For years, AMD has been talking about the positive impact that 64-bit will have on games. Honestly, we never bought it; games are still a couple of years away from breaking the 2GB process limitation under present day 32-bit Windows. Despite our lack of belief, AMD still did their best to convey the message that gamers would be given a better experience in a 64-bit environment.

AMD has been demoing 64-bit versions of the Unreal engine as well as Far Cry for quite some time now, but neither were ever made public. Originally, we heard talk of 20% increases in performance due to decreased register pressure when running in 64-bit mode. We desperately wanted to see a game recompiled with 64-bit support, but alas, we needed a 64-bit OS. Last month's release of Windows XP x64 Edition fulfilled the latter requirement, but we still lacked any games to test the hype.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay actually shipped with a 64-bit binary out of the box. Unfortunately, we saw absolutely no performance improvement from using the 64-bit binary vs. the 32-bit binary in our extensive evaluation of the x64 edition OS. If performance under Riddick was any indication, 64-bit wasn't going to be much of a performance sell for gamers.

Today, however, AMD and Ubisoft are announcing public availability of the first 64-bit patch and content update to Far Cry. As we just implied, the 64-bit add-ons to Far Cry come in two separate packages. First, there's the actual 64-bit patch that installs and enables a native 64-bit binary to run under x64 edition. The second package is the AMD64 Exclusive Content Update that improves the actual content in the game.

AMD listed the changes to the 64-bit version of Far Cry as follows:
All Levels
  • Improved terrain textures
  • Increased view distance
  • Offset bump mapping added for rock and stone objects
  • More insects and birds
On the Pier Level
  • New beach road with additional vehicle
  • Barrel storage camp
  • Opened more space to explore
Pier and Boat
  • New terrain textures with shader
Two New 64-bit only Multiplayer levels
  • Stronghold
  • Gorge
As you can probably already tell, none of the additions or enhancements have anything to do with 64-bit memory addressability. In fact, a fast GPU is all you really need to take advantage of most of these features - not a 64-bit CPU. The patched version of Far Cry doesn't even eat up more than 512MB of memory during normal gameplay, and supporting more insects and birds doesn't really depend on more architecture registers provided by AMD64 either. It's no surprise that none of the enhancements offered by the 64-bit patch have anything to do with a 64-bit CPU at all, but you have to add value somehow and this is how Ubisoft and AMD decided to do it.


Far Cry doesn't use more than 512MB of memory, even with the 64-bit patches.

Both patches are scheduled to be available to gamers starting today, free of charge, but of course, you must already have a copy of Far Cry to utilize them. The patch and the exclusive content update will only install under Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, so 32-bit XP Professional users will not be able to even install the additional content patch. Despite being very tightly associated with AMD, the new Far Cry patches will work on Intel EM64T enabled systems as well.


Despite the wording of the error message, the patches will work on Intel EM64T enabled systems - just not on 32-bit processors.

The patches themselves are huge, totaling over 1.5GB in size, so be prepared for a hefty download. Even after applying the patches, you can still run the 32-bit Far Cry executable, but doing so will not give you access to the additional features or new multiplayer levels.

The Far Cry patch also acts as a no-CD crack, it appears, as we no longer had to have our play disc in the drive to play the game after applying the 64-bit patch.

64-bit Far Cry Performance
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  • Cygni - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    The 64bit hardware DID make a difference in how the game was run. Look at the first chart. Not only was the game a little bit faster in 64/64... but the detail was increased a pretty hefty ammount. It wasnt some gimmick to make 64bit computing LOOK good by giving an exclusive and not delivering... 64bit computing actually HAD an impact, on both image quality and speed. Not bad. Reply
  • jediknight - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    #26:
    (jaw drops)
    That's like asking why would more cache, or more RAM increase performance..
    (/jaw drop)
    Reply
  • ncage - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    What people need to understand is these games were most likely NOT optimized for 64 bit. Yes the source code was compiled with a 64 bit compiler but probably not optimized. Those of us who are programmers know that if you want optimal speed then you want to use 32 bit numbers (integers, Floating point, ect) (exactly the size that can fit in a register).With 64 bit processors that changes of course. Even Tim Sweeny (probably spelled his name wrong) said he had to get around the limit of 32 bit registers. Now if we took UT2004 and just compiled it with a 64 bit compiler would it help that much? Umm, maybe a little. Now if Tim wouldn't had to get around the limitation of 32 bit registers and had 64 bit integers and floating point thats where we would have seen the difference. My point is that when people start designing their programs for 64 bit processors is when you will see the big difference. Just because they compile something with a 64 bit compiler doesn't mean its going to improve things that much. Reply
  • msva124 - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    Why would having more registers increase performance? Reply
  • mlittl3 - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    For all you whiners out there asking for more detail, go to

    http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=NzY3

    for a more indepth review. They list all the changes in the patch, tons of screenshots and show no difference between 32 and 64 bit.
    Reply
  • dougSF30 - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    Yeah, there's also the silly complaining about not needing more than 2GB for the new content. 64b is about more than addressible memory, and any speed improvement has virtually nothing to do with larger memory, but rather, the increased number of registers, and operations on 64-bit data. So why go on about the memory footprint of the new content? Reply
  • xTYBALTx - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    This article leaves me with more questions than answers. Reply
  • Bonesdad - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    cool!! More birds and insects!!!...

    hrm...
    Reply
  • robg1701 - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    Im not too sure about this review to be honest.

    First up, the comment regarding intel benfiting more than AMD, could it not just be that with the AMD scores being higher in the first place tehre is less room in the radeons performance capability for improvement ? Need more benchies to establish the reason i say..

    Next up, why no benches of the 64bit enhanced mode ? We have no way of knowing from this article if the enhanced 64bit content slows it down or not, which is quite ridiculous given thats one of if not the main reason for bothering to download the 64 bit patch.

    Finally, nvidia cards have historically been a bit slower in Far Cry in particular, but nvidias 64bit drivers have been doing the rounds for a lot longer sp perhaps they are more mature and can reap more benefit, wouldnt it be nice to benchmark an 6800 series card for those users who dont have an X850? Adding to this point, the 6800s having PS 3.0 gives them a different featureset to the X850 under Far Cry, does that make any difference here ?

    All in all, a bit of a rushed article I felt, if your going to bother doing smaller stuff like this at least do it a bit more whole heartedly ?
    Reply
  • dougSF30 - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    That merely begs the question.

    What changes are made in the "binary" patch, and what changes are made in the "exclusive content update" patch.

    Draw distance is hardly "exclusive content", so it isn't clear from the name of each patch.

    Which patch causes it to be changed?

    Reply

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