That was Crysis 3 in order to make nVidia look better as they had better tesselation performance.I guess you're too young to remember that half the reason the Crysis games ran so poorly was indeed lazy optimization rather than eye candy:-
"That's right. The tessellated water mesh remains in the scene, apparently ebbing and flowing beneath the land throughout, even though it's not visible. The GPU is doing the work of creating the mesh, despite the fact that the water will be completely occluded by other objects in the final, rendered frame. Obviously, that’s quite a bit needless of GPU geometry processing load. We’d have expected the game engine to include a simple optimization that would set a boundary for the water at or near the coastline, so the GPU isn’t doing this tessellation work unnecessarily."
"Crytek's decision to deploy gratuitous amounts of tessellation in places where it doesn't make sense is frustrating, because they're essentially wasting GPU power—and they're doing so in a high-profile game that we’d hoped would be a killer showcase for the benefits of DirectX 11."
Crysis 1 performance issues mainly are due to relying on fewer cores.