With Mafia 2 coming closer to it’s release, hype atmosphere is getting hotter, and apart from other materials you can find on the web, PC Games Hardware has published decent interview with Denby Grace from 2K Czech on several Mafia’s engine features, and PhysX part specifically:
PC Games Hardware: Are there any differences between the Console and the PC Version of Mafia 2 as far as technical as well as visual aspects are concerned, for example GPU accelerated PhysX effects?
Denby Grace: You hit the nail on the head. The biggest difference is the GPU enabled physics effects. While on a system without GPU (consoles and ATI cards), the game will have a great PhysX simulation with particles and cloth, however, if you have the extra hardware we are able to push things to a whole new level which has not yet been seen in open world game before.
Our destructible environments feature thousands of physical particles which in turn can be affected by individual explosion force fields to make them move. It’s all very impressive and it’s these kinds of improvements that high end PC gamers can expect.
PC Games Hardware: We know you are using Nvidia’s PhysX API and also APEX moduls (“Clothing”). Besides PhysX support why did you decide to use Nvidia’s physics middleware instead of other physics libraries like Havok or ODE? What makes Nvidia’s SDK so suitable for your title?
Denby Grace: PhysX is a really scalable system, which is something that appealed to us. We get to integrate a base system that can be dialed up and down, dependant on what system specs the users have. We have a minimum benchmark frame rate that we want to see, then the PhysX simulation level will adjust itself based upon the type of hardware you have.
CPU vs GPU quite simply means that we can really push the boat out with that much dedicated horsepower without being concerned that it’s going to affect the performance of other areas, separating this out is certainly preferable. Going a step further is separating out the gfx from the physics with separate GPU’s (SLI configuration).
People without a GPU PhysX card will still have these effects but it won’t be quite as advanced. We were very careful in ensuring that this would not affect the game play experience, no matter what system you have. , Mafia II I think looks absolutely amazing even without the full PhysX.
PC Games Hardware: Does regular by CPU calculated physics affect visuals only or is it used for gameplay terms like enemies getting hit by shattered bits of blown-away walls and the like?
Denby Grace: No we don’t do this. We didn’t want to alienate a part of our user base with that sort of selective functionality.
Also, don’t forget to check several comparison PhysX screenshots, located at this technical review.
Besides, Gametrailers.com has uploaded an interview with Eric Liu, Nvidia content manager, covering PC version specific features, like 3DVision and GPU PhysX and APEX support.