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STALKER foxes CrossFire

And DX9 crushes GeForce frame rates
Wed Mar 28 2007, 17:35
ONE MIGHT USUALLY try and steer clear of a firing squad, since an impromptu meeting with such can often provoke a messy end. However, when said FiringSquad is merely performing frame rate testing on hit PC shooter S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (referred to, henceforth, as Stalker, for the sake of our sanity), you might be forgiven for looking a little bit closer - especially when there's some good juice to be had.

The juice can be found here, where the boys over at FiringSquad compare image quality and performance of a variety of Green Team and, er, Green Team Mk2 graphics cards in the game. For those for whom the latest PC FPS happenings are cryptic, Stalker is the latest hot game on the market, set in a post-disaster Chernobyl, with pretty stunning graphics and a 'lifelike' AI system.

Notable amongst the findings of the analytical team was that CrossFire doesn't work in the game, at all. As the boys say, "Performance was unchanged under dual GPU CrossFire configs. We even tried forcing CrossFire's AFR mode by changing the Catalyst A.I. slider to advanced, but this didn't help."

We remember, way back in the day, when CrossFire was touted as being absolutely profile independent. "No crummy driver profiles for us," ATI reps screamed from the high heavens. "CrossFire will work in every game, ever." Those claims have long since faded into the stuff of myth, but it's disappointing to see the lack of support in such a major new release, even if it is marketed up with Nvidia's TWIMTBP scheme.

However, the Invidious ones don't have it all their own way. Stalker doesn't support simultaneous anti-aliasing and DirectX 9 high dynamic range lighting, which the boys have pushed as a big feature of the GeForce 8 series (although the chaps at DAAMIT have had that functionality since the X1900 series, notably). This means that gamers looking for a gorgeously-lit gaming experience will face a difficult choice between enabling AA or the awesome lighting. Since both crush the frame rate on offer, this isn't a particularly great situation.

ATI also sports better image quality, by default, since Radeon's anisotropic filtering has long been known to take Nvidia's over its knee and administer a good spanking. The same is true here, and the only way to get around it is to up the image quality in the Nvidia control panel, according to FiringSquad, which obviously reduces the performance.

However, the GeForce 8800 GTS is nonetheless named as the best 'mainstream' graphics card to play Stalker on, partly due to the obscene performance and partly due to the fact that DAAMIT doesn't really have anything comparable yet. If you haven't bought the game yet and you're having a think about graphics performance, check out the recommendations. µ


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