Crysis Remastered Review: We've Got a Crisis on Our Hands
The immediate thought of actually playing Crysis on a Nintendo Switch is almost laughable. After all, the Switch isn't known for being a powerhouse of a console. But here we are, playing Crysis Remastered on the handheld hybrid.
As the name suggests, Crysis Remastered is an enhanced version of the 2007 first-person shooter, but oddly enough, it's only available on Nintendo Switch right now. It'll be headed to PS4, Xbox One, and PC later this year, due to a delay following fan feedback, so all we have to look at is a watered-down version on Switch right now.
It's an odd thing, because Crysis is known for its stunning visuals, and with a remaster, you'd expect its beauty to be pushed even further. The Switch simply can't handle what you're probably expecting from a game that boasts such realistic graphics. This remaster leaves the gameplay, story, and themes intact, making other major alterations to allow it to "run" on Switch.
Crysis Remastered Review: We've Got a Crisis on Our Hands
In Crysis Remastered, you play as Nomad, a character who wields a powerful nano-suit, capable of turning you invisible, quickly healing you, and making you feel almost like Iron Man. This gives it a bit of an edge from a gameplay perspective — or at least it did in 2007.
Nomad is a member of Raptor Team, a group of special forces elites who are tasked with investigating a distress call on the fictional Lingshan Islands.
The islands are home to huge open spaces you can explore, mirroring something like Far Cry. It's not quite open-world, but the massive levels give you plenty of room to tackle your objectives in a few different ways.
This, combined with the abilities of the nano-suit, make for a somewhat varied gameplay experience. The issue is that this gameplay style doesn't necessarily hold up by today's standards.
It's also worth mentioning that first-person shooters don't necessarily feel at home on Switch, so if you're going to play this, we highly recommend that you use a Pro Controller while docked or in tabletop mode.
But how does it look from a graphical perspective? After all, the original Crysis is known for pushing boundaries in the way video games are presented.
Crysis Remastered hovers at around 720p on Switch, depending on what's happening on-screen. Though, at times, it went as low as 540p in either handheld or docked mode. The reason it changes so much is due to its dynamic resolution, which favors a smooth frame rate over crystal clear image quality. Fortunately, it keeps a mostly consistent 30 frames per second, with semi-frequent dips during intense battles.
Ports and remasters of AAA games on Switch tend to look fuzzy, but the difference here is that Crysis has always been known for visual fidelity. To this day, PCs still struggle to run the original at max settings, so it seems counter-intuitive to play an objectively uglier version on a console that isn't designed for games like these.
Crysis really starts to show its age when sitting through long load times, crashes, and general sluggishness, especially when arriving at a checkpoint.
When looking at other graphically intensive Switch ports — games like The Witcher 3, Doom, LA Noire, and others — Crysis Remastered falters due to its outdated gameplay mechanics. Sure, the open sections give you the illusion of freedom, but that isn't enough to carry it along, especially when those sections look so rough.
What's fascinating is that Crysis Remastered on Switch struggles to keep up with the 2007 PC version, even running on medium settings. As you might expect, resolution and frame rate have taken a hit, but a noticeable amount of textures have also been removed for the Switch to keep up.
You'll notice this when looking at the ground or when swimming underwater, as well as with other environmental assets.
It's hard to play a game that doesn't offer any sense of progression or incentive to return to it. Despite featuring vast landscapes to explore, there isn't really a reason to. You might as well push straight to the objective as if it were a tight, linear experience.
Let's compare it to something like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare — a game that came out the same year — which also lacked any sense of progression. The reason Modern Warfare worked so well, despite being linear, is because it embraced linearity and focused on it. Each moment was jam-packed with action, and it felt like it was designed for you to experience those moments in a certain way every time. It was cinematic, and most encounters felt important.
Crysis, on the other hand, is designed to make you feel like it's open-ended, but in reality, you're still simply trying to get from point A to point B. And the journey between the two points is usually a slog. This is a criticism of not just the Switch remaster, but the base game itself, which is made even worse by how it looks and feels in this remaster.
Modern Warfare Remastered — a revamped version of Call of Duty 4 — came out in 2016 and it runs at a solid 60fps, features improved visuals and textures, and is presented in 1080p. Crysis on Switch doesn't meet any of those modern standards. Even this year's SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated, a remake of the 2003 original, looks better, which we've grown to expect from remakes/remasters. Point is, Crysis Remastered doesn't hold a candle to modern remasters.
The AI is frustrating to deal with, too. Enemies can somehow spot you from what feels like hundreds of yards away while you're hiding in dense brush, making it difficult to tackle things stealthily. They have pinpoint accuracy and can take you out in seconds, which feels unfair, even against your nano-suit.
Because of that, the solution often involves turning invisible to get past a large portion of enemy encounters, which is likely not the way it was intended to be played.
Maybe we've been spoiled by modern games, but that's the thing: games are competing for our time, and when there are shooters out there that look and play better than Crysis Remastered on Switch, it's hard to recommend this one.
However, there is some merit to the Switch version of Crysis, especially in the way it handles lighting. This is demonstrated by darker areas that are shielded from the sun, like small buildings with no lights or tin roofs.
When you stand under a tin roof, the shadows are pronounced, which is more than we can say for the 2011 console ports that featured the same amount of lighting no matter where you were positioned. These shadows depict depth and realism, giving you a greater sense of immersion.
You can also use the Switch's gyro aiming, and we highly recommend it. This more closely resembles the mouse and keyboard feeling of the original PC version and helps with your accuracy.
It works way better than trying to use the sticks in handheld mode, which don't allow for the accuracy you need to take out enemies. But you'll struggle to even see enemies that appear in the distance due to a high degree of pop-in, anyway.
Crysis Remastered Review — The Bottom Line
- Gyro aiming works well
- Realistic lighting
- Mostly consistent frame rate
- Semi-frequent crashes
- Blurry, unappealing visuals
- Outdated gameplay mechanics
- Stuttering and sluggishness, especially when the game is saving
- Long load times
- Frustrating AI
It's baffling that Crysis Remastered exists on Switch — and not in a good way. Why take one of the games that set the benchmark for graphics in video games, present it as a remaster, and release it on a system that does a disservice to it in nearly every way?
Sure, being able to take it on the go sweetens the deal ever-so-slightly, but that's hardly worth it when it looks and plays like an absolute mess. Even the best-looking version of Crysis still doesn't hold up as well today, simply due to its outdated gameplay mechanics.
At least we have the PS4, Xbox One, and PC remasters to look forward to at some point. Even if you can't wait, playing the 2007 version on PC is a better choice currently.
[Note: A copy of Crysis Remastered was provided by Crytek for the purpose of this review.]