Crysis 2’s Shocking Tech Compromise: Proof

It's just hideous.

Having played Crysis 2, the latest from the former technical innovators at Crytek, I have to express that I’m not only horrified, but also shocked, at the paucity of graphical accomplishments in what should have been a groundbreaking game. It’s quite clear that massive compromises have been made in order to keep the console market happy, meaning the PC version of the game is crippled to the point where it’s literally impossible to look at without feeling physically sick. I have put together some detailed analysis of the differences between CryEngine 2 and CryEngine 3, to prove that the developers have let everyone down.

First of all, let’s take a look at the technical range.

Crysis, built in the CryEngine 2, was capable of a 32.2m pixel spread across a 12 joule range, displayed in a dynamically generated four-part volumetric resource buffer. This meant a broad spectrum resonance in the upper 40s, with significant occlusion.

However, when we perform our benchmark tests on the CryEngine 3, it registers only 32.1m pixels in the 12J, reducing the BSR to a measly 43, with almost negligible ambience.

Clearly we've rounded down here.

But it gets worse once you include the Verticle [sic] Sync Module. CryEngine 2 was praised by for its revolutionary VSM, significantly upscaling especially on NVidia chipsets. When we take a look at the CE3 VSM figures they reveal a significant drop in upscaling, and a worrying trend demonstrating an increase in downscaling.

This doesn't take into account but we believe significantly increases for the end.

So how does this translate in real terms? Well, let’s take a look at a simple in-game object, a basic crate model. In order to remain impartial we’ve selected boxes appearing in darker areas. Here’s Crysis:

A wooden model.

And here’s Crysis 2:

And a cardboard model.

At first glance the textures in Crysis 2 may look improved, with the appearance of more detail, and a slightly more realistic look. Certainly if you were only to run past them that may be the impression you’re left with. But let’s take a closer look at what’s really going on here.

Here’s the Crysis texture:

At a 45 factor.

And here’s the reality of the Crysis 2 texture:

Also at 45, but with deliberate smoothing.

As you can see there’s absolutely no comparison, the Crysis 2 “cardboard box” barely featuring a fifth of the parametric mesh generation of its predecessor, unquestionably as a result of the PS3’s weaker OpenMP.

That’s at a micro scale, but the same deficiencies appear on a macro scale. For instance, let’s take a look at a scene from near the beginning of Crysis:

The full scale retro-backlighting really shines here.

And now a scene a similar distance into Crysis 2:

Just a complete failure of occlusion.

Immediately you’ll notice not only a downturn in colour (almost 32.3% by our benchmark), but also a significant reduction in flora. It’s quite clear that the development of CryEngine 3 for the consoles has led to a devastating effect on the in-game environments, lowered ambient conditions for both AI and NPCs (inevitably as a result of the 360’s eDRAM chip), and a raise in carbon production by over 300%. With Crysis having supported DX12, and Crysis 2 not even shipping with DX11 support, it’s nothing short of a disgrace.

At the time of writing Crytek have refused to respond to any of the points made above, and it’s pretty obvious why.


  1. Maykael says:

    This reminds me of the Sokal controversy in post-modern philosophy: link to

    Here’s the original (meaningless and funny) article:

    link to

    Well done, Mr. Walker, once again!

  2. Acosta says:

    Man, I was smiling and laughing at that peace and then I go to check the comments expecting people to follow it…

    “OMG RPS way to overblown it, your arguments are weak”

    “You are unfair to Digital Foundry!”

    “Technology is serious, don’t mock technology!”

    Hell people, where is your sense of humour? At this rate the hivemind will have to write like PRs to avoid offending anyone.

    Anyway, great text John.

  3. Groove says:

    I actually wasn’t sure if this was trolling or not until the second to last paragraph. I think that makes it good trolling. Nice one.

  4. wootles says:

    You know. Take a step back and look at the broader picture. What does all of this matter? It’s tearing our friendship apart in these end times. I love you guys and no Crysis is going to keep me away from that, so let’s all just get in a nice group hug and do some Crying so we can merrily jeer at each other for the next outrageous hat to come out in TF2 all the while trying to put the thought out of our minds that 2012 is coming and it’s bringing Earth^2 to our little home in the universe. I know it to be true, didn’t you guys watch the History Channel? Quality Programming.

  5. Tuor says:

    I never thought I’d see a resonance cascade, let alone create one!

  6. shoptroll says:

    *golf clap*

    Well played.

  7. Daniel Klein says:

    Occlusion, occlusion, occlusion, occlusion!

  8. TheTourist314 says:

    So I’m a engineer and I have no idea what the hell a “pixel spread across a 12 Joule range” means nor what “broad spectrum resonance in the upper 40s” is for that matter.

