Computers wept openly when Crytek unleashed Crysis on the world. The game made the most powerful computers sputter and hiccup when trying to run the game at high image quality levels. Fortunately, Far Cry 2, based on Ubisoft Montreal's Dunia engine, is nowhere near as taxing. Aside from leaving behind the pleasant beaches of the Pacific for the savannahs of Africa, Far Cry 2 also includes a new DirectX 10 engine. Like other Cry games, Far Cry 2 has huge draw distances, lush forests, incredibly detailed shadows, and spectacular fire/heat effects. Running the game with maximum settings requires a modern computer, but you don't need a hulking beast of a machine to run the game well.
Far Cry 2 comes with a built-in test that has three different performance runs. You can find the test in the game folder's /bin directory. We found the short test to be the most consistent. To be on the safe side, we averaged the results of five runs for our final frame rate score.
SettingsA visually complex game such as Far Cry 2 has its fair share of quality settings that can slow down performance. We found two or three settings that you should adjust if you're looking for a little frame rate boost.
Video CardsLike just about any other first-person shooter, Far Cry 2 loves a good GPU. We tested almost 20 video cards, ranging from the premium Radeon 4870X2 down to the aging GeForce 6800.
CPUFar Cry 2 really likes processors. We dug into our pile of CPUs and pulled out Intel Core 2s, AMD Phenoms, and Pentium 4s to see how the game scales with CPU power.
MemoryFar Cry 2 requires 1GB of RAM to run in Windows XP and 2GB in Windows Vista, and our testing confirmed the requirements. Going below the required hardware will severely hamper performance.
SystemsFar Cry 2's minimum requirements consist of an anemic 3.2GHz Pentium 4, 1GB of RAM, and at least a GeForce 6800-class video card. We built a system matching the minimum specs in our test lab, but the actual Far Cry 2 test consistently crashed on the machine. However, in between crashes, the game ran just fine after we lowered all of the settings and reduced the resolution to the lowest setting. We built Ubisoft's recommended system with an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz CPU, a GeForce 8600 GTS, and 2GB of RAM with Windows Vista 32-bit for the operating system. It wasn't the quickest machine, but it ran the game well at moderate resolutions and quality settings. Our high-end system packed with a 3.2GHz quad core and a Radeon 4870X2 was able to run Far Cry 2 at high resolution with the best image quality settings.
High-End System: Intel Core2 QX9650, eVGA 780i, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2), 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows Vista 32-bit SP1. Graphics Card: Radeon 4870X2, beta Catalyst HotFix 70517.Recommended System: Intel Core2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz, eVGA 680i, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2), 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows Vista 32-bit SP1. Graphics Card: GeForce 8600 GTS, beta Nvidia ForceWare 180.42.
Far Cry 2 looks great, but at the same time, we're baffled by the number of quality settings the game offers beyond the basic "high." Most games have a single high quality setting, but Far Cry 2 manages to tack on "very high quality" and then "ultra high quality" for those discerning players that always demand ultra treatment.
Using the higher quality settings reduces performance significantly in DirectX 9, but increasing the quality level might be worth it because the game does look considerably better in very high quality than high quality. Going up to ultra didn't seem to be worth the performance hit. High quality and very high quality put up similar frame rates in DirectX 10. Ultra, on the other hand, takes a chomp out of frame rates without giving much in return. Interestingly enough, the game looked the same from high quality to ultra high quality in DirectX10. We didn't observe any visual differences between the two highest settings but you can judge for yourself in the comparison shots.
Our testing also revealed two key settings to watch for performance issues. As always, shadows sap performance the most--feel free to drop down to a lower level to recoup a few frames. Geometry also takes a heavy toll on performance. The game doesn't look all too bad with geometry set to low, but you do miss out on a few finishing touches such as vines hanging from trees.
System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, eVGA 680i, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows Vista SP1. Graphics Card: GeForce 9800 GTX, Nvidia ForceWare 180.42.
DirectX 10 Quality Settings
DirectX 9 Quality Settings
More Graphics Comparisons
High Dynamic Range and Bloom
Far Cry 2 loves powerful video cards, but you won't need to run out and get the best one to have a great in-game experience. Mainstream video cards such as the GeForce 8800 GT and Radeon 4850 have more than enough juice in them to squeeze out acceptable frame rates at absurdly high resolutions with high-quality settings. Even older GPUs such as the GeForce 7900 GS and Radeon HD 2600 Pro run Far Cry 2 decently if you dial back the settings enough.
System Setup: Intel Core2 QX9770, eVGA 680i SLI, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2), 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows Vista 32-bit SP1. Graphics Cards: GeForce 280 GTX, GeForce 260 GTX, GeForce 9800 GTX 512MB, GeForce 9600 GT 256MB, GeForce 8800 GT 512MB, GeForce 8600 GTS 256MB, GeForce 7900 GS 256MB, GeForce 7600 GT 256MB, GeForce 6800 128MB, Radeon HD 4870 X2, Radeon HD 4870, Radeon HD 4850, Radeon HD 4670, Radeon HD 3870 X2, Radeon HD 3870 512MB, Radeon HD 3850 512MB, Radeon HD 2900 XT 512MB, Radeon HD 2600 Pro 256MB, Radeon X1950 Pro 256MB. Graphics Drivers: beta Nvidia ForceWare 180.42, beta ATI Catalyst 70517.
Feel free to get the beefiest CPU you can find; Far Cry 2 will love it. However, don't feel pressured to buy the most expensive super-extreme-black-edition processors. You can easily reap most of the performance gains with a moderately priced processor such as a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo.
System Setup: Intel Core 2 QX9770, Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel Core 2 Duo E6600, Intel Core2 E6320, Intel Pentium 4 3.8GHz, AMD Phenom X4 9600, AMD Phenom X3 8750, eVGA 680I, Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows Vista 32-bit SP1. Graphics Card: GeForce 9800 GTX, Nvidia ForceWare 180.42
Running with the recommended 2GB of RAM is more than enough to handle the game. Jumping up to 3GB doesn't seem to add any performance. 1GB of RAM doesn't even meet the requirements for Windows Vista, but we wanted to see what would happen.
System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, eVGA 680i SLI, 3GB Corsair XMS Memory (2GBx2), 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2), 1GB Corsair XMS Memory (512MBx2), 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows Vista 32-bit SP1. Graphics Card: GeForce 9800 GTX, Nvidia ForceWare 180.42.