von Sandro Villinger
10 years ago, Crysis 1 was a killer game. With my Core 2 Duo 2.66 GHz and a 8800 GTX GPU, I couldn’t even think about running it on “High” settings or even full resolution. So, I put the game on my shelf—and now several years later, I’ve decided to play it again with my improved gaming rig.
Crysis 1 is really one of the most beautiful games out there, and it still pushes gaming PCs to their limit when its settings are at the maximum levels. Even my Alienware X51, which I optimized, was only able to produce 24 frames per second (FPS).
In this installment of our “Perfect Gamer” series, I’ll show you how to not only squeeze a few more frames out of Crysis 1, but also improve its looks even more. Before taking the following recommended steps, don’t forget to install FRAPS to help you measure any performance improvements.
1. Optimize Your PC and Windows
Want to achieve the perfect gaming environment? Then, make sure you first read all of the 10 steps we recently recommended to push your PC and games to the limit. Among our suggestions were:
• Grabbing the latest AMD/NVIDIA (beta) drivers and tweaking the control panel;
• Reducing the amount of installed applications on your system;
• Getting rid of unnecessary startup items;
• Temporarily turning off programs that can have a heavy load on your system with a tool like...
On my Alienware X51 test rig, there were some programs, such as PowerDVD, the Realtek Control Panel and Alienware Command Center, that I needed regularly and loved. I just used TuneUp Program Deactivator to turn their load off and can easily launch them when needed again. On the left, you can see that several active applications were negatively impacting start-up time, overall performance and shutdown time. But with TuneUp Program Deactivator, I significantly minimized their impact.
• Defragging or enabling TRIM
• Eliminating any non-critical Windows background services with functionality provided by TuneUp Turbo Mode, for instance
• Overclocking the CPU and GPU
• Making sure your security solution contains a gaming mode
2. Tweak and Benchmark Various Settings
The graphics menu offers a variety of options that you can play with to maximize performance.
Anti-Aliasing, however, has the heaviest negative impact on performance. This is because the game features so many polygons and surfaces that Anti-Aliasing’s edge smoothing requires a lot of your GPU resources. If you, however, don’t like jagged edges and still want the game to be playable, you may want to enable Edge Anti-Aliasing (see the next step). As pictured above, make sure to enable full screen—it’s just a whole lot faster.
The “Advanced” section offers a plethora of settings that can have quite an impact as well. If you’re experiencing any stuttering, I recommend dialing down options you don’t necessarily need, such as...
Motion Blur: This defines the “blur” effect when you move or run quickly. If you set it to “Very High”, even slow walking results in a blur of your environment. That’s why, even on a high-end machine, I always set it to “Medium” or “High”.
Water Quality: The water in Crysis isn’t particularly nice-looking. Turning this setting to “Low” will simplify it quite a bit and won’t put a lot of stress on your PC. Besides, there are not a whole lot of scenes where you really need it on a higher detail level.
Texture Quality: This is the most important setting for the game’s visual quality. It defines the surface detail level. Click on each picture below to see the difference.
Shadows: Set it to “High” or “Medium” to remove shadows from objects in the distance—this should improve performance quite a bit.
Object Quality: Setting this to a lower level will result in objects looking a lot less detailed and complex. It makes the game look significantly worse, although it will be faster.
Physics Quality: I would not recommend setting this to anything other than “High” or “Very High”. If you set it to low, you won’t be able to destroy objects, resulting in quite a negative impact on gameplay.
3. Tweak the Autoexec.cfg for Improved Performance and Graphics
While the game menu offers some basic tweaking, full optimization can only be achieved with “Autoexec.cfg”, which supports dozens of commands. Basically, you can control every aspect of the game with it and not need to wade through hundreds of settings.
Crysis fanatic “Helder Pinto” has created a thoroughly tested Autoexec.cfg that increases the visual fidelity of the game without dropping a whole lot of frames. The “Ultra High Quality Custom Config 1.3.1″ offers better shadows, improved HDR, parallax mapping, high-quality textures, particles, terrain and vegetation, improved lightning and tweaked Lods for best FPS/visual quality relation.
To apply it to your Crysis, copy the “CVarGroupsFolder” into “C:Program Files (x86)Electronic ArtsCrysisGameConfig” or “C:Program Files (x86)SteamSteamAppscommonCrysisGameconfig” for Steam users. The Autoexec.cfg should be placed under your Crysis folder at the root of the “CrysisGame” folder.
Done? In our tests, FPS increased by up to 40% without a very noticeable drop in visuals. Sometimes, scenes looked even more amazing than before due to the improved lighting and bloom effects.
4. Install the Crysis HD Textures Update
Crysis textures are beautiful to look at, but famous modder Rygel took things even further and upped the detail level significantly. Just compare the following images (credit: CryDrev.net’s user Vehn).
Click for a full-screen view. Increase the detail level with a simple download, but watch your frame rate!
Just download t he massive 2 GB pack, and copy the files “zzNanoSuit.pak”, “zzTexturesupdatepart1.pak” and “zzTexturesupdatepart2.pak” into the “C:Program Files (x86)SteamSteamAppscommonCrysisGame” (Steam) or “C:Program Files (x86) CrysisGame” folder. Overwrite the existing files and launch the game to enjoy!
5. Get High-Resolution Surroundings
Have you still not had enough of the HD Texture pack? Well, the following mods will allow you to tweak all of the surroundings in Crysis 1 even more.
- High Resolution Foliage: This makes all of the trees look more detailed. You can get it as part of the Crysis graphics pack. Make sure to copy all of the contents of the pack to the “Crysisgame” folder.
- HD Grass: Upgrade every single blade of grass by tweaking this setting. Again, this comes in the Crysis graphics pack as noted above.
- Palm and Rock Texture: This too gives all of the palms and rocks a more detailed appearance, and is part of the Crysis graphics pack.
- Water Shader: It drastically upgrades the water textures. Place it in the “Program Files (x86)Electronic ArtsCrytekCrysisGame” folder
6. Play The Resort Mod!
Want to try out some of these fantastic mods? We’ve got the perfect map for you to try them on. “The Resort” is a 130 MB map/mod that features a beautiful mountain area (2-3 square miles), which is extremely detailed and realistic.
To install it, simply copy the “The Resort” folder, which you extracted, into the “Program Files (x86)Electronic ArtsCrytekCrysisGameLevels” folder. Steam users, go to “Program Files (x86)SteamsteamappscommmonCrytekCrysisGame”. Next, launch Crysis and hit the “^” button to open up the console. Type in “con_restricte 0″, hit Enter and type in “map TheResort”. You should then be all set!
Are there any more tweaks for the original Crysis that we should discuss? Let us know! We’d love to hear your feedback on the overall “Perfect Gamer” series as well—if you’d prefer, drop us a line at email@example.com.
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