Crysis 2 Shader Comparison Essay

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Central to the game's look and feel is the implementation of real-time global illumination. The notion of GI isn't exactly new to video games - calculation of lighting has obviously been going on for a very, very long time. Designers create the levels, they're lit within the editor and then the process of calculating light and shadow is carried out in a time-intensive offline procedure. The original Quake from id Software was one of the earliest examples, and the developers had a series of SGI workstations dedicated to processing the lighting on the levels so they could get to see the results of their work in a relatively timely manner. Even today, games like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves use offline processing to "bake in" GI, while it remains a significant factor in Unreal Engine - a tech that Crytek hopes to challenge as the preferred middleware solution.

With CryEngine 3, the developers can adjust lighting on the fly and immediately see how it looks as the game actually runs on PS3, 360 and PC. This saves an enormous amount of time, of course, but also has implications for the player in terms of shifting lighting (time of day, for example). The notion of such an inordinately complex task being carried out in real-time on five-year-old console tech is hugely significant and is a massive technical accomplishment for the Frankfurt-based developer.

Real-time global illumination is one of the key innovations in CryEngine 3, but it is interesting to note that many areas of the tech have been carried over from the original Crysis tech. We know this not just from the various developer demonstrations Crytek has given where tools and configs looked similar to that used for Crysis, but also because the Xbox 360 demo can be decrypted and unpacked, giving us a .cfg config file with a huge array of variables that have much in common with the existing PC releases of CE2 games, of which Crysis Wars was the most recent example.

CryEngine 3 supports real-time global illumination and HDR lighting and it's fair to say that this produces a look that is a key part of the game's visual appeal.

Way back in December 2009, our Can Consoles Run Crysis? feature saw us attempt to recreate Crytek's demos within the existing PC game, and guest contributor Nebula rebuilt a PC config based on the visual make-up of the 360 and PS3 footage. His conclusion was that CE3 on console was based on the PC game's "medium" quality setting with some elements dialled back, while others operated on the equivalent of the "very high" setting. Fast forward to 2011 and the ability to see the consoles' actual .cfg file validates the majority of his findings.

InCrysis forum member Doomlord52 went one stage further and actually carried out a point-for-point comparison between the 360 .cfg and what was seen in Crysis Wars on PC, and the conclusions there are enlightening - RAM-heavy features of CryEngine are scaled back to medium settings or even lower, but processing-intensive elements of the tech such as lighting and geometry are correspondingly scaled up.

This shouldn't be too surprising. As we mentioned in our original piece, one of the key enhancements Crytek has been working on has been adapting to a many-core architecture. Crysis on PC didn't really leverage anything over a dual core CPU, but in the Xbox 360 .cfg file contained in the demo we see that at least five of the six hardware threads supported by the triple-core Xenon CPU are being utilised.

This innovation bodes well not just for the PS3 version of Crysis 2, but also for the PC game where we should be seeing some massive improvements over console performance and image quality. All too often we see PC versions of cross-platform games offering surprisingly little over their console brethren - the .cfg files suggest that the PC game should be a radically superior graphical experience based on our experience just with the CryEngine 2 tech.

There is stereoscopic support for Crysis 2 within the demo - though the 3D options require 1080p to be enabled on the dash (720p won't work). The setup of the options screen hints at several different stereo 3D formats being supported, but in the 360 version only side-by-side 3D is supported (additional formats such as HDMI 1.4 will be available in the PS3 version).

Also useful is an option to tweak the strength of the 3D effect, initially set at 50 per cent. The ability to access the 3D options screen in-game is also hugely valuable - it allows you to adjust the 3D effect to your liking quickly and easily as opposed to quitting out of the game completely to make the changes, as is the case in most of the console 3D titles we've seen to date.

Crytek's chosen method of supporting 3D has more in common with TriOviz than it does with the techniques seen in Sony's games. True stereoscopy typically requires that the geometry is processed twice - once for each eye - and also that the amount of pixels being generated is doubled. Crytek's solution doesn't generate true stereoscopic 3D as such, but instead uses the principle of 2D plus depth: a single image is created then additional processing based on the depth buffer extrapolates out a discrete image for each eye.

In the case of TriOviz, we see a barely noticeable impact on performance, but there are problems with effects such as transparencies not being processed correctly, as they do not reside in the depth buffer from which the 3D effect is generated.

Crysis 2 appears to have overcome this issue, and the overall impression is that the 3D effect works in producing a sense of depth. It is not a flashy, in-your-face representation of 3D as we see in games like Super Stardust HD or the quite overwhelming MotorStorm: Apocalypse - but it is actually much easier on the eyes than many other 3D titles.

