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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  • Illissius - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    For these benches, were nVidia's trilinear and/or anisotropic optimizations on or off? (This would help in comparing results with other sites, for example.) I don't recall seeing them mentioned, but they're getting to be as important as the driver revision these days. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    DAPUNISHER:

    I'm not sure about the 64bit version of any game, as game developers are much more likely to hold everything until MS releases WinXP64 than hardware vendors. My guess is that we can expect not to see any visual improvements or differences with the 64bit move. There's much less reason to alter the graphics of the game when gaining more registers and memory address space than when you add the ability to do conditional rendering, floating point frame buffers, instancing, and all that...

    Zak,

    We could try to guess performance based on these numbers:

    http://anandtech.com/video/showdoc.html?i=2044&...

    But we didn't use those because they're based on the 1.1 version of farcry under dx9b and Catalyst 4.4 ...

    Our focus was the impact of SM3.0, not on overall relative performance, but in the future we will include older generation cards even when looking at next gen features. You are right, it does provide a way to relate to the numbers, and those cards should be in there for completeness' sake as well. Thanks for the suggestion.
    Reply
  • Zak - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    I wish you guys would include one or two benchmarks on some older video cards to give a point of reference for those, such as myself, who still run R9800 and older generation cards. Without seeing how the game performs on R9800 or eqivalent card it's hard to relate to these benchmarks.

    Zak
    Reply
  • DAPUNISHER - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    Very impressed with the GT's performance in this version. When can we expect your preview of FarCry 64bit version with the SM3 path Derek? and will 64bit bring some new eye candy or more performance? Inquiring minds want to know :-) Reply
  • Warder45 - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    Interesting. Some odd stuff like ATI's X800 line actually decreasing in performace with the 1.2 patch. I wonder if thats a driver issue that now needs to be fixed, but if I was an ATI owner I'd stick with the 1.1 version of the game. I'd really like to see someone benchmark with omega's drivers for ATI, and see if there's any difference in performace there.

    #9, That article at tom's is from the NV40 review months ago. This new verison, 1.2 fixes most of the IQ problems nvidia was having.

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/far...

    So far the only IQ problem I've seen mentioned with the new version.
    Reply
  • araczynski - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    very nice, that 68UE sure is kicking some tail, before AND after the SM3.

    perhaps this will lead to developers optomizing (to some small degree at elast) their code for the 2 camps? (or at least for the camp that pays them the most...)

    in any case, here's to hoping the 68U/UE are priced acceptably by xmas, or at least next tax time :)
    Reply
  • Shad0hawK - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    "Then, during the ATi refresh,we will all be greeted the the Geforce 6900, 6900 Ultra, 6900 Turbo and 6900 Ultra Hyper Fighting Edition."

    actually that will probobly be after ATI anounces the super golden/silver platinum extra extra XT edition with not only one but TWO "free" certificates for games not out yet
    Reply
  • nserra - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    #1, #2, #3, #4:
    I think the huge hit is because nvidia is not doing AA to the all scene as ati does.
    The new drivers from nvidia have this ability. How do you think nvidia have come to top so soon, after some driver release ... Trilinear optimizations, Shader optimizations and now AA optimizations...

    I also don't understand why only toms site notes differences between ati and nvidia image quality...
    http://graphics.tomshardware.com/graphic/20040414/...
    Reply
  • ZobarStyl - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    Bearxor, though I agree the overclocked editions are silly, don't act like ATi doesn't do the exact same thing...
    Ultra Extreme = XT Platinum Edition
    Ultra = XT
    GT = Pro
    vanilla 6800 has no direct competitor, but it held it's own occasionally against the Pro in the review.
    Both of the double-named cards are just the top end overclocked, so I tend to ignore them in the reviews, but then the GT was beating all of the ATi cards in some of those demos too...
    Reply
  • RyanVM - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    #6, Ditto :p. Dell 2001FP for life :D Reply

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