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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  • AnnihilatorX - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    #8

    You have to understand though, if AMD didn't put the money and effort in it these features won't be available at all.

    Plus they didn't charge you for extra for their CPU because they put some money into FarCry did they?
    Reply
  • Backslider - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    "AMD's goals are quite admirable, but the fact of the matter is that none of the visual improvements enabled by the Far Cry patches had anything to do with AMD64 or EM64T - they are artificially limited to run on those platforms alone, but could work just as well on a 32-bit platform."

    This sickens me. Enable special things for people who bought special hard ware, EVEN THOUGH THE HARDWARE MAKES NO DIFFERENCE TO HOW IT RUNS!

    Thats just a pathetic ploy at the customer to convince them to adopt new hardware they dont need.

    Sad Really. See if I buy anything from these assholes.
    Reply
  • Anemone - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    Nice to see ANY improvement, but it's tiny really. The painful detraction to this gain is that most 32 on 64 programs are running slower such that the gain in one is offset by losses in a dozen or more other apps.

    But we KNEW it would take years before the power of 64bit would become commonplace even having the hardware and an OS for the hardware. But I'm seeing nothing to make me compelled to switch yet, which kind of hurts the progress :(

    $.02
    Reply
  • nserra - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    Well I’m impressed the image quality is superb, but I don’t know if the added image quality has more to do with the graphics card than to the processor.

    Amd and Ubi should have made the older "image quality" mode available just to compare.
    Reply
  • rqle - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    nothing big, but the improvement is very much welcome. Reply
  • AnandThenMan - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    #2, exactly right.

    Mildly impressed with the gains, better than nothing.
    Reply
  • wien - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    Hmm.. That was mildly disappointing. I was sure the extra registers would have more of an impact than that. Reply
  • weiran - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    Heh, can't get Safedisc working in 64-bit? Reply
  • Pjotr - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    What a pity, still, 4-6 % improvements are nothing to sneeze at, some 200 GHz meaning you can opt for a speed grade lower CPU and save some money. Reply

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