Crytek recently announced a remaster of Crysis, a groundbreaking 2007 FPS game. This has led to a lot of discussion and, inevitably, a lot of misinformation, so we feel the need to set things straight. Here is what you need to know about this remaster.
The Game Could Indeed Use a Proper Remaster or Remake
Ever since the remaster was announced, a lot of gamers have claimed Crysis does not need a remaster because the game looks fine to this day. It is true that Crysis does look fine to this day.
However, a remaster, if done properly, would be very helpful for various reasons, stated below.
- Stability: It is unstable at large resolutions such as UHD or 4k and beyond, at least on some configurations.
- Performance: Crysis is one of few games in history that was released with graphics settings meant for future hardware. And what did Crytek in 2006-2007 think was the future of hardware? They thought CPUs would evolve to mostly prioritize clock speeds, so they were expecting > 6 GHz Intel Pentium processors or maybe Core 2 DUOs. Little did they know silicon doesn’t really allow for such clock speeds, so processors became more parallel instead which is the much more efficient way to improve CPU power, and Crysis fails to utilize all this modern day CPU parallelism. But okay, neither can any other 2007 game really, so what’s the big deal? Well, no other game from that era is as CPU bottlenecked as Crysis. As a result, nobody is really going to maintain more than 60-80 FPS in Crysis at max settings, with occasional dips below that even. It doesn’t matter if you have an Intel Core i7 8700k, i9 9900k running at 5.2 GHz, Ryzen 9 3900X, or upgrade to a Ryzen 9 4950X when it comes out, it doesn’t matter if you’re using an RTX 2080 Ti and upgrade to an RTX 3080 Ti and eventually RTX 4080 Ti. You’re going to be stuck in 60-80 FPS land with dips below that.
- Issues With Modern Systems: Crysis has some issues with modern systems, such as no surround sound support at all in Windows 10 if running the 64-bit executable. It works under 32-bit, but then you’ll get out of memory crashes at large resolutions such as UHD. It also has no refresh rate selector or console command (cvar), so all of you with high refresh rate displays, especially at 2560 x 1440 and above, will probably be stuck at 24 Hz/24 FPS in Crysis if you try to run it in fullscreen mode. Windowed mode avoids this and Borderless Gaming works with Crysis, but fullscreen gaming has some very obvious benefits like making the game harder to interrupt, reducing input lag, etc.
- Multiplayer: Crysis multiplayer died with GameSpy. Thankfully CryServ exists to resurrect Crysis Wars, the multiplayer component of Crysis Warhead which is the sequel to Crysis, and Crysis Wars is just a slightly better, more content rich version of Crysis multiplayer. But typical gamers don’t know of CryServ and wouldn’t want to install a 3rd party application to play a 12 year old multiplayer game (although they should!). If the remaster were to resurrect Crysis Wars multiplayer in its full glory, that would be a dream come true.
It Is Using Today’s CryEngine
You all probably know this already, but it is important to note since the majority of remasters don’t use a newer engine. Usually only full fledged remakes do, but Crytek calls this a remaster so this is presumably more of a port. Expect to see the original 2007 models/assets for the most part.
The engine upgrade means better performance (but CryEngine is still notoriously heavy, far from the most optimized engine) and Crytek’s shiny new renderer, which should either be DX12 or Vulkan or perhaps both. It means new shaders and post-processing, and it will show off Crytek’s API agnostic ray tracing, which is actually concerning since this leads you to believe it won’t take advantage of modern graphics card horsepower like Vulkan ray-tracing or DXR would.
But what else do we know about today’s CryEngine? Games made on it are nowhere near as moddable as Crysis was, and modding was advertised just as much as graphics for the original game. Modding is what kept players around, both for single player and multiplayer.
This is the #1 most misinformed topic about Crysis. People seem to think it was merely a tech demo, but that is incorrect and insulting. The game was released to critical acclaim, but more importantly, Crysis set out to do pretty much everything, and succeeds in all of it. Let’s break this down:
- Gameplay Mechanics and Weapon Design: Crysis was nearly as innovative here as it was in graphics, and if you don’t care about 2007 grade innovation, then you will care that Crysis is still superior in gameplay compared to most shooter games. You’re a nanosuit-wearing supersoldier in Crysis, this is what its gameplay revolves around. Its environmental interactivity isn’t just for show, it makes combat so much more diverse as you can throw or punch large objects at enemies, grab them by the throat and use them as a hostage from which you can then throw them at any time (combining this with Maximum Strength suit mode can send enemies flying), you can collapse buildings on enemies, drown them, you name it. It also has quality weapon design: the more realistic guns are extensively customizable, and its Sci-Fi guns are excellent from its Gauss Rifle (one of the best in gaming) to its Molecular Accelerator and Molecular Arrestor (freeze ray) to its TAC Launcher (infantry nuclear weapon). Then there’s the vehicle gameplay which is surprisingly detailed, and you can operate cars, small boats, larger boats, trucks, APCs, hovercrafts, tanks, helicopters, VTOLs, so much.
