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Hardware Test: Minimum System Requirements

Cryostasis: From Russia, With An Appetite For Fast Hardware
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Just to meet the minimum system requirements, you'll need a Pentium 4 at 2.4 GHz or a comparable Athlon XP single-core CPU. In addition, such a system needs a graphics card that supports Shader Model 3.0 and includes at least 256 MB of graphics RAM. The performance should at least match that of a GeForce 7800 or a Radeon HD X1800. This says nothing, however, about what resolution and various graphics settings are needed to attain even barely-acceptable gaming enjoyment. But because such machines are so common in bedrooms and offices everywhere, we decided to try them out, to see what kind of game experience they could deliver.

Graphics settings:

  • 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024 resolutions
  • Shader Model 3.0 / DirectX 9
  • No Hardware-Acclerated Physics
  • All other settings at Low or Off

Cryostasis on Older Systems

As soon as we tried these settings on our first test system, we had to call the game vendor out for misleading minimum specs. Whether you use a 2.4 GHz Pentium 4 or an Athlon XP 2600+, normal game play is simply impossible. Along with incredibly long load times between different game levels, we also experienced extremely low frame rates from weaker graphics cards as well. Fluid game play likewise proved impossible. For machines with older and slower CPUs, we can’t recommend anything slower than a 3.0 GHz Pentium 4 or an Athlon X64 3200+. Otherwise, it’s not worth the trouble.

With a Pentium 4 at 3 GHz, we could actually get somewhere in the game, and actually complete our first test run. The values we recorded were somewhat lower than those from an Athlon X64 3200+ but were more or less in the same league. We ultimately decided to go for the AMD system because it delivered results comparable to those for dual-core systems running at the same clock rates. These results helped us define the configuration for the Low-End PC 1 described earlier.

Test: Minimal Configuration (or “Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain”)

Anybody who expects these low-end systems to play smoothly and painlessly, even at low resolutions and with all bells and whistles disabled (e.g. active shading, animated textures, physics effects, and so forth) is bound to be disappointed. We don’t understand why the game developers set the bar this low. Frame rates are virtually unplayable and the level of detail is abysmal. The following table spells this out in no uncertain terms.


We were hopeful that a switch to native resolution on a 19” monitor would improve results. Alas, that was not to be the case:


Maybe things will improve at lower resolutions. At 1024x768, things still didn’t run smoothly or look very good.


Obviously we were deluding ourselves. Even at 800x600 results can only be described as weak at best, unplayable at worst.

Playability

The developers simply miscalculated the minimum hardware recommendations. Even if we use the best values for frame rates, they barely qualify as playable. On average across all scenes, and particularly in the fight scenes, this configuration isn’t going to win any prizes. There’s no game enjoyment here, only delay and disappointment.

Unless your system has a dual-core CPU and a graphics card at the GeForce 9600 GT or Radeon HD 4670 level or better, you’re better off skipping this game or investing in a major hardware upgrade. The difference between hype and reality is simply too big to overcome in this case.

Visuals

Surfaces and textures during game play are insufficiently detailed and the frost effects fail to convince. Overall, the low resolution and low/off settings for anti-aliasing (AA), anisotropic filtering (AF), and so forth create a negative visual impression.

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