Updated: There is evidence that the 3D effect is easier on the eye simply because it's operating with a series of very simple "layers" each with their own pixel off-set for each eye. We're taking a closer look at this and will report in a later article.

There's a 'secret' level in the Crysis 2 demo, called Pier 17, here captured by YouTube user ITheFatNinja. For demo players who've only played the Skyline level, it gives some indication of the goodies to come in the full game.

A view of earth below Saturn's rings, earth is the tiny white speck on the right.

. . .every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. –Carl Sagan

Click here to view the requirements: Comparison Essay Assignment Objectives

Why a compare/contrast essay?

In college, 90% of the papers students write will be in third person. This can be a struggle for some. I have students write the compare/contrast essay next because it is an easy genre for them to develop topics and ideas. Students will also need to develop clear and concise thesis statements that identify the point and purpose of their essays while breaking their subjects down into logically developed paragraphs and essays. Since we compare and/or contrast things all of the time, students will spend less time struggling to find a topic and more time working on the necessary skills to conquer this kind of paper. Here are a couple of examples. If a photographer wants a new camera, that person may contrast Canon and Nikon. If another person wants a new cell phone, that shopper may contrast Samsung and Apple. In these two examples, the writers would develop criteria for contrasting the two companies' and their products, and then based upon their criteria, they would identify which item they would purchase. This is one of the basic examples of how we use compare/contrast every day. Another way we use comparison contrast is through juxtaposition. Juxtaposition places two items close together to create a specific effect, or so readers or viewers can draw conclusions by comparing their similarities or contrasting their differences.

Understanding the basics of compare/contrast. . .

First, what is the difference between comparing two items and contrasting two items? If we want to examine the similarities between two items, we compare them. If we want to look at their differences, then we contrast them. However, there must be some basis for comparison in order to write a comparison/contrast essay. For example, I would not compare/contrast an apple with a flight attendant. I would not contrast a dog and a peanut. There must be some basis for comparing the two items. For example, the photographer who is contrasting Nikon and Canon is contrasting cameras. But, even that is vague. I would want to make sure that I am contrasting the same type of camera: two DSLRs with similar qualities: cost, number of pixels, lenses, other miscellaneous items that may be included with the purchase. If I contrast a regular Nikon 35mm film camera with a Canon Rebel DSLR, I am not going to be able to draw clear conclusions if I am thinking about buying one of them. They are completely different kinds of cameras.

The Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is the hardest and most important sentence in a paper. It identifies the topic and purpose of the paper. Thesis statements should always be written in third person. There are two kinds of thesis statements: a basic thesis statement and a listing thesis statement.

Basic Thesis Statement

Despite a slightly higher price, the Nikon D7000 is a better value than the Canon 60D.

Listing or Mapping Thesis Statement

By contrasting price,  image quality, shutter speed and the auto-focus system, it is clear that the Nikon D7000 provides more camera for a slightly higher price than the Canon 60D.

The listing or mapping thesis statement acts like a check list. The information should be covered in the order listed in the thesis statement. Thus, the first body paragraph would be on price, the second body paragraph on image quality, the third on shutter speed, and the fourth on the auto-focus system. You should have at least three criterion that you use to compare or contrast.

Basic Structure
There are two basic formats for the compare/contrast essay: block and alternating, or point-by-point. Block divides the essay in half with the first set of paragraphs covering one item, the other set of paragraph covering the other item. So, if I was contrasting a Nikon DSLR with a similar priced Canon DSLR, one set of paragraphs would cover Nikon and one would cover Canon. In alternating, or point-by-point, I would cover the two items alternating in each point of comparison (see examples in outlines below).

Block Method

I. Introduction

II. Nikon DSLR

A. Price

B. Image Quality

C. Shutter Speed

D. The Auto-focus System

III. Canon 60D

A. Price

B. Image Quality

C. Shutter Speed

D. The Auto-focus System

IV. Conclusion


I. Introduction

II. Price

A. Nikon D7000

B. Canon 60D

III. Image Quality

A. Nikon D7000

B. Canon 60D

IV. Shutter Speed

A. Nikon D7000

B. Canon 60D

V. The Auto-focus System

A. Nikon D7000

B. Canon 60D

VI. Conclusion

The introduction is the hook. It is said that first impressions are the most important. This is especially true for essays. You only have one opportunity to hook your readers and get them involved, so you need to look at imaginative ways to begin your papers. Some ways to introduce the topic and get the reader involved include telling a story that is related to the topic, ask a question and the thesis answers it, ask a rhetorical question that has no answer but introduces the reader to the subject matter. Usually, the final sentence of the introduction is the thesis statement.

