When Crysis 2 first appeared we were all a bit disappointed in the graphical splendour on offer. Crytek had, with the original Crysis, given us a taste of the future and brought plentiful eye-candy.
Crysis 2 though was held back significantly on PCs by its console roots. As the current raft of gaming consoles are now ageing somewhat the original engine only took advantage of the DirectX 9 featureset. Now though we have the v1.9 patch for Crysis 2 which enables DirectX 11 features and so it finally looks like a cutting edge PC Game.
So what's new?
- Tessellation + Displacement Mapping
- High Quality HDR Motion Blur
- Realistic Shadows with Variable Penumbra
- Sprite Based Bokeh Depth of Field
- Parallax Occlusion Mapping
- Particles Motion Blur, Shadows and Art Updates
- Water Rendering improvements and using Tessellation + Displacement Mapping
As you can see there is a raft of improvements all designed to make the whole thing far more realistic with Tessellation enabling far greater detail and the adjustments to shadows and depth of field helping to put you in the game.
Obviously a High-Res texture pack and DirectX 11 features really up the ante as far as recommended specs go. Crytek now recommend a 1.5GB DX11 GPU, Quad Core CPU, 8GB of RAM and SSD. Quite a step up from the standard specifications but this is a huge step up in quality.
Let's grab a look at some screens. Starting with DirectX 9...
DirectX 9 Screenshots
Obviously Crysis 2 isn't exactly ugly as is.
Shadow detail and softness is one of the most noticeable improvements we'll see on the next page.
Water looks pretty good here. But not a patch on the, ahem, patch.
Now to see how the new upgrade looks.
DirectX 11 Screenshots
With so many bits and bobs casting shadows you really get a good indication of the improvements that DirectX 11 brings to the table.
Water obviously looks stunning in motion and is one of the highlights of modern gaming, but even in a static shot there is a reality to it that's worthy of praise.
The level of detail is a far cry (ha) from the early gaming efforts. It's very easy to become complacent as games become more and more realistic, but as Crytek have proven with this upgrade to Crysis 2, we can still be surprised.
Even we aren't perfect all the time.
Whilst we have the Shadow H20 which is all set up for Mondays head-to-head shootout, we'll use it to extract the maximum performance from Crysis 2.
Our GPUs are a Powercolor HD6990 using Catalyst 11.6 and the Zotac GTX590 running ForceWare 275.33. The rest of our setup is :
Coolermaster HAF 932 Advanced
Rampage III Black Edition
Intel Core i7 990X @ 4.4 GHz - 200x22 1.35v
Balencer 150 Black Nickel Res
Nano-2G - 1500rpm PWM fans
Corsair AX850 PSU
Corsair Vengance 12GB RAM
Corsair 80GB SSD
Under DirectX 9 both cards are very similar indeed.
Once the pressure of the very latest tricks and tweaks is applied, the Radeon swiftly begins to run out of relative puff. The Zotac GTX590 is the clear winner of the two and provides exceptional performance.
For the rest of our HD6990 vs GTX590 comparison, come back on Monday.
Crysis 2 – how the masses were overjoyed when it was released that pretty much every graphics card could play it at high if not maxed out settings. “Crytek finally coded it properly” is all we kept hearing. True, but you are missing the point.
Crysis 1 for whatever reason was so demanding it was a milestone in gaming history. Still to this day its one of the most demanding games on the planet. This fact alone is what made graphics card designers and manufacturers wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats worried about how they were going to produce products to tame the beast. I’d put money on the fact if it wasn’t for that game we never would have seen the GTX295.
So in short its games like these that help the industry to progress quicker. Now maybe you will understand that when Crysis 2 in DX9 was first released as a blatant console port those of us with the ability to view the bigger picture were left somewhat deflated and that’s putting it politely. Then the floods of rumours about there being a DX11 and High Resolution Texture Pack specifically designed for enthusiast gamers. Many of us were not holding our breath that it would ever see the light of day.
Yet again let's take a step back and view this from a different perspective because Crytek, EA and Nvidia have been very clever and have done something that even your local drug dealer would understand. Crysis 2 gets released in DX9, everything is playing it pretty much maxed out. Even little Jimmy playing on his dual core AMD with a 4850 graphics card is happily playing it nigh on maxed out. A few months later the DX11 and high res texture pack becomes available so everyone installs it. Suddenly little Jimmy’s PC will no longer run the game maxed out, to be frank its hardly playing it at all now. Little Jimmy now goes into Crysis 2 withdrawal because he doesn’t want to have to turn his settings down because he is too used to it playing maxed out. The only way for little Jimmy to feed his Crysis 2 addiction is to buy a new graphics card in the hope of getting his FPS back.
There it is. Was there really a delay to get DX11 fixed, or was it purely a very clever marketing strategy? Maybe we’ll never know but if it is the latter then they all deserve a medal for seeing it through.
The basis of this review was to test the difference before and after the new patches on the two fastest graphics cards on the planet. Unsurprisingly the Nvidia was much better in every aspect, both minimum and average FPS were significantly in front of the AMD. On average we were seeing 40FPS drops from the DX9 game to the maxed out DX11 game, a fair drop for these dual core cards with buckets of VRAM on board. But seeing as the game was near on coded for the Nvidia architecture its not that surprising. In all our future reviews will be moving onto using Crysis 2 maxed out as a part of our normal testing procedure, only time will tell what cards will pass the tests.
Thanks to Powercolor and Zotac for the cards on test today, you can discuss your thoughts in our forums.