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Reality Check: 3D Graphics Take On Hollywood

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October 22, 2008 9:09:55 AM

Of course it can always get better. it just depends on how much of the power available to them the game designers want to use. For PC its harder though since they want the most sales and want to go from low to high end.

Introducing MT in games would boost FPS allowing more and better eye candy.

A good example is L4D from VALVe. Source is a 4 year old engine but some of the graphics in that game are close to Crysis which is amazing to be honest since Crysis was made with a much newer engine.

It is also rumored to include MT capabilities. Will have to see.

Once game designers stop worrying as much they will finalyl make better looking games. As you can see from Far Cry 2 though the PC looks to have much superior graphics for it. The 360 version looks a bit bland where as the PC version looks nice and gritty.
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October 22, 2008 9:37:45 AM

Well, hopefully DirectX 11 helps in that regard, right?
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October 22, 2008 9:47:15 AM

yaya dx 11... cant wait to spend another $100 on another OS and $500 for a new graphics setup which will then be incompatible with something therefore resulting in a whole new $1000+ system. who wouldn't want to?
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October 22, 2008 10:03:37 AM

V3NOMyaya dx 11... cant wait to spend another $100 on another OS and $500 for a new graphics setup which will then be incompatible with something therefore resulting in a whole new $1000+ system. who wouldn't want to?


Shows how much you read up about DX11. It will be compatible on Vista and Windows 7 - so no need to update your OS. Unless you still use XP, which is your choice and you just need to live with the consequences.

Yes you will need a new GPU - but if you are a serious gamer you probably buy one of those every 9-12 months anyway. and $500? for the very top end perhaps - but why not go for the equivalent of the 4870 when dx11 comes out - which is $250?
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October 22, 2008 11:43:09 AM

Thanks for the article.
I hope to see realistic/possible samples of future(1-4 years) screenshots in another article.
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Anonymous
October 22, 2008 12:30:21 PM

As a researcher in the field of computer graphics, I can safely say that we haven't seen the end of it. Yes, a lot of hope has to be put on faster hardware. And lets face it - light is a tricky business...you do not think about it, but the complexity of the processes involved that enable you your eyesight is enormous.

Yet, every now and then a new algorithm is developed, which introduces more accuracy and less approximations, which runs faster and more optimal. It is not yet sure which idea will prevale (ray tracing or raster or something else), but it is sure that visible pixelization, coarse models, unrealistic lighting etc are going to be pretty much the past. When? Nobody can honestly answer this question...lets wait and see.
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October 22, 2008 12:44:55 PM

safcmanfr


actually it get better still, acording to all currently known info, direct3D 11 will be perfectly backward compatible with both vista and win7, but also the infrastructure of DX10 and DX10.1 GPU's will be able to support directX 11.

see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DirectX#Direct3D_11
^and yes i do know that wiki isnt the great source, but it is as good as any.

although the way the article is worded, it is made to sound as though some of the more subtle effect would require an upgrade. however the import part is GPGPU support accross both nvidia and ATi, and multithreading which will be supported.
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October 22, 2008 1:02:34 PM

Quote:
As a researcher in the field of computer graphics, I can safely say that we haven't seen the end of it. Yes, a lot of hope has to be put on faster hardware. And lets face it - light is a tricky business...you do not think about it, but the complexity of the processes involved that enable you your eyesight is enormous.


Well it took evolution billions of years to perfect the human eye so I think we can cut you programmers a break ;-) so far most of the new games look great.

I enjoy good looking games but the games need to have some substance to them as well. No one wants to play a crappy game no matter how good it looks.

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October 22, 2008 1:18:26 PM

Either most of the illustrations also include a real photograph, or there is some incredible quality out there. In the illustration "Targeted use of light sources lighting up a grid structure," is the upper-right image, an outside view of a window with bars, a real photo? If not, let me know what game it is from and I will buy it.
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October 22, 2008 1:23:00 PM

Even with all those effects I'm still marvelled by the lack of realistic structures. I do have a gaming rig with sufficient power to play crysis and what not, but still I can't find a game where walls don't look unnaturally sharp edged.
No matter how much soft shadow, af or aa is applied, it still manages to look like a building is simply 4 completely straight walls. Even when you blow something up in the newest crysis game you'll notice that a building is made up of incredibly straight sheets of wood or metal. Sure they've come a long way with foilage and stuff, but hollywood knows a great deal more about realistic structures than game developers seem to do.
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October 22, 2008 1:37:48 PM

