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GPU PhysX in Batman: Arkham City

with 16 comments

Batman: Arkham City, sequel to award winning Arkham Asylum title and second GPU PhysX game this year, has finally hit the shelves worldwide.

Update: Batman: Arkham City – GPU PhysX Profile

As usually, we are proud to present you our PhysX review and comparison video, showcasing extra physical effects that can be found in PC version of the game.

Can't view the video ? Watch alternative variant on Vimeo

Some technical details, like difference between PhysX settings, were already revealed in our preview article, so let’s give a score to different aspects of GPU PhysX implementation and compare them to previous Batman: Arkham Asulum title:

QUALITY 8/10

All effects are done accurately, with diligence – you will not see jerky or buggy behaviour (within physics engine limitations, of course), art is fine, almost everything is configured correctly. However, some particle effects could be done better – for example, it is not appealing to see when glass shards are jumping all over the place like they were made out of rubber.

QUANTITY 9/10

PhysX effects are scattered all over the game and accumulated in a places you will visit during main storyline (for example, you won’t see dynamic paper sheets on a random street).

Overall amount of extra physics content is similar to Arkham Asylum, but the components differ: you won’t see many “environmental” cloth objects, like all those banners and flags that can be teared appart with batarang, but in return APEX Clothing module is used extensively to simulate dynamic clothing on characters, including hoodies and coats on thugs, pants on russian twin-clowns, costume of Bruce Wayne, etc.

SPH smoke, steam and fog are rare in this game, but other particles (physical debris, shards, splinters, sparks) can be encountered much more frequently. All boss battles are enhanced with unique particle effects, for example.

As a good tradition, there is psychedelic level with lots of GPU Rigid Bodies. Looks gorgeous, actually, without PhysX effects this scene feels not nearly as vivid and spectacular.

IMMERSION 9/10

GPU PhysX effects are certanly enhancing gameplay experience, giving it a little more depth, color and vibrance, either by providing  momentum to the battles through particle debris or making the environment more believable with interactive objects.

If you are not expecting from PhysX content something it is not supposed to be (game changing or gameplay affecting feature), you will be satisfied.

At the same time, GPU PhysX support is showing a little progress in this title. Particles, cloth and stuff – we have already saw it in a games before. While PhysX effects in original Batman have received the top score, today we are forced to deduct a points (back in 2009 most of the effects were fresh and innovative, but now “more of the same” content did not impressed us that much).

PERFORMANCE 8/10

As always, hardware accelerated PhysX effects are requiring a powerfull NVIDIA GPU, however this time framerate with PhysX enabled is unusually stable (without infamous issues like spontaneous slowdowns in Alice: Madness Returns or half-GPU physics in Mafia II). On our single GTX 580, framerate was holding on 50-60 fps even in extensive PhysX scenes and never dropped below 30 frames per second.

Also, additional PhysX effects are slightly more friendly to CPU calculation this time (in case if you don’t have NVIDIA GPU), you even will be able to play certain parts of the game normally, but smooth gameplay is still a dream.

Hybrid PhysX owners will be pleased to hear that new Batman is compatible with such systems.

Update: PhysX benchmarks roundup

TOTAL 8.5/10

Great game with a good level of GPU PhysX support. Once again, main reason to choose PC version over the console ones.

Written by Zogrim

November 28th, 2011 at 4:36 pm

16 Responses to 'GPU PhysX in Batman: Arkham City'

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  1. If you are not expecting from PhysX content something it is not supposed to be (game changing or gameplay affecting feature), you will be satisfied.

    So there aren’t plans to use GPU PhysX for influencing gameplay of games? I hoped that in future it could be…

      

    mareknr

    28 Nov 11 at 5:39 pm

  2. mareknr: So there aren’t plans to use GPU PhysX for influencing gameplay of games?

