One of the aggravations we voiced when we originally reviewed Crysis 2 on the PC was that there wasn't much in the way of options for tweaking the look of the game. Sure, you could switch between three different graphical preset options, confusingly titled as High, Very High and Extreme, but there wasn't an easy way to alter the look of specific options, such as Shadows.
Later versions of Crysis 2 have addressed this issue and, while you'll still need to pull down the console and type in some developer commands to do any serious tweaking, you can now at least alter settings such as Object Detail and Shadow Quality.
It's worth saying, however, that the nomenclature of the settings options remains unchanged. The lowest available option for any setting is still High, while Very High is equivalent to a medium option and the higher setting is referred to as Extreme. Version 1.9 and the DirectX 11 patch add a new Ultra option above this. DirectX 11 features and high resolution textures are toggled through their own enabled/disabled option.
We'll start off with the graphical presets, to provide a quick at-a-glance look at how the new patches improve Crysis 2's visuals. From left to right the first image shows how Crysis 2 looks on the Xbox 360, while the middle three images show Crysis 2 on PC at launch on High, Very High and Extreme presets. The final image shows Crysis 2 with DirectX 11 features and high resolution textures enabled.
L to R: Crysis 2 on Xbox 360, Crysis 2 v1.0 on High, Very High and Extreme, Crysis 2 v1.9 on Ultra with high res textures
The differences between some of these images are, honestly, occasionally hard to detect - but that's mainly because the vanilla version of Crysis 2 looked so good at launch that even the improvements offered by these updates can appear incremental.
It's the third and final set of images which we think are the most useful for highlighting the improvements however. These screenshots show small improvements in texture quality and crispness, especially when you're looking in particular areas, such as around the fountain. Shadows too show a very slight improvement thanks to the DX11 patch, which adds variable penumbra soft shadows to the game - meaning shadows become blurrier based on the distance between receiver and caster, just as they do in real life.
Wide vistas like this offer so much detail at different scales, however, that it's still hard to pin point particular enhancements. This is why, on the following pages, we've gone into detail on specific elements.