    Can you explain it?

    • dangermouse76 says:

      Tis a joke friend. He is trolling graphics whores and people that want everything as good as the last one ( don’t change my precious game ). Shit unless your joking,it’s getting hard to tell ( I don’t trust myself even ).

    • EthZee says:

      Wait, isn’t it a reasonable expectation that a sequel will look, if not better than the sequel, then at least the same?

    • dangermouse76 says:

      They made a different game. I don’t rate the difference ( graphically ) that highly. To clarify by good I mean dont change the format or gameplay style and narrative.
      The first games graphics were great but not the main draw for me.
      As for the gameplay I am playing Crysis 2 as an FPS game and enjoying it. It’s not the first game. They have made a different game and I enjoy it on that basis. I dont get that upset anymore when development houses change their IP away from a direction I want.
      I take the game as a standalone and enjoy it for it’s game play and narrative. It’s a fun game ( crysis 2 ).
      Everyone else is fully entitled to have there own criteria. Seriously though the article is poking fun it’s hardly saying we must burn people at the stake.
      It’s light hearted really. I cant get that self righteous about this stuff any more.
      I mean no offense is what I am getting at.

    • Nick says:

      What sort of engineer doesn’t know what broad spectrum resonance in the upper 40s is? I doubt your credentials.

    • TheTourist314 says:

      link to

      Damn, damn, double damn and BLAST!

      You’re right, I need to go do some more schoolzin’.

  9. Stranglove says:

    Also, the HUD on Crysis was better than the one on 2.

    Is it odd that I enjoyed Crysis as a gaming experience as well as a tech demo? I did like sneaking past entire armies, ’twas rather fun.

  10. JohnnyMaverik says:


    Is this a joke?

  11. frozenbyte says:

    This has to be one of the nerdiest articles I’ve ever read. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Joshua says:

    Love you now RPS.

  13. Cooper says:


  14. brulleks says:

    Mr Morris! Come quick! There’s a games journalist here trying to steal one of your graphs!

  15. Unaco says:

    I think, this whole thing would have been funnier to a factor of 3, if you had spelt Sync as Sink. But that’s just me.

    • Gaytard Fondue says:

      Just you indeed.

    • Miked says:

      Oh I don’t know, that would have been fairly amusing. Sync/sink haha! Keep refining John’s jokes eh.

  16. lucasdigital says:

    This article made me smile. Well, it encourage me to smile with its satirical highly baked faux tech review. Bravo John Walker for your cheeky stab at certain quarters of the gaming press. Crysis 2 rocks, but every time a PC-only gaming franchise goes “cross platform” the world edges closer to the apo-console-ypse.

  17. MajorManiac says:

    Reading the comments thread makes me proud of my fellow RPS readers. Looks like nearly everyone took this article the right way. And for those that didn’t thats fine too, as no-one disgraced themselves.

    This makes up for the infamous “Hey Baby” article last year. *Lights fuse, retreats to safe distance whilst giggling mischieviously*

  18. AbyssUK says:

    Sir a funny read, however you should never be allowed to make charts ever again!

    I am revoking your GCSE in maths.


    link to

  19. passingstranger says:

    I’m sensing there are some non-frequent RPS readers here…

  20. Tyshalle says:

    Well wait though, guys. He said: “not so funny *as* you think”. So maybe he’s saying that if you’re too distracted with thoughts of global politics or proper grammar, then this isn’t all that funny. To which I think we can all agree on. Whenever I listen to standup comedy, I do find that I laugh much less if I’m also talking to my girlfriend and not really paying attention.

    It’s a good warning, honestly. But I think we can all agree that this is definitely at its most funny when you’re not thinking about anything else while you read it.

    Thanks frightlever!

  21. DJ Phantoon says:

    We tried to warn them!

  22. the_fanciest_of_pants says:

    As soon as I saw it was Walker making a technical post I knew it was a gag.

  23. vader says:

    Are those graphs DX9!? I have to express that I’m not only horrified, but also shocked at the paucity of graphical accomplishments in what should have been groundbreaking graphs.

  24. Zoolooman says:

    Hahaha, excellent Walker, excellent. The chaps over at SA are loving this one. :)

  25. Foosnark says:

    Crytek should have just licensed the Minecraft engine.

  26. drplote says:

    Everyone knows that the real benchmark is how many polygons per krundle you’ve got.

  27. DevilSShadoW says:

    This is the first time in a very long time that I’ve genuinely laughed myself to tears. Well played Mr. Walker, well played indeed.

