The venerable Falcon 4 has received a recent overhaul with the release of SuperPAK 4.1. We tested the beloved sim with SimHQ’s new demo, a low level, air-to-ground dusk mission that consists of two Falcons using Mk20s and Mavericks. The outbound flight route takes the Falcons over the city and straight into trouble.
Even with a high-end processor such as the 3.4EE, Falcon 4’s performance still remains tied to the CPU as it loses only 10% across the resolutions tested.
Moving on to land combat, Far Cry is perhaps the most demanding title currently available in terms of hardware needed to run the game smoothly. Unfortunately, the game’s demo recording utility does not capture all graphical effects, such as gunfire, when used, so the testing method chosen was to load a map and basically play through it in its entirety, again using Fraps to log the frame rates. The map Research was picked because it consists of a good mix of beach, jungle, and interior play areas that represent the different environments of the game. Far Cry’s files were edited to allow God mode during testing, and what follows is a brief description of the path taken through the Research map during each test.
The level begins on a small island. Moving to the top of the grassy knoll for a good position, we would then use the sniper rifle to zoom in on enemies across the water. Once out of ammo, we would cross the water heading toward the stone arch along the beach. A helicopter is usually called in at this point, so we would hide beneath the arch until the ‘copter drops off additional enemy troops and flies off. Moving forward, there is a hill to the right where a good firefight ensues with the reinforcements. Once these enemies are dispatched, we would move toward the cliffs, up into the more dense vegetation in the direction of the shack. Grabbing the security card inside the shack we would then use the mortar to clear out any remaining enemies along the beach before heading down the hill on the left and into the cave. Upon reaching the T section in the cave we would go right, clearing enemies until reaching the power switch, and then move toward the elevator room, finishing the level by entering the elevator. The highest recorded frame rates occurred while in the elevator, so the test was ended immediately upon entering the lift.
There was a problem between Fraps 2.2.1 and Far Cry when recording was started, causing the game to momentarily freeze for a second and resulting in a false score for the lowest recorded frame rate. Regardless, the game scaled fairly consistently with the resolution increases. It will be very interesting to see what, if any, performance gains are realized with the GeForce 6 chips and the anticipated 1.2 patch and its Shader Model 3.0 support.
For Call of Duty (v1.4), the most recent game in a seemingly new industry of WW2 shooters, the included Dawnville map demo was used with the game’s timedemo utility. The “com_maxfps” command was used to remove the in-game default frame rate limit of 85 (even with Vsync disabled), setting the cap to 500.
Based on the aging Quake 3 engine, Call of Duty scales extremely well with faster processors, as indicated by the scores above.
NASCAR Racing 2003 Season is SimHQ’s lone motorsports test. Testing was conducted with an in-house demo that makes use of a crowded Daytona track. The camera was locked to Earnhardt’s car and placed in cockpit mode. As usual, all game options were fixed at their maximum settings.
Even at the resolution of 1600×1200 and a full track, the frame rates remained high enough to provide smooth gameplay. Nascar, however, is clearly CPU-limited as only a small variation occurred in the frame rates.