German developer Crytek has DirectX 11 graphics running on Crysis 3 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
The PC version of the sci-fi shooter sequel, due out spring 2012, will build upon the stunning Crysis 2 DirectX 11 Ultra Upgrade, but the programmer wizards at Crytek aim to get at least some of this running in the console version of the game.
"We want to make sure as much as is humanly possible can translate from a DX11 variant into a DX9 variant, that will work almost as good on an Xbox console to whatever extent we can, because we don't want the experience to be different between the platforms," Rasmus Højengaard, director of creative development at Crytek, told Eurogamer.
"It is very, very difficult, but it is possible. It just requires a lot of effort. Some of the stuff these guys are making work on consoles now is absolutely amazing. It's render features that shouldn't theoretically work on consoles, but they've managed to construct code that can emulate a similar thing from a… hack and slash sounds wrong, but they don't have the same streamlined pipeline you would have with a DX11 structure, but they can get to a similar result just by experimenting and using tips and tricks."
Højengaard provided a concrete example of this: parallax occlusion mapping, while pointing out that it was not a feature confirmed to be in the console version of Crysis 3.
"I'm not saying this will be in the game, but they managed to make parallax occlusion mapping work, which is an advanced form of bump mapping where you get silhouettes as well, and you have self-shadowing even though you have absolutely no polygons," he explained.
"That's a very advanced feature, and it shouldn't theoretically run on a 360, but they made it run on a 360."
Højengaard insisted, however, that Crytek will not include DX11 graphics features on console if they impact performance. "What it all boils down to is to what extent they're able to use this without choking the console," he said.
Crytek hopes Crysis 3, which has been in development for just over a year, will prove to be a visual showcase, an example of what is possible on the PS3 and Xbox 360 at the end of their lifecycles.
"It's always interesting to push stuff when the perception is you can't push it anymore," Højengaard said. "That's definitely something we're doing." The development team is benefiting, in this regard, from a particularly efficient production - one boosted by the "stable" CryEngine 3 and developers who are finally getting to grips with the Crysis franchise. The end result is a quicker turnaround than with previous Crytek games.
"We can just be very efficient about the production because we have a stable technology path and we're not developing a new engine," he said. "And we have people who really know what they want to do with the game, which means we can get something out somewhat quicker than we could with Crysis 2, which had new engine development, and Crysis 1, which was new IP. As soon as you have to invent something it always takes longer than if you know what you're doing.
"We're obviously hoping it will be one of these pillars where we can go, that was what you can do."