Crysis 2 tessellation: too much of a good thing?
With the DX11 update installed, Crysis 2 becomes one of the most visually striking and technically advanced video games in the world. The features list includes a host of techniques that represent the cutting edge in real-time graphics, including objects tessellated via displacement mapping, dynamically simulated and tessellated water, parallax occlusion mapping (where tessellation isn't the best fit), shadows edges with variable softness, a variant of screen-space ambient occlusion that takes the direction of light into account, and real-time reflections.
The highest profile of those features is probably tessellation, which seems to be the signature new capability of DX11 in the minds of many. Tessellation allows the GPU to employ its vast computing power to transform the low-polygon models used in most games into much higher-detail representations, with a relatively minimal performance cost. Used well, tessellation promises to improve the look of real-time graphics in some pleasant and impactful ways, eliminating—at long last—the pointy heads on so many in-game characters and giving difficult-to-render objects like trees much more organic external structures.
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