Why Crysis Remastered Can Reach Its Fullest Potential in 2020
Back in November of 2007, PC gamers had a chance to glimpse divinity. All they had to do was boot up Crytek’s latest release, Crysis, and make their way to the opening area, a tropical beach blanketed in darkness. There, along the shore, a player could observe the moonlight filtering through the trees — the way certain leaves obtain a specular glimmer, emulating the real-life physical properties of light. In 2007, this level of graphical realism was nothing short of revelatory.
As Digital Foundry points out, this is but one of the game’s litany of technical achievements. Developed using an update to Crytek’s proprietary CRYENGINE, the original Crysis remains exorbitantly demanding on PCs, even as generations of new hardware have come and gone. For over a decade, the ability to simply run Crysis has continued to serve as a (sometimes joking) benchmark for a PC’s performance.
Thirteen years later, however, Crysis is receiving a proper remaster for contemporary PC hardware. Relieved of the technological limitations of 2007, Crytek’s goal is to set a new standard for graphical performance, incorporating learnings from over a decade of tweaking CRYENGINE and taking full advantage of modern processing technology.
Still, Crysis Remastered Project Lead Steffen Halbig remembers Crytek feeling liberated rather than inhibited during the development process. “The team was packed with talent and we were achieving things with CRYENGINE that no one had ever seen before,” Halbig said.
Crytek ventured into uncharted territory with gusto and high aspirations. “We were very far ahead with our gaming technology thanks to our approach to render everything in real-time,” Halbig said. “I think the choice of setting also helped. The original Crysis takes place on a tropical island, and not many games since have tried to capture that same environment with the same level of visual fidelity, and that has helped Crysis maintain that unique feeling, even today.”
Though Crytek could have been content to let Crysis calcify into legend, only ever altered by the work of intrepid modders, they couldn’t ignore the calls of the Crysis fan community to revisit the game. “Over the years we have received thousands upon thousands of requests to return to the IP,” Halbig said.
As Crytek continued to develop CRYENGINE, the idea of remastering Crysis became more and more appealing. “Because of the latest technology added to CRYENGINE — particularly software-based ray tracing — it was the right time to work on Crysis Remastered,” Halbig said.
Additionally, advancements in multi-core processing technology help Crysis Remastered run more efficiently. The original Crysis was developed at a time when PC games leaned much more heavily on single-threaded processes, and as such, some of its technical limitations are bound to a CPU’s clock speed.
Since 2007, however, CPU manufacturers have cultivated new ways of adding more cores to a single processor. This includes the ability to add multiple cores to a single silicon die, which has the potential to increase a CPU’s overall processing power without significantly compromising on clock speed. “This leads to shorter connections and lower capacitance,” Halbig said. These advancements, when combined with optimizations to the CRYENGINE, allow Crysis Remastered to operate much more efficiently on the back end.
As a result, players will be able to exert a higher amount of control over their settings according to their preferences and hardware. Setting suites are broken into “Low Spec,” “Mid Spec,” “High Spec,” and “Very High Spec,” while ray tracing is activated starting at “High Spec.”
But true to the Crysis legacy, Crytek has reserved a special option for players who want to push every setting and feature to the extreme. “If you want ray tracing with all features enabled and no limitations, then we have a surprise for you in place: A graphics mode called Can It Run Crysis?” Halbig said — a tongue-in-cheek reference to the question that has proliferated through forums and comment sections since 2007.
Halbig warns that players will need to ensure that their machines are fit to handle the mode, however, particularly if they plan on enjoying the game’s updated textures at high resolutions. Yet it wouldn’t be Crysis Remastered if the game didn’t champion extraordinary ambition, inspiring players to reevaluate their definition of what constitutes high performance.
In many ways, Crysis Remastered is an opportunity for Crytek to re-introduce players to the kinds of epiphanic moments the original game inspired. Halbig, who joined Crytek as a QA tester during Crysis’ development, remembers the feeling well.
“Seeing that kind of visual fidelity for the first time in the Crysis sandbox world was a defining moment in many people’s gaming lives — I know it was in mine!” Halbig said. Finally, Crysis players new and old can relive such a moment, only now with 2020 hardware.
Crysis Remastered will be available for PC.