Multi threading is where its going but the question is is how many chips can you fit on a dye before it hits a wall
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October 22, 2008 1:47:50 PM

Quote "Either most of the illustrations also include a real photograph, or there is some incredible quality out there. In the illustration "Targeted use of light sources lighting up a grid structure," is the upper-right image, an outside view of a window with bars, a real photo? If not, let me know what game it is from and I will buy it."


Sorry my fine feathered friend........That isn't from a game...It's a real pick.
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October 22, 2008 3:17:00 PM

adamk890Multi threading is where its going but the question is is how many chips can you fit on a dye before it hits a wall

Except that it's a die, not a dye, you're very much limited in your multithreading even when using huge processors with many cores. With the current system serveral cpu cores can't run graphics at once, so no matter how many cpu cores you have, you can't use more than one to run graphics. On a gpu the number and speed of shading processors obviously are a factor for speed, and more gpus give more processors, but that doesn't eliminate the need for serialization of processes. You can't render shadows for geometry that isn't computed yet, and you can't really always process a given thing in 800 tiny bits instead of 1 large bit. Where it is possible more processors will help, but that isn't always the case.

So the question isn't how many cpu/gpu cores (or the number of pipelines in them etc) you can put on a single board, but rather how you can utilize all this power effectively.
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October 22, 2008 3:38:43 PM

very nice and interesting article!

question: ps3 and xbox, do they only support dx9c? that's why the graphics are lower than on pc (farcry2)?
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October 22, 2008 4:10:44 PM

thanks for the article but water and fire are not elements water is consisted of two elements which are Oxygen and hydrogen.
and fire has nothing to do with the word element,fire is the result of the contact between very hot surfaces or materials with the surrounding air.
I think if nvidia had let gaming companies to release DX10.1 games like assassins creed the gamers would've been able to play a much more graphically sophisticated and intensive games with higher frame rates.
for example my pal has got 9800GX2 and me got HD3870,we have compared our GPUS and he beat me in every single game but assassins creed which, my HD3870 with DX10.1 gets about 25 more FPS than his 9800GX2.
sometimes the hardware is not everything.you see using DX10.1 with a hardware half as powerful as the one using DX10 and yet it gets much more higher FPS.
so i think every one could imagine what could've happened to nvidia if crysis and all the other games had been DX10.1 .
if you wanna make a movie-like games you need a very very powerful GPUs
not 1.2 or 2.5 Tera flops but more than 100-200 tera flops to render the frames at the speed of light.
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October 22, 2008 4:24:24 PM

Heya,

Great article, was enjoyable. Things have changed quite a bit and so quickly too! From the 80's into the 2000 era of games, things changed, but not nearly as fast and as forward as they have since 2000 to 2009 stuff. I expect the things to come in the next 2 or 3 years to be completely mind blowing.

Very best,
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October 22, 2008 4:40:41 PM

I just want to point out, JimmySmitty stated the Source engine is four years old" that is not technically correct as the engine is constantly being updated.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Source_engine

Yeah it is Wiki and ya know what, 90% of the time or more it is correct.
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October 22, 2008 5:32:27 PM

dx 11 is a waste of time 99% of all games are still dx9...
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October 22, 2008 5:34:04 PM

As long as the next generation of games don't try to over emphasize HDR, motion blur or field of view blur I'll be happy.

Bright shiny rocks don't make sense. "God rays" everywhere you look don't make sense. My real life field of view works just fine, no need to augment it. Adding blur while moving doesn't make sense, as when I run in real life, my eyes adjust and focus on what I'm looking at.. no blur. But game makers seem to try to make the POV of the game more important than the POV of the player behind the glass, that's not immersion.
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October 22, 2008 7:00:10 PM

I want a game that centers on nothing but God rays. That'd be awesome.
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October 22, 2008 7:26:22 PM

I just want to say that games will never look as good as high-profile hollywood special effects because they are rendered in real time. 3dfx studios have huge render farms with many computers rendering a(read ONE) frame that may take several hours. You simply cannot get that kind of detail in a real time running game.

