Of all the big-name ports that have arrived on Switch thus far, there's something about Crysis that makes it feel a little extra special. Here is a game that absolutely beasted even the most high-end PCs when it released back in November of 2007 with its GPU-melting graphics – light-years ahead of everything else at the time – and a destructible, semi-open world sandbox that put a real strain on even the most expensive of processors.
Fast-forward thirteen years and all of this has, somehow, been shrunk right down and stuffed onto Nintendo's hybrid platform in a port that not only impresses but actually manages to beat the 2011 PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game in terms of both presentation and performance. There are a few niggles here and there which we'll discuss in due course but, overall, this is Crysis running impressively well on a handheld system and – more importantly, perhaps – it's still an absolute blast to spend time with.
For those who may have missed out the first time around, Crysis tells the story of Raptor Team, a nano suit-clad special forces outfit sent on a covert op to the fictional islands of Lingshan when an American team of archaeologists send a distress call alerting their government that they've found something otherworldly whilst also being encircled by invading North Korean troops.
Taking control of main protagonist Nomad, players blast into battle in a superpowered exo-suit that enables them to jump incredible heights, punch their fists through walls, toss trees, fling heavy objects – and enemy soldiers – high into the air and switch between an armour mode that soaks up heavy weapons damage and stealth that gives them Predator-style camouflage. Utilising all of these suit skills and a plethora of punchy weaponry, Nomad embarks on a bombastic, Michael Bay-esque rampage across Lingshan in an effort to rescue the archaeologists, secure whatever it is they've found, batter the North Koreans and deal with a frosty alien threat. All in a day's work for these special ops lads.
While it was the graphical prowess of Crysis that was the main talking point upon its release back in 2007, returning to Lingshan reveals gameplay that has stood the test of time impressively well. Running amok in this semi-open sandbox and employing all of the powers and weapons at your disposal to mess with the North Korean forces is a constantly engaging and often thrilling gameplay loop. The enemy AI also still impresses, with your North Korean foes making proper use of cover, charging your position and retreating when things get too heated – they'll even pull rather clever flanking manoeuvres around you to get into a better attacking position.
Watching these guys try to figure out where you've disappeared to before screaming in terror and firing their guns wildly as you materialise out of nowhere to fling them over a railing, choke them out or tear them to shreds with a shotgun is a frequently hilarious and massively addictive good time, every bit as enjoyable now as it was back when the game originally released. Also, the explosions. The explosions in Crysis deserve special mention; the way they rock the screen, tear nearby buildings and foliage to pieces and temporarily blur your vision, they honestly might still be the best explosions in a game to date.
Things do taper off a little as the campaign enters its third act and the alien enemies take centre stage; this one is at its very best when you're tooling around on sunny beaches and through dense jungles making fools out of your human foes and, in comparison, the extra-terrestrials just aren't as engaging. Still, the story does manage to hold up and keeps things interesting right up to the grandstanding final battle. Everything also feels pleasingly streamlined and slick in comparison to many more modern single-player shooters; you'll blast through this campaign in around ten hours and there's a refreshing lack of bloat to it – no time-wasting or attempts to artificially beef up proceedings by having you run a ton of pointless side quests or hoover up millions of collectables from every nook and cranny of Lingshan.
Of course, by now everyone's pretty familiar with the ins and outs of Crysis' gameplay and story and it's really the performance of this port that's the main talking point here. In this regard, it's hard to imagine how Saber Interactive – the team behind The Witcher 3 Switch port – could have done a better job. In comparison to the 2011 PS3 and Xbox 360 ports, this one comes off as the best console version of the game currently available, running at a pretty consistent 30fps for the most part (there are dips to the mid and low 20s during some heavy action sequences) and with a brand new lighting system that has significantly rejigged and improved the overall look of things. In docked mode, the resolution shifts from around the 900p mark to 540p in order to keep that framerate steady and anywhere from 700p to 540p in handheld. This dynamic resolution does mean things can get a little blurry when the action heats up, but overall, the image quality here is remarkably clear – much more so than what we've seen with the likes of Doom and even the Witcher 3 port, prior to its game-changing patch.
There are a few niggles here and there, however, with consistent hitching every time the game autosaves as you move into a new area or complete an objective. You'll also notice quite a lot of foliage pop-in whilst driving a vehicle or running flat out across scenery. Distant enemies can be a little hard to make out in handheld mode and we also experienced a handful of crashes back to the Switch home screen during our time with the game.
Apart from these problems though, this is still an impressively smooth and good-looking version of Crysis with none of the performance problems we've listed really impacting in any huge way on our enjoyment of the game's campaign. Saber Interactive has also seen fit to include those all-important gyroscopic controls for fine-tuning your shots and between this and the game's aim-assist, the whole thing controls well and feels slick, even on the system's default Joy-Con controllers. Blasting through Crytek's seminal shooter thirteen years later has been an absolute ball and this really has to go down as one of the most impressive Switch ports to date, as well as one of the very best shooter experiences currently available on Nintendo's console.
Thirteen years after it originally set about melting the PC of anyone who dared to try to play it, Crysis arrives on Nintendo Switch in a port that's more impressive than anyone could perhaps have realistically expected. Performance for the most part here is slick and smooth – albeit with a few dips and stutters here and there – while new lighting and global illumination techniques make this a better-looking version than any other console port to date. The addition of gyro controls is just the cherry on top of an excellent job on the part of Saber Interactive. The gameplay here has aged surprisingly well, too, and rampaging across the sandbox of Lingshan taking out human and alien foes with your nano suit technology is just as much fun now as it was way back in 2007. Crysis is easily one very best shooters currently available on Switch.