Mass Effect 2: Galactic battle Geforce versus Radeon
Mass Effect 2 is going to be released soon. PC Games Hardware already has more than 90 graphics card benchmarks and some tuning tips as well as high-res screenshots.
In Mass Effect you once again follow Commander Shephard, who is on the mission to save mankind. At this point we don't want to reveal any more about the story since we don't want to spoil it.
Mass Effect 2: Unreal engine 3 reloaded
The first part already used Epic's popular engine and so Mass Effect is also based on the Unreal Engine 3. From a technical point of view there is not much information about the changes Bioware has made, but some things are obvious. Primarily the lighting has been upgraded and the graphics options now offer ‘Cinematic Lights' or ‘Spherical Harmonic Lighting' for example. Apparently Illuminated Labs Beast is also used again. The textures are more detailed and especially the figures are looking better. Bioware also dealt with the loading times and the streaming - successfully.
In our gallery you can find five selected screenshots that have been taken with a Radeon HD 5870 and 8x SGSSAA. Unfortunately we can't show more pictures.
Mass Effect 2: Graphics card benchmarks
Before we turn to the benchmarks let's take a short look at the Unreal Engine 3. Anti aliasing has to be forced in the graphics drivers and Radeon owners have to rename the MassEffect.exe into UT3.exe. Geforce users use the 080100C5-AA-Bits of the tool Nhancer. Like all Unreal Engine 3 games Mass Effect 2 has a 62 fps lock, the vertical synchronization is always active.
With 15 graphics cards we tested two settings at three resolutions. Nvidia gave us the Geforce 169.21 that also delivers a SLI profile for Mass Effect 2 while AMD didn't send us any special drivers because of what we used the Catalyst v8.69 since the Dirt 2 Hotfix or the Catalyst 9.12 lower the performance of Mass Effect 2. As this is a review copy of Mass Effect 2, there may be some changes with the final. But our version definitely ran very smooth.
Without Anti Aliasing Mass Effect 2 is running quite smooth, even on entry level graphics cards like the Radeon HD 3870 or the Geforce 8800 GT. With reduced details you can even run it on AMD's old Radeon X1950 XTX (without MSAA but with aberrations). The Geforce 7900 GTX doesn't do so well though. The GF7 can't run Mass Effect 2 with Multisampling AA and thus gets zero fps in the benchmark charts. If you are playing at 1280 x 1024 with 4x MSAA and 16:1 AF you should at least have a Geforce GTS 250 or Radeon HD 4870. For 1680 x 1050 a Geforce GTX 260-216 or a Radeon HD 4890 is required. For 1920 x 1200 you need to bring the big cards - we recommend a Geforce GTX 285 or a Radeon HD 5850.
It is interesting to see that the Radeons are doing very well, especially the Radeon HD 5000 without 4x MSAA. The HD 5870 is up to 41 percent faster than the Geforce GTX 285, which is even beaten by the HD 4890 at 1920 x 1200. With active anti aliasing the results look different though and the GTX 285 is slightly faster than the HD 5850 and the advantage of the HD 5870 is reduced to "only” 12 to 22 percent.