I personally think realistic isn't the best thing for games. I like all the fancy-shmancy special effects that you don't necessarily see in real life - then you look at the game and say, "Cool! That looks awesome."
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October 22, 2008 8:09:20 PM

I really enjoyed this entire writeup it was a great read!
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October 22, 2008 8:41:41 PM

Very true atrain! We only need to wait... about 20 years and we may have some gpu's that can render frames in hollywood style... maybe :-)
But yeah, movie rendering is painstakinly slow proses even with huge amounts of computers. Ofcourse the resolution is now a days bigger in movies than is needed for computer screens but the difference is getting smaller. The digital copy is about 4*HD resolution if I am not wrong.
In anyway a nice article about the development, but it allso proves that there still is a long way to go for hyper real graphic!
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October 22, 2008 9:00:54 PM

Games have come a long way, and i believe that though the game manufacturer's release screen shots that portray the game, and in reality when it comes to the purchase and actually playing the game and seeing that the image they released doesn't match what you have at full maxed blown out settings then that alone shows you we still have a long way to go. Just playing COD4 in all its marvel and glory i can nit pick at thousands of things in the game that can be greatly improved on and perfect in future titles. The graphics will only get better, nvidia and AMD just have to work on how to create realistic worlds, and hopefully some day a game will look as real as life then that will be the day graphics have finally hit a big wall in which there's no way past it.
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October 22, 2008 9:08:19 PM

Giovanni86... nvidia and AMD just have to work on how to create realistic worlds, and hopefully some day a game will look as real as life then that will be the day graphics have finally hit a big wall in which there's no way past it.


In the 2d space, sure, I can see with increased processing power the ability to ray trace environments in real time, but processing power has a way to go before that happens.

Add 3d, holographics etc... now the way to get better is by *bigger*. Still problaby not in my lifetime.

My point is, there will *always* be a bigger wall, just need to think outside the box. Ever catch yourself saying something like, "I'll never need more than 10meg of storage on my brand new 286?"

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Anonymous
October 22, 2008 9:25:27 PM

Yeah, I think another thing that needs to be improved on is animation - ie the number of animations for a given movement/action & we need to see more procedural animation implemented. Alot of video games still use 1 animation per action which gets repetitive fast (Oblivion was one of those), and a lot of games still have issues with transitioning from one animation to the other. It doesn't matter how realistic the world is, when your character resets itself after one action before performing the other, you're reminded you're playing a video game. NBA 2K9 & Star Wars: Force Unleashed are great examples of games that use procedural animation to combat that issue.
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October 22, 2008 10:18:46 PM

Direct x 11 will be awesome with win7 but it will need high end system
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October 22, 2008 11:28:08 PM

bountyAs long as the next generation of games don't try to over emphasize HDR, motion blur or field of view blur I'll be happy. Bright shiny rocks don't make sense. "God rays" everywhere you look don't make sense. My real life field of view works just fine, no need to augment it. Adding blur while moving doesn't make sense, as when I run in real life, my eyes adjust and focus on what I'm looking at.. no blur. But game makers seem to try to make the POV of the game more important than the POV of the player behind the glass, that's not immersion.


I hate to break it to you, but your body can move faster than your eyes can adjust. When you run, your field of vision does indeed blur. Lifelike = BLUR. Do you think your eyes are that much faster than a camera sensor? Newsflash: cameras are faster.

Next I suppose you'll claim that you can see better than a soaring eagle and an electron microscope.

The human body is an amazing thing, but it is beat in every facet by some other creature. Ants can carry 50X their weight, birds of prey can zoom in on something miles away, spiders and bees can see 20 directions at once, we are well outlived by turtles and whales, we are rather ineffecient consumers of food, the list goes on...
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October 23, 2008 12:22:12 AM

I'm sticking with XP. Thanks.
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October 23, 2008 3:15:20 AM

JonnyDoughWhen you run, your field of vision does indeed blur. Lifelike = BLUR.

True, but it is often exaggerated. Just look at MOH: Airborne, it looks like a movie, not a game. I prefer to disable motion blur, it's just a waste of performance that could go into boosting up something else.

