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Performance in RPG

Gothic 3

Gothic 3 belongs to the same variety of role-play games as TES IV: Oblivion . You’ve got the main character under control and are looking at the world from out of his eyes. The game runs on the Genome Engine constructed specifically for Gothic 3 by Pluto 13, the developer of the game. We guess the game is inferior to Oblivion in its visuals, but tries to conceal this by making wide use of such effects as Bloom and Depth of field as well as of haze to cover up the imperfections. Still, the detailness of the game world is high enough in Gothic 3 to be considered comparable to TES IV .

Unfortunately, the game engine is yet imperfect. The latest version (1.09) as of the time of our writing this review didn’t support FSAA although the game didn’t use FP HDR. The imperfection is also indicated by the extremely high requirements of the game to the graphics card resources at max graphics quality settings. Just look at the numbers:

The last-generation graphics cards and multi-GPU systems based on them can hardly surpass a 30fps mark even in 1280x1024. The GeForce 8800 GTX with its 44fps looks like a breakthrough. Well, Gothic 3 seems to be quite playable subjectively even at a speed of 30fps.

All the multi-GPU systems, from the GeForce 7950 Quad SLI to the Radeon X1950 XTX CrossFire with its hardware frame compositing unit, work incorrectly, which is yet another indication of how imperfect the game engine is. There is flickering and loss of shadows, so the owner of a multi-GPU platform will have to disable SLI or CrossFire mode to play Gothic 3 normally.

Neverwinter Nights 2

This game continues the Neverwinter Nights series and belongs to a different variety of role-play games than Gothic 3 and TES IV: Oblivion . There is a whole gang of characters under the player’s control here. This subgenre of computer RPGs may be regarded as the classic one, tracing its origin back to the legendary Baldur’s Gate . The gameplay of NWN 2 deserves a full-size review unto itself, and as for technicalities, the game can boast a rather advanced graphics engine that supports normal maps and HDR.

The game doesn’t support FSAA. It is possible to force it using some tricks, but we do not tweak games’ engines, using only their standard settings instead. That’s why we benchmarked the cards in NWN 2 with enabled HDR but without full-screen antialiasing. We used one of the cut-scenes recorded on the game engine, long and rather heavy for the graphics subsystem.

The top-end graphics cards all have very low speeds at the maximum graphics quality settings, but the specifics of the game are such that the gameplay is smooth and comfortable even at 30fps. You can play even at a lower speed, but it must not be lower than 15fps. Otherwise, there may be errors in controlling the characters: they miss your orders, “forget” to strike blows, etc.

There are only two graphics cards to meet the mentioned requirement: GeForce 7950 GX2 and GeForce 8800 GTX. And the former card only makes the resolution of 1280x1024 playable. The other participating devices have humbler results (but this low performance will only be observed in scenes with abundant vegetation and with a lot of models).

At the time of our tests the game had a number of defects, besides its too high requirements to the graphics card. There are problems with support for multi-GPU technologies and there is incompatibility with Radeon X1000 cards (such effects as water reflections and water refractions do not work on them). We hope this will be corrected by the game developer with patches.

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