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Dead Space: Performance Analyzed

Dead Space: Performance Analyzed
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Dead Space was released at the end of last year, and while it got fairly positive reviews, it kind of slipped under our radar. I’m the type of gamer who enjoys a good first-person shooter (FPS) or role-playing game (RPG) with a decent story. Having said that, the original Alien vs. Predator is one of my favorite FPS games of all time. Even though I didn't dig into Dead Space right out of the gate, it’s one of those games that I have periodically wondered about, always reminding myself that I should devote some time to at least try it out.

When Nvidia released the latest GeForce beta drivers 185.68, it included a new feature: ambient occlusion. I was quite excited about this development, as ambient occlusion (AO)–when done right–can really add depth, realism, and ambience to a game’s lighting model. For me, the addition of AO is more of a tangible benefit than Nvidia's compute unified device architecture (CUDA), based on the types of applications that I run. Unfortunately, the AO feature has to be coded in the drivers specifically for each supported game.

I’ve wanted to test this feature, so I had to choose a game from the list, which you can find right here. There was Dead Space staring me right in the face. I probably wouldn't have come across a better excuse to check out the game.

This is a game-performance analysis, but I don’t want to waste people’s time testing the performance of poor game titles, so I took the opportunity to sink a few hours into Dead Space. And you know what? There’s a good survival horror title to be played here. Thick ambience, a fantastic audioscape, and great visuals contribute to the game. But for me, the really compelling thing about Dead Space is that it does a good job of storytelling and bringing the player into the Dead Space universe. The controls are a little lethargic, but it almost adds an appropriate claustrophobic feel to the game and its restrictive third-person perspective.

The game also features attractive visuals and runs very well at the high-quality settings. It helps that the art direction is good, borrowing a dark sci-fi gothic style reminiscent of the one used in the film "Event Horizon." Indeed, the main character's helmet looks similar to the forward section of the spaceship from the movie. So without turning this into a full-fledged game review, Dead Space is definitely good enough to play, and therefore worthy of a performance analysis.

Once again, we do our tests with different graphics cards, CPU clock speeds, and numbers of CPU cores. By the end of this article, we will have answered the question with authority: “What do I need to get the most out of Dead Space?"

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  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , June 8, 2009 6:52 AM
    "Mushkin PC3-10700
    3x 2,048 MB, DDR3-1066, CL 8-8-8-19
    at 1.8 V"

    This is a mistake, right?
  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , June 8, 2009 7:07 AM
    Interesting article.

    Deadspace does seem like a decent game, but it was too much for me.
    Tried sitting down to play it a few times, but I just couldn't take it.

    And yeah, the game can play on some junk hardware.
    800x600 res, minimum settings.


    First time I saw one of those creatures, I just wasted ammo. WTF WAS THAT!?!?!
    Pentium D 2.8GHz, 1GB DDR2 533, Nvidia 7500LE 256MB.
    It played. Average framerate was bad, but the minimums were kinda bad, yet still possible.

    Nice to see what I may be able to crank it up to now with my 4670, though a couple gigs of ddr2 800 will be a nice bonus if I find the will to spend my rent money...
  • 0 Hide
    Andraxxus , June 8, 2009 8:09 AM
    It can play fairly well even on a E6300@1.86Ghz with 1GB DDR2 667 and Nvidia 7600GT but I never finished it.
  • 2 Hide
    tacoslave , June 8, 2009 8:20 AM
    im ashamed to say this but i jumped when one of those things came at me out of nowhere...
  • 3 Hide
    axilon , June 8, 2009 8:27 AM
    One of the few games that sucked me in. I do NOT recommend playing it at 3am, the dreams I had....
  • 1 Hide
    microdots , June 8, 2009 9:01 AM
    9600gt plays this game great
    awesome game regardless tho. everything is very well done, its easy to tell that the developers took great time in perfecting every portion in the levels and environment. as from what i remember it defiantly lived up to its hype. i still haven't beaten it either along with being super cool its also pretty difficult but totally worth the money; a true gaming experience.
  • 0 Hide
    Ciuy , June 8, 2009 9:51 AM
    so in the end AO = bad. Unless u got to much fps .
  • 3 Hide
    Kill@dor , June 8, 2009 12:55 PM
    I don't blame you for being scared to try this game out...its really something else ^_^ Very well made game in my opinion
  • 0 Hide
    rags_20 , June 8, 2009 1:27 PM
    I was thinking of trying it. Is it really that scary? I mean, if you turn down the volume, it shouldn't be as scary.
  • 1 Hide
    Roffey123 , June 8, 2009 1:36 PM
    It was the soundscape in the game that got me, I'm used to the monsters and such, but the ambience really got to me - so I never really got far. Perhaps I should summon the courage up for it again.
  • 0 Hide
    cinergy , June 8, 2009 1:38 PM
    So you have your nvidia optimized game reviewed now (and of course not showing ATI driver version used, which is probably old). Fine. Next time you could put directx 10.1 exclusive game and show how badly nvidia performs there. And no old drivers trick this time!
  • -1 Hide
    roorunner , June 8, 2009 1:41 PM
    Thank you for the article. Reading it and following your links, I found my favorite game of all time supports this! And I am glad I have Nvidia graphic cards! Tonight - updating the drivers and taking the game for a testdrive! Thanks!!!!
  • 3 Hide
    Lans , June 8, 2009 2:09 PM
    cinergy, I don't disagree with you on the Nvidia bias or DX10.1 . :) 

    Being an AMD/ATI fan myself, you are inherently favor one vendor (Nvidia) over another (ATI) when you have exclusives on features that not all vendors support. Still, it was informative to me and it is not the reviewer's fault that not all vendor support said feature.

