Darkest of Days Performance Testing Reviewccokeman - September 20, 2009
» Discuss this article (55)
What you get with Darkest of Days is another step toward realism. But in order to achieve that, you have to play with Physx set to medium or high, based on your video hardware's capabilities. Just watching the included benchmark made my jaw drop. The fog of war, the smoke from the fires and weapons, the way that the bodies crumpled up in their final moments, watching the effects of shrapnel from the cannon bursts on the surrounding environment and soldiers – but wait, there's more! Seeing the leaves from the trees blowing across the ground and flowing into a circle like they were being carried by a small dust devil was an awesome sight. I don't claim to be a pyromaniac, but I was transfixed by the fires. The flames looked incredibly real at 2560x1600, and the way the smoke curled away looked well done. When you get up close to the water, I have got to say this was the most realistic water I have seen. Far Cry was nice, but this was incredible. The water reflections and ripples, along with the clarity, just "fit." How many times have you seen the smoke from a just-fired cannon round look opaque and just disappear? Not so in Darkest of Days. In the first mission, at the Battle of Antietam Creek (Sharpsburg, for those in the South), you have to fire a cannon across the creek to take out the entrenched rebels. From up on a hill, you need to use a cannon to accomplish this task. When you fire the cannon, you get the smoke trail, but it does not just blink into oblivion, it twists in the wind and slowly dissipates. The smoke coming from the barrel of your repeating rifle acts like a living thing, blowing in the breeze. Pictures really do not do it justice; you have to see it in-game for yourself.
The game is an entertaining play that kept me engaged all the way through. The goals are pretty clear cut and easy to follow. It's not just a mindless "kill 'em all" type of game! For that, you have Left 4 Dead! Traveling through time to play a variety of scenarios from Custer's Last Stand on the Little Bighorn River to the streets of Pompeii to the horrors of the first and second World Wars. Each scenario brings a different challenge, as well as different weapons to master. When it came down to performance testing, I went two ways – with and without Physx enabled. ATI cards just cant play the game with Physx enabled. Even with the aggressive setting used, the little GTS 250 out did the big stars from ATI when Physx was enabled. When it was disabled, the ATI cards put in a performance that shows their capabilities. Crossfire just does not show any benefit on the 4870x2, but the GTX 295 showed some really nice scaling. When you combine an Nvidia card with a lower end card to take the Physx calculations off the primary GPU, you see quite a performance bonus. But again, only when Physx is set to medium or high, as there is no benefit at the low setting. Darkest of Days presents a great game play experience that shows what the inclusion of Physx technology can do for a game. Mirrors Edge and Cryostasis were not the best showcase for the technology – this is a showcase. Good game play, great visuals and effects – now I am sold on Physx!
I had been very excited about this game coming out, and upon receiving my copy, I was not disappointed. Frank touched on a lot of areas of the game, including the part about being engaged the whole time. I could not agree more. Between the story line and the graphics, I was completely hooked. I played this game for three straight days, about 16 hours a day to finish, then I started over again to play more slowly and take in the graphics. I am truly amazed by this game way more than I was by Mirrors Edge and Cryostasis. I am really enjoying the benefits of Physx and I am looking forward to more titles that take advantage of it, if the game play and graphics continue to follow suit.