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Crysis 2 DX11, a closer look at performance and tessellation
by Damien Triolet
Published on August 3, 2011

Crytek and Electronic Arts recently published a significant update to Crysis 2 which includes patch 1.9, a DirectX 11 pack and a pack of high resolution textures. As a complement to our previous report on the performance of forty five graphics cards in this game, we of course wanted to look at performances in the new “Ultra” quality mode. We’ve also taken the opportunity to look in detail at what has been done with tessellation and present the modern graphics effects that have been introduced using some clear visuals.

A DX11 pack developed in partnership with NVIDIA
As Crytek mainly focused on the multi-platform side of things for Crysis 2, and therefore on console support, the PC version was somewhat sidelined in comparison to what we’re used to seeing from Crytek with Far Cry and the first Crysis. It has to be said that consoles are now something like five years behind the technological developments of modern graphics cards. Of course they can be used more efficiently without the burden of PC APIs and make do with lower resolutions (720p), but this doesn’t make up for the gulf that has appeared between consoles and graphics cards, especially as they don’t support the latest features such as programmable tessellation (its support is limited on the Xbox 360).

This isn't good for business for AMD and NVIDIA, who struggle at times to convince customers of the utility of updating their graphics cards or going for more powerful models when games don’t require them and haven’t been designed for them. NVIDIA has been relatively close to Crytek for several years now and is well aware of the influence a major title can have on card sales. The company therefore decided to collaborate with the developer so as to help or persuade them to put a DirectX 11 update out there.

Working with Crytek in this way helps NVIDIA to justify the power of its latest GPUs and to influence the way tessellation is used – tessellation is a rendering technique that the GeForces process more efficiently than the AMD Radeons. For Crytek, this DirectX 11 update is part of an attempt to stimulate the very disappointing PC sales for Crysis 2. By the developer’s own admission, neglecting the PC version somewhat was a strategic mistake...

While it may be supposed that some sort of financial agreement has been negociated between Crytek, EA and NVIDIA, none of the parties is expected to make any comment on this. Whether a big cheque, sports bags full of greenbacks, software engineering support, marketing support or a mix of all that, it seems clear that NVIDIA has put its hand in its pocket in some way or another, probably with very precise requirements in terms of the use of tessellation, which apparently didn’t feature particularly prominently in Crytek’s initial plans. Crytek says moreover that this is what took longest in terms of implementation.

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