Far Cry "tweaking" FAQ by DrLucky E-mail: LoyAlex@hotmail.com To be posted ONLY on www.gamefaqs.com CONTENTS - I - Introduction II - System Requirments III - Video Settings IV - Tweaking Intoduction V - System Tweaks VI - Advanced Tweaks VIII- DrLucky On Far Cry I - Introduction - Hello, and welcome to my Far Cry Tweaking FAQ. Far Cry is one of the most visually impressive games to date, which also means it can be one of the most taxing on system requirements. This initially led to a very unhappy gaming experience for me, as I didn't have the aid of rich parents to buy me a new video card. Fortunatly, with a little dilligent effort, I discovered that I could get a LOT more out of my current computer than I ever though possible. With this guide, hopefully you can too! *Note* - All the information provided was gathered using Far Cry v1.1 II - Far Cry System Requirements - According to the box, Far Cry requires the following AT MINIMUM: Windows 98/2000/XP 1ghz PIII or Athlon Processor 256 MB RAM 64mb DirectX9 video card Directx9 Sound card 4gb hard drive space MY SPECS - all the tweaking in this guide was performed on my computer, which I consider low end in terms of gaming capabilities: Windows XP PIII 933mhz 384 mb RAM 128mb GeForcefx5200 video card 40gb hard drive As you can see, my specs are not too different from the minimum. My processor is slightly BELOW the requirements, the RAM slightly above, and of course the fx5200 is the lowest-end Dx9 video card money can buy. III - VIDEO SETTINGS I run Far Cry on the above machine at the following settings: RESOLUTION: 1024x768 AA: none TEXTURES: High TEXTURE FILTER: Trilinear AF: 1 PARTICLES: High SPECIAL EFFECTS : High ENVIROMENT QUALITY: High SHADOW QUALITY: Medium WATER QUALITY: High LIGHTING QUALITY: Low (not because of FPS but becuase anything above low causes weird negative effects indoors) FRAME RATES: Indoor - 60+ Outdoor - 28 (heavy battle with water and a lot of backround) - 41 (walking around in jungle) I have posted these settings and results on several messages boards, and in all cases was told to be flat-out lying. I can understand why these results would be considered fictional by some. When I first played this game on the listed machine but WITHOUT any tweaking, I was only able to achieve "playable" framerates (I didn't get FPS readings then because I didn't know the command) at 800x600 resolution, with ALL settings on "low" except for water, which remained on high. (The fx5200, despite all it's shortcomings, has never had a problem with water) Far Cry and the good people at Crytek did me a favor, though, they put out a game that is really well optimized and scalable, and in the end proved to run infinitly better than, say, Halo, a 2 year old game. It still took some work to get it working properly, but I did it WITHOUT UPGRADES. How? Read on. IV - TWEAKING INTRO - Basically what tweaking comes down to is getting the most out of your current system by freeing resources BEFORE playing the game, and some more advanced software tricks to push your video hardware further than it's ever gone. The "advanced" section will contain information about overclocking and altering video drivers, and is not recomended unless you feel you have a good understanding of it. I can attest to it's effectiveness, but proceed at your own risk! V - SYSTEM TWEAKS - The first, and by far MOST IMPORTANT step to achieving better game performance is also the simplest one. That is: make sure that when you are running Far Cry, you are ONLY RUNNING FAR CRY. Windows is full of things running in the backround that will leech sytem resources and slow your computer down to a crawl. The easiest way to take a look at what's running is to press CONTROL-ALT-DELETE at the same time, bringing up the task manager. Now, look for the list of PROCESSES that are running. In Windows XP, these processes are conviently grouped by user name. Look at what's running under your name. Chances are that if you don't check in here religiously, you will be running a LOT of processes under your name. Things like "AIM", "Aoltray", "QTPlayer" you will recognize as familiar programs, but you may also find weird stuff like "pmpK.exe" or "yqahsh.exe". Guess what? SHUT IT ALL DOWN. Everything, with the SOLE EXCEPTION OF "EXPLORER". Explorer is windows itself, and if you shut that down, you will have to restart. It is also possible that your particular system may require another process or two to work properly, so experiment with shutting things down and see if it effects anything. Remember, you can always RESTART if you make a mistake with no ill done to your machine. Now that you've gotten the hang of shutting processes down, it's time to start with a fresh boot. Restart your computer EVERY TIME you want to play Far Cry. It's a pain in the ass for sure, but it will free up RAM that was used for internet surfing or letter writing or whatever and make it instantly available for use in the game. Speaking of restarting, I personally find that pulling the plug on my internet connection when my computer boots GREATLY speeds the process up. This is because of things like adware, which even if you check for 10 times a day always seems to end up coming back. Restarting without an internet connection prevents all the adware from doing it's job: sending you pop-up ads. Now you can shut down all those crazy processes as we learned above, and THEN plug your internet back in if you're going to play online. Other helpful Windows "tweaks" include freeing up hard drive space and/or defragmenting the hard drive. The more space you have on your drive, the less crap it has to go through to find Far Cry, which can be important. However, for a 4gb game like this, it is VERY important to have it all on one place on your drive. Typically, most computer hard drives are messy and out of order because of all the deleting-moving of files we do in our daily lives. By going to "accessories-system tools" on your start menu, you will find a program called "disk defragmenter". This rearranges your hard drive so that similar programs and files are all grouped together, cutting down on the time Far Cry spends bouncing around the hard drive looking for stuff. Defragmenting takes a while, so doing it overnight is usually the best option. Also it doesn't always arrange things perfectly. The real best step would be to UNINSTALL FAR CRY, DEFRAG YOUR DRIVE, AND THEN REINSTALL FAR CRY. This will ensure it is all grouped in one place on the drive, which will increase performance and loading times. It's really up to you if you want to spend the time re-installing those five discs, though. Users with better machines than mine may fine the simple act of restarting and shutting down backround processes to be the answer they were looking for, and God bless you. However, if this hasn't helped enough, or you've already been doing this like a smart monkey, the next section is for you. VI - ADVANCED TWEAKS - Ok, it's go time. The two things that really pushed my computer over the edge were ditching the NVidia drivers and getting CUSTOM VIDEO DRIVERS, and the much-feared act of OVERCLOCKING my video card. Both were much less painful than I expected. CUSTOM VIDEO DRIVERS- You'd think that Nvidia would know how to get the most out of it's own hardware, but apparantly this is not the case. A fellow named Omega has made his own set of drivers for both Nvidia and ATI cards; they rock the house, and they're FREE. My game suddenly went from bland and flickery to crisp and glorious, with a skyrocket in FPS to boot! I don't know what he did exactly, but it works. As I said, read up on this stuff and make your own decision, but I have experienced o problems thus far. Check out http://www.omegacorner.com/ if this sounds good to you. OVERCLOCKING - Many people tremble at this word. Overclocking is the act of making your video card, processor, or even RAM run at a faster speed than it claims it can. I have limited understanding of how this works, but I believe it has to do with increasing the power draw of the item ever so slightly, causing it to run faster. Obviously this can be dangerous, because if too much power is drawn the card can overheat and melt. I made my choice to give it a shot because I'm a graphics junky and I wasn't too concerned about destroying my $60 video card in any case. I used an outstanding piece of software called RIVA TUNER to overclock. You can get it at http://www.guru3d.com/rivatuner/. This thing lets you push your card's clock speed up in 1mhz increments. I overclocked from 200/350 to 250/400mhz, that is pushing the core clock and memory clock up 50mhz each. I saw a SUBSTANTIAL increase in performance, mainly in the FPS rate. Suddenly the game was playable AND looked good. Overclocking is not something you want to jump into blind. I found several message boards where people listed optimal settings for my exact card, and you should seek out similar information for your hardware. VIII - DrLucky ON FAR CRY Well, after all this technical mumbo jumbo I've almost forgotten there's a game at the end of the tunnel. So, if you will tolerate, here are my thoughts on Far Cry. RATING - 9/10 I wasn't expecting much more than pretty graphics when I picked this one up. I basically wanted something I felt would be a good benchmark for Half-Life 2, to see if I could get away with my current rig or if I'd have to bite the bullet and upgrade. Well, if you've read the above FAQ you know that I can get away with my current rig. So why do I even care anymore? Because this game rocks. The visuals are certainly above and beyond anything I've ever seen, and the gameplay is superb. One of the things that gives a game staying power in my opinion is the ability to amuse oneself totally on random situations presented by the game engine. Deus Ex 1+2, Half-Life, Halo all lived up to this requirement. Throwing grenades into crowds in Deus Ex, killing Barnies in Half Life, and driving the worthog into the silent cartographer are all good examples of this phenomenon. But Far Cry has blown them all away. I've had too much fun for my own good blowing mercs off cliffs, or shooting bridges and letting mercs fall to their doom, or shooting wires and laughing as mercs get turned into jelly by swinging objects....I think you see the picture here. It's a hell of an outlet or sadism if nothing else. Another thing Far Cry reintroduced me to was the "fear factor" in video games. Every time I hear the word "Trigen" come over the radio, I shudder and have to take a minute to collect myself. The trigens are a really unique monster in a FPS - a creature who alone is a handful and in numbers are utterly unkillable by force alone. Stealth and trickery and careful thinking are required. And I like it. Enemy AI is outstanding in this game, with the sneaking mercs suddenly giving you a heart attack and the flanking and group assaults and helicoptor drops...yeah. I'd like to see a group of mercs take on a Covenant squad from Halo...but that's just geekary. The only reason this doesn't rate a 10 is the difficulty is off putting at times. I like a challenge, but even on normal this game is tough. Random merc headshots killing you at full health, and a trigen raping you in one second are commonplace, and wouldn't be so bad except for the lack of quicksave. Some areas become a matter of memorizing enemy locations and/or renforcement patterns, and I don't like that. But it's a minor issue in an otherwise amazing game, and I hear quicksave is coming in a future patch. Finally, this game BEGS for a co-op mode, at least for those of us who live with fellow losers and have a home network. At any rate, I hope this guide was helpful. If you're an Xboxer or just considering buying one of the best games ever made, check out my other FAQ- THE HALO PC ADDITIONS FAQ, also available at Gamefaqs. PEACE.