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DX8.1 vs. DX9x and Chrome vs. Far Cry

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April 23, 2004 3:06:10 PM

DX8.1 vs. DX9x and Chrome vs. Far Cry

I would like to talk further about graphics performance, eye candy and game play by looking at some of the differences between DX8.1 vs. DX9x and Chrome vs. Far Cry.

But first, a little bit of history. When I bought my X-box on the day it hit the stores I also got a copy of <font color=green>Halo</font color=green>. Halo impressed me then. It was gorgeous. It was fun even though after the first dozen of missions it became repetitive and almost boring.

I am not very good with console controllers and I found aiming in Halo X-box rather tough. Nevertheless, I finished the game. I have not touched it since. (Talk about replay value.) Anyway, I hold no grudge.

When Halo PC was released I was not in a hurry to buy it because I had already played the game. I wanted to see the reviews and find out whether Halo PC was a direct port or it included new content and improvements.

It turned out that Halo PC was a direct port. Moreover, not only it contained no improvements but it also looked worse than the X-box version. All the reviews I read agreed that Halo PC was a disappointment especially because being inferior to the X-box version it also had insane PC system requirements. Naturally, I chose not to buy it.

At the same time my favorite Computer Gaming World magazine (CGW) whose reviews I trust after more than 10 years of subscription said some nice things about <font color=green>Chrome</font color=green>. Specifically, they said something like this: "Next to Chrome Halo looks hollow."

Nevertheless, if memory serves Chrome was not given 5 or even 4.5 stars. I think it was 4 stars. So I was not in a hurry to buy it since I try not to waste time and money on anything less than 8.9 (PC gamer) or 4.5 stars (CGW).

However, last week when I was buying Far Cry I thought: what the hell? How bad can Chrome be if it is definitely better than Halo? And I bought it too. I am glad I did.

Now, let’s get down to business.

Chrome is a DX8.1 game. I am not sure what graphics engine it uses. But having played it yesterday for 4 hours I can tell you with all certainty:

<font color=red>it looks very much like Far Cry.</font color=red>

Please note that I did not say "exactly" like Far Cry. But I promise you that it looks at least 90% as good. The butterflies are alive, grass moves with the wind, you wanna pick those flowers, you can almost smell the plants – so real they look, you see the bottom through clear water, oh, and you wanna drink that water BTW, you can see grains of sand on the ground, boulders look real, vehicles look incredibly detailed and very cool, people are life-like and move very naturally, etc. At the same time I am able get a steady 80+ FPS in this game at 1152x864 with 4xAA, 4XAF, Trilinear Filtering, and everything (except V-sync) turned up to maximum.

(NOTE: by the way, about tweaking for performance. I said it before and I will say it again: pay attention when you change settings. I mistakenly set my nVIDIA driver to Force mipmaps/Trilinear AND I enabled Trilinear filtering in the game’s Video options too. Boy, did that mess up my frame rate! Solely by disabling driver V-sync and Trilinear filter I increased frame rate from 28-34 to 80+FPS! And the game looks exactly the same. Well, I have a kick-ass monitor so I don’t get image tearing even though V-sync is disabled.)

The truth is that Far Cry does look better in certain respects. For example, there is no bubbling in Chrome when the waves hit the shore. Well, actually there are no waves to speak of: you can hear them but you cannot see them, the vegetation is less dense (and I think we could play Far Cry with better FPS and higher quality if its jungle were just a little bit less dense). Facial animations in Chrome are slightly inferior to those in Far Cry but it does not really matter since you don't get to see that many people up close...

<font color=green>In short, it is my opinion that while DX9x and CryENGINE titles promise some noticeable improvements in visual quality, this time is not really here yet because 95% of us are unable to run titles like Far Cry at their maximum settings with AA and AF and most of us will not be able/willing to spend all that money on all the hardware needed for this for quite some time. Meanwhile, most of us can run DX8.1 titles at their maximum settings and we can get pretty much the same level of eye candy as we do with medium settings in DX9x Far Cry.</font color=green>

At first I wanted to write a long, detailed review of Chrome and compare it with Far Cry directly analyzing every aspect of game play, enemy AI etc. But not today.

I will say this however:

If you have not bought Chrome, get it. It is great.

1. AI is 95% as good as in Far Cry. Enemies will duck, crouch, hit the deck, use terrain and vegetation for cover circle your position, etc. I said 95% because once in a while (rarely) enemies goof. Like you can shoot one guy and the other one next to him will not react in any discernable way.

2. At max graphics settings it looks <font color=red>at least 90% as good</font color=red> as Far Cry.

3. The plot and the story so far seem very cool, dialogues are interesting, it does not seem to follow a primitive standardized Hollywood model the way Far Cry does, and generally, it does not suffer from any of the gameplay drawbacks I outlined in Far Crying out loud post.

4. At medium/normal difficulty you can get killed but you can also avoid getting killed with relative ease if you don’t run around with guns blazing all the time. If you like to reload a lot and you want your enemies to be as deadly as in Far Cry just up Chrome’s difficulty setting. But if you want to enjoy the game, you can do that too. In the four hours I played the game yesterday I only reloaded once (*not exactly true – see below). Ha-ha! And in this time I only managed to accomplish two missions. So the game does seem big/long enough.