  28. rivalin says:

    Despite missing the joke, he’s right that Crysis 2 is a bad console port, and frankly RPS’ whole, “aren’t we cool because we’re not like the nerds who actually care about the complete lack of respect that major publishers and developers show for the pc as a platform” attitude is getting a little tiring.
    I don’t care about Crysis 2 looking slightly worse (and it does, it just has better artists to cover up deficiencies in the tech) what I do care about is that it runs worse on my computer than Crysis 1, it is not well optimised and it is clear that despite Crytek’s dishonesty about still having any focus on the pc, it received no more attention than any other very basic port.
    What I do care about is the staggering laziness displayed by Crytek, the “adjust the brightness on your tv” and “press start to begin” statements, which any pc gamer would have picked upon on immediately.
    What I do care about is the requirement to manually edit your config file to give yourself a decent field of view, or fix mouse acceleration so that it’s possible to actually aim straight without a 2 second lag, because Crytek couldn’t be bothered to spend the ten minutes it would have taken themselves.
    What I do care about are the compromises made to gameplay to accommodate consoles, which in effect turns the game into a call of duty clone dressed up as Crysis.
    What I do care about are the ridiculous compromises made for the lack of intelligence of the new player base; the fact that EVERY time for the entire game, that you perform a common action you need a prompt “press V to melee” “press space to vault” blah blah blah. Or a visor that needs to actually tell you your “tactical options” because you are too stupid to perceive them yourself; when there’s a tank parked next to me, I don’t need to be told that “driving it” is one of my “tactical options”.
    What I do care about is that a four years later sequel uses an older API than its predecessor, how silly of me, should I applaud the paucity of ambition and mercenary attitudes that mean technological development has not simply halted, but moved backwards? Oh what a terribly uncool little nerd I must be.
    This article mocks a lot of people who have reasonable and valid concerns about the state in which the game was released.

  29. sinister agent says:

    I love you, Walker :-D
    This has cheered me up immensely. So very predictable that this kind of joyless spoddism is so common that a lot of people didn’t get it, but who cares.

    Worryingly, some of the image texts sound a lot like emails my boss would send.

  30. trjp says:

    I just want to be in a thread which is, quite clearly, a brilliant trap designed to catch everyone who doesn’t read stories and/or has no common sense…

    “Do you listen or wait to speak” in Internet terms “Do you read or just post a comment based on a word in the title”…

    Can we tag every account in here who took the article seriously/used it as a way of venturing their own agenda with the honorary prefix “Dingleberry”?

  31. Urthman says:

    Mr. Walker, thank you for giving a proper response to the people who have been calling for RPS to do an in-depth review of the technological failings of Crysis 2. Now no one can say RPS is ignoring the issue or not giving it the attention it deserves. Well done.

  32. The Army of None says:

    WOT A SHAME. Etc.

  33. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    The textures don’t have enough polygons anti-occluding the meshes.

  34. Branthog says:

    I’m still waiting for them to fix the issue with multi-GPU cards and multi-card setups, which both render an unplayable game, due to eye-killing flickering. As I mentioned somewhere, before, it’s hard to feel optimistic about gaming on the PC when I bought the game on release day (for the console game price) and am still waiting for it to be playable, while the console version could have been purchased on release day, played, beaten, and jumped into mulitplayer for plenty of hours in the amount of time spent trying to get it working on the PC. And with none of the hassle of dealing with all the troubleshooting bullshit, only to discover that the current solutions are none-too-satisfactory. (Live with the flickering or run the game on only one GPU).

    They didn’t just sacrifice some fidelity on the PC for a more general experience across all platforms — they sacrificed the entire PC experience for a great number of players. I didn’t play the first Crysis, but I jumped on this second one because I was to understand from my fellow gamers that it was such a pinnacle of PC achievement that I couldn’t pass it up. Instead, it’s just a reality-stick beat against my head, countering the recent PC-gaming-optimism I uncharacteristically have been lulled into.

  35. rammjaeger says:

    If you can’t tell guys, he’s taking the piss. I’m a video game developer and programmer, and everything he said was basically mumbo jumbo with some technical words thrown in to make it sound legitimate.

    • sinister agent says:

      A valiant attempt, but I think anyone who read “the PC version of the game is crippled to the point where it’s literally impossible to look at without feeling physically sick” and didn’t catch on is beyond all mortal aid.

  36. Jimbo says:

    You should do one about the openability of doors!

  37. Grape says:

    Why, isn’t mr. Walker being a bit of a sarcastic, obnoxious prick, today.

  38. oldestgregg says:

    crysis 3 will be a third person shooter
    “the nanosuit is not pleased with having to shoot at yoos aliens again” ….ahem

  39. Malkara says:

    This reminds me of: link to

    Which is about twenty pages of an idiotic Shogun 2 modder arguing that resaving all of the game’s 16-bit textures as 24-bit and 32-bit files magically makes them high-definition, and scores of people agreeing with him as a handful of people with brains try to explain with science and pictures that, no, textures don’t magically upscale because they’ve been saved at a larger file size.