As for parallax mapping, I find it to be a double-edged sword. It adds depth to surfaces but it stretches textures around the "raised" surface. Some games implement it better than others. Timeshift has the effect only work within a limited distance of the player, so you can run towards a metal crate and see the bolts suddenly pop out at you. Crysis distorts and moves the ground textures around too much which makes it annoying.

God rays are pretty cool when done right.
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October 23, 2008 9:26:46 AM

romioforjuliettathanks for the article but water and fire are not elements water is consisted of two elements which are Oxygen and hydrogen.and fire has nothing to do with the word element,fire is the result of the contact between very hot surfaces or materials with the surrounding air. ...citation]

mmm... so what would your EXPERT opinion be about the element of surprise...? can you find THAT in a periodic table???


also, I was surprised not to see F.E.A.R. mentioned in the lighting part of the article. The first time i played it and the ceiling light broke and swung and cast all the eery shadows around the room I actually went "wow, thats badass lighting" :) 

otherwise great article. looking forward to part 2 :) 
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October 23, 2008 12:55:27 PM

What's the round building/tower on the lower right corner of Evolution Of The Buildings?
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October 23, 2008 2:00:44 PM

Very nice!
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October 23, 2008 2:13:59 PM

Sorry for the double post

Quote:
The right lower image show an official screenshot from the manufacturer. Even if it was taken with motion blur, the intensity of the colors and the rich green of the transparent leaves can’t be seen in the real game, even with the HD 4870 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radeon_R700 or GTX 280.


That is not simply true, here is a screenshot that I made (100% ingame there are numerous other custom maps that do that kind of jungle environments aswell. There is really little that Cryengine 2 can't do):


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Anonymous
October 23, 2008 5:11:00 PM

Good article, but you might want to do some more research into the technology you're writing about.. For example, HDR has nothing to do with god rays (volumetric lighting). I commend your effort to explain all the crazy awesome technology that goes into modern rendering systems, but please be careful not to mislead and further confuse people.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_dynamic_range_imaging
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October 23, 2008 6:07:09 PM

romioforjuliettathanks for the article but water and fire are not elements water is consisted of two elements which are Oxygen and hydrogen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen .and fire has nothing to do with the word element,fire is the result of the contact between very hot surfaces or materials with the surrounding air.

That's incorrect fire and water have been elements for a far longer time than the atoms have been defined has elements of the periodic table.BTW fire is actually the result of a exothermic chemical reaction (combustion) that releases both heat and light, it has nothing to do with the temperature of surfaces.
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October 23, 2008 10:49:00 PM

atsestThat is not simply true, here is a screenshot that I made (100% ingame there are numerous other custom maps that do that kind of jungle environments aswell. There is really little that Cryengine 2 can't do):

What's your framerate and what hardware are you using? That's quite impressive.
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October 24, 2008 3:48:08 AM

V3NOMyaya dx 11... cant wait to spend another $100 on another OS and $500 for a new graphics setup which will then be incompatible with something therefore resulting in a whole new $1000+ system. who wouldn't want to?

welcome to the world of computers, moron. I'm still using XP and DX9 even though I have an HD4870... and still loving it...
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October 24, 2008 3:51:29 AM

Compare Toy Story graphics and then Duke Nukem 3D... nope, I think we got a long way to go kids. It's going to be a while until we can render realistic graphics in realtime. Even Crysis doesn't compare to modern 3D animations. We're gettin there though.
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October 24, 2008 6:10:36 AM

randomizer


I use a custom Very high tweak.
I have Q6600, 8800gts G92, 2GB DDR2 800,XP.
The fps is around 24~35 ingame that is better than the Ice levels.
But that is really tweaking (and as the map is really still prealpha I haven't done much in that regard)

http://i185.photobucket.com/albums/x192/AtsEst/7e789cd8...
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October 24, 2008 7:21:47 AM

Yea from what I've read the level of IQ can be quite dependent on the map itself.
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October 25, 2008 12:48:12 AM

