Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Image Quality: DirectX 11 Enhancements

Aliens Vs. Predator: DirectX 11 Game Performance Analyzed
By

Hardware Tessellation: Character and Detail

In layman's terms, hardware tessellation creates extra geometry detail on simple 3D models. The best way to understand what's going on is to look at the following screenshot:

In Aliens vs. Predator, tessellation is primarily applied to the alien mesh, as shown above. I have seen documentation from AMD suggesting that there might be environmental objects that show a benefit from DirectX 11 tessellation, but I was unable to find any actual examples in-game for a screenshot.

That leaves tessellating the alien model as this feature's raison d'être, and when you look at the above comparison, you can't help but be impressed. However, in-game, the alien mesh is moving quickly and covered with a shiny texture that minimizes the impact of tessellation. More on that in a bit.

DirectX 11 High-Definition Ambient Occlusion (AO)

AO is a feature used to increase the realism of a game's lighting model. AO algorithms simulate the phenomenon where light has a hard time illuminating cracks and crowded spaces.

Aliens vs. Predator offers an AO feature in DirectX 9 mode that does a fantastic job of adding depth in some of the scenes, particularly on some foliage. In DirectX 9 mode, AO offers an unmistakable boost to the visual experience. In DirectX 11 mode, the AO feature is performed with greater definition. This is called HDAO, and the benefits over DirectX 9 AO are very subtle and hard to point out.

While it's nice that the game is delivering better AO precision, DirectX 11 AO vs. DirectX 9 AO effects are so similar that the differences are not something that I think anyone could actually notice while playing.

DirectX 11 Enhanced Shadows

DirectX 11 mode enables an “enhanced shadow” option that will deliver slightly superior shadow edges in-game. This is an extremely subtle effect and even screenshots need to be scrutinized to point out any differences.

Full-Screen AA

In Aliens vs. Predator, DirectX 11 mode has one clear and unmistakable advantage: AA support. This feature is simply unavailable in DirectX 9 mode.

Since AA can be an important part of extracting the best visual experience from your hardware and monitor, there is little more to say. We are a bit puzzled and disappointed that AA isn't available in DirectX 9 mode, though. 

Higher Performance

Now, this is something we're very interested in testing for ourselves: Rebellion claims that DirectX 11 mode offers better performance despite the increase in visual fidelity. If this is true, the subtlety of the DirectX 11 effects is easily overlooked if game performance actually increases. In DiRT2, we found that DirectX 11 really hammered performance. So, it'll be interesting to see if the API has the opposite effect here.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 71 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 32 Hide
    Kelavarus , April 22, 2010 6:19 AM
    The thing is, same with DirectX 10, you aren't going to see considerable difference unless it's coded specifically for that API. I have seen some absolutely amazing things done with DirectX 10, but only because the engine was purely for DirectX 10, and to my knowledge, no one has even attempted that with DirectX 11 yet anyway.

    To reach the broader audience, games are coded with DirectX 9 in mind then have DX10/11 tacked on with a few features.

    We're not going to see much of a jump until DX9 is dropped completely, and especially with consoles running around DX9-ish, it's not going to happen till they upgrade, probably. Just my 2c.
  • 14 Hide
    Tridec , April 22, 2010 9:07 AM
    I really can't understand why you didn't use the older ATI 48xx series cards in your review. It would seem logical to do so as there are a lot of your readers with previous gen cards that are thinking about upgrading. You guys did use the Nvidia 260 and even the older Nvidia 9800 GT, but not the "populair" Ati cards.
Other Comments
  • 32 Hide
    Kelavarus , April 22, 2010 6:19 AM
    The thing is, same with DirectX 10, you aren't going to see considerable difference unless it's coded specifically for that API. I have seen some absolutely amazing things done with DirectX 10, but only because the engine was purely for DirectX 10, and to my knowledge, no one has even attempted that with DirectX 11 yet anyway.

    To reach the broader audience, games are coded with DirectX 9 in mind then have DX10/11 tacked on with a few features.

    We're not going to see much of a jump until DX9 is dropped completely, and especially with consoles running around DX9-ish, it's not going to happen till they upgrade, probably. Just my 2c.
  • 2 Hide
    Annisman , April 22, 2010 6:29 AM
    I will say one thing, DX11 is a new api, and though the differences in screenshots is minute, it's great to see no performance loss going with DX11. I think it took a whole year or more to actually see performance increases with DX10 vs. DX 9.