- AI: All these great combat systems don’t mean much if the AI is as useless as in today’s AAA games. Luckily, Crysis was well above average here too, and the average for AI in 2000s PC gaming was far higher than today. The AI has sharp but not overpowered senses, reacting to environmental sounds you make and having a nice caution/search phase that is often triggered when trying to use stealth. The AI intelligently allows for either stealth or combat gameplay. In combat they will use grenades, use the environment fairly well (nanosuit AI does try to use its suit abilities), it is so refreshing to see Crysis AI compared to today’s garbage.
- Physics: We touched upon this above, but Crysis is one of the most physics enabled games in existence. Every small object is a physics object, weaker buildings can be destroyed, things like sandbag walls can be destroyed, and it’s all procedural opposed to scripted. The water physics and gas physics (seen with smoke grenades mostly) also far surpass just about every other game in existence, its only real competition for water physics is Source engine. This significantly improves gameplay, but it is also just impressive to throw a smoke grenade, see that the smoke is 3D and physics enabled unlike almost every other game, the smoke distorts your flashlight, and if you throw a frag grenade into the smoke, the detonation will violently expel the smoke in all directions.
- Animations: Crysis wasn’t just a leader in environmental graphics quality, its animations were some of the best in the business in 2007. Crysis left no stone unturned and really tried to be #1 in every single graphical category.
- Sound: The sound effects and sound processing (HRTF) are above average by today’s standards. The game still sounds awesome, especially on a surround sound system. But we can’t ignore its epic soundtrack by Inon Zur either, one of gaming’s best composers.
- Modding: Crysis encouraged modding more than almost any other game. The things Crysis marketing advertised the most were its graphics, gameplay, and modding. Its Sandbox 2 SDK was legendary, still one of the best game SDKs to date, and its compressed archives can be opened with any standard tool like 7-zip. Crysis is quite literally the best designed game I have ever seen for modding: its editor and lack of 3rd party tools used during development means you have most of what was used to make the game in the first place, its file structure and the way it loads mods is the best and most modular I’ve seen, more of its code is open for editing than almost all other games. We’ll go more into this below.
- Single Player Campaign: Crysis has a 7-8 hour campaign that was known for its nonlinearity. Most levels (all until the late game) take a sandbox approach with hardly any invisible walls. The goal is to let the player approach every situation however they choose, and it intelligently and not forcefully gives you multiple “suggestions”, e.g. placing a car in a certain spot you will definitely come across, along with a boat in another location you will definitely come across, as if to say “You can use this car, this boat, or go on foot.” And it all works; everyone loved the first half or 2/3 of the game and its mix of sandbox stealth/FPS gameplay, they also loved the Assault chapter which is a big sandbox war scenario with incredible sound and so many awesome encounters while still retaining the freedom from the earlier chapters. Everyone loved the tank chapter too in which you start in a tank and fight other tanks, but are free to leave and wreak havoc however you choose. People liked the level set inside the alien vessel too with zero gravity, it was certainly unique. The subsequent linear levels against aliens were less liked, but the VTOL chapter was cool and the finale was epic even if not as fun as the first 2/3 of the game. The campaign was diverse, had a ton of effort put into it, and was really good as a result.
- Multiplayer: We’ll get more into this below, but Crysis is one of very few FPS games to give an all-in effort for both its single player campaign and multiplayer, and it does all of this while also giving an all-in effort on its engine and all technological facets as well as on modding. Seriously, how many other games have done this? Not very many at all.
Multiplayer Was a Big Part of Crysis
Crysis includes one of the best PvP shooter game modes of all time, Power Struggle. Check out the two tutorial videos below. Note during this era (2000s), it was not uncommon for multiplayer shooters to have complex objective based game modes that required official tutorials, such as this or Enemy Territory: Quake Wars or Battlefield 2142’s Titan game mode.
Power Struggle brilliantly combines large scale sandbox gameplay with strong strategic elements, the end result being every Power Struggle match ends up taking place in many different stages, but not in such repetitive fashion compared to say Enemy Territory: Quake Wars or Battlefield 2142 Titan or Unreal Tournament’s Assault game mode (and obviously something as dumbed down as Battlefield’s Rush), because most objectives in Power Struggle are not explicitly linear.
