength and speed to a cloaking ability and advanced shields. It's not an infinite buff, but it's tied to a stamina bar of sorts, so we must determine how to use the suit efficiently in combat. Although the gameplay choices weren't as varied over a decade ago, you could exercise stealthy "cloaked" gameplay or go in guns blazing; both mechanics existed at the time, but they rarely blended into a single experience.

Crysis also experimented with open level designs, and its gameplay feels less archaic because of it. Crysis is still a linear shooter; it creates large, open areas so it feels like you're in control of how to approach certain scenarios, and that holds up very well today. I'm also happy to report that the Switch version contains almost everything the original offered, with a small exception. Similar to previous ports of the game on PS3 and Xbox 360, the Switch version does not include the level "Ascension," which may have been too intense to make the jump. This version of Crysis looks and plays better than the last-gen ports, but that isn't necessarily saying much. More on that later.

The title still plays pretty well as a result of its open level design and suit powers. It's fun to scout out a checkpoint from afar and drop in, wreaking havoc and taking out groups of enemies with a combination of abilities and explosives. While most structures on the island are barely big enough to be called huts, the ability to destroy most of them can elevate the fun during tense firefights — and briefly tank the frame rate. In more crowded areas, frame rates may feel like they come to a halt; it's fair given what's displayed on-screen, but it hampers the experience.

Large-scale firefights against human enemies are the highlight of the game, especially since later encounters can become tedious. The stages with aliens are underwhelming and annoying to play through. Given its relatively short run time of about 10 hours (if you dally), these sections stick out like a sore thumb. There is a lot to love here, and the Crysis gameplay holds up better than it has any right to, but there isn't much incentive to play the Switch version if you've already played it elsewhere, especially on a decent PC. Of course, a mouse and keyboard are preferred with these types of games.

Frame rate issues aside, the Switch version seems insistent on spoiling my enjoyment. Crysis on the Switch is a double-edged sword. It's remarkable that it can run on a tablet, and it usually runs decently enough to be a lot of fun. However, it struggles to keep up and is unpolished in many areas. Some of these are technical limitations, but others are bugs. The game crashed completely on multiple occasions, which is bad enough given its above-average loading times. It's even more aggravating since there is no manual save system, and checkpoints can be quite far apart. If you start taking down a massive base full of enemies and the game crashes, you have to do it all over again.

Even when it doesn't crash, other aspects don't perform well, such as the AI occasionally spacing out and staring me down in the midst of battle or sitting in a car, completely oblivious to the imminent danger. I've also seen enemies vanish before my eyes, and the draw distance is often a limiting factor when trying to scout ahead. This is especially odd if you have a gun that's equipped with high magnification scopes. You may see no enemies or movement when looking down a hill, but they appear when you look through the scope. I've also run into several issues with sound, especially voice acting cutting out entirely or not lining up with mouth movements in cut scenes. None of these issues are deal-breakers, but the sum of issues in addition to some sub-par frame rates are equal to death by a thousand cuts. It's enough to take the wind out of what otherwise looked like a great idea for a port.

From a graphical standpoint, Crysis looks better than expected and even improves the lighting and water system that were used in the PC version and previous ports. The rest mostly stays in place. Trees and bushes can still be shot and destroyed, as can small buildings, which makes this a better port than the PS3 and Xbox 360 iterations. It's going to be interesting to see how the remaster eventually looks on the PC and current-gen consoles, but it's nice to see that the Switch version has a slight visual advantage for now.

The Switch obviously had to cut some corners to run the game. The resolution is dynamic and can get blurry at times, both in handheld and docked modes. The maximum resolution seems to be 720p, which is noticeable, especially when looking at trees and bushes or details further away. There's also very visible detail pop-in when moving around, which can make spotting enemies more challenging than it should be.

There's one more difference to mention, which is the ability to use motion controls for aiming. If you use it, it's usually a welcome addition for shooters on the Switch. In comparison to other titles, the motion aiming didn't work well for me, since it seemed unresponsive when I needed it the most, requiring very exaggerated motions to go into the desired direction. This also did not go away when I increased the sensitivity setting, making it a useless feature for me in this instance.

As a sum of its parts, Crysis on the Switch is another "miracle" port that turned out less magical than others of its kind. It's a less extreme example of the dissonance between being able to run a game and whether it should have been ported in the first place. It's not as pared back as The Outer Worlds was, but it also doesn't offer a lot of content, and its shortcomings in different areas are enough to hamper the experience. If you cannot play Crysis on any other platform, this may be as good as it's going to get, but if you don't care about portable play, the Switch version isn't as good of a proposition as it should have been.

Score: 6.7/10

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