Stalker: Clear Sky - Impressions at 3.360 x 2.100 with 32:1 AF
Today the Stalker Sequel with the friendly name Clear Sky is available on the retail market. PCGH took the first steps into the Zone and delivers some impressions.
If the headline vexes you: It is appropriate. In the "predecessor” Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl you might have noticed a flickering tendency. The flora, consisting of trees and bushes, were visualized with transparent textures (so called Alpha-Tests) - Clear Sky does the same thing. But textures aren't affected by normal Multisampling Anti Aliasing. Therefore it is possible that capillary ramifications, especially those with a size smaller than a display pixel, start flickering. The only possible way to get rid of those artifacts is Over- respectively Supersampling (-FSAA).
Clear Sky: Impressions of the Zone
Those screenshots were made with a Geforce 8800 GTX on Windows XP x86. So they represent the best available DX9 visualizations. On Windows Vista/DirectX 10 more options are available - we will deliver benchmarks and additional screenshots soon.
To finally explain the headline: The screenshots were made with 4x Supersampling-FSAA. This forces the GPU to calculate each display axis with twice the resolution - the scene is four times oversampled and downsampled afterwards. Thus vegetation, additional textures, shaders and natural polygon edges are smoothed. The texture effect matches 2:1 AF and that has to be multiplied with the normal 16:1 AF: This means 32:1 is in effect.
Please pay attention to who noticeably the branches are buffed by the Oversampling. With FSAA the game sometimes almost reaches photorealism. But this is bought dearly: More than 2 fps (in words: two) have not been possible on the Geforce 8800 GTX. Without FSAA/AF the game is running with 20 to 30 fps at 1,680 x 1,050 pixels. This requires, regardless of the Day-One-Patch, some optimization.
All the pictures can be found in the gallery. Warning: With about 3 MiByte each, they are quite big.
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