‘But can it run Crysis?’—10 years of a PC gaming meme

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The AGP era of graphics cards was giving way to the new PCI Express, and Nvidia’s GeForce 8800 GTX was the reigning King of Graphics, thanks to a staggering 768MB of RAM and 128 stream processors clocked at over 1GHz. A new generation of cards were just a few months away, and when Crysis arrived in November, its graphical potential represented a desire to move on.

With the Xbox 360 released in 2005 and PS3 shortly after in 2006, videogame graphics were stuck in the mud while PC hardware kept improving rapidly. Games made exclusively for the PC were a huge risk in a console-focused market, let alone any that required $2000 PCs to play.

But then Crysis came out looking like it did, and famished as they were, PC players flocked to it like ragdoll moths to a flame with advanced post-processing effects. It was a glimpse of the future of guns and jungulature as interpreted by screen space ambient occlusion, a common lighting shader that debuted in Crysis before anywhere else. And adding to the mystique (and the difficulty of running it), the highest settings were locked away behind the brand new DirectX 10 and Windows Vista, released that year.

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