When Crysis was released in autumn 2007, its release was accompanied by a hype that these days is at best comparable to that of Cyberpunk 2077. To date, the Metascore is well above the magic 90s sound barrier. Nevertheless, the reputation of the German flagship shooter has suffered severely over the years: “Grafikblender” is just one of the most common words with which the title, which was once traded as a masterpiece, is now disregarded. The story of Crysis is a story full of misunderstandings. That day the remastered was released for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. (It’s been available on Switch since July.) The ideal opportunity to reposition yourself in game history.
It’s strange how the perception and reputation of a game can change over time and even turn into its opposite. When Crysis was released 13 years ago, it was accompanied by a hype that knew no bounds and showered with top ratings in the 90s from all sides. It even outshone competitors like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Halo 3 and even more the supposedly unsuitable mainstream Bioshock, which all appeared around the same time at the time.
But while the Activision shooter with its bombastic staging shook the entire genre to its foundations and the underwater excursion to Rapture is still considered a prime example of intelligent action entertainment today, Crysis is viewed with disdain by many players in retrospect, reviled or reviled as a “graphic blender” ridiculed in view of its then completely excessive hardware requirements. Why is that? And did we all let ourselves be blinded by the hype back then and distributed a series of incorrect evaluations?
Can it run Crysis?
The latter point – the horrific hardware requirements – may have played a large part in this shift in perception. “Can it run Crysis?” Became the stair joke in game history, alluding to the fact that the game hardly ran smoothly even on the most expensive hardware in its day. To be able to play Crysis in its highest detail settings – that sounded like pure science fiction music of the future for a long time. In this way, the game looked like a potency show by Crytek to market its own engine, while playful qualities supposedly only played a minor role.
The setting of the game certainly also contributes to the change in perception. While Modern Warfare sent us to numerous different regions around the globe and fascinated Bioshock with its extraordinary underwater city, Crysis with its tropical island offered too little variety to be remembered for a long time. While the atomic bomb explosion in Modern Warfare has left its lasting impression to this day, and Bioshock’s story twist is still regularly cited as one of the most shocking moments in gaming history, Crysis was unable to create iconic moments with the same sustainability. The frozen ship in the middle of the jungle, the explosion of the mountain, the battle against the aliens on the aircraft carrier – yes, there was something, but the memory of these scenes is now pretty blurry. The same can be said about the two successors.
In addition, there is a story about which in a certificate, if you wanted to show it to the authors, sentences like “were always trying” would be. Against the background of a conflict between Americans and North Koreans, who compete on a Philippine island to excavate prehistoric alien artifacts until they come to life and trigger a war against the aliens, tried their hand at its contemporary relevance in a touch of To dress politically explosive buried this claim under militaristic slogans and soulless characters. Nomad, prophet, psycho – to this day I do not know exactly who is who and why his fate should mean something to me.
An underrated masterpiece
Nevertheless, nowadays it is often forgotten that Crysis was also a playful inventory of everything that made up the shooter genre at the time, and despite some justified criticism, raised this to a whole new level. The multitude of playful possibilities in combat alone, which would be called the “sandbox combat system” today, were far superior to all competitors at the time – especially when you compare it with the stupid blasts of Modern Warfare next door. In retrospect, one problem with Crysis may have been that it was so far ahead of its time that there were no terms for it to name its playful facets and to appreciate their qualities.
The special abilities of the Nanosuit, for example, opened up completely new tactical possibilities, such as giant leaps through the air, powerful melee attacks and invisibility for sneaking. The latter is almost a matter of course in modern shooters, which is why you tend to overlook how revolutionary the playful variety of Crysis was back then. At the same time, sneaking, representative of many of these facets of the game, reveals what its problem is for today’s classification: Many game mechanics were so new and experimental that they did not work as they should, and only other games like Far Cry 3 or Metro Last Light had to come to further develop what Crysis had started.
Also the AI in this context, which at the time was certainly one of the smartest of all, did not (as in many games even today) simply hide behind cover and only challenged the player to shoot clay pigeons, but proceeded tactically, withdrew and tried to However, stabbing heroes in the back had obvious quirks: Sometimes she doesn’t see me even though she is standing directly in front of me, sometimes she simply behaves strangely, as if she were drunk, but above all she is often much too attentive, which is why she is Players spotted and targeted from hundreds of meters away – which in turn makes sneaking a mostly pointless option. Today’s Internet memes, which make fun of optional sneaking in games with a photo of a raging rambos, for example, certainly have a not to be underestimated part of their origin in this phase of gaming history.
If you look at the level design of Crysis today, as a game journalist you can’t help but take your hat off to the developers in awe. Although the process is structured strictly linearly, the developers spread it in a game world that would be called “open world” today. The playful freedom in one’s own approach that Crysis offered is absolutely unprecedented for the time. Crysis is consistently expanding the vision of the greatest possible freedom of movement, which the developers already started to pursue with Far Cry (and where they had stolen from Halo and consistently further developed it).
In addition, there is a wealth of variety that has been somewhat suppressed in view of the exchanges of fire in front of a palm tree backdrop, which are all quite the same in memory: the bombastic tank ride, for example, the chase with the motorboat across the river or the weightless journey through the alien mother ship. Crysis tries to surprise the player with something new in every scene, as can only be the case with top class shooters such as Half-Life 2, Dishonored 2 or Titanfall 2.
And then of course you can’t talk about Crysis without talking about its graphics. And despite its outrageously high hardware requirements, it was nothing less than a retrospective of what is called state of the art. The detailed vegetation of the tropical jungle, the huge visibility from the hill over the island, the rays of light breaking through the leaves, the realistic character models, the smoke and particle effects of the explosions, which are still impressive today – that was pretty sensational, provided you had one via a computer that took part in the fun.
The really revolutionary thing about it, however, was that Crytek dovetailed the power of its graphics with a physics engine, which enabled a unique gaming experience. When there is an exchange of fire in the jungle, individual leaves shred from the banana trees and palm trees fall over onto the street, the buildings collapse increasingly in the hail of bullets, and cover from boxes and containers simply splinters over time.
Crysis in Kryse
The example of the physics engine shows how much the ravages of time have nibbled on Crysis. Certainly the game has always had many quirks, which at the time, given its brilliant qualities, one was ready to overlook, which in retrospect explains and justifies the high ratings at the time. But it is precisely these quirks that make a game wear out and that become more and more apparent over time. Paradoxically, exactly because Crysis was so visionary for its time, today Crysis Remastered is an illustration of how badly the game has aged.
Corrugated iron roofs flying meters high, embarrassingly wriggling ragdoll soldiers, objects glitching into one another – the physics engine with which Crysis intends to bring its world to life in the most realistic way possible, from today’s point of view sometimes only looks ridiculous. Especially since the remaster is generally (still?) In a rather shaky, technical state: flickering textures, regular glitches, two-second dropouts with every save process, insane AI behavior – it seems as if there could be no discussion about Crysis without criticism practice its technical implementation. The sound mix is also peculiar at times: the sound when the weapons are reloaded is sometimes far too quiet, and mortar shells are striking in the immediate vicinity, but cannot be heard.