One of the aggravating aspects of Crysis 2 is that it doesn’t feature many of the tweaking possibilities that could be found in the original, which is probably because it was developed for three platforms at once. There are merely three presets – High, Very High and Extreme.
Crytek has clearly gone with that nomenclature as a part of some marketing stunt or mind-game intended to make you think Crysis 2 looks good no matter what – there is no Low setting!
A lack of official options isn’t enough to stop PC gamers, however. There are already unofficial graphics tweaking tools available to download. Unfortunately, these caused graphical errors when we experimented with them, so we elected to alter settings manually via the console – accessible via the Tilde [¬] key. You can check out the graphical effects of each setting with the aid of our comparative screenshots below.
The shadows setting is controlled with the console command ‘sys_spec_shadows X’, where X is equal to 1, 2 or 3. Higher numbers increase the quality of the shadow setting, while lower numbers create lesser effects.
Left to Right: Crysis 2 Shadows on High, Medium and Low - Click to enlarge
The visual effect of this setting is clear, with the highest setting presenting players with soft shadows on both the environment and dynamic objects. The lowest setting, on the other hand, has harder edges around the shadows, although they're still softer than the shadows in most games.
The particles setting is controlled by the console command ‘sys_spec_particles X’, where X is equal to 1, 2 or 3. Higher numbers increase the quality of the particle effects.
Left to Right: Crysis 2 Particles on High, Medium and Low - Click to enlarge
The changes wrought by the particles setting are subtle and difficult to gauge, partly because of the nature of the setting itself (controlling moving particle effects) and because the effect inherently requires hard-to-compare motion. However, the Low setting has fewer particles of less variation – all the bigger lumps are black, for example. The Medium and High settings introduce coloured particles too.
The water setting is controlled by the console command ‘sys_spec_water X’, where X is equal to 1, 2 or 3. Higher numbers increase the quality of the particle effects, however the effects of this setting are inherently hard to judge.
Left to Right: Crysis 2 Water Quality on High, Medium and Low - Click to enlarge
One of the most frequent complaints of passers-by as we played Crysis 2 was that the water didn’t look as good as the water in the original Crysis. It’s an opinion with which we definitely agree, but given that there’s much less water found in New York’s inner city than there is around the tropical islands of the original, it’s not something we’re overly worried about.
In fact, because this setting seems to have an almost negligible effect, we’d just leave it alone.