* I did reload the first mission 5-6 times primarily because I was not familiar with the way the game works and some of its controls. For example, I once ran too far away from the mission commander and he yelled at me to return but as I was looking for him I got more lost and he cancelled the mission due to my insubordination, so I had to restart. Another example, at some point I ran out of ammo and failed to find more in time and could not provide cover fire so the commander was killed and the mission was reset. But once I figured out a few things and remapped the controls I did not have to reload any more, not until I ran into the enemy camp with guns blazing, got caught in a crossfire and quickly died . . .

Sound suffers from some of the same problems as in Far Cry but I found that overall sound implementation in Chrome to be better. It is more useful in helping you maintain situational awareness which is essential for a shooter.

Bottom line: If you have gotten over the exterior beauty of Far Cry and are now tired of its lacking personality and frustrating gameplay, get Chrome. You will not regret it.

<font color=green>Stingy people end up paying double. One kick-ass rig that will go strong for three years or one half-decent one every year?</font color=green> :cool:

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Slava on 04/28/04 08:50 AM.</EM></FONT></P>

More about : dx8 dx9x chrome cry

April 23, 2004 10:39:54 PM

I really enjoyed the multiplayer demo of Chrome. To bad it was only a limited time demo. The mechs in the game were really cool. One thing I disliked about the single player was the dialogue which seemed pretty cheesy, kinda like watching a cheesy cartoon drama. Not to mention the girl in the game has got an annoying voice that is deffinitly not atractive. Visually however it was very nice looking and the levels were pretty large which was nice.

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April 23, 2004 10:43:49 PM

Quote:
I am not very good with console controllers and I found aiming in Halo X-box rather tough. Nevertheless, I finished the game. I have not touched it since. (Talk about replay value.) Anyway, I hold no grudge here because I realize that there is only so much you can squeeze onto a single console game CD. So I waited patiently for Halo PC.

The Xbox uses DVDs, and if I recall, Halo almost fills the entire DVD, a lot larger than the 2 disks it's on in the PC version. Halo's single player was just OK, too short, but other than some indoor levels (and there really aren't a lot of them) not too repetitive.

I think you miss the point of DX9. Noone says that a game using DK9 has to look better than a game using DX8 and that's because all the newer version offers is some new effects. DX9 is DX8 with some added function, it's based entirely on it, for that reason, saying that a game is DX9 only means that it uses some effects that cards with DX9 support with show, those and all other cards will show all non DX9 visuals the same, and that makes up for most of the game.
You can search and find many screenshots from games showing the differences on how a game looks on a DX9 and a DX8 card. Along with helping understand what's new in DX9, it also gives out the impression that the differences can be found everywhere. The grass, trees, butterflies, flowers and plants, even if the game shows the wind moving them, usually won't require the use of things like Pixal Shader 2, as for water - each game does it differently.

Abit IS7 @ 275 FSB, OCZ PC4200 RAM @ 550Mhz, P4 2.4 @ 3.3Ghz Vcore @ 1.625, Sapphire Radeon 9800P @ stock, for now.
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April 23, 2004 11:00:20 PM

I think you've got two things going on there.

A balance of gameplay versus a balance of immersive reality.

DX9 effects like water and grass are cool, but if they aren't really incorporated into the game then they are window dressing, and if they kill FPS then they may detract from game play. Morrowind is also a DX8.1 featured game, and it looks very good. I'll admit that thing could be made to look far better, but it comes down to what you need for the game to work. Whe I first saw it it's the game that decided all my upgrades, right up to my current R9600P. And even just the differences of DX8 to DX8.1 are quite noticeable even.
<A HREF="http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=NTUy" target="_new">[H] looked at some of those differences</A> in other games, a good read to illustrate some of the basic differences between DX8/8.1/9. But all the effects can't make up for crap gameplay.

Adding lighting fade effect to halo's gunsight light doesn't really improve the game too much but it's an interesting addition. If it's as easy to code in a fresh build (not a port) then why not have it. The main problem I see is that most games are built for the mass market DX8 or lower, and then the DX9 features are added like stickers that either distract you or make for an incomplete effect (shiny water is interesting, but not when the rest of the world is so dull. Also effect like a blurred sniper scope are interesting, especially for 'realism' of a single player game, but for multiplayer it could be contributing to you getting cranked a whole bunch of times by those who don't have that 'advanced effect'.

While UT2K4 offers very little new graphics wise, and is openly an older DX8 based graphics game, it's gameplay is very good, and the two combine to give it some wins that make it work for me. Would it be nice to have shiny armour and dewy grass, sure, but not if you had to give up anything else in return.

A good game will always be well received, having it look good is just an added bonus.


- You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! - <font color=green>RED </font color=green> <font color=red> GREEN</font color=red> GA to SK :evil: 
April 24, 2004 12:34:56 AM

Quote:
Not to mention the girl in the game has got an annoying voice that is deffinitly not attractive. . .