    In the future, if GPU physics will become standart on consoles.. right now, not likely

      

    Zogrim

    28 Nov 11 at 5:45 pm

  3. Good job! Banknotes looks realy nice.

      

    Vojtech

    28 Nov 11 at 5:52 pm

  4. In the future, if GPU physics will become standart on consoles.. right now, not likely

    In new XboX, Nintendo and maybe even PS4 there will be GPUs from AMD. Standard GPU physics doesn’t see like near future. :-)

      

    mareknr

    28 Nov 11 at 8:10 pm

  5. mareknr: In new XboX, Nintendo and maybe even PS4 there will be GPUs from AMD

    I believe, following developers demand, NVIDIA can/will port PhysX SDK to OpenCL or whatever “open standart” may be used on nexgen ;)

      

    Zogrim

    28 Nov 11 at 11:23 pm

  6. “While PhysX effects in original Batman have received the top score, today we are forced to deduct a few points.”

    Why is that exactly?

    Off topic; There used to be yearly articles, comparing physics engines market share. Why did it stop?

      

    eddman

    29 Nov 11 at 7:54 pm

  7. eddman: Why is that exactly?

    That means that GPU PhysX support in Arkham Asylum was more impressive, partly because many effects were innovative back than (cloth for smaller objects, GPU rigid bodies, sph-smoke, etc)

    eddman: There used to be yearly articles, comparing physics engines market share

    There was only one, actually.
    Plan was to make these graphs and stuff automatically generated and updated daily based on data from our database, but this feature is not in top priority right now

      

    Zogrim

    29 Nov 11 at 8:37 pm

  8. Yes. Good question. I’m interesting in actual physics engines market too.

      

    mareknr

    29 Nov 11 at 8:45 pm

  9. Zogrim: That means that GPU PhysX support in Arkham Asylum was more impressive, partly because many effects were innovative back than (cloth for smaller objects, GPU rigid bodies, sph-smoke, etc)

    Ok, I get it now. It is written a little bit vague. You meant that it was impressive at that time because it was new and unprecedented, but now it’s more of the same and so lower points as a result.

    There was only one, actually.
    Plan was to make these graphs and stuff automatically generated and updated daily based on data from our database, but this feature is not in top priority right now

    I thought there was more than one; don’t know why. It’d be interesting to know the current market share situation. It seems that havok managed to grab more AAA titles in 2010 and 2011.
    By the way, where do you get those detailed market share numbers?

      

    eddman

    30 Nov 11 at 12:17 am

  10. By the way, where do you get those detailed market share numbers?

    oops, sorry, just read the “Endnote” section in the physics comparison article. Never mind.

      

    eddman

    30 Nov 11 at 12:26 am

  11. eddman: It’d be interesting to know the current market share situation.

    It’s a bit of a harsh work, cause I need to fill all missing data (release dates, mestascore, etc) for all the titles manually.
    Right now no plans for new overview, since there are other things that need to be done first.

      

    Zogrim

    30 Nov 11 at 12:54 am

  12. Zogrim: It’s a bit of a harsh work, cause I need to fill all missing data (release dates, mestascore, etc) for all the titles manually.
    Right now no plans for new overview, since there are other things that need to be done first.

    I agree. I was just reading havok’s game list and it’s a mess. There is no way to sort the games and there are some high-profile games missing, at least I couldn’t find them, like fallout 3, NV and the witcher 2. What kind of a list is this?!

      

    eddman

    30 Nov 11 at 2:30 am

  13. Zogrim: I believe, following developers demand, NVIDIA can/will port PhysX SDK to OpenCL or whatever “open standart” may be used on nexgen

    This would be a good move:-) Sticking with CUDA seems a bit like fighting the tide…

    Hopefully nsight will have OpenCL support added as well.

      

    David Black

    30 Nov 11 at 6:14 pm

  14. Although then there is the next MS console, it seems less likely it would support OpenCL:-(

      

    David Black

    30 Nov 11 at 6:15 pm

  15. David Black: This would be a good move

    When I spoke with NV guys recently, I was told that currently there is no demand from developers for OpenCL/DX Compute GPU PhysX (or at least, there is no demand that will cover the costs).

    So, unless big players (like Epic Games) will show their interest, CUDA will be our everything :)

      

    Zogrim

    30 Nov 11 at 7:49 pm

  16. We just have to wait…

    Might take some time, but I dont think Nvidia has the market dominance or a strong enough reason(unlike MS) to stick to a propriatery system like CUDA in the long term. At least in the consumer market.

      

    David Black

    30 Nov 11 at 9:16 pm


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