Looking back at the history of art, each move forward was made through technological advancement as much as it was driven by artists. Michelangelo developed theories on perspectives and viewing angles so he could design and paint a more accurate representation on the canvas. Leonardo Da Vinci studied cadavers to better understand and render the human body. In terms of video games, technological advancement and artistic talent go hand in hand in furthering the graphics quality and user experience during development. Graphics card manufacturers provide hardware platforms and enhancements that game developers can mix and match to render their virtual worlds, like a painter would combine colors on a palette to make a portrait. Most developers have pretty much the same access to the same tools. It is in their implementation on the game, however, that determines if it will be remembered as a masterpiece or more of an ironically appreciated “dogs playing poker” art piece.
The original Crysis game was lauded for its cutting edge technology and spectacular graphics, eventually selling more than 3 million units by 2010 and becoming one of the best selling and highly rated PC games of all time. Since the CryEngine 2 graphics engine used was ahead of its time, most of the criticism lobbed at Crysis was the fact that it was virtually impossible to play in the highest settings possible with even the highest end hardware during its release. For Crysis 2, Crytek opened up their development to include consoles and therefore scaled CryEngine 3 to accommodate multiple platforms. PC gamers did not take this news kindly, as it was seen as a slight and “dumbing down” from the previous release. A DirectX 9 only release on launch day just served to confirm PC gamers’ fears. A few months later, Crytek made good on their promise and the update is finally out, promising to deliver the most extensive DirectX 11 graphics for PCs to date.
The full Crysis 2 DX11 update consists of 3 components, which further enhance CryEngine 3 graphics. The Crysis 2 DirectX 11 Ultra patch brings tessellation, real-time local reflections, FFT water simulation and other DirectX 11 enhancements to the game. Crytek has also released a high-res texture pack, doubling the resolution of the stock textures included in the stock Crysis 2 game install. Both of these updates are optional and are enabled through installation of the Crysis 2 version 1.9 update, which adds the “Ultra” graphics setting preset. What has been added and does it deliver the goods as promised? The best way to know and find out is by playing.