There are things I like talking about besides games. Though I haven't been able to come up with anything specific, anything that is on top of my head I will just write about. That may include some photography and other hobbies that I stick around to. So to keep it more organized there are links above this section with categories of my interests, so feel free to check them out. If you have any comments or feedbacks, just email me at Enjoy your stay!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Revealing Dragon Age II

As for me, it was one of the most anticipated games of this year in its own category - but many of you may have noticed if you played Dragon Age: Origins, having it as a predecessor, Dragon Age II wasn't easy to pull off.

I was really excited that I finally started playing DA II after an epic experience I had with DA: O - I expected similar results with DA II, if not improved in the elements I thought they could've developed more in Origins. Both games have it's own goods and flaws, Origins I believe has a better direction in terms of customization, tactical game play, environments, story and relationships - where as the sequel minimized certain aspects I just mentioned, and rather seemed to have focused more on combat, efficiency (questing, party equipments etc.) and of course addition to voice acting. So what exactly are the differences between DA Origins and DA II? Before I get to that, I would like to give everyone my opinion to what I believe is a huge concern; graphics.

Apparently DA II has yet to be properly optimized by Nvidia cards, and in my opinion I will stick with 90-140 fps (I'm using Geforce GTX 460 with graphics set to medium - and graphics don't seem that bad). Normally I'd expect around 100+ fps anyway with graphics that aren't so high-end, but thats up to Nvidia and until they optimize and release their next set of drivers, so whoever is using a Nvidia card will have to stand low in graphical settings. Personally I feel it's not that big of a deal because the differences aren't hugely noticeable and isn't worth sacrificing a big fps drawback. Here are some examples: (Just click on them to view full size if you want a clear view)

Low - DX9
With "Low" settings in DX9, the shadows are shown as just black circles and the textures on the wall aren't as clear, it seems to have blurred away. With this I got around 200+ fps.

Medium - DX9
Settings have been changed to "Medium" with DX9 - notice the difference in the shadows and if you look closely, the texture seems to have formed up a little bit, though not too obvious. Are you wondering about the fps difference? well, surprisingly, this is a 40-60 fps drop.

High - DX11
Unfortunately, "High" graphics settings are not available unless you switch to DX11 (you can switch to DX11 with "Low" and "Medium" as well). Here it is, doesn't seem to offer much difference visually, but in terms of fps drawback it plays a major role. With this setting I had around 70-90 fps depending on the environment and objects on scene - so whats with the "High" setting? Honestly, there aren't any reasons to play at this configuration unless you want lower fps performance with possibly microscopic changes visually. Lets take a look now at the "High" setting with AA and AF turned to max.

High - DX11 AA AF (Maxed)
High - DX11

The different image is for the purpose of both AA and AF - click on the images to view them in full size, then you will get a glimpse of the changes occurred. I have to tell you there was a major fps drop - again, 40-50 fps difference, but is it really worth it? I guess it is a subjective matter - usually I prefer a smoother game play even if it means sacrificing eye-candy visuals. Anyways back to the picture (High - DX11), try and focus on the center edge of the weapon (between the gold and brown transition). See that the edge is jagged? Now if you have AA turned on you will notice in the next photo the edge becomes a smooth line. It doesn't actually just change into a smooth line, what AA does is it blurs out the jagged areas of the line so it fools the eye into thinking otherwise. If you actually zoom in close, assuming it doesn't become too pixelated, you can still see the jagged areas along with the blur covering it up - so when it comes to viewing it in large scale, the blurring effect will not be as distinct. Next I will talk about AF (Anisotropic Filtering) and see if it plays a large roll visually in significance to the fps of the game. Before I get to that I'd like to clarify that it only happens to Nvidia graphics card due to the bad optimization of the game.

AF turned OFF
AF turned ON

The AF option - to sharpen textures that are receding from a distance, above are two examples, click on them to enlarge. Primarily focus on the floor textures, the bumps and cracks seem to play a deeper impact in the environment - also take a close look at the wall textures and buildings that are distant from the character. Now when it comes to fps drawback, it offers less deterioration in comparison with AA, and for me, when AF is on it is a lot more evident to AA as oppose to analyzing the edges of each object when you're playing the game.

And finally, the "Very High" setting option along with SSAO (Screen Space Ambient Occlusion) - the general idea of that is the engine produces a different lighting method of the environment and allow light to diffuse within what is considered a non-reflective surface. DOF (Depth of Field) - many of you had come across this option before, and lastly "High quality blur". Here are two pictures comparing between the lowest and the highest possible settings.

Lowest possible settings
Highest possible settings

Mind you, the fps difference between the two pictures is around... 100 fps - no joke! Yet again let me clarify, it is most likely due to the optimization, and it appears that ATI graphics card users will most likely benefit from better visuals. Back to the two pictures; now lets take a look at the details between them. The hardest possible difference will most likely be the SSAO and DOF, click on the image and focus on the shade of mountain right below the middle of the screen - notice the sharpness of both pictures and you will realize where the DOF comes in. Of course we have the shadows and textures well noticeable especially on the ground, and the environment lighting seems to have waken up the scene as oppose to a flat-like image with low settings.

All of these settings sound really sweet, but it is barely a concern when considering the fps drawback - and some of you might be entirely focused on game play and forgetting about the environment around you. So my final thoughts; unless there are updates regarding optimization, i'd stick to medium settings with AA and AF turned on - with my Geforce GTX 460 I managed to get around 90-110 fps throughout the game, maybe some plus and minus depending on the scene. 

That is it for now! If you have any comments or questions, feel free to do so, and stay tuned for my next update concerning the differences between DA: O and DA II. Hope you enjoyed my review!

No comments:

Post a Comment