Image Quality Settings
The Resident Evil 5 benchmark has two separate launch options: DirectX 9 or DirectX 10. After you choose the DirectX version you'd like to test, there are only three main detail controls to adjust: Shadow Detail, Texture Detail, and Overall Quality. Each has a low, medium, and high setting. In addition, there is a Motion Blur option that can be set to on or off and an anti-aliasing (AA) option for 0x, 2x, 4x, and 8x AA.
Note that the benchmark randomly assigns different character skins every time it is run, making it difficult to easily compare character levels of detail.
There are no shadows on the low detail setting, which takes a lot of potential depth away from the scene. The textures are blurry and the lighting model is fairly simple.
At medium details, the game still uses low-polygon models, but the higher texture resolution helps out a lot. Shadows are introduced to the characters, which add some much-needed depth to the scene. The lighting model is also really improved--notice how there is a lot more depth and detail to the lighting on structures and objects.
High detail really kicks the graphical fidelity into high gear. Texture and shadow detail are amped up, but the real magic is happening in the model detail, lighting model, and shader effects.
Look at the character models: at high detail, the people have individual fingers instead of blocks for hands, and their feet are separate from their sandals. There are simply a lot more polygons for the game. Lighting is improved again, and there is a bump or displacement mapping effect that gives the models a lot more texture. There are also a number of shader effects that increase quality as well. A depth-of-field effect, for example, blurs objects as they increase distance from the camera, and there appears to be some ambient occlusion going on, as evidenced by the tell-tale dark halo around objects.
At the highest details, Resident Evil 5 offers a leading-edge graphics engine that is capable of some very nice visuals. It's not quite as advanced as titles like Crysis, but certainly very attractive and detailed. The game looks somewhat de-saturated and overexposed, but this is likely a conscious decision on the part of the art department to add to the game's dreadful, survival-horror feel.