A DX6 card wouldn't have supported Hardware T&L though I don't think.
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October 25, 2008 4:17:46 PM

game graphics today is really awesome for just a decade or more.
i remember when diablo came out, it really looked and sound nice. pretty immersive and scary for that time. :) 
i never played doom 1 or doom 2, and players that time said it could get scary in a dark room. :p 
i say graphics cards are fast catching up since it only has to produce so less resolution than a movie.
although not hollywood's best cgi, a part in matrix 2 where Neo battles with groups of Smiths is not hard for today's cards to render.....
i think. :p 
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October 27, 2008 5:16:16 PM

I love how it mentions Mass Effect and Rainbow Six Vegas featuring DX10 with UT3 when they don't even support it. Check your facts.
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October 29, 2008 2:29:12 AM

What's the round building/tower on the lower right corner of Evolution Of The Buildings?
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October 29, 2008 7:16:08 AM

zodiacfmlgame graphics today is really awesome for just a decade or more.i remember when diablo came out, it really looked and sound nice. pretty immersive and scary for that time. i never played doom 1 or doom 2, and players that time said it could get scary in a dark room. i say graphics cards are fast catching up since it only has to produce so less resolution than a movie. although not hollywood's best cgi, a part in matrix 2 where Neo battles with groups of Smiths is not hard for today's cards to render.....i think.

Ofcourse doom was scary! You've just stopped playing commander keen (sidescroller) and rebooted to load doom with as much ram as possible (required at least ~2,5mb free xms). You open a door, and no mobs around. You go round a corner and one of the brown aliens starts throwing fireballs at you. You jump in your seat and scramble to hit the 'down' key to dodge the fireball, realizing the room wasn't really empty. Scary has nothing to do with the graphics, and everything to do with how your mind works with the game enviroment. There are people that cry when they see a sad scene in a drama, or scream when something exciting happends in a horror flick, and there are people who sit stone-dead-still no matter what. The latter group won't get a scare in a video game. The others will, or can at least.

ps. I actually saw matrix 1 and 2 yesterday and was still marvelled at the cgi. But there was a scene which was poorly made. Ironically it wasn't all cgi in that scene, which was the problem! Hollywood had let a car do a corkscrew on the freeway (landing on the roof eventually), and you could see the stainless steel rollcage very very clearly as the right side door was open!
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Anonymous
November 6, 2008 3:52:54 PM

Who edited this poorly written piece? It's full of incorrect details and poorly explained definitions.

HDR
---
consumer grade 3D accelerators use HDRL (LIGHTING), they cannot do and never have done HDR-R. HDRL has little to do with the shader model of choice and can be acheived in just about any renderpath from Pixel Shader 2.0 to Shader Model 4, depending on precision required and performance overhead.


Shader Models, DX 9 and 10 CONFUSION
------------------------------------
Oblivion uses Shader Model 2 by default, not 3 (and its HDRL is more closely aligned to that used in Valve's Half Life 2 : Lost Coast (Source)) - you can enable Shader Model 3 support in Oblivion but that only increases performance, not detail. Mass Effect is a DX9 game, not DX10 and uses no Shader Model 4 at all, even though its engine Unreal 3 does support DX10 and Shader Model 4. Doom 3 uses GLSL.

I hope I'm not sounding rude here, but I do think it's important to get your facts straight when submitting an informative piece.
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November 7, 2008 7:23:29 AM

wow you're late ... but if you're right I suppose they should edit the article - but then, most people who're ever going to read it already have.

and to be honest it doesn't matter if a title supports dx9 or dx10 - cause 10 minutes after reading the article, most readers have forgotten about it anyway. What matters is the explanation of what is what imo.
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Anonymous
January 4, 2012 10:49:34 PM

I'd like to point out that the so-called "Far Cry 2" image from the xbox 360 (the largest picture in the mural image file at the bottom of the page "Can It Get Any Better" is NOT Far Cry 2. The image is most definitely a shot from Far Cry: Instincts Predator, a really terrible remake/sequel to the original Far Cry for PC.

The first give-away was that the player is Duel Weilding, a feature that was not included in Far Cry 2. Then the eye is drawn to the Helicopter approaching in the background. There are NO helicopters in Far Cry 2. Upon closer examination, we can see that the environment is more Tropical than the African Jungles of Far Cry 2. Looking at the Texture sizes, geometry, lighting, and models, you can tell that the graphics from the large screenshot is far inferior to Far Cry 2's actual graphics.

Please correct this mistake, as it is blatantly obvious.
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