Introduction

Next week (we are hearing July 5th), Ubisoft will release their second patch to CryTek's FarCry. This is the game that shows off the beautiful CryEngine renderer that CryTek has put together. The images and scenery is truly beautiful, and with the new patch comes a much needed update to run speed (~15%) and run duration (~30%). These new features make the game an even more enjoyable experience.

But that's not the major update that we are here to talk about. The FarCry 1.2 will feature a new rendering path based on Shader Model 3.0 (Vertex and Pixel Shader 3.0), which is currently only supported by NVIDIA's 6800 series cards and not by ATI's X800 line of cards.

We are here today to test out the new patch on six different levels in FarCry and see if the new methods, which CryTek were able to include in their new path, offer any kind of advantage. As the game play experience is meant to be the same no matter what card we're using, we'll clear the air before we start, and say that there will be no new eye candy available through the SM3.0 path. The game should be rendered exactly the same way it was under SM2.0, and we will take a look at IQ as we go through our tests just to make sure that we keep on track. This is a very important point to take away as it means that regardless of whether you buy an ATI X800 or an NVIDIA 6800, the game will still look and play the same.

Well, if there are no new bells and whistles, why should the end user care? Because there are some performance increases that CryTek was able to squeeze out of the engine with their new render path. How much, we're about to find out, but first, let's take a look at what exactly has changed.

UPDATE: It has recently come to our attention that our 4xAA/8xAF benchmark numbers for NVIDIA 6800 series cards were incorrect when this article was first published. The control panel was used to set the antialiasing level, which doesn't work with FarCry unless set specifically in the FarCry profile (which was not done here). We appologize for the error, and have updated our graphs and analysis accordingly.

For a more positive update, after a discussion with CryTek about the new rendering path, we have learned that the lighting model implimented in the SM3.0 Path is exactly the same as was used in the SM2.0 Path. The only exception is that they used the conditional rendering (branching in the pixel shader) to emulate multipass lighting in a single pixel shader. The performance gains we see actually indicate that PS3.0 branching does not have as significant a performance hit as previously thought (and proves to be more efficient than using multiple pixel shaders in a scene).


What's New in 1.2?
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  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    Thanks Pete, we'll be setting AA and AF in the benchmark batch file from now on ... We've updated the site to reflect the fact that the first run of numbers had NV 4xAA set in the control panel (which means it was off in the game).

    We appologize for the problem, and these new numbers show an acurate picture of the NV vs. ATI playing field.

    Again, we are very sorry for the mistake.
    Reply
  • Bonesdad - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    Wait till you see the numbers for NV's 6800 Ultra Extreme with Cheese!!! Reply
  • Pete - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    Derek, was AA on for the nV cards? Apparently nV's latest drivers change behavior once again, to require AA to be set in-game, rather than via CP (which does nothing).

    Perhaps you could avoid this mess of ever-changing AA settings by using AA+AF for comparison screens? It'd also have the added benefit of showing the games in a more positive light. :)
    Reply
  • joeyd - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • gordon151 - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    pio!pio! x-bit labs tested the difference between performance with the 1.2 and 1.1 patch on the NV3x (5900 Ultra) and well it wasn't pretty. NV3x actually saw a rather big performance drop using the new patch. I dunno if nVidia is gonna do anything about this since they seem to be turning a blind eye to the NV3x line with respect to future optimizations. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    trilinear optimizations are on
    anisotripic filtering optimizations are off

    AA has less noticable benefit as resolution increases, but nearly vertical and nearly horizontal lines are still obvious in games with high contrast scenes.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    Do you really need AA on when running at 1600 x 1200, as in these these benchmarks? Just wondering if its much of a benefit at this high of a resolution. I never go past 1024 x 768, so I wouldn't know. Reply
  • pio!pio! - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    So how about just the performance jump from FarCry 1.1 to 1.2 w/o using these high end shaders? (Ie for the previous generation Geforce 5900 crowd and lower) Reply
  • AnnoyedGrunt - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    Does that mean trilinear optimizations on, or trilinear filtering on?

    Thanks,
    D'oh!
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    we used driver default:

    trilinear on
    anisotropic off
    Reply

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