The last few days have probably come as a shock to Crytek. Crysis 2, or rather, an incomplete version of the game, has been released onto the interweb. With news spreading to all corners of the online world, videos and media, along with brief impressions have been popping up. It's now possible to see just how well the title performs on various configurations and graphics quality settings. Not to mention gain a more intricate look at the game's impressive GI solution.
From the first trickles of media, it is possible to see just how accomplished Crytek's implementation of single-bounce global Illumination really is. Free from the confines of the limiting XBLA demo, and into a wider world, the full force of Crysis 2's real-time approach to lighting the scene can be felt.
New shots - taken by players themselves - instantly showcase noticeable evidence of the game's GI system at work, in addition to a range of high and low quality effects - dependent of course on the settings chosen by the user. In the very shot above, you can see the light bounce on the buildings on the right coming from the windows on the left. With lots of complex scenery, and many different places for the light bounce to occur clearly, its effects are less subtle in nature, but more impressive because of it.
In the leaked build, users are reporting three high quality graphics modes for Crysis 2; 'Gamer', 'Advanced', and 'Hardcore', which replace the options found in the original Crysis. The above are basically 'Low', 'Medium' and 'High' I believe, with 'Low' being the setting used by the console versions of the game. 'Medium' in terms of the original Crysis. Below you can see what the game looks like when toggling between the three options.
As you can see, there is a huge difference between 'Gamer' and 'Hardcore', and even 'Advanced' falls a little short from nearing the leaked game's top-end setting. Texture detail is upped as you venture through each of the modes. You can also see extremely high levels of AF too, in all modes, along with better shadow filtering and higher-quality shadowing as you go upwards. But most of all, an increase in lighting.
With 'Hardcore' in particular - although it's there with 'Advanced' as well - you can see what looks like god rays shining down through the trees and into the surroundings. Currently, we're not sure if this is part of the game's GI implementation, or just an additional piece of lighting that's been put in to complement it. But it sure looks very impressive.
As Crysis 2 is using a differed rendering pass for its lighting, this enables it to have many additional lights on screen above that of what Crytek's GI solution allows. It could be a separate dynamic lightsource, but I guess the proof will come in motion, as when the trees move we should see a change in how the light reacts with the rest of the scene.
Edit: the last video below shows the effect in action on the 'Hardcore' setting.
In terms of performance, one individual posted that they are managing to get a 60fps update at 720p, using 'Hardcore' quality in DX9. And was using an NVIDIA GTX460. Although, no CPU or RAM specs were given. With that said, it will be interesting to see just how the game fares on my rig in both the highest settings, which features an overclocked GTX460, an iCore 5, and 4GB of RAM.
My preference is full 1080p - matching my monitors max res, as scaling is IMHO rather crap on it. Although, there's always my HDTV, which is completely the opposite in this regard - with 4xMSAA and 8xAF, and everything else set to max. Basically a combination of high-end console settings and top-spec PC configuration. I'm willing to guess 30fps and below, especially in heavy load scenes, and with v-sync enabled.
(YouTube video removed by EA)
Moving on, and the many uploaded videos of Crysis 2 showcase the game's stellar use of lighting far better than either of the two multiplayer maps available on the Xbox Live demo - one of the maps was a randomly accessible easter-egg of sorts. In the video above, we see a segment whereby, as you are running through a building, a rocket comes shooting past the windows, while your surroundings are shaking and crumbling around you.
Noticeably, the light bounce from the rocket flames clearly illuminate inside the office building - a perfect example of the real-time GI. In addition we see large segments of destructible scenery, and loads of alpha-heavy particle effects. All the while, the engine is accurately lighting and shading everything on screen. It's very, very impressive to say the least.
Another video demonstrates the game running at 'High' detail levels on DX9, which shows how much better the game can look on PC compared to consoles. Image quality is noticeably superior, with more in the way of AF and anti-aliasing. Effects too, are also rendered at full res on the PC. Although, this is hard to make-out in poorly compressed YouTube uploads.
So far, Crysis 2 is looking like it might just be the most graphically impressive game to date... on the PC that is. With consoles using lower detailed settings, or featuring worse IQ, it is likely that other top-tier exclusives will be able to match or exceed Crytek's efforts on that front. However, the fact that in the PC space, there's nothing remotely as technically accomplished - and that's just in terms of the lighting system alone - means that Crytek reining supreme once again comes as no surprise.
While the leaked build of the game - apparently unfinished - allows us to get a small glimpse into what kind of visual delights await us. The downside is that it's hardly great news for Crytek themselves, who, with the original Crysis, lost out on a large amount of sales due to widespread piracy ahead of release the first time around.
Thankfully, the available build of the sequel is unfinished and rather buggy, but most of all, runs very smoothly on the mid-high to mid-range bracket of PC's. Maybe not at high settings, but certainly at console standard. Which should, I think, be enough to halt the more honest of people from simply torrenting the final release, instead choosing to invest in something they know that they'll be able to run and enjoy.
Correction to our original post (reposted and amended above): Settings are actualy Gamer (low), Advanced (medium), Hardcore (high). Leaked build doesn't operate in DX11. Thanks to '1' for pointing that out.