    As far as I know, this site is not among the few that had an in-depth look at Assassin's Creed and DX10.1 mess. Now with DX11 looming, maybe we'll finally see a DX10.1 review in form DX11 preview? :) 

    I guess you can call the selection of which features to cover and which not to cover clear favoring Nvidia at the moment...
  • 0 Hide
    avatar_raq , June 8, 2009 2:15 PM
    It's nice to do performance analysis for games, but it'll be nicer if its done soon after their release, I finished this game twice (one @1280x1024 and the other @1920x1080) before this article!
    Nevertheless, keep up the good work.
  • 0 Hide
    daft , June 8, 2009 2:29 PM
    considering that the game was released back in october.....
  • 0 Hide
    nerdherd , June 8, 2009 2:55 PM
    I think this is a great article. I would LOVE to see an article done like this for more major game releases closer to their actual release date! Maybe even a few days before the game gets officially released? That would be awesome.
  • 0 Hide
    megamanx00 , June 8, 2009 3:27 PM
    Poor little 4650. I played this game on high with one 3850 at 1680x1050. Anyway this article is a little late, but better late than never. Dead space is an awesome game. It seems like NVIDIAs new AO option doesn't really do much for it.
  • 3 Hide
    cleeve , June 8, 2009 3:55 PM
    daftconsidering that the game was released back in october.....


    Aha, but in October Nvidia's new AO feature wasn't here, now was it? Read the first page of the article.

    As far as thwe next game, I'm gunning for Red Faction: Guerilla
  • 2 Hide
    cleeve , June 8, 2009 4:04 PM
    Lanscinergy, I don't disagree with you on the Nvidia bias or DX10.1 . Being an AMD/ATI fan myself, you are inherently favor one vendor (Nvidia) over another (ATI) when you have exclusives on features that not all vendors support.


    See, I *do* disagree with you guys. There is no Nvidia BIAS here, I simply wanted to see what their new feature can do. And if it turned out to be good, it's exposure and reviews like this that can spurn AMD to looking at including such a feature themselves.

    Also guys - if there was a bias, wouldn't I have been screaming from the rooftops that it was the best thing sincle sliced bread? I'm pretty sure I let folks know the feature was best left off unless you happened to have a graphics card that could handle it easily.

    DirectX 10.1... now, that's a great feature, but I'm waiting for a new, killer title to exploit it. Tom Clancy's HAWX shows a great improvement with Dx10.1, the visuals are awesome. The problem is that the game sucks, so I'm not going to waste time on an in-depth analysis of something I wouldn't recommend. Assasin's Creed, well, I missed the boat on that one because this series is relatively new, but I'm hoping Assasin's Creed II will give give us another chance.

    Similarly, Nvidia is trying to tell everyone how great PhysX is, and I keep reminding everyone it's a useless feature in 99% of the games it's been included in. Mirror's Edge would be the closest thing to a must-have title for that feature, but with PhysX looking to be included in future DirectX APIs when physis becomes more mainstream, I'm not sure Nvidia will have any lasting advantage there. Too far ahead of the curve.

    As for CUDA... mreh. Still haven't seen anything that makes me say "wow".
  • -2 Hide
    jwl3 , June 8, 2009 4:10 PM
    How appropriate. I just downloaded the game last week and started playing. Despite all the positive reviews, the game doesn't draw me in for the following reasons:

    1) the controls suck. I cannot even assign my usual arrow key buttons to movement what the f?

    2)It takes me two button presses to get my weapon out. Why? Why? Why? Why can't I just use my left mouse button to fire? Why must I bring up the rig and then fire? And forget about changing weapons. You literally have to put your weapon down, change weapons, click ok, bring new weapon up, and fire. Are you effing kidding me???

    3) the third person perspective is awful. Not only is it nauseating, the fun of FPS's is that you feel like you're the person in the game.

    4) The zero-gravity sites are annoying. I'm relieved when those parts of the game are over - they're tedious as all heck.

    5) Again with the controls, you'd think using a health pack was easy, Nope. Open inventory, select health pack, select use, close inventory. Wow.

    I can't count the number of times I've had to reload the level cause I couldn't switch to the appropriate weapon in time. Get a freaking clue EA. I used to be a huge fan of EA, buying 10 of their games each year. Until they screwed PC users by canceling all the EA sports games for the PC. I swore from that point on that I wouldn't buy another EA game (produced or distributed or whatever). I'm glad I didn't buy this POS game.
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