It's been over six months since Crysis Remastered launched on PC and it's fair to say that as a gigantic fan of the original game, I was left disappointed by its re-emergence - while there was much to praise, legacy baggage from the Xbox 360 and PS3 ports effectively saw aspects of the game lacking compared to the 2007 original, while CPU performance was not where it should have been. Today's 2.1 patch is a good jumping on point though: there are genuine improvements, missing content has been restored, and for owners of GeForce RTX cards, the inclusion of DLSS AI upscaling dramatically boosts performance in graphics-limited scenarios.
There's not much to say about the DLSS implementation, except to say that it's just as impressive as other recent outings and a great addition to the game. Once again, elements of the visual presentation are actually improved over native rendering and while there is some TAA-style ghosting, it's hardly noticeable in the thick of the action. What I particularly enjoyed about this particular use of DLSS is that post-process sharpening can be manually tweaked within the command console - access to which I'd dearly like to see as a standard in all DLSS-supported titles. Ultimately, the lower down the RTX power ladder you go, the more impressive the boost given by DLSS, to the point where even in a GPU-heavy scene, the relatively lowly RTX 2060 should be comfortably capable of exceeding 60 frames per second at 1440p resolution. It even makes a reasonably good stab of 4K output too - meaning that higher-end RTX cards should deliver this with minimal issues.
Beyond DLSS, I'm happy to report that there have been many improvements to Crysis Remastered since we first looked at it: the issues with suit controls are resolved and switching modes in motion is fixed, allowing for chained speed mode jumps like you might have seen in your favourite nanosuit ninja videos. The notorious Ascension level - missing from the PS360 ports and indeed Crysis Remastered - is now back and it plays very smoothly, unlike the 2007 original which can still befuddle even the most powerful CPUs of the modern era. Ascension even features the proper volumetric fog effect from the original Cry Engine 2 rendition of the game, the omission of which elsewhere in the remaster was another problem... and one that bafflingly, still has not been fixed.
Problematic performance is improved, however, with the off-putting stuttering in ray tracing mode almost totally cleared up. However, the single-threaded nature of the renderer is still an issue - as is the loss in performance on the CPU the higher you push resolution. CPU load does seem to have seen some improvement, but it's still an area of weakness with the game. At release, I mentioned that keeping CPU performance and headroom high is very important to make sure you stick to 60fps throughout the experience. This meant keeping objects, shadows, and vegetation at medium settings, and then turning up any of the other settings like shading, physics, particles, and volumetrics to anything you like as those other settings have little to no great CPU cost in general. This is essentially still true, but I have deduced a more nuanced view of what is most costly on the CPU: essentially, the heaviest CPU-related setting you can tweak is vegetation, where anything above medium can prove very challenging even to a capable processor.
In terms of optimised settings now, I think users should start at that same base of medium for shadows, objects, and vegetation, but if your CPU has great single-threaded performance, increase the vegetation setting to high, and if you have a very fast modern Intel or Ryzen 5000 chip, add high detail objects on top of that. However, shadows should only be boosted if you have an absolutely monstrous processor. Once again, the other settings are less impactful in Crysis Remastered as CPU performance is more important than GPU load. It's still a disappointment to me that this title should prove so CPU-limited.
Overall, the new 2.1 update for Crysis Remastered is indeed much improved over the launch game, with DLSS particularly useful for those that really want to push graphics hard on this game. Artistic issues have been improved in some cases, but still don't match the 2007 release elsewhere - which, again, is a disappointment. Also, some new issues have emerged - motion blur is now broken, but I do expect that to be fixed shortly. At this point, I think Crytek should help out the Crysis community - and itself - by releasing the game editor, ensuring longevity for the game and perhaps allowing user mods to address remaining issues. In the here and now, Crysis Remastered still isn't the game I hoped it would be, but it's definitely a big step up from the launch code.
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