Lost Planet 2 Performance Preview
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: August 22, 2010
Published by Capcom, Lost Planet 2 is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and uses the MT Framework 2.0 engine. The story line takes place on the fictional planet E.D.N. III some 10 years after the events of the first game. This time, the snow cover is gone and has been replaced by a tropical landscape. With this new rendition of the game comes the ability to run it using either DirectX 9 or 11. Along with this ability comes the chance to use that new DX 11 hardware to effect. DX11 features in this game include tessellation, displacement mapping on water, bosses and player characters, soft body compute shaders on “Boss” characters, and wave simulation by way of DirectCompute. This gives you smoke that is lifelike and reacts to inputs, water that looks and reacts how you would expect it to in a "real life" situation, and "Boss" characters rendered with more depth and detail. If the latest graphics quality settings are not enough, NVIDIA has included support behind this game for both 3D Vision and 3D Vision Surround, which gives you 3D effects over multiple screens. There is no better way to see how a game will perform than to test it out. Capcom has made this easy with a downloadable benchmark that we will be using to test out a cross section of today's currently available performance video cards.
If you have ever wondered what DX 11 does for you, you can get an idea of how things such as tessellation, displacement mapping, DirectCompute soft body simulation, and DirectCompute wave simulation change the overall appearance of a game, providing more depth and a richer, meatier feel to environments. If you compare these two sets of screen shots of an Akrid "Boss", you can see how the use of tessellation, coupled with displacement mapping and DirectCompute body simulation, increases the girth of the creature and gives it more "depth." DirectX 9 is on the left, while DirectX 11 is on the right.
Next, we'll take a look at how water reacts with both DirectX 9 and DirectX 11. Looking at how the water reacts when shot in the DirectX 9 screen shot shows that you get a small reaction, but overall it looks like you dropped a small pebble in a pond - it looks flat, without any character. The same screen shot in DirectX 11 shows a significant shock wave, as well as secondary motion in the water. This is done through a wave simulation algorithm on the GPU using DirectCompute shaders. The second set of images shows how water reacts to impacts and stationary objects.
So what does this talk about wave simulation, tessellation, DirectCompute and soft body simulation add up to when it comes to gaming performance? In the end, that's what will help make up your mind as to which card to purchase when it comes time to get your game on. Let's look at how the latest ATI and NVIDIA games fare in this benchmark demo.
Testing the performance of some of today's top of the line video cards in this sequel to Lost Planet will involve running each card through the benchmark test B. Test B is a scene that repeats identically each time to provide run-to-run consistency, while test A is random in nature, meaning the results are not comparable - thus why we've chosen to use test B. Each run is made three times, with the results averaged to provide the final numbers. The settings used in game are set to the highest level, with the exception of the AA setting that will be set to 4X for each card. The latest drivers from both NVIDIA and ATI will be used for this test. At this time, that would be the 258.96 package for NVIDIA and 10.7 Catalyst suite for ATI.
- Processor: Intel Core I7 920
- CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE 1366
- Motherboard: MSI X58 Eclipse SLI
- Memory: Mushkin Redline Modules 996805 6-8-6-24 1600MHz
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800 watt Modular power supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 1TB SATA
- Optical Drive: NEC DV5700
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Case: Thermaltake Armor +
- NVIDIA GTX 480
- Inno3D GTX 470 Hawk
- ASUS ENGTX465
- Palit Sonic GTX 460
- Sapphire HD 5870
- Sapphire HD 5850
- Sapphire HD 5770 VaporX
When you load up the benchmark, you have the option of running it in either DirectX 9 or DirectX 11 mode. I will be testing the game in DirectX 11 mode to show the level of performance delivered in this game. There are two benchmark runs labeled "A" and "B". I will be using the B benchmark run, since it is not random in nature like version A.
Playing Lost Planet 2 in DirectX 11 mode is a more satisfying experience, as you get more depth to the environment and its inhabitants. Add in NVIDIA 3D Vision and 3D Vison Surround and you another level of visual satisfaction. To reach this level of detail though, it does take its toll on the video card's performance. At this point in the game's development, the compute architecture of NVIDIA's Fermi-based product line does deliver a higher level of performance when the eye candy is turned up, from the top to bottom of the ladder. As an example, you have a $250 video card in the GTX 460 taking on, and beating, the best single GPU card that ATI brings to the table at any price point, most importantly at the $200 to $300 price point. The Palit Sonic GTX 460 is almost $40 less expensive than the HD 5850, making it the value leader for this game. The $200~300 price point is where most of the people purchasing a new GPU are spending their money to get their gaming fix. At this point, if Lost Planet is your game of choice, the NVIDIA option is the way to go. When it comes down to raw performance in this game, the GF100 (104) cards show off the strengths of NVIDIA's compute architecture, leaving ATI wondering what hit them.