Cryostasis reviewed: Graphics cards and Physx benchmarks of the DX10 game
Besides DX10 Cryostasis also uses Nvidia's GPU accelerated Physx. PC Games Hardware tests seven midrange and high-end cards as well as how the graphics and performance are affected by Physx.
Cryostasis reviewed: Introduction
In Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason you play the role of the Alexander Nesterov who is exploring an icebreaker in the Antarctic and tries to solve its secrets. Back in December we already took a look at the Cryostasis tech demo that only presented the optional Physx effects; see the according video at the end of this article. Among those features are:
• Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) for realistic visualization of water
• Noticeable visualization of heat including melting ice
• Icicles shatter into multiple ice crystals if hit
• Beating or shooting at a frozen zombie creates shards of ice
• Sparks react with the environment
A 720p video delivered by Nvidia shows the differences between the default physics and the Physx version which is enhanced with the listed effects.
Cryostasis reviewed: Benchmark and settings
Our benchmarks sequence shows Nestreov's way through several rooms of the icebreaker. In the last room we use the water cannon to encounter a zombie who throws over a cupboard for cover. Thus a high physics load is created.
Since Cryostasis brings even highest-end hardware to the knees, we don't only run our benchmarks at 1,680 x 1,050 with maximal details but also at 1,280 x 800 with medium details - in both cases we don't use MSAA and AF but in DX10 mode. Furthermore we tested both settings with and without "Advanced Physx effects”.
Cryostasis reviewed: Benchmarks with additional Physx effects
With maximal details and activated additional effects Cryostasis easily downs even a Geforce GTX 285 at 1,680 x 1,050. Even with a Geforce 8800 GT dedicated to run the Physx effects - which increases the performance by about 20 percent - the system reaches only 33 fps. At 1,280 x 800 the title is running with more than 30 fps on a GTX 260-216, but during fight scenes the framerate nevertheless drops to an unplayable level. With a slower graphics card you shouldn't even think about highest details and the same applies to Radeon cards: Here the additional effects have to be calculated by the CPU - too much for the overclocked Core i7 of our test system and the framerate drops below 10 fps. The old trick to combine a modern Radeon with an Ageia PPU works in Cryostasis too: The Radeon HD 4890 combined with the Physx card reached 25 respectively 37 fps and thus can place itself between the GTX 260-216 and the GTX 285.
At this point we want to note that the engine or driver reproducibly crashed during combats when we ran Cryostasis at maximal details with additional effects on a Geforce card - apparently the GPU workload is too high. With the Ageia PPU or when the CPU deals with the Physx calculations, the framerates are low, but Cryostasis is stable.
Cryostasis reviewed: Benchmarks without additional Physx effects
If you deactivate the additional Physx effects, the game is running noticeably smoother. At 1,280 x 800 with medium details you can play smoothly on a middle-class card with 1 GiByte VRAM - cards with only 512 miByte VRAM are still overburdened. At 1,680 x 1,050 you should at least have a Geforce GTx 285, GTX 260-216 or a Radeon HD 4890. The latter one is slightly slower than the Geforce and is followed by the HD 4870/1G which can beat the GTS 250/1G - Cryostasis apparently isn't a The Way It's Meant To Be Played title for fun. Interesting: Without the additional Physx effects the Geforces get up to 50 percent faster: The slower the card the bigger the performance benefits; it seems like the physics calculations are quite complex. Another interesting fact is the difference between the Nvidia accelerators: The fps difference in percent almost exactly matches the difference in matter of FLPs (Shader power).
Cryostasis reviewed: Conclusion
Although we think the additional Physx effects to be good, especially because they catch attention in the otherwise not very impressive graphics, but given the horrendous hardware requirements of Cryostasis this enhancement isn't worth the performance disadvantage. The fact that the combination of Nvidia graphics card and maximal details with additional effects crashes also causes a bitter aftertaste - we haven't found a solution for the problem yet. So Cryostasis is - to put it into positive words - an extraordinary game, in matters of gameplay and technology.
Below you can see the video of the DX10 tech demo which we mentioned above:
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