Is Crysis 2 The Machine Killer Its Daddy Was?

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.


Very High


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.


Very High


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.

1680x1050 resolution

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.

1920x1200 resolution

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.

2560x1600 Resolution

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.


    Makes me wonder if the Radeon 6970 is the graphics card for me, maybe I should check out the nvidia 570 and 580s, though from memory they're a jump up in price.

      Yeah there is a jump in price, especially for the GTX580. I just picked one up and it plays Crysis on extreeme settings 1920X1200, at 60 FPS smooth even during the high action sequences. Wonder how much of a drop will occur when the DirectX 11 patch comes out?

      Shame about Dragon Age II on high settings, fluctuates badly in FPS terms with the GTX580. Still very much playable but seems odd a new release card has trouble playing a new release game without the word 'Crysis 1' in the title.

    No idea what the rest of the specs were on the test rig they used but my rig with a GTX460 at 1920 x 1200 runs it at 50+ fps.

    I am running a 9800GTX / E6600 @ 3.2ghz / 4gb ram and on high settings I am easily breaking 60fps.

    I think my PC would struggle more with Crysis 1 than Crysis 2...

      I hear you. I've got a Q6600 and 8800 GTS and it plays just fine on 1680×1050 very high. Crysis was never a problem and this just doesn't even touch it.

      I'm not sure what the difference is, but that list doesn't reflect my 3 year old rig at all.

      Besides which, I'm getting kind of bored, running down corridors and doing nothing interesting.

    @ 706,

    The Nvidia cards have always out performed Radeons when it comes to Crysis games (Crysis 1 even had a level of detail which could only be accessed if you had a GTX), so I would be careful about making a decision about a card based on the performance of one game, especially Crysis... Jump on Techspot and do some real research and just make sure that your paying for what you want...

      Sorry, but that's giving people some false information. I have a 5870 (and no, I'm not an RADEON fanboy...I'm actually going back to NVIDIA the next time around because their drivers are much better), and you will clearly see in this link that it beat both the GTX470 and the GTX480 in CRYSIS:

      Now, the 5870 was basically on par with the GTX470 (if only slightly better), but it was usually behind the GTX480 on just about every other test (go on, look at the rest of the tests on the very same review).

      The RADEONS actually had better performance on CRYSIS (at least in that particular generation). If you want to know a game that NIVIDA will beat RADEON every time, then that would be FAR CRY 2.

      And what options could *only* be accessed by GTX's in CRYSIS exactly? I know BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM had AA options only available on NVIDIA cards, but even then you can force AA in CATALYST CONTROL CENTER for RADEON cards. The only other time NVIDIA have extra options is when PHYSX is available to turn on in a game...but PHYSX is the biggest gimmick this side of technology.

        I was looking to go down the Radeon path after I found that the 5700 and 5800 series seemed like a lot better bang for your buck that anything Nvidia had out at the time.

        That is mostly what I'm looking for, I'm looking to build a rig that will hold up on highest settings on modern games and still have some future in it. I had been hearing a lot of good things about Radeon, though I have been primarily an Nvidia man. Physx I have no interest in and I would have expected Radeon to have better DX11 support. But this is the second time I have heard of bad drivers for Radeon products, so I'm not sure.

        In the end though I think even though the 570/580 and I believe even sometimes the 480 outperform the 6970, the 6970 seems like it's priced better.

          The simple answer (and remember this is coming from someone who owns a RADEON 5870) is to buy NVIDIA. Sorry, but it had to be said. I just think they are a better company at the end of the day. But I will always want to see RADEON do well, because that promotes healthy competition. I don't ever want to go back to the days where NVIDIA were selling MID-HIGH range cards at ridiculous prices (I remember buying my 6800GT for about $700 back in the day...racketeering motherf****rs).

          If I was in the market for a good performing BUT cheap card, I would go straight for a GTX 560 Ti. If you wanted a little more power for larger resolutions + AA I would be looking @ a GTX570/GTX580. And if you really want to be a jerk and gloat about how big your e-peen is, then you can go for the GTX590 (or to be an even bigger jerk if you get GTX590's in SLI or TRI SLI).

          As a side note, I have had issues with old games on the 5870, including CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK ESCAPE FROM BUTCHER BAY and PSYCHONAUTS (bad stuttering) that I never had with my GTX275. RADEON make good cards, but boy do they need an overhaul on the team who work on their drivers!

          Just go NVIDIA, won't regret it.

    I'm running it on 5040 x 1050 on HD 6970 and no way can I get Extreme settings without lagg hehe. Though Very High runs quite smoothly. Anyone else with Eyefinity care to share quality?

    How do you enable FPS (PC)? Couldnt find it in any menu.

      Just download Fraps, it's easy enough. I have no idea my FPS, but the 560ti handles the Hardcore setting @ 1080p at very reliable frame rates. Note that I don't consider 60+ to be imperative for a shooter.

      Also note the DX11 patch will never come out as it was a rumor not supported by the devs.

    textures are so average. Graphics are nothing to be excited about is not as well done as the others. Is the least intricate out of the whole series

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