Image Quality: DirectX 11 Enhancements
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.
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.
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.
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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.Reply
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.
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.Reply
So that is one thing you can take out of this.
"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 :-)Reply
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 !!!!
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.Reply
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.
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?'Reply
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.
Depends on how you play borderlands, if you go to misions over your level is not that easy..Reply
XxOsurfer3xXDepends on how you play borderlands, if you go to misions over your level is not that easy..Yes it is.Reply
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
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.Reply
Third swipe, the first AvP was for the Atari Jaguar, by Rebellion and was a cracker.Reply
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?Reply
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.