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GPU PhysX in Borderlands 2

with 15 comments

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.

Update: Borderlands 2 – GPU PhysX Profile

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.

AMOUNT 9/10

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.

QUALITY 9/10

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.

IMMERSION 9/10

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).

PERFORMANCE 9/10

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

TOTAL 9/10

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.

Written by Zogrim

September 24th, 2012 at 7:38 pm

15 Responses to 'GPU PhysX in Borderlands 2'

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  1. Thanks Zogrim. Great review and video.

      

    mareknr

    24 Sep 12 at 8:44 pm

  2. mareknr: Great review and video.

    My pleasure :)

    I’m always trying to stay skeptical and unbiased, but PhysX support in Borderlands 2 is really good. Once again, to summarize:

    * So far best particles and cloth implementation (variety of effects, quality, usage throughout the game, how they fit into environment).
    * Most advanced SPH Fluid usage. One may not like it for a gel-like behaviour, but that is a common problem of simulation of that type.
    * Best performance among other GPU PhysX games (relatively to the hardware available at the time of release).
    * PhysX effects change the visual look of the game in a dramatic manner. You may not like them, but you can deny that.

      

    Zogrim

    24 Sep 12 at 8:52 pm

  3. Zogrim,

    Can you tell me where the fluid locations are?

      

    mark076h

    24 Sep 12 at 11:42 pm

  4. Zogrim,

    Could you share what tools you use to create your videos?

      

    mark076h

    24 Sep 12 at 11:44 pm

  5. mark076h: Can you tell me where the fluid locations are?

    At various places, but you definitely can find some at “Bloodshot Stronghold”

    mark076h: Could you share what tools you use to create your videos?

    FRAPS and Sony Vegas.

      

    Zogrim

    25 Sep 12 at 12:10 am

  6. There are people reporting big fps drops with PhysX on high on 680 single and SLI if you search the internet.

    ” 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, absolutely no spontaneous fps drops, hickups or lag.”

    so how can a previous generation part 580 which is slower than the 680 not see these drops.

      

    Makaveli

    25 Sep 12 at 12:41 am

  7. Zogrim: At various places, but you definitely can find some at “Bloodshot Stronghold”

    I can’t find those fluid pipes that constantly have the fluid flowing.

      

    mark076h

    25 Sep 12 at 12:47 am

  8. Makaveli: so how can a previous generation part 580 which is slower than the 680 not see these drops.

    Well, I’m telling what I saw during my walkthrough.

    Physics load highly depend on particular situation – number of active players and enemies on the scene, weapons they are using, etc.

    Like here people are reporting a “geforce 560.. constant 60 fps.. physx on high” and “gtx 680.. deeps to low fps on large battles” – at the same time.

    Also, NVIDIA has promised a performance patch. There may be some problems with certains configurations.

    mark076h: I can’t find those fluid pipes that constantly have the fluid flowing.

    They are almost at the end of the level.

      

    Zogrim

    25 Sep 12 at 12:48 am

  9. Great review and video Zogrim :)
    I was surprised to see so many particles while playing, it really makes the game a lot more immersive and adds so much to the effects.
    One of the best PhysX based games by far :)

      

    Spets

    25 Sep 12 at 1:21 am

  10. Agreed it seems some driver updates are in order!

    Btw Nice video.

      

    Makaveli

    25 Sep 12 at 2:10 am

  11. Is it possible to disable specific PhysX effects of your choice, like you did for Mafia 2 ?

    I really don’t like the fluids (not “cartoony” like the rest, not splashy enough, blood spills disappear too fast etc.), so I’d love to disable them, keep the other effects to High and see how that looks…

      

    ztorm

    4 Oct 12 at 6:51 pm

  12. ztorm:

    Is it possible to disable specific PhysX effects of your choice, like you did for Mafia 2 ?

    Unfortunately, not.

    For Mafia II we were able to selectively remove specific APEX assets.

    Borderlands 2, in comparison
    1) is not using APEX
    2) have all resources packed

    Also, I’ve asked the PhysX content team – there is no proper way to adjust effect through .ini files either

      

    Zogrim

    4 Oct 12 at 7:39 pm

  13. Ah, that’s too bad… Thanks.

      

    ztorm

    5 Oct 12 at 6:36 pm

  14. i have same PhysX effects with my ATI 5770 on 1440*900 and AMD Phenom 6 core but 10-12 fps
    but i have Particles, Cloth, Fluids and ForceFields!

      

    Minecraft

    4 Mar 13 at 1:21 am

  15. i have a evga titan with a 660 superclocked (recent add on) as physx gpu and i still see massive frame dropps in comabat with physx on medium it was so bad i had to insatll the 660 i had been only using the titan before and it was pretty much unplayable with physx on medium and less you turned all the other setting to their lowest value but you still didn’t get 60 fps in combat with physx on medium but as soon as i turn physx to low problem solved so i hope it is a driver problem otherwise this is a joke $1200 of nvida gpu tech and borderlands 2 runs worse than crysis 3 when physx is on

      

    DakTannn

    5 May 13 at 7:28 pm


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