Digital Foundry’s love of Crysis is well documented and the announcement of its remastering remains one of our highlights of the year. Delays to the launch were a sign that not everything was running to plan, but our hopes remained high, especially when Saber Interactive delivered an excellent Nintendo Switch port of the game. However, the PC and consoles versions have now arrived and even our faith in the franchise is being tested. Crysis Remastered has potential and some stand-out technology, but the fact is that key technical decisions have been made that brutally undermine the quality of the final product. Especially on PC, the game is a disappointment.
We’ll be talking about the console versions in a separate article – principally because we’re informed that a performance patch for Xbox One and Xbox One X will address key issues we have with the game, as mentioned on launch day. Having seen pre-release Xbox One X code operating at a better level of performance than the final release, we retain some level of optimism here. With PC, we find ourselves highly conflicted about the game. On the one hand, Crysis Remastered pushes technology forward in some remarkable ways, but on the other, it’s clear that the whole enterprise is based on the legacy CryEngine 3 versions released way back in 2011 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. With that comes compromises to the art that are objectionable, but more crucially, there’s a reliance on single-thread performance that means that it’s almost impossible to run this port at a locked 60 frames per second – even on a Core i9 10900K, the fastest gaming CPU on the market today.
We’ll start with the positives though. Sparse voxel octree global illumination – SVOGI – from the latest CryEngine has been incorporated into the PC build. This technology essentially performs a specific type of software ray tracing to simulate how diffuse light is bounced around an environment, significantly upgrading the lighting of any given scene. All together, SVOGI has a huge effect on the game’s visual quality, which can be easily seen by turning it off and on in the options. The difference between real-time GI and a system based on screen-space ambient occlusion and ambient colour probe lighting is profound, and it’s one of the standout improvements in the game.