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In normal mode the lamps in the background are lit. The shadows in the environment are missing. The structure of the steps is drawn into the texture. In Next Gen mode, the steps are monochrome and rounder. The skin on Lara's chest, neck and face look almost real.
Our tests show that switching between normal mode and Next Generation Content is definitely worthwhile. The function is easy to select in the graphics menu, and there is only a few seconds delay while the effects switch over. If your graphics card supports power mode, you can keep switching between the modes if you have any difficulties. This was required when using the test card; many indoor levels were so dark that you could hardly see the images, even with the flashlight. Once you have passed these particular points, just switch back to the power mode. Rooms, caves and corridors are seen without any problems, and outdoor levels without waterfalls are very fluid. Problems with performance only occur where there is a wider range of vision, and in rooms where there are many characters.
The Japan level has a severe effect on the frame rate. The many characters in the club, or the motorbike ride on the roof, make it practically impossible to play using Next Generation Content.
If your graphics card does not support power mode, you are rewarded with a shining wet Lara when you climb out of the water. The indoor levels in normal mode are always well lit. The game speed with a Geforce 6800 GT is nearly always between 60 and 200 fps.