Posts Tagged Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto : Episodes from Liberty City Performance Issues

To stay above that smooth 60 fps, you need to turn off Shadow Quality

With the recent release of Grand Theft Auto : Episodes from Liberty City for PC (and PS3), as well as “Rockstar Week” on Steam, I along with many others are back in the world of Liberty City. For those (few) who did not purchase the Xbox 360 exclusive last year for whatever reason, are now able to revisit Liberty City for some fine DLC for one of the greatest games of all time, Grand Theft Auto 4.

The DLC has so much more than the usual down-loadable content we are seeing lately. In fact it feels like a full game, actually scrap that, two full games, not only for the depth of each of the episodes “The Lost and Damned” and “The Ballad of Gay Tony” but for the standalone package format it has been released in. That’s right you don’t even need to have purchased the original GTA IV to enjoy Episodes from Liberty City, although if you have been hiding under a rock and missed out on GTA IV then I highly recommend playing it through before visiting the new episodes.

GTA 4 settings used in the benchmarking

The problem I am finding even after my discoveries in my initial GTA IV performance report, is back again, Grand Theft Auto still runs at a very low frame rate. With the release of Episodes from Liberty City for PC, the original GTA IV and the Episodes have been patched with a new and ‘improved’ scalable shadow solution. Great I thought, a new less memory-intensive, and better looking shadow solution sounds perfect, just what we need to keep the frame rate above 60fps for a smooth cruise around the faux New York that is Liberty City. The problem is performance is still low with “Shadow Quality” at all settings, and the new “Night Shadows” option make things even worse. Back to the benchmarking to test out this new improved shadow patch!

Taking a look at the figures above the only way I managed to maintain a playable 60+ frames per second was to turn off shadow quality completely. The frame rate drops below 60 fps even with shadow quality set to “Low”, and begins to fall rapidly with each toggle in shadow and night shadow quality increase, dropping to an extremely jerky 43 fps on the “Very High” setting. GTA 4 has never been a smooth ride for PC owners, and even on the test bed here at gamdo HQ, a Radeon 5870 and Intel Q9550 @ 3.4GHZ struggles to keep a constant frame rate. Has the patch made a difference? To performance I would say no, but when turned on shadow quality does improve image quality and shadows are less glitchy, but that is a judgment I can only make by sight, with no hard facts to back it up.

Either way Liberty City still looks beautiful on the PC, well worth the wait for those that held out from playing the Xbox 360 exclusive, even with the shadow quality setting turned off. The city is full off hustle and bustle and crime is still as entertaining as it was in GTA IV, the new episodes are fresh and filled with new story, crazy new characters and plenty of achievements to grab. So I’m off back to Liberty City, shadows turned off and Beat 102.7 turned on.

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Zombie Driver Demo is like GTA 1 & L4D

GTA 1 meets L4D

If you were a great fan of the top down Grand Theft Auto original like me,  you will love Zombie Driver. The demo now out on Steam or direct from the publisher is enough of a taster to help you make the choice to go all out for the full game currently at £6.99 (I stuck with just the demo…for now).

Oh no another zombie game I hear you cry, which is true, zombies are popping up in every game release, just like vampires are in all new films or TV series (thanks Twilight). Have we had enough zombies? Yes but just like in real life (?), zombies keep coming because that’s what zombies do. So grab your car keys, fire up your engines and put your foot to the floor. You see Zombie Driver is different, it lets you drive over as many zombies as possible ala GTA, preferably whilst doing a hand brake turn leaving the by now standard ‘blood skid marks’.

And this is where L4D and L4D2 failed, it had only guns, Zombie Driver has cars, and the ability to ‘pimp your ride’ with mods such as nitros, guns, and those bull bars that were banned in the UK many years ago. What are you waiting for, download Zombie Driver Demo now for a much needed break from Left 4 Dead 2.

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GTA IV Performance – Dual vs Quad cores

GTA4-Performance

1680 x 1050 - All High Settings 40/40 View/Detail Distance VSYNC On

Along with many others I have been extremely disappointed with GTA IV performance on the PC. Apart from bugs with textures disappearing and key mapping which have been solved in recent patches the biggest downfall was the inconsistent frame rate. The Xbox 360 version seems to maintain a reasonable frame rate whereas more powerful PCs across the net have struggled. In my quest to get to the bottom of this I have discovered 2 things.  GPU has little affect, CPU is everything.

The majority of PC gamers have stuck with dual core CPU’s as most games have not required quad core, the biggest backup to this was Crysis, the ultimate benchmark that would bring any PC to its knees, which ran faster on dual cores. Quad core adoption has been slow but is gradually increasing (see graph below). From my in game experience and now benchmarks GTAIV requires at minimum a quad core processor, probably due to the multiple cores on the Xbox 360 that it was originally coded for. The frame rate on GTA IV on a dual core CPU is extremely inconsistent, no matter what graphic card, even a 5870 from ATI. Reaching a smooth and consistent 60fps is only possible with a Quad core.

cpu-adoption

Stats per Steam hardware survey Oct 2009

As more and more games are released on all 3 platforms (PS3 XBOX360 & PC), with PC only titles rarely being produced, and even PC specific developers like Crytek moving their flagship engines to all 3 platforms, I believe the adoption of 4 core processors will start to increase and become a necessity at the heart of any PC.

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