Crysis, once a go-to benchmark for testing your PC’s extremeness, is, as of last month, now on the Nintendo Switch. A game that once pushed hardware like my former Crossfit coach pushed me to puke in the middle of a workout can now run on a handheld console. From a tech-evolution standpoint, that’s incredible. But if Crysis were a new game released now, would it have the same impact? The PC version was supposed to release last month too, but if the first trailer and subsequent fan reaction were any indication, a remastered Crysis needs some serious upgrades to strike fear into every GPU and CPU once again. Other than its graphics and a really cool nanosuit that jacks up your character’s physical abilities, everything else about the game falls flat.
It looks like Crysis is getting a facelift — just in time with its PC release date less than a month away. A new trailer shows what the game will look like with new lighting affects, 8K textures, and ray tracing. The graphics appear totally modernised for modern machines, and they are downright gorgeous. But given the new textures and variety of ray tracing effects, not only could the new Crysis take up a lot of storage space, you might need some serious hardware to run it. The current generation of high-end graphics cards might not be up to the task, but that’s exactly what Crysis needs to return to its glory days.
A lot of Crysis’ nostalgia comes from how graphically revolutionary it was at the time, and how much power it needed to run at its max capabilities. A 2018 Eurogamer article does an excellent job of describing why Crysis was a video game marvel. It all came down to a few neat graphics effects: Gaussian depth of field, soft z-feathered particles, ray-marched volumetric lighting, post-processing, and character rendering. It was also the first game ever to implement screen space ambient occlusion. Without getting more technical, all of that translated into incredible lighting effects, moody scenic effects, and realistic-looking enough characters that were leaps and bounds over what other game developers were doing at the time. Cutting-edge stuff for 2007.
It’s no wonder why Crysis needed some serious hardware to run 13 years ago — hardware that most people didn’t have. At the time, the developers recommended at least an Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.2 GHz (or AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+), Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS 640 or similar, and 2 GB RAM to run the game well enough. But running the game well enough and running it at the highest settings are two different things. As Eurogamer points out, not even the highest-end Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX was immune to Crysis’ graphical strain. Not many people were able to run the game at a steady 30 fps and enjoy all the cool graphics.
PC hardware wasn’t and still isn’t cheap, either. When the Core 2 Duo released, it was $US163 ($227), which is about $280 in today’s money. The GeForce 8800 GTS 64 originally cost $US450 ($627), which would be around $780 today. And the 8800 GTX was around $US600 ($837), or $1,040 today. That’s nearly enough to buy an Intel Core i5-10600 and GeForce RTX 2070 or higher now. But you can do more with mid-range or budget graphics cards and processors today in comparison too.
Graphically, a game like Metro Exodus is one of the most demanding PC games today. But with ray tracing off, you can still pair a Core i7-8700K (a last-last generation CPU that is a near-equivalent to the Core i5-10600) with a mid-range RTX 2060 GPU and still get around 65 fps on Metro Exodus on ultra at 1080p. If you want ray tracing on, at ultra settings and at 1080p, you will definitely need an RTX 2070 or RTX 2070 Super to hit that 60 fps sweet spot. Ray tracing is kind of like what Crysis was doing with its graphics at the time.
But Crysis can run just fine on today’s PCs. Eurogamer tried running Crysis on two different top-of-line configurations (for 2018), which was a Core i7-8700K and a Ryzen 7 2700X paired with a Titan X Pascal. Eurogamer only reached a max of 38 fps when the CPU was overclocked, but when I run the game on my personal rig with a Ryzen 7 2700X and GTX 1080 Ti, I keep a consistent 60 fps at 1080p with all the settings and resolution turned up to their max (VSync off). When I moved over to more modern hardware, a Ryzen 5 3600XT and RTX 2080 Ti, I hit an average of 115 fps, same settings.
The GTX 1080 Ti is only marginally better than the Titan X Pascal, and it’s not clear what resolution Eurogamer was running Crysis on, but I assume they figured out a way to run the game at 4K, considering the max in-game resolution is 1080p in the setting menu. Or they ran the game with VSync on; my average fps dropped between 45-50 with it on. The same thing happened on the system with a RTX 2080 Ti, only the average fps was lower, usually around 30-35 fps. I did some digging into this issue, and it’s a known bug with Crysis.
But yeah, modern hardware can run Crysis — but for Crysis to live up to the status it once had as a remastered version, it’s going to need to bring the visual heat. We’ve been so spoiled with the likes of Metro Exodus, Control, and several other games that have redefined how graphics are done in games. But I can run those game at 4K on ultra with high-end hardware and get around 60 fps. Crysis Remastered better push my system harder than that.