Approximately ten years ago, Crysis came to PC. EA's first-person shooter received critical acclaim, but it's probably best remembered for its role as a status symbol for PC gamers. The game was notoriously resource-intensive and getting it to run on available hardware without compromise was as much a challenge as beating the game itself.
Ten years is an eternity when you measure time by tech, though. Crysis' legendary spec requirements are a joke now, right? You can probably get the game to run on a Canon printer. Well … no. Not at all. The building blocks that form Crysis hold up brilliantly by today's standards—and in fact, most modern PC's still have a hard time running the shooter at its optimal performance.
What? Why? How? That's a question for Digital Foundry. Earlier today, our tech-obsessed compatriots published an incredible breakdown of what made Crysis a marvel back in 2007, and it also outlines the reasons why it still puts today's computers through their paces.
Long story short, EA anticipated computer tech would gradually improve and make it easier for people to run Crysis at peak performance—but said tech didn't improve in the ways EA predicted.
"Crysis … hails from an era where the future of CPU technology was heading in a very different direction than Crytek may have originally envisaged," writes Digital Foundry's Alex Battaglia. "[T]he expectation for PC computing, especially from Intel with its Netburst architecture, was that the real increase in speed in computing would happen from massive increases in clock speed, with the expectations of anything up to 8GHz Pentiums in the future. It never happened, of course, and that's the key reason why it is impossible to run Crysis at 60fps, even on a Core i7 8700K overclocked to 5GHz."
In other words, the tagline that carried PC gaming through the late aughts—"But can it play Crysis?"¬—remains nearly as relevant as it was a decade ago. May its echo never fade.