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Image Quality Analysis

Star Trek Online: Game Performance Analyzed And Benchmarked
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We benchmarked the game at two levels of quality to accommodate the low- and high-end cards in our testing suite. We used maximum detail to show how the game performs under the most difficult circumstances and low detail to show how it performs with older/slower graphics hardware.

Critiquing a game with two distinct arenas of play--space and ground--makes things a little more interesting than usual, so let's have a closer look at each one.

Detail Levels: Space

Let's start with space. At maximum detail, the space arena can be a thing of real beauty. The backgrounds and environments have the potential to be breathtaking. Ships and space objects cast shadows not only on themselves, but also on other ships. This makes for some dramatic effects. For example, when traveling in an asteroid field or by a space station, a large shadow will often swallow your ship whole. There aren't a lot of space games that use shadows to good effect, but happily it's done right in STO.

At low detail, space loses a lot of lighting, texture, and shadow detail. Environmental objects like asteroids and space stations become noticeably flatter looking. But on the whole, the space environment remains appealing because you're looking at your own ship from a distance and don't often get close enough to notice the difference. The pleasant nuances are missed, though.

Detail Levels: In-Ship and Planet-Side

At maximum detail, ground-based areas are sometimes less impressive than space. While items and characters do seem to be rendered with adequate detail, some textures appear to be blurry and at a lower resolution than what you would expect them to be. Starbase interiors seem to be one of the environments that have a bit more detail to offer, but many of the planet-side environments are quite bland. I will add that since the game has been officially released, these areas seem to be more polished and detailed than they were in the beta.

At the maximum setting, shadows and shader detail do help the ground environments look better. We also note that all of the indoor environments appear to be huge, even starship corridors, probably to accommodate the third-person floating camera.

I do admit that sometimes I felt the space and ground games are a little disjointed from an artistic point of view, but I will admit that space is an easier arena to render in impressive detail.

Ground areas also lose lighting, texture, and shadow detail at low quality settings. Your eye will definitely lament the loss of shadows here, as the game world appears much flatter and less engaging.

Image Quality: GeForce Versus Radeon

The difference between Radeon and GeForce graphics cards is minimal. Fan of either vendor will experience near-identical results and there are no noticeable differences to speak of.

In the STO forums, some players have reported crashing with the dynamic lighting setting enabled on Radeon cards. I didn't notice this phenomenon in space, but I did experience a few crashes during ground battles and I haven't had a crash since disabling dynamic lighting. It is difficult to say that this was the cause of the problem without a lot more testing, but the solution did seem to solve my problem, and the dynamic lighting option didn't have a noticeable effect on render quality.

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Top Comments
  • 18 Hide
    Silmarunya , February 18, 2010 6:17 AM
    jdh64Admit it TOMS......Geforce rules this games as well as others.......quit being ATI fanbois......Wait till the new series of cards comes out....then whatcha gunna do...cry!!!!


    Not really. This is just about the only benchmark where a Geforce card beats a comparable 5000-series one, so there's still a nice lead for the 5000 cards. With a driver update, this result can change in favor of the 5000, which would give them back every game tested here...

    And nobody should be very concerned about the GTX 300, at least not for the first year and a half. The initial mammoth chip will be expensive, hot, noisy and more powerful than useful for gaming. By the time it scaled down properly, ATI will have refreshed cards in the market for a while, probably offering better performance, lower power consumption and more features for a similar price tag.

  • 12 Hide
    JeanLuc , February 18, 2010 7:56 AM
    How does such an ugly game mange to tax state of the art video cards?
Other Comments
  • 18 Hide
    Silmarunya , February 18, 2010 6:17 AM
    jdh64Admit it TOMS......Geforce rules this games as well as others.......quit being ATI fanbois......Wait till the new series of cards comes out....then whatcha gunna do...cry!!!!


    Not really. This is just about the only benchmark where a Geforce card beats a comparable 5000-series one, so there's still a nice lead for the 5000 cards. With a driver update, this result can change in favor of the 5000, which would give them back every game tested here...

    And nobody should be very concerned about the GTX 300, at least not for the first year and a half. The initial mammoth chip will be expensive, hot, noisy and more powerful than useful for gaming. By the time it scaled down properly, ATI will have refreshed cards in the market for a while, probably offering better performance, lower power consumption and more features for a similar price tag.

  • -3 Hide
    gilbertfh , February 18, 2010 6:25 AM
    This game looks interesting and could be a good diversion once in a while but I can't really see it replacing the games I am playing now. I have played other cryptic studios games and they really didn't engage me for long. If I buy it I will at least play it for the included month before purchasing a subscription.
  • 2 Hide
    toxxel , February 18, 2010 6:48 AM
    If your interested in playing this game give it 6 months or so. Currently there is no content at max level, and it takes less than a week to hit max rank. Klingons only have pvp content but more is promised for both factions. Server instability and downtime have plagued launch mostly for the overwhelming player base and not being prepared.

    I for one would wonder how this and Champions Online run since ST:o  runs on a modified CO engine.
  • 0 Hide
    footsoldier , February 18, 2010 6:49 AM
    Sh*t game. Sh*t graphics. But, good article. Geforce do weirdly beats 5000s tho, maybe some driver updates will fix it.
  • 12 Hide
    JeanLuc , February 18, 2010 7:56 AM
    How does such an ugly game mange to tax state of the art video cards?
  • 2 Hide
    jennyh , February 18, 2010 8:30 AM
    I guess Nvidia leaned on Don after this months "Best gaming graphics card".

