Final WordsThis is an excellent example of a game built around programmable shader power. The geometry and textures are solid updates from the original Refractor2 engine used in Battlefield 1942, and the effects and polish on the final product make the experience complete. Explosions, fog, smoke, fire, water, environments, and other visual effects all come together to really immerse the player in the game.
And to run a game like BF2 in all its glory, gamers need cards that can handle the load. As we've shown, the card doesn't need to be expensive to provide a good game-play experience. The budget cards handled lower resolutions just fine for casual gaming (with no AA enabled), and mid-range solutions are just fine for the Battlefield aficionado (offering either 10x7 with AA or 12x10 without as solidly playable resolutions). For those hardcore gamers out there who demand the absolute in performance with frame rates so high that they could slow it down and see bullets (disclaimer: this is not actually possible), the higher end cards are required. At this point, there are no tests we ran that really pushed the 7800 GTX SLI to its limit, but in the future, we plan on looking at resolutions that require dual-link DVI (such as are possible on Apple's latest and largest Cinema Display).
For now, it seems that the NVIDIA parts come out on top in everything but a showdown between the 6800 Ultra and the X850 XT. This is a "The Way It's Meant To Be Played" game, but we don't feel that has any bearing on performance on different vendors' hardware (it would put DICE and EA at a disadvantage to not run as efficiently as possible on all hardware). The 7800 GTX is quite a powerhouse even without SLI enabled. It will be quite interesting to see what ATI comes out with next to try to combat this latest offering. We really can't wait for more tests that are CPU limited at huge resolutions. The faster that happens, the sooner game developers will put the extra power into even more incredible detail.
Each class of card scales well with resolution and AA settings. The main issue that we want to drive home is that this game offers excellent performance in an affordable package - great graphics don't need to slow performance to a halt.