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Crysis 2: The Engine

It is estimated that on average humans perceive around 70% of the surrounding information through their eyes. This fact partially explains the recent obsession with photorealistic game graphics and life-like CG scenery. Unfortunately, a lot of good-looking titles have come and gone due to poorly executed plot and overall feel, but since we know that Crysis 2 is going to be at least as good as it predecessor, then the only question is about the graphics.

There might be some confusion but the second Crysis video game is based on the third generation CryEngine3 video game engine. There are a lot of great features in it and it is fully compatible with DirectX 11 API specifications. Here is a brief list of supported features:

  • Integrated vegetation & terrain cover generation system
  • Multi-core support
  • Real time dynamic global illumination
  • Deferred lighting
  • Natural lighting & dynamic soft shadows
  • Volumetric, layer & view distance fogging
  • Normal maps & parallax occlusion maps
  • Screen Space Ambient Occlusion
  • "Uber Shader" technology
  • Eye adaptation & high dynamic range (HDR) lighting
  • Motion blur & depth of field
  • Character animation system and individualization system
  • Parametric skeletal animation
  • Subsurface scattering
  • Natural world effects
  • CGI quality time of day system
  • High quality 3D water
  • Dynamic volumetric light beams & light shaft effects
  • Integrated multi-threaded physics engine
  • Streaming environments
  • Interactive & destructible environment
  • Deformable and soft body physics
  • Rope physics
  • PolyBump
  • Data-driven sound system
  • Dynamic sounds & interactive music
  • Environmental audio
  • High Speed Texture Rendering
  • Ray tracing

This is probably the first time that the hyped photorealistic scenery can actually be achieved with the help of a game engine. Surprisingly, according to the developers, the main feature of the latest CryEngine is not necessarily its ability to generate detailed pictures, but its scalability. Game engine engineers leave it up to game designers to decide what kind of features and how much load they would like to implement in a given game or situation. It is quite a bold move, considering that cost-cutting is the main agenda for game studios and an engine that can run both: console hardware as well as cutting-edge desktop monsters, is a true gem. Hopefully, such user-friendliness is going to pay off and we are going to see more than a couple of titles based on this ingénues technology.

With all the above mentioned possibilities to load up your graphics card, let’s find out what kind of hardware you will actually need to run this highly anticipated title.

Testbed and Methods

We are going to investigate Crysis 2 graphics performance using the following universal testbed:

  • Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition processor (3.33 GHz, 6.4 GT/s QPI);  
  • Scythe SCKTN-3000 Katana 3 CPU cooler;
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme mainboard (Intel X58 Express chipset);
  • Corsair XMS3-12800C9 (3 x 2 GB, 1333 MHz, 9-9-9-24, 2T);
  • Samsung Spinpoint F3 HDD (1 TB, 32 MB buffer, SATA II);
  • Ultra X4 850 W modular power supply;
  • Dell 3007WFP monitor (30", 2560x1600 @ 60 Hz max display resolution);
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit.
  • Nvidia GeForce 270.51 Beta for Nvidia GeForce;
  • ATI Catalyst 11.4 Beta for Radeon HD 6990 and 11.3 for ATI Radeon HD.

The ATI Catalyst and Nvidia GeForce graphics card drivers were configured in the following way:

ATI Catalyst:

  • Anti-Aliasing: Use application settings/4x/Standard Filter
  • Morphological filtering: Off
  • Tesselation: Use application settings
  • Texture Filtering Quality: High Quality
  • Enable Surface Format Optimization: Off
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always Off
  • Anti-Aliasing Mode: Adaptive Multi-sample AA
  • Other settings: default

Nvidia GeForce:

  • Texture filtering – Quality: High quality
  • Vertical sync: Force off
  • Antialiasing - Transparency: Multisampling
  • CUDA – GPUs: All
  • Set PhysX configuration: Auto-select
  • Ambient Occlusion: Off
  • Other settings: default

Unlike previous Crysis video games, the latest Crysis 2 offers almost no graphics settings at all. There are only three fixed profiles, and the differences between them aren’t described anywhere. Please keep in mind that this part of our article covers only the DirectX 10 enabled video game, since Crytek decided to start supporting highly anticipated DirectX 11 features in an upcoming patch.

The summary testing was performed in “Hardcore” mode and there were 15 testing participants:

Premium Category

  • ATI Radeon HD 6990
  • ATI Radeon HD 6970
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 590
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 580

Performance Category

  • ATI Radeon HD 6950
  • ATI Radeon HD 6870
  • ATI Radeon HD 6850
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 570
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Titanium

Mainstream Category

  • ATI Radeon HD 5770
  • ATI Radeon HD 5750
  • ATI Radeon HD 5670
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Titanium
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 430
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 240

We ran our tests in the following standard resolutions: 1600x900, 1920x1080 and 2560x1600. The testing consisted of a run inside and outside as well as intensive combat fighting. We measured the average and minimum performance using Fraps utility version 3.4.2. Each test scenario was repeated three times and the average value of the three runs was taken for the analysis.

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