    Batman AA was the last one of these reviews I believe. Either way, twice in the past 4 months you've managed to review games that go quite wildly against the norm in terms of the gtx260's actual potency.
  • -4 Hide
    cypeq , February 18, 2010 8:41 AM
    it is a shameless advertisment...
  • 4 Hide
    cypeq , February 18, 2010 8:45 AM
    notty22I feel sorry for ati***s scared of Fermi.


    I feel sorry for nVidia now becouse roles on marked turned and now nVidia is on position where it needs to chatch up.
  • -4 Hide
    Onus , February 18, 2010 9:01 AM
    Subscription-based? Pass.
  • 8 Hide
    kettu , February 18, 2010 9:38 AM
    I think it would be worth mentioning in the article that this game is a "TWIMBP" title. That would explain why Nvidia cards perform so well compared to competition.
  • -2 Hide
    anamaniac , February 18, 2010 9:42 AM
    How about testing this on a Intel 660 (using the integrated video) and comparable laptop chip with n Intel GPU?
    Because, come on, Intel is the market leader in GPU's (in sheer quanitity alone).

    I wonder how this game would look spread across 5x 30" 2560x1600 monitors (all in portrait mode for a 45/16 or 2.8125:1 aspect ratio), assuming a 5890 (the 6xDP version that we all want released already).

    While I may be a trekkie to the core, this game does not interest me.
    Kirk was alright, but Picard owned his ass.
    BTW, do you get to get it on with hot alien chics? That'd be the one redeeming factor of the game...

    =)
  • 5 Hide
    jennyh , February 18, 2010 9:57 AM
    kettuI think it would be worth mentioning in the article that this game is a "TWIMBP" title. That would explain why Nvidia cards perform so well compared to competition.


    Agreed. I didn't even realise STO was a TWIMTBP title.

    That's pretty poor form Cleeve. Are things so desperate for Nvidia now that you aren't allowed to mention TWIMTBP in these 'reviews' you do?
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , February 18, 2010 10:59 AM
    I'm not interested in playing the game. After 35 years on TV and the silver screen the game won't seem right.
  • 6 Hide
    Spanky Deluxe , February 18, 2010 11:17 AM
    Great game. Despite a few server crashes etc the launch has been significantly smoother than most MMOs. It's already got a good amount of content. Sure reaching the level max takes about 4-5 days for most players but that's *game* time so 96 to 120 hours game time. Unless you're a speed runner and don't care about the story - then you can probably burn through it faster.

    It's got its bugs but, as I said, compared to other MMOs at launch, it feels very polished.

    I'm a little surprised to see no SLI or Crossfire benchmarks in this article btw - particularly because you're benchmarking at 2560x1600. FWIW, I'm running a pair of 1GB XFX 4870s on an i7 system. I'm running at 2560x1600.

    My settings are 200/300% for every option (basically everything is maxxed) apart from antialiasing, which I've set at 2x, and anisotropic filtering, which I've set at 4x. It runs perfectly smoothly all the time. I haven't tried it at higher AA/AF options since these are what I set it to for all games (I've never been able to tell the difference between 2xAF and higher when at 2560x1600 and I've always been in the habit of having AF at twice what AF is set to).
  • 6 Hide
    calranthe , February 18, 2010 11:23 AM
    Well both me, wife and our two closest friends have been playing STO since beta.

    It depends what your looking for, if your in it to power game and max to end level you gotta realise wow and all the others didn't have end level content in game at launch.

    If your looking for An authentic ST style game where you can visit DS9, explore strange new worlds, customise your bridge officers and ship, go to alot of the iconic areas of the ST universe and generally have fun it is fun:) 

    Best fun we have had in an mmo for a very long time and the launch although bumpy is no worse than most other mmo launches.

    Its different than most other mmo's as in leveling isn't a focus, leveling brings you better ships and weapons etc but you don't haveto grind and its casual play friends as in you can log on for 30 mins and feel as if you actually did something.

    Final comment, as a core group we four have been playing pc games since the zx81 (remember typing the gaming in from the sinclair magazine) to every genre since and this is one of the nicest casual fun games aslong as your not focused on end game power gaming
  • -2 Hide
    davendork , February 18, 2010 11:53 AM
    Dear TH,
    Pls stop reviewing this game and letting me know it will play sweet on my hardwares. Even tho I was trekkie in high school I don't need to get caught up in this MMO. Don't need the temptation. You are evil mistress.
    -davendork
  • -4 Hide
    elbert , February 18, 2010 12:14 PM
    Quote:
    Speaking of Klingons, this is a PvP-centric faction. You can't even make a Klingon character until you've spent some time as a Federation player, and advancing that Klingon player relies almost entirely on PvP combat. Nifty!

    This really sucks. This brings the pvp game play back about 10 years when diablo 2 launched. One sided no real MMO pvp making this game really a RPG online. Cant we start out as borg or klingon? This will end up being the great opportunity missed to dethrone WOW.
  • -3 Hide
    DaveUK , February 18, 2010 12:21 PM
    Is there any particular reason why Toms have got into the extremely bad habit of not ordering your benchmarks from top performer > bottom performer in a logical fashion?

    For some reason ATI cards are sat at the top of these charts even when they are not first. The 5770 is 'above' the GTS 250 and the high-end cards are 'above' the GTX 260. It's tacky, and it just looks like you're sponsored by AMD. Maybe you are !?

    Can you please start ordering your benchmarks logically so that the highest performer is at the top and lowest performers at the bottom. It makes you look alot more professional.

    In case you've forgotten, here's how to do it properly.

    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3679&p=8

    Kthxbai.
  • -1 Hide
    WINTERLORD , February 18, 2010 12:21 PM
    good review its nice to see some MMO's in review to see how they work on different hardware and such
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