|PowerColor AX6950 PCS++ Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Tuesday, 22 February 2011|
Page 8 of 20
Just Cause 2 Performance Tests
"Just Cause 2 sets a new benchmark in free-roaming games with one of the most fun and entertaining sandboxes ever created," said Lee Singleton, General Manager of Square Enix London Studios. "It's the largest free-roaming action game yet with over 400 square miles of Panaun paradise to explore, and its 'go anywhere, do anything' attitude is unparalleled in the genre." In his interview with IGN, Peter Johansson, the lead designer on Just Cause 2 said, "The Avalanche Engine 2.0 is no longer held back by having to be compatible with last generation hardware. There are improvements all over - higher resolution textures, more detailed characters and vehicles, a new animation system and so on. Moving seamlessly between these different environments, without any delay for loading, is quite a unique feeling."
Just Cause 2 is one of those rare instances where the real game play looks even better than the benchmark scenes. It's amazing to me how well the graphics engine copes with the demands of an open world style of play. One minute you are driving through the jungles, the next you're diving off a cliff, hooking yourself to a passing airplane, and parasailing onto the roof of a hi-rise building. The ability of the Avalanche Engine 2.0 to respond seamlessly to these kinds of dramatic switches is quite impressive. It's not DX11 and there's no tessellation, but the scenery goes by so fast there's no chance to study it in much detail anyway.
Although we didn't use the feature in our testing, in order to equalize the graphics environment between NVIDIA and ATI, the GPU water simulation is a standout visual feature that rivals DirectX 11 techniques for realism. There's a lot of water in the environment, which is based around an imaginary Southeast Asian island nation, and it always looks right. The simulation routines use the CUDA functions in the Fermi architecture to calculate all the water displacements, and those functions are obviously not available when using an ATI-based video card. The same goes for the Bokeh setting, which is an obscure Japanese term for out-of-focus rendering. Neither of these techniques uses PhysX, but they do use specific computing functions that are only supported by NVIDIA's proprietary CUDA architecture.
There are three scenes available for the in-game benchmark, and I used the last one, "Concrete Jungle" because it was the toughest and it also produced the most consistent results. That combination made it an easy choice for the test environment. All Advanced Display Settings were set to their highest level, and Motion Blur was turned on, as well.
The results for the Just Cause 2 benchmark show a bit of a mixed bag for the typical Red v. Green competition. They look similar to the ones we saw for the New Calico test on 3DMark vantage, just compressed a bit. Obviously, they use completely different rendering engines, but both tests have massive amounts of environment to render. The Gigabyte GTX 480 SOC takes the top spot, and the GTX 560 Ti hangs a little closer than the rest of the cards. The Radeon HD 6950 in its base configuration is almost 5 FPS behind the base GeForce GTX 560Ti; the 35-40 FPS range is not an area where you can give up that type of advantage and not have it show up in real game play. On the whole, I'd call this a pretty well behaved benchmark, and the game's a blast, too. It's a shame the HD 6900 series doesn't get along with this game, perhaps its a driver issue.
Let's take a look at one more popular gaming benchmark, which was released recently with PhysX support, yet it relies on DirectX 9 features. It's a wonderful blend of modern graphics technology and classic crime scenes, called Mafia II.