|PowerColor AX6990 4GBD5-M4D Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Sunday, 20 March 2011|
Page 8 of 19
Mafia II DX9+SSAO Benchmark Results
Mafia II is a single-player third-person action shooter developed by 2K Czech for 2K Games, and is the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven released in 2002. Players assume the life of World War II veteran Vito Scaletta, the son of small Sicilian family who immigrates to Empire Bay. Growing up in the slums of Empire Bay teaches Vito about crime, and he's forced to join the Army in lieu of jail time. After sustaining wounds in the war, Vito returns home and quickly finds trouble as he again partners with his childhood friend and accomplice Joe Barbaro. Vito and Joe combine their passion for fame and riches to take on the city, and work their way to the top in Mafia II.
Mafia II is a DirectX 9 PC video game built on 2K Czech's proprietary Illusion game engine, which succeeds the LS3D game engine used in Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. In our Mafia-II Video Game Performance article, Benchmark Reviews explored characters and gameplay while illustrating how well this game delivers APEX PhysX features on both AMD and NVIDIA products. Thanks to APEX PhysX extensions that can be processed by the system's CPU, Mafia II offers gamers equal access to high-detail physics regardless of video card manufacturer. Equal access is not the same thing as equal performance, though.
With PhysX technology turned off, both AMD and NVIDIA are on a level playing field in this test. In contrast to many gaming scenes, where other-worldly characters and environments allow the designers to amp up the detail, Mafia II uses human beings wearing ordinary period-correct clothes and natural scenery. Just like how high end audio equipment is easiest to judge using that most familiar of sounds - the human voice, graphics hardware is really put to the test when rendering things that we have real experience with. The drape of a woolen overcoat is a deceptively simple construct; easy to understand and implement, but very difficult to get perfect.
At medium resolutions, the NVIDIA cards do very well in this benchmark, which is based on DirectX 9, surprisingly. The top three Radeon sets all perform much alike, with only 10 FPS separating the HD 6870 pair in CrossFire and the HD 6990. The older HD 5870 still does well in this test, which is understandable since this benchmark is limited to DX9 function calls. Despite the fact that Mafia II makes excellent use of PhysX and 3D as described in our NVIDIA APEX PhysX Efficiency: CPU vs GPU article, both areas where NVIDIA has an edge, this test seems equally suited to either AMD or NVIDIA solutions. Of course that's only true in the land of benchmarks, because it's so difficult to imagine turning PhysX off once you've experienced it.
At the higher screen resolution of 1920x1200, the NVIDIA cards start to lose some ground relative to the ATI clan. For a game clearly developed using NVIDIA hardware, it surprises me a bit to see the Radeon series doing so well. Of course, I DO miss the PhysX features, which are always turned off during comparison testing. Since Mafia II can't rely on tessellation for enhancing realism, it leans heavily on PhysX. If tessellation were in the mix, the new and improved tessellation engines in the HD 6xxx and the GTX 5xx series cards would be pushing those numbers up. Here is a game where brute force, meaning the number of shader processors, pays off and you can see that in the strong performance by the good old HD 5870. The PowerColor HD 6990 stretches out its lead a bit at 1920x1200, a trend I would expect to see carried on at even higher resolution and with multiple display arrangements.
Our next benchmark of the series is not for the faint of heart. Lions and tiger - OK, fine. Guys with guns - I can deal with that. But those nasty little spiders......NOOOOOO! How did I get stuck in the middle of a deadly fight between Aliens vs. Predator anyway? Check out the results from one of our toughest new DirectX 11 benchmarks in the next section.