Even if you are not playing Half-Life 2 yet, you will hardly be able to avoid this game. This 3D shooter, which has every right to be nominated for the title of the Best game of the Year 2004 proved really exciting and attractive for the commencing gamers as well as for the hardcore ones. This effect is certainly achieved due to unbelievable environment created by the game developers, as well as the thrilling plot and outstanding effects.
One of the indisputable strengths of the world created in Half-Life 2 is definitely very strong artificial intelligence of all enemies and friends, and very realistic physics of the environment and characters, which very often makes you nearly believe that things are happening for real. To tell the truth, the physical model of half-Life 2 game is worth a separate detailed discussion. This game is based on the today’s most advanced Havok engine, which makes all the objects in the game obey the laws of physics. Despite the size and the importance of the given object for the story and the scene – no matter if this is a large truck or a small stone at the sea shore – all of them do obey fundamental laws of physics and are affected by forces of gravity, friction and flotation.
This way it is not only the powerful graphics card responsible for flawless display of the environment and characters on the screen that determines the number of fps you can get in Half-Life 2. When playing half-Life 2, the system CPU is also loaded to the full extent, as it is actively involved into the physical calculations and those dealing with the characters’ artificial intelligence models. That is why we decided to undertake an extensive testing of 29 contemporary platforms based on different processors, following our detailed investigation of the actual graphics cards performance (for details about the performance of graphics cards in the new half-Life 2 please see our article called Half-Life 2 Performance Preview: The Graphics Hardware Squeezer).
The developer of Half-Life 2 game, valve Software recommends using a CPU supporting at least 2.4GHz actual clock frequency (over 2400+ performance rating). However, according to our experience, this game has already proven to be very CPU-dependent, so any additional MHz above the recommended 2400 will definitely work for the best. We have already seen proof to this point during our graphics cards tests in Half-Life 2: in certain scenes the systems performance remained at the acceptable level even in the hardest work modes. All this indicates very clearly that the system performance in Half-Life 2 in many cases depends on the CPU.
All in all, there is nothing surprising about Half-Life 2 being so dependent on the CPU speed. Since the game developers decided to pay special attention to the physical picture of the world and the artificial intelligence of the characters created in this game, it appeared simply impossible to do it without loading the CPU pretty heavily. As a result, Half-Life 2 game turns out to be a really efficient and illustrative processor benchmark, being very similar to real-time physical modeling tasks with simultaneous visualization of the calculation results.