Dark Void: Physx Shooter tested - GTX 260-216 as dedicated Physx card recommended
The PC version of Dark Void offers additional GPU accelerated Physx effects. PC Games Hardware demonstrates on screenshots and with benchmarks what to expect.
In Capcom's Dark Void Will, who's plane crashes in the Bermuda Triangle during World War II, has to fight robot-like aliens. In combat he makes uses a jetpack (funnily the developer of this device is called Tesla) and several unusual weapons.
Dark Void: UE3 meets Physx
Dark Void is based on Epic's Unreal Engine 3. Unfortunately the sparse graphics with the low texture resolution and a grey-brownish level design prevails. This drabness is interrupted by weak explosions and partially nice-looking combat with the (sometimes quite dumb) aliens. Especially the air combat with the jetpack and flying enemies are well done - in matter of gameplay as well as graphics. As usual for the Unreal engine 3 every bit of Anti Aliasing has to be forced in the drivers, but even 4x MSAA costs a lot of performance already.
Since the UE3 IPP 8Integrated Partners Program) supports Nvidia's Physx, the physics middleware is used in Dark Void. On the PC the effects were upgraded and are GPU accelerated. You can deactivate the GPU Physx or set them to the levels ‘Low', ‘Medium' or ‘High'. Only the latter one offers all features like swirling jet streams of the jetpack (According to Nvidia up to 100,000 particles) via APEX Turbulence Module or noticeably more particles when using certain weapons. The Disintigrator for example dissolves the aliens into a huge spray of particles (Nvidia mentions 30,000 particles) which rain down afterwards. The Magnetar or the Lighting Gun rip small lumps from surfaces - the effects are illustrated with a lot of sparks of course. On ‘Medium' settings the jet stream swirls vanish and on ‘Low' the default particles are shown on the screen for a little longer and collide with the environment.
Dark Void: Performance with and without Physx
The lower Physx levels are also available to users who don't have a graphics card that supports Nvidia's physics technology. ‘Medium' and ‘High' are for Geforce 8 or better only. According to Nvidia the medium level already requires a 9800 GTX+ and the high settings a 260-216 as a dedicated Physx accelerator.
On our test system (Core i7-920 @ 3.5 GHz, 6 GiByte DDR3-1400 RAM, Windows 7 x64 and Geforce 195.62 driver) we used a Geforce GTX 260-216 and ran our 30 seconds benchmark at the beginning of the mission ‘The Prophesied One'. Here we start flying with the jetpack and race toward a canyon with the turbo mode where we use the Disintegrator to transform some aliens into particles. This chain of events results in a low framerate right from the start when the Physx effects are set to ‘High' (because of the jet stream), while on medium Physx level the frames per second are dropping as soon as we use the Disintegrator - the same behavior can be observed on low effect details, but at a noticeably higher amount of frames per seconds. Without the additional effects the framerate rarely drops below 50 frames per second.
Without a dedicated Physx GPU or without MSAA Dark Void is almost unplayable at high Physx effects. Nvidia's recommendation is justified. We will deliver a video showing the Physx effects as soon as possible.