Borderlands 2 from Gearbox Software, first title with GPU PhysX title of Year 2012, has occupied the hearts and minds of many PC gamers the last week.
Finally, we are also ready to present our PhysX oriented review of the game and, of course, usuall comparison video, showcasing additional PhysX effects.
In depth overview of the PhysX content and description of the differences between PhysX settings can be found in “Blood, Goo, & Destruction: A Close Look At PhysX In Borderlands 2” article at GeForce.com.
Now, let’s proceed to the review.
One can devide extra PhysX effects in Borderlands 2 into four basic types – Particles, Cloth, Fluids and ForceFields.
Physical particle effects can be encountered anywhere in the game – almost every weapon creates particles of some kind, hitting almost every surface produces impact debris, almost every enemy leaves gibs and scraps when it is eliminated. Particles stay persistently on the scene and interact with players, characters and area effects like explosions.
Simulated cloth objects – banners, tents, flags, covers, dry clothes and so on – are scattered throughout the world, mostly replacing their corny pre-animated counterparts (available on Low PhysX settings). All physical cloth interacts with characters and level geometry, and also reacts violently to gunfire, dropping shreds and tearing itself apart.
Game also features intensive usage of SPH Fluid dynamics – this includes more common fluid emitters, like water leaking from pipes (for example, on the Dam), and also blood, acid, napalm and other liquids.
Finally, there are ForceFields – a sort of invisible effect by itself, which shines in true glory while interacting with other PhysX content, as it makes all objects in a certain area behave in a specific manner. This goes from a simple explosions and shockwaves to a complex singularity effects.
A famous “Bazilion of Guns” concept (all weapons and their stats are generated randomely) adds even more variety to the effects – how would you like cluster-grenade, splitting acid all over the place, or multi-barreled shotgun with explosive shells, producing tons of ash particles and sparks upon impact?
So far, we can name only one minus, once again – lack of innovations. Fluids, particles and cloth are a good, well-established content, but new types of effects are welcomed.
From technical and artistical standpoint – particle effects are done almost perfectly (for PhysX particles). Nothing to add.
Simulated cloth is tuned well (behaving almost as real fabric) and blended nicely in the environment – various zones of the game have specific types of cloth objects, whether it be a dirty rugged tent in raiders camp or cover, drapped around container or heavy machinery on Hyperion construction bays.
However, we have spotted a few problems with fluids, like several broken emitters or rarely happening incorrect collisions with complex level geometry. Also, behavior of the fluids is a little blobby and gel-like, but this is a common problem of simulation of that type.
One can find PhysX effects, especially particles, a little overdone or exaggerated – they are like jumping off the screen right into your face. But we think that they pleasantly complement the cartoonish style of the game and its crazy gameplay. Don’t think about realism – just blow sh*t up and watch parts flying.
If you are fine with this concept – you will like the physics madness. Not to mention, that without all the PhysX stuff, Borderlands looks almost like another game – a little too dull, plain and boring (no matter if you like the PhysX effects or not).
As if GPU PhysX support in Borderlands 2 has not shown us enough advantages yet, it runs remarkably well in terms of performance (in comparison to other GPU PhysX games). Minimum fps rarely drops under 60 (and never to unacceptable levels) even in craziest battles, if you are have a decent NVIDIA GPU, like GTX 580 we have. Also, we have encountered no spontaneous fps drops, hickups or lag.
Moreover, GPU PhysX content shows a certain level of CPU optimizations, as it can be executed on CPU with acceptable framerates, according to our investigation. Of course, heavy scenes with lots of fluids and particles, especially when you are playing in co-op mode, will result in massive slowdowns, but still – it is a good progress.
Hybrid PhysX configurations are also compatible with this game.
Update: Borderlands 2 PhysX Benchmark roundup
One of the best, if not the best game with GPU PhysX effects at the moment. Highly recommended for everyone who is partial to PhysX technology.