Far Cry Tweak Guide

[Page 5] In-Game Settings

In this section we cover all the settings available for adjustment from within Far Cry. Settings which can only be altered in the .cfg files, the Far Cry Game Configuration Tool, or Developer Mode are covered in the Advanced Tweaking section.

To access the in-game settings, start Far Cry and click on Options on the main screen. You will then see four major areas: Game Options, Video Options, Sound Options and Control Options. Each is described in detail below:

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Game Options

Enable Gore: When selected (selection box filled in) allows blood and bullet impact holes (decals) to be shown on characters when they are shot or blown up. Unselecting this option removes all blood and gore, and may provide a noticeable performance improvement in fight scenes at the cost of realism.

Lazy Weapon: The Lazy weapon slider determines how much your character's gun "lags" onscreen. The further to the right the slider, the more your gun lags with movements, which may look more realistic to some people. Note however that while a high Lazy Weapon setting may make the gun appear to lag, your targeting cursor should never lag regardless of this setting. A lagging cursor is due to low FPS and is also affected by your Mouse settings under Control Options menu (see below).

Corpse Stay: Determines the number of seconds before corpses (dead characters) disappear from view. Because lots of characters (dead or alive) on the screen can slow down graphics, setting this to a lower value can help reduce FPS slowdowns in heavy fight scenes by removing the dead bodies quickly. Conversely, if you want dead bodies to never disappear for ultra realism, set the value to 999.

Machine Spec: If you want Far Cry to automatically configure your Video and Sound options, set the type of machine you have (based on the three machine spec types detailed in your Readme.txt file). I strongly recommend against using this, and instead ask you to take the time to customize the settings as detailed in this guide, to suit your individual image quality and performance tastes. This is because most machines don't fall neatly into Low, Medium or High spec categories.

Multiplayer Name: Enter the name you wish to use when playing Far Cry online in Multiplayer. Has no effect on single player.

Multiplayer Model: Select the character type which will represent you when playing Multiplayer online. Has no impact on performance or your abilities when playing online or offline. Note you cannot change the character you play in the single-player campaign; you will always be Jack.

Multiplayer Color: Determines the color of your Multiplayer model's clothing. Has no impact on performance.

Video Options

Renderer: Far Cry automatically runs under the Direct3D9 renderer. This should give optimal performance and stability for all users, particularly those using the latest graphics drivers. However there is an experimental OpenGL renderer included with the game, but this can only be chosen by editing the System.cfg file (See Advanced Tweaking section).

Resolution: A range of available resolutions are presented here, shown as Pixel Width x Pixel Height x Color Depth (e.g. 1280x1024x32). Note in particular that since Far Cry runs in 32 bit color by default, if your desktop is set to a different color depth this may cause problems - change it to 32 bit color. The resolution chosen has a major impact on performance: the higher the resolution, the lower your FPS will be. The minimum possible resolution using these settings is 800x600. You can set lower/different resolutions and color depths in the System.cfg file (See Advanced Tweaking section).

Antialiasing: Here you can set the amount of Antialiasing (also called AA or FSAA) used in the game. The available options are: None=0x, Low=2x, Medium=4x and High=8x Antialiasing. Note that Far Cry will suffer significant performance degradation the higher the level of Antialiasing you use, especially on anything but the latest high-performance graphics cards. If you have any level of Antialiasing enabled in your graphics card control panel, they will override these settings. If you want to use Antialiasing in Far Cry I recommend either selecting "Application Controlled" (not 0x) in your graphics card's control panel and setting the AA level in-game here, or selecting None here and setting the AA level in your graphics card's control panel, not both. See my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide for more details.

Brightness, Contrast, Gamma Correction: These sliders determine how washed out/bright the game graphics look. Adjust to taste, has no impact on performance.

Full Screen: If this box is selected, Far Cry will run in fullscreen mode. If unselected, Far Cry will run as a window on your desktop. There may be performance and stability problems if Far Cry is run in windowed mode, so full screen is strongly recommended.

