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BackDoor's Quick-Take of the Current Beta Patch

First of all, here's my specs.

P3 933Mhz
GeForce SDR
20GB HD @ 7200RPM

I am comparing my results to the initial release of DX based on the same test bed.

I installed the Beta patch and went into the first level. Right off the bat, I implemented cheats and pulled up the FPS counter. Right after I did that, I took a look around and absolutely couldn't believe that the D3D rendered textures had improved so much. I'm not sure what they did to this patch, but the textures no longer look grainy. Don't get me wrong, D3D still needs some improvement. For instance, when looking into the shadows, or dark sky........basically anything black, you can see the pixels. It's very distracting to see things pixelated. I have everything maxed out of course on my system, except I'm running in 16bit color. If I nudge it up to 32bit, then my system takes a significant FPS loss and it detracts from the experience. Anyhow, I noticed my FPS was higher as well. Before, when I tried to run DX on this same system, without this patch, and with the same settings as I have it on now, I was lucky to pull out 25-30 FPS. This time round, I was averaging between 35-40. Remember, that's average. Sometimes it would get as high as 56 FPS and sometimes as low as 22 FPS. So, as for the D3D performance, it seems improved, or at least on my system it is, but I wonder how it will run on other, slower systems. Please keep my settings in mind though........everything maxed out, but instead of 32bit, I simply used 16bit color. BTW, keep in mind that this game is one in which you only need 18-24 FPS to keep the screen nice and fluid. We all already know how Glide performance is, so I didn't plug in my old Banshee and test it, but I'm certain it would have performed admiralbly. I know Glide would be fine, because I played DX first on my low end machine. Here are the specs. for it.

AMD K6-2 400Mhz
Diamond Monster Fusion 16MB Voodoo Banshee
Aureal (built into the mobo)
8.4GB HD @ 5400RPM

When I first played DX on this low end machine, I averaged about 23-26 FPS in Glide. The only time it would bog down is when a massive fire fight broke out, then it would render itself at about 16-18 FPS, still easily playable. OpenGL support is covered a little lower in this article, because it was an after thought.

The first bug I noticed really isn't a bug. It's more like a memory leak, or so I think. I had quicksaved and at the time of my quicksaving, I was getting 20 something FPS. I then quickloaded, and my FPS dropped down to only 10 FPS. I did not move the mouse, I just let the game run and was hoping it would catch back up with me and the FPS would start coming back up, but they didn't. I sat there for about 4-5 minutes staring at the same place, not changing any polys on the screen, and the FPS never went above 10. I quickloaded again, and still, just 10 FPS. So I closed DX and restarted it to see if I could replicate the slow down, and sure enough, it did the same thing once again. Later on I tried replicating it again, but it actually quickloaded and gave me the same FPS before I quickloaded. Hmmmm, I wonder what's going on here?

A bug I found was with crates, TnT crates to be exact. If you're holding a crate and you lean, then you drop that crate. But if you have a crate, walk up to a wall, then lean, the crate disappears. I replicated this bug several times, and not once did the crate just drop straight down, or bounce off the wall. It alwasys vanished into thin air, or into the wall, should I say. I was notified that this really isn't a bug at all, but basically a limitation of the engine itself. I never noticed this in the initial release, but I must have never tried doing that exact same thing before.

I was also notified to "really" try OpenGL because this wasn't even supported in the initial release, but has been specially put in this patch to see how it works. I had not done so in my initial testing, but since Eidos insisted that I do so, I did. I didn't regret it either. Wait a second now....I'm not praising OpenGL, because it's still got some work to be done to it as well, but the consistency it gave me really shocked me. My frame rate never went above 33 FPS, but it also never dipped below 16 FPS. This is obviously a better consistency ratio than the D3D. Also, OpenGL beat out D3D in the shadow/anything-black department. It looked just like Glide. There were no pixelated dark areas....they were all smooth and good looking textures. Hold on, don't go anywhere yet, I'm not quite done. All of this was with all settings maxed out, and running in 32bit color. That's right, 32bit color, and it never chugged on me, but I never got in any massive fire fights either. Also, if I ran it in 16bit color, then I noticed some textures vibrating around the edges, as if they were yearning to bust out of their defined areas. Both 16bit and 32bit rendering gave me the exact same FPS.

So, what's the bottom line. Glide is of course still King here, but if you don't have a 3dfx based card, then you're going to have to go for the next best thing....D3D. D3D is very much improved, but not quite there yet. The obviously pixelated dark areas, and only having the ability to run it in 16bit color without a major hit to your FPS is the downfall still. But don't fret, because OpenGL is finally implemented, and gives a decent FPS but you've got to run it in 32bit to enjoy it. There's also a twist here. Sure, I could play it o.k., but look at my specs. People with lower end machines might not have as good as results as I did with running it at its max in OpenGL. Remember, this is only a Beta, and that's why it's labeled as so. Eidos has already fixed the first Beta and reissued us this one, and they are looking to push a quality patch out the door, but lets don't rush them. This Beta is definitely a positive thing, and if it's any sign that they're on the right track, then you all will be soon playing DX more and more, and that's not a bad thing. I have been reassured by Eidos that they are looking at all possible problems that the Beta testers are reporting, and are looking to improve upon them, if not fix them. I will continue my testing of this patch and any other editions of such, and keep you all updated with what I find. Again, lets all stand behind them, not rush them, and give them our support so that they give us proper support for a game that's so well loved and received.

Editors Note:
During the initial testing of this patch, I did mess around with Detailed Textures and all other settings, and changing of these also reflected a change in FPS accordingly. I did not write upon this subject because there wasn't anything significant to note. If I find anything in the future, you can be sure I'll update you.

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