Crysis, the poster child for modern PC gaming and DirectX 10, will arrive shortly. Crytek has tortured us for years with screenshots and short hands-on experiences showing off the game's wide-open world, with picturesque tropical battlegrounds, perfect for sipping Mai Tais or peppering random bad guys with automatic rifle fire. Crytek released the single-player demo late last week, and we set up a few test systems to see just how the game looks under Windows Vista compared to Windows XP. We also took some in-game benchmarks to see how the frame rates compare in DirectX 9 and DirectX 10.
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to claim that the environments in Crysis come mighty close to photo-realistic. The beaches, sky, and rocks all have a gritty, real-earth feel to them. Crytek took plant matter to a new realm--a botanist would have a field day in Crysis. The palm trees, shrubbery, and grass create the feeling of tropical jungle more so than any other game we've come across.
The game officially limits in-game settings to "high quality" in Windows XP, while Windows Vista gets an additional "very high quality" graphics setting. Crysis still looks good at high quality, but it's a noticeable step down from the very high quality settings. Some ingenious users managed to enable very high quality on the Crysis demo in Windows XP through a clever bit of configuration-file editing. The second image in each set of comparison shots demonstrate what the hacked very high quality settings look like in Windows XP.
As far as we can tell, the difference between very high quality in Windows XP and Windows Vista is quite subtle. We noticed some extra shadowing on the rocks in the Vista version, and while there are differences between the hacked XP shots and the Vista shots, we can't really say that one looks better. Developers have gotten very good at working around hardware limitations to fake great graphics, so we wouldn't be surprised if the DX9 effects were good enough to simulate the results of a more "accurate" DX10 shader.
Image ComparisonMouse over image caption to change images.