Begin with Narrative - contrasting bike frames and componentry

Let's say I used to bike race both mountain and road bikes. If I was writing a contrast essay describing the differences between mountain and road bikes, I could describe what it is like to race down a hill doing 50 mph.

Begin with a question - topic - choosing the best smartphone

So, which is better, the Galaxy S5 or the iPhone 5s?

Begin with rhetorical question - contrasting two Vegas resorts

Does what happen in Vegas really stay in Vegas?


Conclusions address key points in the essay. Tie the introduction to the conclusion: if you used a quote, refer to that quote again and draw more conclusions from the information; if you began with the story, go back to the story to draw final conclusions from it; if you began with a question that can be answered, then return to that question and answer it. Your conclusion should not just restate the thesis; it should comment on the significance of the thesis. What does your reader know now after reading your essay that wasn't known before?

Online Textbook and Readings

Power Point Lectures

The thesis statement is the sentence or sentences that identify the topic and purpose of the essay. If it is not covered in a face-to-face class, see the presentation below or download it.


Formatting the Compare/Contrast Essay
  1. Be sure and utilize MLA formatting for the paper:
      • 1" margins all around the paper.
      • Double spaced
      • A heading on the top right hand corner 1/2" from the top of the paper should include:
      • Last name and then leave a space and the page number
      • On the first page on the left hand side include:
        • Your full name
        • Professor Name
        • Course - Assignment
        • Date (be sure to spell out the month and use the full year, such as February 12, 2016; do not use 2/12/16)
      • Be sure and type both the rough draft and final essay.
      • Click on the image below to see the full-scale version of the first page of an MLA formatted paper.

Wolff, Tobias. "On Being a Real Westerner." Radford Universeity. Web, 8 July 2013.

Writing the Comparison/Contrast ***Students, this your assigned topic***

  • Write a 3-4 page comparison/contrast essay
    • Write a comparison essay in which you compare and contrast Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s old man in “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” with your own perception of angels. You may address the following bases of comparison in your essay or create alternate points of comparison:

  1. What are the angel’s physical characteristics and how do they compare and contrast to your own perception of angels?
  2. What are the personality traits of Marquez’s angel and how do they compare and contrast to your own perception of angels.
  3. How does the village’s reaction to and treatment of the old man compare to your angel’s imagined reception in the current United States?
  4. Create a comparison point unique to your own experience with the story. 

TIPS: Use the questions to form your table of comparison and your paragraphs (think about them as the basis for topic sentences). Use description that is as vivid and rich as Marquez’s descriptions. Cite quotes from Marquez to make your points of comparison.

Remember to use critical thinking in your analysis: 1) see beneath the surface of things, images, events and ideas; 2) uncover and test assumptions; 3) see the importance of context; 4) draw and support independent conclusions.

Your essay should be 3-4 pages long; once you have written your rough draft, print it out, read it over and edit it so you have the best rough draft you can. 

Compare/Contrast Essay

  1. Students will learn to read critically and evaluate professional compare/contrast models.
  2. Students will improve writing skills through a step-by-step process.
  3. Students will present a thesis statement at the end of the introductory paragraph(s).
  4. Students will present the information in a well-organized and logical structure.
  5. Students will support the thesis statement by utilizing vivid details and examples for each item and/or point of comparison.
  6. Students will word process their papers using programs such as Microsoft Word.
  7. Students will format their papers according to MLA Guidelines. See Purdue OWL example.
  8. All work will be submitted in class on paper in a folder with pockets that contains rewrite stages, rough draft, peer review, and final draft.

compare/contrast essay  

Why a compare/contrast essay? Students learn to differentiate between two or more objects seeing how they are similar or how they are different. Writers must choose item that have a "basis" of comparison (something that they both share in common) before they can see the differences between them. For example, I could contrast apples and oranges because they are both fruit, or I could contrast Dell computers with Apples because they both are brands of computers. "Fruit" or "computer" would be the basis in comparison for each of these topics.  

Comparison/contrast is important because it is a useful tool for critical decision-making. Whether you are buying a new car or choosing a university, it is important to master the art of this critical writing and thinking skill. For example, I could compare time and money management skills. I would show how these two skills are very similar. Then I would state in my conclusion why these skills are important. 

Overview: Writing the Comparison Question:

1) Briefly describe the two types of organization that may be used in a comparison essay.

2) What one new thing did you learn by reading the overview?

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License by Lynn McClelland and Marianne Botos.



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