Crysis 2, DirectX 11, And High-Res Textures, Oh My!
The discerning PC community was not amused when it became clear that the sequel to Crysis would arrive based on an older DirectX specification than its predecessor. This detraction was a real shame because Crysis 2 is probably a better game than the original, and the negative focus on the API often overshadowed its superlative visuals and solid core game play.
A DirectX 11 patch was rumored from the start, though. And despite whispers that it would never see the light of day, the DirectX 11 Ultra Upgrade arrived on June 27th, 2011. This is no quick patch job: it doesn't come as a surprise that Crytek takes bleeding-edge graphics very seriously. The upgrade affects Crysis more than any other DirectX 11 patch we’ve previously seen in a shipping game.
As if that weren’t enough, Crytek added effects to the DirectX 9 code path and released a high-definition texture pack that doubles the resolution of many art assets. It goes without saying that all of this new, free eye candy demands investigation. At Tom’s Hardware, we consider it our duty to take a thorough look and let you know what the update is all about. Though late, is this new stuff worth playing the game over again if you've already beaten it? Is it now worth buying if you've held off?
Before we dig in, there are a few caveats and limitations, so listen up. There are actually three patches that need to be applied for all of the visual goodies to work: the Crysis 2 v1.9 patch, the Crysis 2 DirectX 11 patch, and the Crysis 2 High-Resolution Texture Pack.
Both the DirectX 11 patch and High-Resolution Texture Pack require the Crysis 2 v1.9 patch to be pre-installed first. However, these options don't require each other. You can run DirectX 11 mode without the High-Resolution Texture Pack, and you can run the High-Resolution Texture Pack in DirectX 9 mode, without DirectX 11.
Step 1: The Crysis 2 v1.9 patch (136 MB)
The Crysis 2 v1.9 patch doesn’t bring DirectX 11 to the game itself, but it is a prerequisite for the DirectX 11 patch and High-Resolution Texture Pack. Having said that, this patch does offer users with DirectX 10 or older graphics hardware access to a new, higher graphical level of detail: the Ultra setting. Of course, this option is more challenging for PC hardware compared to the Gamer, Enthusiast, and Extreme toggles to which we were previously limited.
Step 2: The Crysis 2 DirectX 11 patch (545 MB, Download Here)
This is the patch that enables DirectX 11 effects in Crysis 2. Note that DirectX 11 support does not require the High-Resolution Texture Pack. What you should also know is that this patch wreaks havoc on 3D Vision support in our testing, making the in-game menus unreadable and introducing a number of visual anomalies with Nvidia’s stereoscopic technology. The Nvidia representative we talked to claimed that this shouldn't be the case, but we experienced the same issue on two different machines with both AMD and Intel CPUs and with different GeForce graphics cards. That's a real disappointment because, without this patch, Crysis 2 is hands-down the most beautiful, engrossing, and picture-perfect 3D experience on the PC.
(Update: We just had the chance to test with Nvidia's GeForce 275.50 beta driver, which works with 3D Vision and DirectX 11 together. So now you can enjoy Crysis 2 on the PC in a way you simply can't replicate on a console.)
The bottom line here is that folks who play Crysis 2 with 3D Vision should know that installing the DirectX 11 patch might cause problems. Keep in mind that 3D Vision works fine for us with the v1.9 patch and High-Resolution Texture Pack. Frankly, the impressiveness of Crysis 2’s stereo implementation is far more immersive than the DirectX 11 enhancements.
Step 3: The Crysis 2 High-Resolution Texture Pack (1.65 GB, Download Here)
The High-Resolution Texture Pack doubles the fidelity of many of the game’s art assets. This requires a 64-bit Windows operating system and a graphics card with at least 768 MB of RAM (although Crytek suggests that a full gigabyte is ideal). Since most mainstream graphics cards today have a gigabyte of RAM, this shouldn’t be a problem for most gamers.
Now that you have an idea what the packages do and how to install them, let’s go over the new features and see what they introduce to the game.