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New Games: Closer Look

Painkiller belongs to the class of most orthodox first-person 3D shooters, which started with the well-known Doom game. You can see if the game belongs to this class or not if there is no complicated plot, role elements or other secondary features not typical of the genre forefather. On the other hand, these games are usually highly bloody and gloomy, and very often you can see some middle-ages mystics involved. Painkiller is exactly this type of game: there is the whole bunch of reversed pentagrams, crucifixes, a lot of blood, zombies, Hell creatures and other dark symbols and characters. If you remember, Doom also was full of these attributes. The story here is very simple: kill or they will kill you. In order not to get killed the player has 5 types of original weapons, including triple-blade disk-shaped saw, which also serves as a laser and disk-shooter, the good old double-barreled gun, and the most unusual weapon I have ever seen in my life: automatic shooter of aspen stakes (!).

The gaming engine uses all the options offered by API DirectX 9.0 and the special effects in this game deserve all our praise for the implementation quality: just look at those soft light columns coming through the windows! One of the special effects looks even more impressive: when the player picks up some bonus, he gets into some world of spirits. Everything around turns block and white and very blurry, and the enemies look like bloody silhouettes, and all this happens in real time! Nevertheless, the game works well enough on the previous generation graphics accelerators, although I wouldn’t recommend running it on anything slower than RADEON 9600 PRO. So far, Painkiller is available only as version 1.0, although the developer promises to release a patch for version 1.1 very soon. It will allow recording some new demos. But in the meanwhile we measured the performance manually and with the help of FRAPS utility.

Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic doesn’t need too many comments, I suppose. The name states clearly that this is another continuation to the famous Lucas sequel about Star Wars. This time, the action takes place 4000 years before the events described in the original movie. The gamer again can turn into a Star Wars universe character, develop and take the side of Strength.

We were interested in this game first of all because it uses OpenGL API, which is not a frequent thing lately. Moreover, pretty high-quality graphics and a lot of shader special effects, make this game very suitable for our testing purposes. The last SW:KOTR is marked as 1.03, but even this version wouldn’t run on NVIDIA graphics card if you have ForceWare 60.72 driver installed. Hopefully, the release of the new ForceWare version and/or new game patch will allow to resolve the issue with NVIDIA’s solutions.

Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow is a continuation of the well-known shooter called Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, which we have been using for our tests all this time. Now a new game has come to replace it. The game is still based on Unreal engine, note that it is the first version of the engine used here, which has undergone radical modifications. This so-called “plastic surgery” is a definite success: despite the age of this engine it acquired DirectX 9.0 support, which you see almost every single second: look at the shader ocean with the moon light reflection washing the tropical island, look at the lighting effects and the whole bunch of other cool things. The game is really worth taking a look at and should have already won the hearts of Splinter Cell fans by now.

Unfortunately, Pandora Tomorrow (at least its current version) doesn’t have the test mode that is why we had to run the test manually. By the way, ATI Technologies recommends measuring the performance of its new solution manually, if the game doesn’t have any implemented test mode or demo recording options.

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