Crysis is a game steeped in legend. Not because of its content, but its system requirements. The game was released for the PC in 2007. By that time I had mostly stopped keeping up with contemporary games, but I would had to have been living under a rock not to hear about it. You may have seen the meme "Yeah, but can it run Crysis?" targeted at any mention of a powerful computer. The game pushed the boundaries of graphics hardware available at the time (as it continues to do today, apparently). Even top-end cards were brought to a crawl when its graphics settings were cranked all the way up.
So it was with some surprise that I discovered Crysis is available on the Nintendo Switch. A game known for pushing the limits of PC hardware now available on a five year old tablet? Really? I was pretty sure that the "Remastered" addendum to its title didn't signify upscaling.
But you know what? I was pleasantly surprised with how it looked on my trusty 32" 1080p LCD television from 2018. I mean, I do have fairly low expectations since I'm primarily a retro gamer, but damn. Draw distances especially impressed me. I was able to plot routes into enemy bases by scoping the out the terrain and baddies I could clearly see off in the distance. The game's environments were lovingly detailed. Abundant vegetation not only made for more real-feeling forest settings, but could be destroyed. I knocked down trees and shredded bushes while engaged in arboreal fire fights. Dynamic lighting and snazzy water effects topped things off. And all that with minimal drops in framerate. Pretty neat!
How could they possibly have mustered enough horsepower from the Switch to run this game? Well, I have a theory: they made the enemy AI dumb as rocks.
If you draw too much attention in an encampment, the baddies will stop at almost nothing to get at you. Ducking into a hut for cover will likely have them bring its corrugated steel roof down on your head. These guys will knock over walls with assault rifle fire, thinking nothing of the collateral damage to their stuff or to their buddies who may be inside. Not exactly smart, but effective. And entertaining! So what I don't understand is why climbing a watchtower renders them completely inept.
Once you get into a watchtower, you can use the following steps to clear the camp:
- Activate cloak
- Stand up
- Shoot bad guy in the camp below (this immediately de-cloaks you)
- Go prone
- Wait for your suit's energy to recharge
- Go back to step 1
At step 3 you're inevitably seen (if you hadn't been already when you climbed up there), but that doesn't matter a bit. For guys who will happily destroy whole buildings to get to you when you're on the ground, you'd think the spindly support beams of a makeshift watchtower wouldn't be any trouble. You'd be wrong.
Not only can the baddies not topple the tower, but they won't even bother trying the ladder. Half the time they forget that you're even up there. As you wait for your suit to recharge, you can hear them combing the camp below, yelling at each other to "flush him out!" and other such appeals to the AI gods who've left them woefully ill-equipped for the task.
The other problems
Something else that bothered me is the ludicrous physics engine. Killing enemies with some weapons will send them flying through the air or sliding across the ground as if balloons had been attached to their limbs and friction had given up on them. It literally made me lol at times.
I kept telling myself that at least the graphics were pretty. But then I noticed something. I drove a Humvee over a cliff in full view of a bunch of baddies guarding the entrance to a cave. They freaked out and came to investigate, so I ducked behind an excavator to recover power in my suit and to wait for them to calm down a bit. That's when I noticed it.
WTF is this?! Did the designers just get lazy? It looks like something rendered on the Nintendo 64. I take back the praise I gave this game's graphics.
Crysis isn't a hardware benchmark; it's a skid mark.