As many of you will be aware, F.E.A.R (or First Encounter Assault & Recon in short) involves a rather mysterious looking girl in a red dress, a man with an unappetizing taste for human flesh and some rather flashy action set pieces aka The Matrix. All of this is brought together by one of the best game engines around.
F.E.A.R. makes its cinematic pretensions clear from the start. As soon as the credits roll, and the music starts, you are treated to the full works. The camera pans across scores of troops locked 'n' loaded and ready to hunt you down, all seemingly linked to 'Paxton Fettel', a strange kind of guy with extraordinary psychic power capable of controlling battalions of soldiers and a habit of feeding off any poor unfortunate innocents - presumably to aid his powers of concentration. It doesnt end there, after a short briefing at F.E.A.R. HQ you are sent off to hunt down Fettel equipped with reflexes that are 'off the chart'. These reflexes are put to excellent use, with a slow motion effects like that of Max Payne, or the before mentioned Matrix. But here, it is oooohhhh so much more satisfying thanks to the outstanding environmental effects. Sparks fly everywhere, as chunks of masonry are blasted from the walls and blood splatters from your latest victim. The physics are just great, with boxes sent flying, shelves tipped over, and objects hurtling towards your head. And the explosions, well, the explosions just have to be seen, and what's so great about this is you can witness it in all its glory in slow motion.
Let me confirm to you that based on this, F.E.A.R. will have you shaking on the edge of your seat, if not falling off it. The tension is brought to just the right level with key moments that will make your heart leap. Play the demo and you will see what I mean. The key to this, is the girl. Without revealing anything significant, lets just say that she could take on the whole of Mars for creepiness.
F.E.A.R. has a built in test which we used to measure performance, you should try it yourself, it's really fun to look and compare with our results. Yet F.E.A.R. after all this time still is a tough title for the graphics cards; especially when you configure it to maximum image quality. This game is heavily pixel shaded and shows some dark and creepy effects. 4xAA and 16xAF where applied here, and again the two competing cards are dead on with each other performance wise.
Image Quality setting:
4x Anti Aliasing
16x anisotropic filtering
Soft Shadows Disabled
To keep the game sessions a bit organized and clean to look at, I took six different processors and a GeForce GTX 280. Processors used in this comparison:
AMD Athlon X2 7750 BE
AMD Phenom II 810
AMD Phenom II X4 920
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
AMD Phenom X3 720 BE
Intel Core i7 920
As you'll notice throughout the gaming sessions. the processor doesn't have to be made out of pure muscle once you pass the 1280x1024 resolution. Difference however are measurable as I have selected a wide variety in multi-core processors and clock frequencies.
What you'll find interesting to see is that in the previous "desktop" benchmark, the Phenom II X4 810 consistently was faster than the X3 720 BE. here's the thing, games really do not care very much if you have more than 2 processors cores. it helps a little here and there, but the nature of most games is simple .. 2 cores are used, and thus a higher clock frequency means more than further additional cores.
We'll have a game title or two loving multiple cores as well. It is a programming trend and in the years to come, multiple cores will get more important.
Now for each game benchmark I'll again & also add overclocking results as promised. So each second chart will show:
GTX 280 + Phenom II X4 810 (2.6 and 3.0 GHz)
GTX 280 + Phenom II X3 720BE (2.8 and 3.7 GHz)
Especially in the lower resolutions where you are not GPU bound the overclock will start to show. But let's move onwards to a modern gaming title, Brothers in arms Hell's Highway.
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