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Mafia II: PhysX Reviews roundup

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Mafia II is about to hit the shelves in US, and since it is, probably, most heavyweight title in 2010 GPU PhysX games line, we can expect a lot of detailed reviews about APEX PhysX special effects, added to the game.

We’ve already posted an benchmarks overview for Mafia II Demo, so let’s focus on final version now:

[23.08.10] Mafia II: Perfection for NVIDIA’s Graphics Plus Technologies ? by HardwareCanucks

APEX effects decription and comparison are pretty basic, and only two GPUs [GTX460/GT240 dedicated] were used for testing, but enough attention was paid to CPU scailing [i5/i7] and CPU usage graphs.

According to benchmarks results, Mafia II is pretty playble on CPU even with APEX set to High.


In the past NVIDIA and their developers took an incredible amount of flak over the use of GPU-processed physics due to the utter lack of optimizations the PhysX API had for the CPU. With Mafia II’s use of the open-minded APEX routines, a corner seems to have been turned because we finally see that it is possible to run these calculations quite smoothly with only a few hiccups on a multi core CPU.

The GPU is still more efficient at physics processing but in some cases you will likely want all of the rendering horsepower it brings to the table. This feature is still nothing more than eye candy but if you can run it, we suggest you do so because it does increase the overall believability of certain scenes.

[23.08.10] Mafia II Full Version Review with 3D Vision and Physx Benchmarks by HiTechLegion

APEX Technology description and comparison screenshots are pretty similar to their Mafia II demo review, but GPU setup was changed this time.


Unlike most PC PhysX titles, Mafia II relies completely on PhysX to render an immersive gangster’s paradise.  Turning PhysX off results in a hum-drum gameplay that resembles 3rd person shooters from the early part of the decade but with Ambient occlusion and higher res textures.

I would rather trade graphical quality than play the game in its highest settings with PhysX disabled.  It simply is just not the same game without the dust, debris, smoke and of course, the stylistic trench coats!

[23.08.10] Mafia-II Video Game Performance Review by BenchmarkReviews

Includes not only performance testing, but initial gameplay overview and impressions, however, APEX description does not provide any significant details.


To experience Mafia II with all it’s high-quality graphical glory, gamers are going to require at least a GeForce GTX 470 video card to produce optimal frame rates. Of course, the game’s settings can all be dialed down, but once you’ve experienced APEX PhysX there’s really no turning back. Although I’ve generally been rather quiet in regard to PhysX quality enhancements for video games, this silence ends with Mafia II.

APEX PhysX literally helped turn Mafia II from video game to video reality – it’s that different. Add NVIDIA’s GeForce 3D-Vision onto this, whether it be single display or 3D-Vision Surround, and you’ll experience realism not found in any other title before this.

[26.08.10] Mafia II: How To set up AMD & Nvidia cards for APEX PhysX by PCGamesHardware

Not a review actually, but a german guide on how to configure Hybrid PhysX system for Mafia II.

Includes some benchmarks – HD 5870 + dedicated NV 9800 GTX.

[27.08.10] Mafia II: Hardware Performance Guide by Gamespot

Wide overview on how different graphics setting (ambient occlusion, shadow quality, resolution) are affecting performance, CPU and memory tests, and, of course, benchmarks with APEX PhysX effects enabled.


Apex PhysX is really where the action is at for this game. The requirements are steep, but you’ll be treated to debris and fluid clothing like never before.

[31.08.10] Mafia II GPU & CPU Performance In-depth by TECHSPOT

Detailed APEX PhysX performance overview, with lots of GPUs tested (NV, NV + NV dedicated, ATI + NV – 23 different graphics cards in total).

More interesting are CPU scaling graphs – with APEX set to High it scales better, than with APEX Off. But we know what is the cause now, right ? ;)


Playing through a few levels of Mafia II while enabling and disabling PhysX we found that the effects visually improve some select scenes, making them more realistic, but for the most part they do little to enhance the game itself.

Although I am a sucker for eye candy, it is hard not to feel like you are not getting enough of it based on the perfrormance hit.

[02.09.10] Mafia II: Is Applied PhysX Worth It ? by ExtremeTech

Pretty mediocre article – two comparison screenshots, APEX Framework (which is simply called – PhysX) effects description just from Reviewer’s Guide, few GPUs tested, no CPU scaling graphs, no detalization on CPU/GPU Cloth problem or Clothing tweaking tests – not something you can expect from such late material.


The Mafia II benchmark with PhysX enabled does look a lot better than the plain version—as does the full game.

But for us, the increased visual reality is unquestionably offset by the decreased smoothness of game play, which is where we like to get our immersion.

But as much as we like the myriad little PhysX touches that make Mafia II look far more exciting than it actually is to play, we’d prefer bullet-proof frame rates.

[03.09.10] Mafia 2 PhysX Performance by bit-tech

Decent read this time. Includes interesting manipulations with Hybrid PhysX/dedicated PhysX GPUs setups and CPU overclocking .


From what we’ve seen, [GPU PhysX] is certainly worth using an ageing 8-series of GTX 2xx series card for PhysX if you already have one, but so far as buying a card expressly for PhysX or running an ATI/Nvidia Hybrid setup goes it might be that Mafia 2 is one game and you can live with turning PhysX off.

[17.09.10] NVIDIA APEX PhysX: CPU vs GPU Efficiency by BenchmarkReviews

Second article from BenchmarkReviews, but too superficial this time – no CPU scaling graphs, no APEX tweaking tests, even no dedicated PhysX GPU was used – and we all know, that APEX Clothing will run on CPU in this case.


For best results in Mafia II, players are suggested to use NVIDIA GeForce products to properly process PhysX features and produce high-enough frame rate performance to enjoy 3D Vision. You can still play Mafia II and future APEX PhysX-enabled PC video games with your Radeon video card, but as our results show, there will be hell to pay.

[22.10.10] Mafia II: PhysX Tested, HotHardware Reviewed by

For an article, released a month after original Mafia II game, PhysX overview is just perfunctory.. however, it has some interesting notes.

Mafia II uses PhysX to good effect; Empire Bay looks and sounds wonderful. Besides these points, there’s not much to recommend the game.

– We’ll update this post as more articles emerge –

Written by Zogrim

August 24th, 2010 at 10:25 am

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