Introduction

We have been excited about lots of new games being released and we've had our hands full testing and playing as many as we can. Starting with games like Battlefield 2, we've been seeing some big advancement in game graphics even within the past few months. Black and White 2, in particular, impressed us recently with its amazing images of water and overall environments. We are always excited about a game that has beautiful looking graphics and rich gameplay as well, and it seems like this is happening more often lately, much to our delight. The Call of Duty 2 demo also has us all giddy, and it looks and plays great, even if it is frustratingly short.

Some other games that have us waiting in anticipation are Quake 4 and Age of Empires 3. We wish that we had some good demos of these games, but unfortunately we have to wait for the release date like everyone else. It seems like the bar is being raised higher and higher with new games in terms of graphics that video card manufacturers might have trouble keeping up, and this past Tuesday, with the release of FEAR, the bar was raised a very significant notch. Yes, FEAR is out, and it is beautiful.

We recently sat down and tested FEAR with the 1.01 patch that came out the day on which the game was released. We also tested with the absolute latest drivers from ATI (press sample 8.183.1017 which should be available in catalyst soon) and NVIDIA (81.85 available on nzone now), both of which offer increased performance in FEAR. Our results were interesting to say the least, and we'll give you the details on how this game performs on a wide range of boards, including ATI's new X1000 line.

While the single and multiplayer demos of this game have been available for quite some time, we had the (quite correct) understanding that final performance would not look anything like what the demo showed. Today, readers can rest assured that the numbers that we have collected will be an accurate reflection of FEAR performance on modern hardware.

The Game/Test setup
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  • Sunrise089 - Thursday, October 20, 2005 - link

    Lack of testing at different graphics settings - bad

    Lack of soft shadows + AA testing - sort of bad

    Lack of SLI testing - quite bad

    Lack of an older card like a 9800pro even if only to see how badly it plays - sort of bad

    Testing two unavailable ATI cards while not testing ANY previous gen ATI cards - terrible
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, October 20, 2005 - link

    We tested three different settings combinations for this game where we normally only test 2. I agree that it would have been nice to include a test with settings that allowed the midrange cards to acheive smooth framerates at high resolutions. We did test with and without the setting that has the single largest impact in framerates (soft shadows).

    It is not possible run the game with antialiasing and soft shadows enabled at the same time. If AA is enabled in the control panel and soft shadows are enabled in the game, Monolith notes that rendering problems will happen. AA + Soft shadows is ommited because we could not include it.

    The only SLI option we currently recommend is the high end combination of 2x 7800 GTX. Rather than doubling any other product, it is a better option to upgade to a higher end solution and sell the lower performance part. Testing SLI and crossfire combinations of every card and including other X800 and 9800 series solutions would have ended up doubling our test load and our time to publication. We tried to choose well a smaller sample of cards that would present a full representation of what would happen in the mid to high end space.


    And after reading the comments on this article, it is quite apparent that we chose poorly. In the future, we will include at least an X800 XT or X850 XT and a 7800 GTX SLI test.

    It just isn't possible to test every setup imaginable, but rest assured that we will absolutely listen to the feedback and include at least a couple more cards and tests in future articles of this nature.

    Thanks very much for your feedback,
    Derek Wilson
    Reply
  • Le Québécois - Friday, October 21, 2005 - link

    Don't forget the X800XL ...For a long time this card has been the best bang for the buck you could get so its probably a card that many Anand readers have. Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Thursday, October 20, 2005 - link

    Absolutely understand the point now about not being able to run soft shadows and AA together, sorry for calling you out on that then. For settings I meant maybe testing at Medium or High rather than whatever the Max setting is called. Thank you for caring to read my feedback, it is appreciated. Reply
  • dashrendar - Thursday, October 20, 2005 - link

    Hey Derek,

    How hard is it to incorporate min/max FPS in addition to average FPS in your benchmarks? I see this info in other sites, and it really helps to see how much it dips throughout a timedemo. I think it gives a better representation of whether a game will have some or a lot of hiccups.

    Thanks
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, October 20, 2005 - link

    We will work on ways to include this data effectively. There are always more numbers to add, and not always good ways to represent that data. But we will absolutely look into it. Any suggestions on how you would like to see this data represented? Reply
  • 9nails - Saturday, October 22, 2005 - link

    I'm not saying run out and steal these graphs, but HardOCP has pretty good charts that show the frame rates over the timedemo. Pretty coolio. http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=ODU1LDM=">http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=ODU1LDM=

    And, please please please consider using a system that is a closer representation of that the average READER might have!!! (http://www.steampowered.com/status/survey.html)">http://www.steampowered.com/status/survey.html) Your dream gamer rigs are absurd and do not offer any represention what we READERS can expect from the game. If you're reviewing GPU's, toss some absurdly low end ones in and maybe some of your highend cards in, ***only if they can be found in local stores and/or available through your advertisers***. This gives us READERS a better idea of what some new hardware may do for our systems. If the games run like crap on older hardware, maybe these developers will learn how to write better code!? Trying to find the most amazing performance, isn't always important. Know what I mean?
    Reply
  • fogeyman - Friday, October 21, 2005 - link

    I would be fine with two charts, one for minimum and one for max. Integrating the two charts would probably make things too cluttered. As far as the specifics go, I like how you set up your charts right now. So simply duplicating the format and changing the content is great for me. Reply
  • Icehawk - Thursday, October 20, 2005 - link

    Oh, and it hiccups like crazy on my PC... Reply
  • Anemone - Thursday, October 20, 2005 - link

    I could have expected this kind of performance. Kudos for a decent article.

    The very best of both ATI and Nvidia are not even up to the task of 1600x1200 with 8AF and soft shadows. I wouldn't even want to imagine what 1920x1200 would look like(don't know if Fear can do that res or not). But it's clear to me the R580 and the G80 are obviously needed for the next generation. People often argue that GPU's of the best today are overkill. Clearly we can see that even the very best of today can be brought to its knees by a shipping game, let alone what may come in the next year.

    Let's hope those newer chips don't take a year to get to us.

    :)
    Reply

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