Can an Intel Atom laptop run Crysis?

When the first Crysis game released in 2007 its PC requirements were so high that it created a meme that has perpetuated itself in PC enthusiast forums and tech blogs for over a decade.

The requirements were so insane that even the most expensive PC's of the time had trouble running the game smoothly.

On the other side of this story, we have the GPD Pocket. This beautiful pocket size laptop made by up-and-coming Chinese company GPD and is aimed at packing as much power as possible in a small package with a long battery life, so while the amount of RAM is impressive, its CPU and GPU are not exactly what most people would consider "gaming ready".

The device includes:

CPU: Intel Atom x7-Z8750

GPU: IntelHD

RAM: 8GB DDR3

So, if we use console commands to force Crysis to the most ridiculously lowest graphics it can go, can it be played in the GPD Pocket?

Let's find out!

Console commands

At any given moment in the game, you can press the button right under the escape key ("~" in most keyboards) to open the dev console. Commands can be entered there and, for most commands, effects can be observed in real time. However, having commands applied to the game permanently requires an autoexec file.

Config files

In the installation directory for the game (Usually located at Program Filesx86/Origin Games/Crysis) you can create a file called autoexec.cfg and load them with commands that will be applied every time the game is booted.

You will find the final configuration file at the link in the end of the article.

You will notice I have labelled some commands as "system". In some instances, these variables cannot be loaded from an autoexec file and might be ignored. If you ever notice this happening there is an easy workaround.

Inside the installation directory, you can navigate to the folder in game, config where you will find a number of cfg files that load variables into the game depending on the difficulty level you are playing at. If you add "system" variables to the file associated with the difficulty you are using they are usually loaded into the game with no problems.

With that said, let's look at some of the most interesting commands.

Textures

r_TexResolution controls the resolution of textures. The lowest value it seems to accept is 4. This will make most surfaces look washed out, almost mono-coloured.

Lights

e_dynamic_light 0 disables dynamic lighting completely. This will provide an important boost in performance but will make the game very dark which can make navigation difficult.

An alternative is to use e_max_entity_lights which controls the number of lights on an object. Making it too low can cause a very distracting flickering, and 2 seems to be the lowest value this can be set without causing any obvious issues.

Detail LODs

e_view_dist_ratio controls the draw distance of non-essential environmental objects. Its minimum value is 1, which causes most things to just pop up right in front of you. e_detail_materials_view_dist_z controls how close the ground level must be to the player in order to render in full resolution. A value of 1 causes the ground to always load at its lowest resolution.

Animals

There are many animals that act as environmental details for the different levels in Crysis. Setting e_flocks to 0 disables them.

Enemy physics

As in most modern 3D games, when enemies are killed in Crysis they turn into ragdolls which can be moved around by external forces such as explosions. Setting ca_UsePhysics to 0 disables this, causing enemies to simply freeze in an awkward position when killed.

Vegetation

Many of the game's environments are covered in lush vegetation that can be tweaked in a variety of ways. After a certain distance, the game renders vegetation as a 2D sprite. E_vegetation_sprites_distance_ratio controls this distance, and setting it to 1 causes vegetation to become sprites very close to the player.

The resolution of said sprites can be controlled with r_VegetationSpritesTexRes. Its minimum possible value seems to be 8.

E_view_dist_ratio_vegetation controls the density of vegetation. A value of 1 will disable most unnecessary vegetation.

If you would rather not have it at all e_vegetation set 0 will make all vegetation transparent.

Final results

With those changes applied, leaving vegetation to its minimum but not completely disabled, I set out to test the game on the Intel Atom computer. Surprisingly on a resolution of 720, the game was able to maintain near 30 fps, dropping to 20-22 during combat.

It is worth noting that playing the game like this is significantly difficult. While the transparent vegetation and low object draw distance make spotting enemies a breeze, it is very hard to line up a shot since there would often be invisible obstructions in the way.

However, given the performance requirements of this game, it is interesting that it can be pushed to this limits to be made to work on such a low-end computer.