    So that is one thing you can take out of this.
  • -2 Hide
    haplo602 , April 22, 2010 6:42 AM
    "Rebellion Gets A Third Swing At AvP" I thing that should be second swing, as AvP 2 was done by Monolith. Or swing at the third installment :-)

    Anyway, the original AvP was the best single and multiplayer pure FPS I ever played. The Alien was the king there, incredibly fast and agile and if done right, one hit killing anything in the game except a marine with a smartgun and head on (or predator with plasma guns in the same situation) :-) ...

    The second AvP failed miserably in all aspects maybe except story telling ... I have to have a look at the current one still ... but from your description, I guess I won't like it. Marine with melee against Aliens ? W T H !!!!
  • 3 Hide
    matt87_50 , April 22, 2010 7:12 AM
    KelavarusThe thing is, same with DirectX 10, you aren't going to see considerable difference unless it's coded specifically for that API. I have seen some absolutely amazing things done with DirectX 10, but only because the engine was purely for DirectX 10, and to my knowledge, no one has even attempted that with DirectX 11 yet anyway.To reach the broader audience, games are coded with DirectX 9 in mind then have DX10/11 tacked on with a few features. We're not going to see much of a jump until DX9 is dropped completely, and especially with consoles running around DX9-ish, it's not going to happen till they upgrade, probably. Just my 2c.


    good points, all true.

    the biggest thing with DX10 was that it was vista only, no XP. as people flock to win7 with dx11 built in, that won't be such a big problem. also, dx11 doesn't really add much, it just kinda improves on dx10 and adds a couple of really useful things that should actually make life easier for everyone (kinda like win7 compared to vista I suppose) it adds proper multi threading in the drivers and allows the rendering engines to be multi threaded now. this is just a software thing too, so its not really hardware dependant (you don't need dx11 hardware to benefit) the other really useful feature added is tessellation. which is something that devs already do manually, and painfully in dx9 games. if anything its probably better for developers production times than it is for the end user! no complex art pipelines or engines, automatic performance scaling (the card knows how fast it is and can dynamically allocate the right proportion of triangles to every object in order to reach an exact total frame poly budget). it also adds compute shader. all of these things don't really add anything new, we had tessellation on GPGPU before, but it was all third party and more convoluted, so its more about ease of development than new stuff. don't take that the wrong way though. ease of development should lead to much bigger leaps and bounds in graphics than new features that everyone was too scared to use anyway.
  • 2 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , April 22, 2010 7:27 AM
    Sounds like the new avp faces the same problem borderlands does - it's too easy! I compare borderlands with fallout 3 as they feel about the same. But in borderlands you've got this constant pointer to exactly where you're supposed to go - which makes you not even try to read the actually mission briefings - and when you've just downed a boss you stop and think 'what ? this easy?'
    Dumbing down's been seen in wow since burning crusade too. I suppose developers are just broadening their potential customer base by making the games so simple that any 10 year old can play them sufficiently well.
  • 1 Hide
    XxOsurfer3xX , April 22, 2010 7:56 AM
    Depends on how you play borderlands, if you go to misions over your level is not that easy..
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , April 22, 2010 8:06 AM
    XxOsurfer3xXDepends on how you play borderlands, if you go to misions over your level is not that easy..

    Yes it is.
    Sure 3 levels over you, and you do next to no damage - but you don't die, you simply run out of ammo!
    I solved the difficulty level problem by running a lan game and have two other of my chars join. Now there's a feeling of difficulty in playthough 2, but given the directions you're still just following pointers and aren't really immersed in the plot at any rate. You don't have to think, just shoot. Could's well play cs or some other shooter
  • 14 Hide
    Tridec , April 22, 2010 9:07 AM
    I really can't understand why you didn't use the older ATI 48xx series cards in your review. It would seem logical to do so as there are a lot of your readers with previous gen cards that are thinking about upgrading. You guys did use the Nvidia 260 and even the older Nvidia 9800 GT, but not the "populair" Ati cards.
  • 0 Hide
    Tomtompiper , April 22, 2010 9:31 AM
    Third swipe, the first AvP was for the Atari Jaguar, by Rebellion and was a cracker.
  • 3 Hide
    ssddx , April 22, 2010 11:40 AM
    Don Woligroski, I must say that is a very nicely written article! I've only been seeing your name more recently; are you new to Toms?

