Greater detail from NVIDIA
I agree with my colleague that Borderland 2’s cel-shaded art style looks great. Such a direction in presentation gives such games a longer lifespan in an industry that continues to try and push the edge of video game graphics in terms of a more realistic presentation.
Gearbox Software’s latest game’s look doesn’t try to do that. But while the art style is easy on the eyes there are other ways to make it pop and grab our attention even more. From the clouds lazily drifting across the sky to the water shimmering down below, they all add to the visual bounty that Borderlands 2 tries to bring to the table.
One specific feature of the game involves NVIDIA’s PhysX technology. PhysX allows the game to create a more realistic and physics-based experience for the player through enhancing details for the aesthetics such as explosions, fluid simulation, and even cloth simulation.
PC gamers are given three settings to choose from: Low, Medium, and High. The Low setting, I discovered, was immediately my default setting when I first installed the game and enhances none of the game’s details and dynamic realism. The Medium setting introduces exploding particles within the environment while also providing low levels of fluid and cloth simulation. Then there is the High setting which gave me the maximum particles and fluid and cloth simulation.
Playing on the High setting I was impressed by the resulting debris flying during explosions or by the fluidity of the blood spurts as I mowed down my enemies. However, I would experience a severe drop in framerate to the point where I started to say, “When the bullets start flying, my framerate start dying.”
With all of the graphics settings on High, except for PhysX which was on Low, my game was running smoothly at 60 frames per second (I kept it capped there). But when I put PhysX on High, suddenly my framerate would drop to single digits when explosive weapons were fired, slag barrels exploded, and excessive amounts of blood splashed during a massive firefight. All of these additional effects taxed my PC to the limits.
But that was during larger fights.
Upon playing with friends the drop in framerates occurred more due to the additional weapons being discharged, enemies being destroyed, and barrels being blown up.
Now my PC is no slouch when it comes to playing today’s video games. My rig’s processor is an AMD Phenom II X4 3.40 GHz with 16 GB of DDR3 RAM running on the Windows 7 Professional 64-bit OS. My graphics card is an ATI Radeon HD 5850 with 1GB of DDR5 RAM so it can handle. All of which is powered by a 630w power supply unit.
In simpler terms it means that my PC can handle anything out on the market today without any trouble.
Even then, my PC was put to the test when NVIDIA’s PhysX feature was on the High setting. Despite the drop in framerate I found myself keeping it on High while playing by myself and on Medium when hunting with friends. If your PC’s specifications are significantly lower than mine, I wouldn’t suggest using the PhysX feature at all and keep it on Low. But if your PC can handle it, then I suggest you do so because the additional effects look fantastic. Just remember to drop the settings down when you play the multiplayer campaign.
Borderlands 2 review copy supplied