Vertical Sync: Vertical Synchronisation (VSync) is the synchronization of your graphics card and monitors' abilities to redraw the screen a number of times each second. This is measured in Hz (which is the same as frames per second), and your monitor will have a maximum rating in Hz for each resolution - e.g 1280x1024 at 85Hz. If VSync is disabled (unselected), your FPS will usually improve quite noticeably, however you may see some image "tearing" as your monitor and graphics card go slightly out of synchronization when the refresh rate exceeds the monitor's abilities. Turn off VSync for best graphics performance, however if the image tearing is too noticeable then enable VSync. Note that VSync can have a noticeable impact on any mouse lag you're having so select the mode which provides the least lag (in conjunction with the other mouse setting tips below). Usually this is Vsync Off, which is recommended for most people. For more details of VSync see my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide.

Play Background Video: If selected, will show the background video on the menu screens. If you are getting mouse lag in the menus, or just find it annoying, unselect this option to turn the video off. Disabling the background video may improve your performance slightly in-game.

Render Mode: If you've set the Special Effects Quality setting to High or above (see below), you will have the option of several different rendering effects here which can change the look and feel of Far Cry. The Default mode is the one most familiar to you, but Improved, Paradise, Cold and Cartoon are some subtle (and not-so-subtle) variations. Cartoon and Paradise are somewhat fantasy-inspired modes, but Cold provides a high level of realism, while Improved is a subtle change over the Default mode. The performance difference is minimal amongst the modes for the most part, but depends on your particular graphics hardware and Special Effects Quality settings. Paradise and Cartoon in particular may provide lower performance on older graphics cards like GeForce3/4s.

Advanced Video Options

These are accessed by clicking the Advanced button under the Video Options screen.

Texture Quality: This setting determines the level of detail the various textures (surfaces of objects) have, and the types of lighting and shadow effects these objects display. At Low the textures are extremely blurry, have minimal detail and appear completely flat. At Medium, textures are starting to show the beginnings of surface details, some depth (bump mapping) and realistic lighting interactions. At High the textures are well detailed, lighting effects bring out the surface depth of textures much more. At Very High the maximum quality textures are used and effects are highly realistic. The difference between High and Very High is not very noticeable. The successively higher your Texture Quality settings, the greater the amount of memory and graphics card power used. If you have 512MB of RAM or less you may notice much longer loading times and more in-game pauses with High or Very High settings. At the same time if you have an older graphics card (e.g GeForce4 or lower) you will notice a reduction in FPS with higher settings. I recommend Medium or High for most people.

Texture Filter Quality: This setting has two options: Bilinear and Trilinear. Bilinear texture filtering provides slightly less quality than Trilinear, which in turn provides less quality than Anisotropic texture filtering (see below). The higher the quality of texture filtering used, the smoother and less blurry textures will appear, especially more distant textures viewed at extreme angles. However there will be more of a reduction in FPS due to the extra work forced onto the graphics card. In fact although the visual quality difference between Bilinear and Trilinear is not very noticeable, the FPS difference can be 10% or more, so if you need extra FPS set this to Bilinear for minimal image quality sacrifice.

Anisotropic Filtering Level: This setting determines how well textures retain detail the further away they are from you, as per the Texture Filter Quality setting description above. At 1x Anisotropic Filtering (AF) distant textures can still appear blurry or indistinct, using Bilinear or Trilinear filtering. The higher the AF level used (2x, 4x), the sharper distant textures become, improving graphics quality at the cost of FPS, especially on older graphics cards. I recommend leaving AF at the default 1x (it can't be set to 0x) unless you have a very high end system, as raising AF will impact noticeably on performance without a large increase in visual quality. Also note you can increase AF values beyond 4x, but not in the in-game settings (See Advanced Tweaking). Just as with Antialiasing, I also recommend that if you want to use AF in Far Cry, you either use your graphics card's control panel to set it and leave it at 1x in Far Cry, or alternately set it to "Application Controlled" (not 0x) in your graphics card's control panel and adjust the AF level in Far Cry, not both. For more details again see my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide.