    As for the games themselves: I would have to disagree on the second avp being a failure. The game packs everything you state the first one got right. I would also have to say that the multiplayer is(was) excellent. Theres nothing quite like dropping 150 feet as an alien onto some poor guys head (and the things he would say too!)

    Do people still play AVP2 online? If so I might have to get myself into a match for a quick fix.
  • 1 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , April 22, 2010 11:44 AM
    ssddxDon Woligroski, I must say that is a very nicely written article! I've only been seeing your name more recently; are you new to Toms?


    Maybe you just didn't pay attention?
    He's the guy writing all the best graphics and best cpu for gaming every month.... and he's writing all the articles on new directx and most new gpu architecture articles ... basicly he is tom's grahpics expert.
    He's by no means new to toms.
  • 4 Hide
    Reynod , April 22, 2010 12:13 PM
    Well done again Don.

    The cpu utilisation bit at the end was also an interesting addon ... and of interest to those with lower end PC's ... they can buy a game like this with confidence providing they have a quality graphics card.

    The AMD Phenom box @ 2Ghz also outperformed the i7 @ 3Ghz ... chuckle ... 2 , 3, and 4 cores active.

    :) 
  • -7 Hide
    we_san , April 22, 2010 12:21 PM
    TridecI really can't understand why you didn't use the older ATI 48xx series cards in your review. It would seem logical to do so as there are a lot of your readers with previous gen cards that are thinking about upgrading. You guys did use the Nvidia 260 and even the older Nvidia 9800 GT, but not the "populair" Ati cards.

    Like you never know, Tom Is Always Towards Nvidia, perhaps ATi 48xx series beat Nvidia 260 and 9800GT in this game.
  • 4 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , April 22, 2010 12:27 PM
    we_sanLike you never know, Tom Is Always Towards Nvidia, perhaps ATi 48xx series beat Nvidia 260 and 9800GT in this game.

    Prove it! toms is as neutral as can be!
  • -4 Hide
    we_san , April 22, 2010 12:44 PM
    ATI2ndbestATIdiots, trolls get a grip. Your 5 series tested in DX9 is the same as the 4 series would give. Your 5 series is a rebrand of the 4 series with eyefinity, grey screening and monitor flickering thrown in for good measure. rofl

    Nvidiots are made first. So find another. Why just Nvidia can't make GTS250, GT220, GT240, (9 series also rebrand) support dx11.
  • -8 Hide
    kikireeki , April 22, 2010 12:52 PM
    I really don't get it! you have said that enabling DX11 features in this game has no down effect on the performance, but when the VERY UNIQUE ddx11 exclusive AA is enabled the frames dropped to the half, and in some cases the game became unplayable!
    So I think that this review proves that DX11 is still a concept!
    and AFAIK "Tessellation" is meant to make the game perform better, not to look better!
  • 3 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , April 22, 2010 12:57 PM
    kikireekiI really don't get it! you have said that enabling DX11 features in this game has no down effect on the performance, but when the VERY UNIQUE ddx11 exclusive AA is enabled the frames dropped to the half, and in some cases the game became unplayable!So I think that this review proves that DX11 is still a concept! and AFAIK "Tessellation" is meant to make the game perform better, not to look better!

    DX11 has no appearent visual improvement in store, it merely makes the game run a tad faster. On top of that the developers decided to not allow AA options in dx9 - which has nothing to do with directx, but everything with the developers.
    Did you read the article?

    Besides, the framerates only drop if you enable AA - which they would've done if it was available in dx9 as well.
  • 1 Hide
    we_san , April 22, 2010 1:03 PM
    kikireekiI really don't get it! you have said that enabling DX11 features in this game has no down effect on the performance, but when the VERY UNIQUE ddx11 exclusive AA is enabled the frames dropped to the half, and in some cases the game became unplayable!So I think that this review proves that DX11 is still a concept! and AFAIK "Tessellation" is meant to make the game perform better, not to look better!

    AFAIK, Tessellation is meant to adding more polygons (to look better) but without putting much more load to the GPU (low impact on performance). I think Neiro is right that AA is the cause of the frames drop.
  • 0 Hide
    ScoobyJooby-Jew , April 22, 2010 1:28 PM
    there was a massive change in fps when going from a 5750 to a 5770 whilst in dx11. 10 fps across all the benches. Man, its not playable on a 5750 in dx11. Dx11 is a bummer for me then. :( 
Display more comments