Crytek and EA unleashed the highly anticipated sequel to Crysis last week. While waiting for it to become available Down Under, I found myself reading numerous reviews about the game. Most were highly positive, while informal observations from bloggers and PC gamers noted that Crysis 2 has departed from some of its predecessor's gameplay essentials and feels closer to a Call of Duty-style shooter.
As you've probably come to expect from our performance reviews, we'll leave you to judge the gameplay and concentrate on how the game runs on a variety of hardware instead.
Still relevant to our discussion however is the absence of DirectX 11 support at launch. As PC gamers ourselves, we can't help feeling a bit disappointed by Crytek's exclusive use of DirectX 9 rendering, especially considering that the original game did support DX10.
After some backlash from PC users last year, Crytek responded with the claim that Crysis 2 on the PC would have superior graphics to console versions. This was taken as a sign that the company would remain faithful to its PC roots. But then came the demo fiasco, with EA/Crytek releasing a Crysis 2 demo exclusively on the Xbox 360. Nothing was announced for the PC until a few weeks later when a last minute PC multiplayer demo surfaced.
Adding insult to injury, when the PC demo finally arrived, it carried many Xbox 360 leftovers such as the prompt to "press start to begin" or to "adjust your TV settings" when configuring the game brightness.
The game's launch wasn't entirely smooth either unfortunately. Crysis 2 saw a number of technical problems appear which prompted the release of a day one patch. Various graphics related bugs remain unaddressed, such as flickering screens and multi-GPU issues. Some users have also been experiencing activation troubles, though we understand the developer has been pretty responsive about these.
As things stand today, Crysis 2 on the PC does offer better textures, but that's about it other than the higher resolutions and frame rates usually offered by PC titles. DX11 effects are expected to be added in a future patch, but in the meantime don't misinterpret us, the game looks gorgeous regardless.
Clearly it's not exactly what we expected, but Crysis 2 does appear to be quite a lot of fun nonetheless. Now the question that remains to be answered is how demanding Crysis 2 is on PC hardware? Despite its shortcomings, can it bring the most power hungry rigs to their knees as the original game did? Today we plan to find out as we run a wide range of processors and graphics cards through the gauntlet.
Image Quality Comparison
Click on each image to enlarge.
The difference between quality settings is quite apparent. Shadows are considerably more realistic when using the extreme settings over very high - they're not only smoother but also softer in certain places where objects are not casting such a harsh shadow. Extreme settings also offer more realistic lighting effects and objects such as rubbish bags have more definition.
We see the same variations between the very high and high quality presets as well. The high quality settings make use of even more crude looking shadows that feature less detail. You'll also spot another big change in the polygon count as you can see objects such as the arched windows are much more jagged now.
The differences between each quality setting are more subtle but they are still present in this next series of screenshots. Once again, the extreme setting offers more detail and softer shadows over the very high and high presets. The tree's shadow looks much more realistic, the tree trunk has more definition, and the shrubs around the tree are only seen with extreme quality.
When comparing the very high and high presets the biggest difference is the loss of detail. Most of the grass under the tree is gone while the mud in front of the tree and on the road is virtually gone.
Benchmarks: Extreme Performance
Click on each image to enlarge.
Using the extreme quality preset at 1680x1050 shows that Crysis 2 is every bit as demanding as the original. At this relatively low resolution, the GeForce GTX 580 barely cracked the 60fps barrier with an average of 64fps. The Radeon HD 6970 on the other hand averaged 49fps while the dual-GPU Radeon HD 6990 was just a fraction faster averaging 56fps.
The dual-GPU GeForce GTX 590 sailed along without any problems averaging 95fps, proving that SLI is working fine. We found that the single-player portion of the game requires an average of at least 40fps for smooth playable performance. Most of the graphics cards tested will provide satisfactory performance at 1680x1050.
However for perfectly smooth gameplay 50fps+ on average is warranted, which means you will need a very high-end graphics card.
Increasing the resolution to 1920x1200 pushed most cards below an average of 50fps, leaving just the GeForce GTX 580 and GTX 590 with ideal frame rates. The GeForce GTX 560 Ti averaged 40fps while the Radeon HD 6970 was only a fraction faster with 42fps and the GTX 570 jumped up another notch to 44fps.
At the massive resolution of 2560x1600, only the GeForce GTX 590 could deliver playable performance as even the GTX 580 fell below an average of 40fps.
Republished with permission.
Steven Walton is a writer at TechSpot. TechSpot is a computer technology publication serving PC enthusiasts, gamers and IT pros since 1998.