Particle Count: This setting determines the richness and volume of special effects such as smoke, steam, fog and explosions. As implied, the number of "particles" these effects contain is determined by this setting. At Low, effects like steam and smoke appear ghostly and thin, with little depth. At progressively higher levels such as Medium and High, these effects become more realistic and have greater volume. At Very High they are at their visual maximum. Note that the difference between High and Very high is not particularly noticeable. The higher this setting, the more noticeable the slowdown and sharp drop in FPS you will get when such effects are within view. For example if you're near a burning vehicle wreck, or steam escaping from a vent, and look towards it with High or Very High Particle Count your FPS may fall by 50% or more, especially if you have a slower CPU and graphics card. Medium is the recommended setting for most people.

Special Effects Quality: This setting determines the quality of special effects such as the coronas (halos of glare) around lights, and motion blur effects. When set to Low, all these effects are disabled, and are most noticeable in the lack of glare from interior lights, and no motion blur when you are drowning, flashbanged or fall from a height. At settings of Medium and above these effects are visible, and to be honest I didn't notice a dramatic change from Medium all the way to Very High. The performance impact of enabling the main Special Effects (i.e. Medium or above) will depend a great deal on your graphics card. Older graphics cards (such as the GeForce3) may notice a large impact on FPS in areas with lots of lighting for example, or simply may support these effects. Medium should be fine for most people.

Environment Quality: This setting controls the level of detail in your surroundings. At Low there are no birds or fish for example, and no decals (bullet holes, grenade impact marks) visible. At Medium some decals are visible, but still no birds or fish. At settings of High and above every environmental feature is visible. The difference between High and Very High is difficult to tell. The performance impact is again greatest on slower graphics cards and there is some additional CPU load due to the extra objects being handled, particularly in outdoor areas. In particularly heavy firefights, the higher this setting the more decals will be created, slowing down your FPS noticeably on many machines. Medium or High is recommended for most people.

Shadow Quality: As the name would suggest, this option controls the degree of realism for shadows in the game and the degree of dynamic lighting. At the Low setting virtually all shadows are disabled, except for low detailed static shadows from fixed landscape objects. At the Medium setting most inanimate objects such as boxes cast a shadow, but dynamic objects such as vehicles and swaying tree branches do not. At High and above everything casts a shadow, and walking under palm trees sees the swaying shadows of branches cast over you and your weapon. Once again the difference between High and Very High is very hard to tell. Shadows can have a major impact on performance, especially where there are multiple light sources (especially moving light sources) and complex, detailed objects visible. The higher the setting, the lower your FPS especially for slower graphics cards. Medium is recommended for most people.

Water Quality: The name of this setting is a giveaway. It controls the degree of realism of the water in Far Cry. At a setting of Low the water is an unattractive, opaque, uniform body of almost mercury-like liquid. There's no lapping at the shore, no visibility into the water depth. At a setting of Medium the water suddenly becomes very realistic and appears to have most of the effects of Far Cry's famous water. At progressively higher settings all the way up to Ultra High improvements are subtle and include more reflections on the surface (High), faster reflection updating on the surface (High to Ultra High), and the inclusion of refractions (underwater objects appear distorted). This setting quite obviously impacts on performance only in areas where there are large visible bodies of water, however the impact is not dramatic between Medium and higher settings. The performance difference between Low and higher settings will be more noticeable for those with very old graphics cards (e.g. GeForce3). Medium or High is recommended for most people.

Lighting Quality: This setting determines the quality of light interactions with the environment. At Low, surfaces don't show any sheen from lighting, and most lights emit a relatively dim unrealistic glow. At Medium the situation hasn't changed greatly, with surface textures still not having any noticeable shine or sheen to them. When set to High, the lighting greatly improves and reflects off appropriate surfaces (such as metallic floors) with a nice shine and depth. Your flashlight and all lighting give off a bright glow (depending on your Special Effects Quality settings - see above). Very High appears almost identical to High, except using Very High will ensure you're using Pixel Shader 2.0 (highest image quality). The higher this setting, the greater the impact on your FPS, especially on slower machines. Medium is fine for most people, High recommended for greater realism.

The next page completes the descriptions of Far Cry in-game settings.