Batman: Arkham Asylum: GPUs, CPUs, And PhysX Performance

Image Quality

Image Quality and PhysX

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a title that heavily features Nvidia's PhysX API. This means that PhysX controls most of physics calculations in the game, and if you have an Nvidia graphics card, you can enjoy extra PhysX visual effects with hardware acceleration. Now, you don't need Nvidia hardware to enable these PhysX effects, but if you don't have an Nvidia card, then your experience will be something of a slideshow no mater how fast your CPU is.

There are three PhysX settings: Off, Normal, and High. The High setting enables cloth (draperies, cobwebs, and the like) that will alter or rip as you interact with it in a very realistic fashion. The High setting also enables fog that will interact with characters, causing a wake behind them as they travel through it. Paper effects are present, causing sheets of paper to move as they are walked over. There is a host of other effects involving the architecture, such as explosions, tiles that break, and walls that crumble.

On the Normal setting, the cloth movements and interactions seem to be removed. Fog and paper effects seem to remain, but others may be muted--it is hard to judge exactly.

Of course, set to Off, cloth, paper, and fog effects are disabled. Explosions and crumbling architecture are a lot less realistic.

Even with PhysX set to Off, though, there are some physics calculations going on. Batman's cape flows beautifully and seems to react extremely realistically to his movement (we're told that this isn't a PhysX-based effect but is a result of custom coding by the developer), and there is the usual toppling-barrel physics and what have you.

In short, PhysX offers a lot of eye candy and added detail. You can play the game through without PhysX enabled and you'd never know there was anything missing--the game still looks gorgeous. But if you set PhysX to High on hardware capable of making it run fast enough to enjoy, the added detail is a real treat.

Image Quality: GeForce vs. Radeon

From what we've seen, you won't notice any difference in Radeon or GeForce image quality, which is just the way we like it. Of course, without GeForce hardware, the game will run much slower when PhysX is enabled, but the visual output will remain identical.

  • burnley14
    Excellent article as usual, Mr. Woligroski. Keep up the good work!
  • Kohlhagen
    I just bought an ATI 5000 series card.. can i use my second PCI-E slot with the nvidia 220 to support physX? (i doubt it because AMD/Nvidia GPUs together cause driver issues)
  • curnel_D
    Don--it's almost as though the game is artificially capping performance at a set level, and is then using only the CPU resources it needs to reach that level. On the Core i7, PhysX is using fewer resources than it does on the Phenom II. This would make sense if there was an artificial performance cap, as the i7 has shown to outperform AMD's architecture.With Nvidia pushing proprietary API's like CUDA and PhysX, they're at a point where these things are some of the largest selling points of their products.

    With this in mind, and given Nvidia's past Anti-Consumer business practices, I think we can all expect to see a lot more of this kind of thing in the future with TWIMTBP games.
  • 2shea
    @ kohlhagen: with an ati 5000 card you probably won't need that second card if you don't play on the highest resolution.
  • nzprogamer
    im a big fan of amd and im planing to buy the xfx 4850 in the weekend but the gts250 just add another $5-10 i think i will buy the GTS-250. come on ATI
  • anamaniac
    Wow... that's pathetic. This game should have the words stamped on it: Nvidia only!
  • noob2222
    Interesting find on the CPU useage with ATI cards. It would appear that Nvidia programmed Physix not to unload programming to the cpu, instead forcing it to the GPU only. Just a speculation since it is thier option.
  • sohei
    this game runs great on any hardware but but , nvidia is just nvidia
    why you sell a game to all the people when is just for nvidia cards ?
    that.s why i love google.... google sell free things, nvidia is the opposite
  • JeanLuc
    NPD numbers show this game as currently being one of the least popular PC games - 92nd in fact.

    Nice article BTW, it's sad that the developers were paid off by Nvidia to drop support of AA on AMD cards (in game menu AA support that, there is a work round for ATI cards) as this shows just how morally bankrupt Nvidia is these days.

    And just for the record this isn't a case of AMD not 'supporting developers' as Nvidia would lead you to believe. Never mind the fact it can be enabled via a hack, Richard Hubby from AMD has uploaded an email he got from the developers of Batman Arkham Asylum saying there would be lawsuit if they changed to games code to enable game menu support of AA on ATI cards.
  • sohei
    when you benchmarked intel cpu you use turbo feature? tom