Unlike many first-generation DirectX 11 titles, which were superficial by nature, Crysis 2 offers a major benefit to running the current-gen API versus what came before. If you know what to look for, many improvements are easy to see. But even folks with DirectX 9- and 10-class hardware are treated to a graphics updates and a high-resolution texture pack that increases visual fidelity.
A lot of work was put into these releases, and Crytek deserves acknowledgement for creating the best example of DirectX 11 in action that we’ve seen to date. Based on the impressive amount of work that went into the Ultra Upgrade, we won’t be surprised if this remains the status quo for some time to come.
Having said that, if you’re actually playing through this game, you probably won’t notice a significant improvement unless you’re scrutinizing the environment instead of enjoying the experience. Crysis 2 was gorgeous on release in DirectX 9 mode, and hardcore DirectX 11 evangelists who refused to play this title until the Ultra Upgrade patch was released only failed to enjoy the title sooner.
Considering the price (free), it's hard to find anything to complain about. But it's a shame that we experienced wrecked 3D Vision support with the DirectX 11 patch. Crysis 2 is really the only game I've encountered that makes me feel like I'm missing something when I'm not playing it in 3D Vision mode; it's the definitive stereoscopic release, and if you’re at all interested in three-dimensional immersion, then this is the one to try. Flatly, for those with the compatible hardware, 3D Vision/DirectX 9 is more visually rewarding than the DirectX 11 mode, if we're being forced to choose now. Realistically though, the deployment of DirectX 11 graphics cards far exceeds the number of 3D Vision-capable screens, so the majority of Crysis 2 players can get their free DirectX 11 Ultra Upgrade enhancements without any tradeoff, assuming their machines are fast enough to turn them on.
(Update: As mentioned previously, we had the chance to test with Nvidia's GeForce 275.50 beta driver, which fully works with both 3D Vision and DirectX 11 at the same time.)
And what about graphics card performance? The very minimum detail level of Crysis 2 requires at least a Radeon HD 5770 or GeForce GTX 550 Ti at 1680x1050. If you want to turn all the new eye candy on at 1920x1080, nothing but the big guns will do: a couple Radeon HD 6970s in CrossFire or GeForce GTX 580s in SLI pave the way, although the results suggest Radeon HD 6950s in CrossFire and GeForce GTX 570s in SLI should also be serviceable. When it comes to CPUs, a triple-core chip at 3.5 GHz should do the trick, but the game really works best on quad-core processors at 2.5 GHz or faster.
In conclusion, we're glad that Crytek followed through with its DirectX 11 plans, delivering the best example of Microsoft's API in action yet, all without charging customers an extra penny. If you were holding off on Crysis 2 until the DirectX 11 patch came out, you owe it to yourself to stop hesitating and give it a try.
- Crysis 2, DirectX 11, And High-Res Textures, Oh My!
- A Laundry List Of Visual Improvements
- Test System And Benchmarks
- DirectX 9: Low-Detail Benchmarks
- DirectX 9: Ultra Detail Benchmarks
- DirectX 11: Ultra Detail Benchmarks
- High-Resolution Texture Benchmarks
- CPU Benchmarks
- Crysis 2 Is The Best DirectX 11 Implementation Yet