Serious Sam 2
March 2001, developer Croteam released the original Serious Sam for the PC and pretty much made other standard first person shooters look like they were in neutral. The game, along with its stand alone follow up The Second Encounter, had an impressive graphics engine, huge outdoor environments, some wacky weapons, a fun co-op mode, and most importantly some of the numerous and strangest enemies in FPS history. When players first saw the headless bomb filled suicide attacker charging at them full blast with a blood curdling scream, they knew that this game was something special.
Four and a half years later, Croteam's turn return to the plate with Serious Sam 2 and while its basic gameplay hasn't changed it has enough new features to make it a fun and solid follow up to the original. The graphics are also greatly improved. Like the first, there is a story in Serious Sam 2 (there are even some extended cut scenes that pull the story forward) but you can pretty much ignore this aspect. It's all about "Serious" Sam Stone going from point A to point B and blowing up everything that gets in his way.
Constantly flaunting a huge draw distance, extensive foliage, many impressive lighting effects such as refraction and even HDR, plus more than solid framerates, the Serious Engine 2 looks like a real beast.
A reasonably modern title, yet CPU bound, thus good to test a mainboard with. In the above chart you can see the results with HDR enabled and 16 levels of anisotropic filtering enabled. This actually is my preferred personal IQ setting for pretty much all games. Again we see similar results.
Mind you, that the 7950 GX2 graphics card is still to be considered a pretty high-end piece of hardware. At 10x7 we just know that the title is very CPU limited (the graphics card can go faster yet the CPU can't provide data fast enough).
Baseline: Give or take one frame per second, but other than that there's just no difference.
Let's take a look at another even newer game. A bitch for any system; GRAW!
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
In Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 3, players will embody Captain Scott Mitchell as he commands the Ghosts and Special Forces allies equipped with the IWS in the quest to save the president of the United States, recover stolen nuclear codes and eliminate a vicious band of renegade soldiers hell-bent on unleashing catastrophe. The game unfolds entirely in Mexico City, where numerous, thoroughly researched and detailed environments will deliver complete immersion into the future of urban warfare.
Don't mistake the PC version for being a port of the Xbox 360 game. The PC version has larger and different levels than those featured on the Xbox 360, as well as a different graphics engine and style of gameplay. The game itself looks great, and the intricate physics modeling seen in the single-player version is still active in the multiplayer version. In fact, it's so detailed that if you have the upcoming Aegia physics card, you'll see sparks bouncing off objects in the environment. Even if you don't have a physics card, though, there are all sorts of other interactions you'll encounter in multiplayer. For instance, aluminum cans litter the street, and stepping on them not only kicks them around, but also creates a loud sound, which may betray your presence to the enemy.
You need to have a graphics monster as a graphics card for this game, as it can be hard on current graphics cards, even high-end ones. We are playing the level Coup d' Etat (Checkpoint 2) here (fantastic level). Configuration wise we enable, as always, all eye-candy. We have 16xAF enabled, and furthermore all settings set to high.
We have every possible bell & whistle enabled but it is quite shocking to see a game taking such a hefty toll on this not exactly cheap gaming rig. Again, very equal performance among the E6600 mainboards tested.
Right, it's time to head onwards to the conclusion.