Before playing games, setting up your monitor's contrast & brightness levels is a very important thing to do. I realized recently that a lot of you guys have set up your monitor improperly. How do we know this? Because we receive a couple of emails every now and then telling us that a reader can't distinguish between the benchmark charts (colors) in our reviews. We realized, if that happens, your monitor is not properly set up.
This simple test pattern is evenly spaced from 0 to 255 brightness levels, with no profile embedded. If your monitor is correctly set up, you should be able to distinguish each step, and each step should be visually distinct from its neighbors by the same amount. Also, the dark-end step differences should be about the same as the light-end step differences. Finally, the first step should be completely black.
Far Cry 2
Throw your memory back to the year 2004 and the release of the innovative Far Cry on PC. Developer Crytek managed to fashion one of the most convincing and striking locales in all of gaming, and satisfied gamers with the freedom to pass through the landscape and tackle enemies in almost any way they saw fit. You surely remember Jack Carver and that things were about to get seriously messed up for you? Well, tough luck. You are no longer at that deserted tropical island but hop into a jeep and arrive at the sandy savannah surroundings of Africa. And that's a change... as much as you'll no longer run into any mutants, aliens, or any superpowers or psychic powers. Also - you are no longer Jack Carver, you assume the role of one of nine different mercenaries who are embedded in the midst of a brutal civil war which rages in an imaginary African nation.
Everything that goes down is involved in a dirty little bush war in central Africa and you'll have to use a rusty AK-47 and whatever bits of scavenged land mine you can duct-tape together. Two factions struggle for supremacy: the United Front for Liberation and Labour and the Alliance for Popular Resistance, and both are known for blood and control.
Far Cry 2 I like very much. Not so much for the gameplay anymore, yet the rendered environment and how the game can react to it. We are in high-quality DX10 mode and due to the nature of the cards we measure with 2xAA and 0xAA (anti-aliasing) and 16x AF (anisotropic filtering).
The GT 210 with it's 16 Shader cores is fruitless, you'll need to lower image quality completely in order to make the game playable. the GT 220 on the other hand manages. Tweaking a little more and in 1280x1024 we could get an acceptable framerate.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Modern Warfare 2 is set five years on from COD4 and brings a new villain into town: Vladimir Makarov. All the trouble all starts when Makarov frames the US for a terrorist attack on a Russian airport (yes, the infamous airport level). The rest of the story follows the same intertwined British and US mission format as before, and the missions are all incredible set-pieces that involve storming oil rigs, climbing icy cliffs and, of course, an adrenaline packed snowmobile chase. Visually the 3D engine seems to be the same as the COD4 one, it's tweaked and nearly abused to push out the very best of it's capability. the result is a very decent looking game really, smoke, fog, sun, vegetation detailed texturing of objects building and characters.
Our image quality settings are the most complex you can set in-game. 4x AA, maxed out anisotropic filtering, the best textures, everything is enabled to it's maximum capability. Any decent graphics card can run the game, it's that simple. There's no need to give in to lower quality settings.
Image Quality setting:
0x and 2x Anti-Aliasing
16x Anisotropic Filtering
All settings maxed out
In COD MF2 the GT210 would not even allow to startup so that was a no-go. The GT 220 however managed quite well. 33 FPS in 1600x1200 with 2xAA -- I have respect for that with a 50 USD card.
Inno3D GeForce GTX 770 iChill HerculeZ X3 Ultra review In this article we review the beast, the GTX 770 HerculeZ X3 Ultra from Inno3D is locked and loaded with the mighty HerculeZ X3 cooler, that's three slots wide but keeping the GPU under 55 Degrees C and completely silent. Pure awesomeness. That's not all though, it is factory overclocked for you at a very high level but even so can be tweaked quite a bit further.
Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti iChill review In this review we'll look at the GeForce GTX 660 Ti from Inno3D, it's their all new GeForce GTX 660 Ti iCHILL version and to date is one of the most impressive graphics cards in the 660 Ti range we have tested.
Inno3D GeForce GTX 580 OC review We review the Inno3D GeForce GTX 580OC. Despite a very high price tag the product seems to become a nice success. As such directly at launch several models based of this SKU where already announced, e.g. the regular clocked models, factory higher clocked models, liquid cooled models. This OC edition, in particular this is a reference GeForce GTX 580 that has been clocked faster to 820 MHz on the core where it also welcomes a nice bump on the overall memory frequency.