Hehehehehehehe :smile: I was waiting for a comment like this! AND I have MY answer: At first, I was, like WTF? She sounds BaaaD! But then I figured . . . this is actually refreshing. She sounds more like a person than the traditional sweet’n’sexy collection of bouncing polygons. I actually got to appreciate the designer’s choice of voice over for this character.

Quote:
The grass, trees, butterflies, flowers and plants, even if the game shows the wind moving them, usually won't require the use of things like Pixal Shader 2, as for water - each game does it differently.

Yep. I dunno where you got that I don’t realize this, but you are absolutely right. See, I am a hater of senseless sensationalism and one of the reasons I hate Far Cry so much is that this game to me was a Barbie. You know? I fell in love with a flake. It was a brief infatuation, but being old and wise I managed soon enough to see through the window dressing . . . it is a shame they sell it as a game instead of distributing it freely as the CryENGINE tech demosntrator.

Quote:
DX9 effects like water and grass are cool, but if they aren't really incorporated into the game then they are window dressing, and if they kill FPS then they may detract from game play . . .

YES! Adamantly, Enthusiastically, Sincerely, < . . . add more synonyms here . . .> YES!

Quote:
I'll admit that thing could be made to look far better, but it comes down to what you need for the game to work.

SEE ABOVE YES, YES AND one more time YES! Amen to that! The best game of all time (at least in my Book of PC Gaming) -- Baldur’s Gate II is six years old and the geniuses who created it had no idea about P/S 2.0. Yet the sales still go strong and many ppl like me own multiple copies and have replayed the game a dozen times and will replay it many more dozens of times. . . I am about to make a pure bard. Never tried this before. I am sure it will be a blast . . .

Quote:
But all the effects can't make up for crap gameplay

What can I say? Will you marry me :lol: 

Quote:
Also effect like a blurred sniper scope are interesting, especially for 'realism' of a single player game, but for multiplayer it could be contributing to you getting cranked a whole bunch of times by those who don't have that 'advanced effect'.

I would comment, if I could, but I could not have said this better myself.

Quote:
A good game will always be well received, having it look good is just an added bonus.

Common sense and sense of reality ARE virtues.

From now on I have two favorite people here: Cleeve and TheGreatGrapeApe. TheRod is cool too (but he has to be as forum moderator ;o)

AnyHO, (and by the way) GIVE Kinney a break! All of ya. Please. He is a good, intelligent man. He may be taking a few things a bit too personally, but it ain’t making him stupid, ignorant or bad.

Why can’t we all just get along?

Love,
Slava

P.S. By the way, THG boards should change the system of seniority :o ) I deserve a better title than "member". Come to think of it, I registered on the boards here . . . mmm . . . at least 4-5 years ago when the THG was still in its infancy. Granted, I take my breaks. Sometimes I post tons of stuff and sometimes I disappear altogether, but still . . . anyhow, it feels good to be back and see some old names though most of you likely don’t remember me from the video forum, for example.

<font color=green>Stingy people end up paying double. One kick-ass rig that will go strong for three years or one half-decent one every year?</font color=green> :cool:
April 24, 2004 2:39:15 AM

When Chrome first came out it got hammered in reviews so I stayed away from it. How's the multiplayer?

You've tried and failed. The lesson here is, never try again. -- Homer Simpson.
April 24, 2004 2:47:18 AM

I've never tried m-player myself but I hear it is pretty good.

<font color=green>Stingy people end up paying double. One kick-ass rig that will go strong for three years or one half-decent one every year?</font color=green> :cool:
April 29, 2004 1:22:27 PM

Quote:
TheRod is cool too (but he has to be as forum moderator ;o)

Great, I'm a Forum Star!

--
<b><font color=red>GO!</font color=red> <font color=blue>HABS!</font color=blue> <font color=red>GO!</font color=red></b>
April 29, 2004 3:48:43 PM

WTF are you all talking about?! I havn't played Chrome before reading what you said and comparing it to FarCry, but now I did. How can you even start to compare the graphics? It's reasonable but not REALLY nothing to write home about. Gameplay also stinks. In farcry I you had dozens of ways to go through a level, chrome doesn't really let you do anything then go in, kill everyone and do what you came there to do, try something else and you just end up doing the same thing.

Abit IS7 @ 275 FSB, OCZ PC4200 RAM @ 550Mhz, P4 2.4 @ 3.3Ghz Vcore @ 1.625, Sapphire Radeon 9800P @ stock, for now.
Thermalright SLK-947U, P3 HS @ NB.
April 29, 2004 4:06:03 PM

Chrome starts slow but it gets better and more dynamic with every mission. Give it a chance. And if you set res to 1152x864 or higher and its graphics to max + enable AA/AF in the driver (since game graphics options do not have these options) it will look really great. Also, Far Cry is not at all open-ended (not more open-ended than Chrome anyway). In the end there is only one way to accomplish a mission even though in several cases you can land on different parts of the same island... so what? You want truly open-ended? Play the original DeusEx.

<font color=green>Stingy people end up paying double. One kick-ass rig every three years or one half-decent one every year?</font color=green><font color=red>I got no sense of humor but my porn is better than yours!</font color=red> :cool:
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