Serious Sam 2
The Croatian developer Croteam’s project demands that the graphics card had 512 megabytes of memory. If the card doesn’t meet this requirement, its performance is going to be horribly low. The amount of memory installed on the inexpensive version of GeForce 8800 GTS proves to be insufficient to satisfy the game’s appetite and it yields only 30fps at 1280x1024 whereas the 640MB version of the card delivers twice that speed!
For an unknown reason the min speed of every GeForce 8800 is very low in Serious Sam 2 , which may be somehow related to the architectural features of the series which has a unified architecture without the division into vertex and pixel processors. Well, it may be some flaw in the ForceWare driver, too. Whatever the reason, you can’t get full comfort from your GeForce 8800 in this game as yet.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
The so long-awaited GSC Game World project has finally arrived after 6 or even 7 years of development. The game turned out ambiguous, but at the same time too diverse to be described in just a few phrases. We would only like to note that the gaming engine has been improved significantly compared with one of the earlier versions we discussed. The game supports a number of contemporary technologies including Shader Model 3.0, HDR, parallax mapping, etc., however it can still run in simple mode with static lighting model proving excellent performance on not very powerful platforms.
Since we are shooting for the maximum image quality, we tested this game with full dynamic lighting and maximum level of detail. Among other things this mode also implies the use of HDR, so there is no FSAA support, at least in the current version of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game. Since the game become considerably less attractive with static lighting model and DirectX 8 effects, we decided to stick to anisotropic filtering only.
The game is actually not that modest at all when it comes to resources: even GeForce 8800 GTX cannot ensure 60fps in 1280x1024 with the maximum level of detail activated. However, I have to point out that in lower resolutions the performance gets limited by the system CPU, because the cards’ performance is not very diverse and the average results are quite close.
Nevertheless, GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB is falling a little behind the elder brother here already and the higher gets the resolution, the bigger grows the gap. In 1920x1200 the youngest GeForce 8800 fellow simply runs out of graphics memory. No wonder, since the gaming scenes are very large and rich in special effects.
All in all I can say that GeForce 8800 GTX doesn’t provide any significant performance advantage in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. compared with GeForce 8800 GTS, and Radeon X1950 XTX even looks as good as GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB. AMD solution is even somewhat better than the Nvidia one, because it works in 1920x1200, however, the use of this mode is not practically justified, because the average performance will be around 30-35fps. The same is true for GeForce 7950 GX2, which is actually a little faster than its direct competitor and the youngest new generation solution.