    • Carter says:

      Oh good grief, thats scary

    • Sobric says:

      oh wow. I’d considered using that mod too. That’s incredibly misleading of the author.

    • DainIronfoot says:

      What is it with the way posters on TotalWarCenter constantly use the word “mate”? Thanks for that Matey matey mate mate.

      As far as I can tell, the forum is a great big popularity contest anyway, look at the number of people leaping to defend the guys with all the symbols under his name.

    • Berzee says:

      It was just the one guy using that word “mate” over and over again.

      HOWEVER — I just read all 16 pages of that thread and can I ever forgive you for linking it?

    • Malkara says:

      No, but we can commiserate about how every time you clicked next page you were like, “Certainly he will admit that he is wrong on -this- page!” only to be thoroughly disappointed.

    • jaheira says:

      That whole thread was comedy genius. Thanks malkara.

    • Mman says:

      Hey guys I took that crate texture John posted and saved it at 100% quality JPG compression five times, now it’s 500% better quality!

  40. LostViking says:

    Lol. I didn’t get it until the crate texture comparison :D

    By all means. Crysis 2 IS compromised, but it still looks amazing on the PC!
    The difference is, we wont be able to make it look even better in the future (I runs nicely on high with a GTX470), compared to Crysis which kept looking better as better hardware was released.

  41. Bungle says:

    I honestly don’t get it. This article didn’t make me laugh at all. And graphics aren’t the only reason to reject Crysis 2.

  42. Rii says:

    rivalin wins, Walker and other RPS hipster-types fail.

  43. edit says:

    All this article will do is:

    1 – appear to observers who only see the rss feed title, or skim over the article, as a genuine attackcomplaint about the game from RPS
    2 – appear as a flip-off to those who “get it” but have actual complaints
    3 – possibly earn a few laughs, though it didn’t seem particularly funny to me

    I don’t really have any vested interest in this story seeing as I didn’t like Crysis 1 and therefore didn’t buy Crysis 2, but I can honestly say that I’m much, much, much more in favor of a straight-forward article containing an honest run-down of an issue or a thoughtful opinion than some kind of snarky jab at readers.

    • benjaminlobato says:

      If you are looking for a “straight-forward article containing an honest run-down,” there are plenty of other websites for such things. RPS’ humor is part of what makes this site so great.

    • edit says:

      I agree, I’ve had many a good laugh on here before and really appreciate the site. Hence I read just about every article and spend a lot of time reading and posting comments. Most of the humor, however, isn’t a jab at the readership over real (if sometimes blown waaay out of proportion) concerns. Anyway, sorry to be a wet-blanket :p .

      On reflection, taking the angle I have may have something to do with my disinterest in consoles and past disappointments when companies I’ve been loyal to have changed their priority from PC to consoles, arbitrarily limit (or badly port) PC versions due to console development, or walk away from the PC all together. From what I’ve seen Crysis 2 looks plenty nice on PC, but I can totally understand a Crysis 1 fan being disappointed by any limitation or regression that is due to console development, when so much of the interest I saw in Crysis 1 (from people I know, anyway) came from the excitement of having a game which could really show what their PCs were made of.

  44. My2CENTS says:

    Imagine 2 more years with that dreadful old hardware in both X360 and PS3. Anyone who support consoles by buying games for them should stop and consider the consequences and then get shot by secret police.

  45. BobsLawnService says:

    I do miss standing at the top of a hill looking down at the sweeping vista below planning on how best to infiltrate the enemy encampment and then executing that plan perfectly though.

    • Jad says:

      You still can do that I’ll note. The vista will be less sweeping, and the sandbox is smaller, but that whole survey-plan-execute gameplay mechanic it is still there.

  46. Bantros says:

    Hilarious use of your article to bash Crytek on the MyCrysis forums, also –

    @CRYTEK_TIAGO (R&D Graphics Programmer so knows the truth you speak)
    Best – tech – review – ever link to


    • Kazang says:

      Oh wow that is gold.

    • InterstellaUK says:

      That’s just wonderful. Especially the bit about RPS not being a “real” gaming news site. Mr Walker, I love you!

  47. bastronaut says:

    Man, this made my day. Beautiful. Those charts – I would have spewed on my screen if I’d been drinking anything.

  48. WindowsGamer says:


  49. StingingVelvet says:

    God damn Walker, stop being brilliant.

  50. Shagittarius says:

    Enjoying the game but technically it really isn’t very impressive. I agree with the dude who said it looks like Call of Duty : Modern Warfare.