Competitive Power Struggle matches (in which both teams are filled with skilled players) on the smaller maps would typically last 45-60 minutes. On the big maps, which have more objectives, they’d last 90-150 minutes on average but 3 hours was also fairly common. This goes to show how intense it was.
Not only did Crysis have one of the best game modes, it also had Deathmatch (Instant Action) and a total of 14 maps showcasing brilliant level design, unlike most of today’s multiplayer shooters that put far less thought and effort into level design. We even wrote an article on this subject here.
For the Crysis Remaster, it would be ideal if it resurrects Crysis Wars, which has 24 maps instead of 14 (24 maps out of the box is basically unheard of these days), as well as Team Deathmatch (Team Instant Action). Crysis and Crysis Wars multiplayer are both in our top 5 best multiplayer shooters of all time. But even if the remaster has multiplayer, if it isn’t as moddable then it’s nothing in comparison, which brings us to our next section.
Modding Was a Big Part of Crysis
The legendary Sandbox 2 SDK was advertised for Crysis long before the game released. See the trailer below for example.
It came with that at launch, along with extensive official documentation on how to use it (seemingly expunged by Crytek now, more on this below). Such things are nearly extinct in modern gaming, especially on day 1.
But modding in Crysis went further than just this, and it went further than Crysis being one of the best designed games for modding ever. Back in the day, there was something called the Intel Crysis Mapping Contest. This Intel sponsored contest had two parts: single player levels and multiplayer levels. Anyone could create levels and submit them into the contest to win some prize, but at the end of the day everyone won because the multiplayer winners, which were extraordinarily designed levels, made it into the official game and were included by default in Crysis Wars!
I’ve personally archived the 22 single player entries (or winners?) so that they can still be played today. Get it here.
But multiplayer modding went much further than just maps. People created new game modes and total conversion mods. You may have heard of one total conversion mod, MechWarrior: Living Legends. Modders even greatly expanded the capabilities of server hosting and administration with the Server Side Mod, which just increased the QOL tenfold. It goes without saying that Crysis included a dedicated server application on release unlike today’s AAA games, so server owners could customize them how they see fit, from restricting equipment on a per-level basis to setting a custom level rotation to using whichever mods they please.
Don’t Trust Crytek to Get It Right
Let’s break down what we’ve discussed so far:
- Crysis put 100% effort into not just the engine/graphics but also gameplay mechanics, single player campaign, multiplayer, modding, sound, really every single area, which really separates it from most FPS games.
- On day 1 Crysis came with a dedicated server application, full SDK with official documentation, and Crytek hosted websites just for modding and hosting mods for Crysis. There was even an Intel sponsored modding contest in which everyone won at the end of the day, so to speak.
But what happened over the years? In the early 2010s, Crytek just hit the delete button on the aforementioned modding websites and seemingly deleted all the CryEngine 2 SDK documenation. ModDB wasn’t as big back then and I don’t even know if Nexusmods existed, so Crymod was the main hub for Crysis and Crysis Warhead/Crysis Wars modding, and all mods uploaded there from 2007 until the early 2010s were just permanently deleted out of existence, so you can no longer obtain them.
The level of moddability Crysis brought hardly exists in modern gaming, especially when you consider multiplayer game modding. Another important element of Crysis that hardly exists in modern gaming is its powerful console (command prompt), giving the player more control over the game, and you’ll only really find such a thing in games from Bethesda Game Studios these days.
Crysis 2 was a dumbed down game inspired by the success of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, focusing on cinematic cutscenes instead of good gameplay. The single player campaign became linear and cut out all vehicles, all the great gameplay was gone. Multiplayer was horribly dumbed down into some unrecognizable mess, none of the large scale strategic brilliance from before, and no more modding for multiplayer either.
Crysis 3 was more of the same from Crysis 2 but even more dumbing down, and there was no modding scene for the game at all.
Since then, they’ve made Warface, Ryse: Son of Rome, and Hunt: Showdown, but none of these have the ambition of Crysis. Crysis was not only a fabulous game in all respects but an awesome piece of software for everyone to use in their own way due to its insane moddability that only made both its single player and multiplayer experiences better for everyone.
This all died with Crysis Wars in 2008. In those twelve years, Crytek has not attempted anything close to this, so I seriously doubt they will try again. Expect the Crysis Remaster to be unmoddable and single player only, and after reading this article, you should easily see that this would make it just a small fraction of what Crysis actually was. Note you can still play Crysis Wars today by installing the CryServ Client. We even have an unofficial server running.
With all of that said, we’d also like to give you a bit of trivia you probably didn’t know. Crysis was one of the things that sewed together GND-Tech, so we know everything about how the game was during its prime.
What do you think about the Crysis Remaster? Let us know in the comments below.