Tessellation and IQ in Max Payne 3
Max Payne 3 offers support for DirectX 11 tessellation which is a good way to increase the level of detail in a scene with a relatively minimal performance impact. The character models are well-tessellated which gives them a much more natural look. Also, the rendering of the hair is greatly improved.
Max Payne 3 uses a tessellation technique called Phong Tessellation to characters and vehicles. Phong shading, developed by Bui Tuong Phong at the University of Utah, refers to an interpolation technique used in surface shading in modern 3D engines like games. Unfortunately, artifacts remain on interior contours and silhouettes if the surface geometry is not smooth, so Phong tessellation is a geometric version of Phong normal interpolation that is applied to vertex positions.
FXAA is a shader based image filter developed by Nvidia which reduces visible aliasing. It is applied along with other post processing steps like motion blur and bloom. For game engines making use of deferred shading, FXAA provides for less of a performance and memory hit over using deferred shading with MSAA. Not only does FXAA cost less in terms of a performance hit, but the visual difference is very clear over not using it at all.
First of all, you cannot force MSAA in the Nvidia control panel and all settings are applied in-game. On all of the following images, there is either MSAA or FXAA – we did not test using both applied at the same time.
Here is a scene from Max Payne 3 without MSAA or FXAA. Anisotropy is 16x and all details are set to maximum at 1920×1080. You can see the obvious alaising.
No FXAA – No MSAA
FXAA Very High
It is probably easiest to open two or three images at a time in separate windows or tabs and compare between them. Look especially at the fan and the conduit running to the switch box. In each case, from no MSAA to 2x to 4x and to 8x MSAA there is a progressive smoothing of the aliased lines although the anti-aliasing results are not as impressive when compared to Normal to High to Very High FXAA. We are not sure how the developers implemented MSAA so as to apparently not smooth all of the polygon edges.
In each case, we would prefer the FXAA implementation in Max Payne 3 over the corresponding level of MSAA. This certainly does not hold true for all games and FXAA tends to blur some scenes in other games. We will explore MSAA vs. FXAA in depth in a future article and these discussions are always open on ABT forum in Video or Gaming.
The graphics in Max Payne 3 are excellent and the game also supports Stereoscopic 3D (S3D) and especially 3D Vision 1/2.
3D Vision offers a more immersive stereoscopic 3D experience over playing the game in 2D. A combination of high-tech wireless glasses and advanced software, 3D Vision’s drivers automatically transforms over 500 PC games into full stereoscopic 3D. I n addition, you can watch Blu-ray 3D, view 3D digital photographs, and even stream YouTube 3D videos.
Unfortunately, the game is currently rated as “Not Recommended” by Nvidia for 3D Vision. It is true that some action and objects aren’t in perfect relationship to each other but we find that the game is actually “fair” to “good” with 3D Vision. The depth can be adjusted to eliminate some of the ghosting and the 3D enhancement actually does aid in aiming and especially for Bullet time.
NVIDIA 3D Vision 2
3D Vision 2 is the next generation of Nvidia’s stereoscopic 3D technology and features a number of new innovations.
The first innovation is new active shutter glasses that have larger lenses and improved materials. The second innovation is LightBoost which delivers brighter 3D screen images and richer color quality than existing display technologies.
Cut-scenes are in 3D
All of the elements of Max Payne 3 are in 3D. This includes everything from the interactive 3D character portraits to every in-game cut-scene. The in-game cut-scenes are rendered in full HD 1080p 3D video for the highest quality cinematics. The characters from Max Payne 3 come alive in stereoscopic 3D Vision.
Using 3D Depth
According to Nvidia, with real time depth information being delivered via 3D Vision, the gamer has an advantage when gauging certain aspects.
Nvidia claims that 3D Vision gives 3D gamers the tools to interact with the environment in a way that 2D gamers cannot and we found enhanced aiming and much better cutscenes in S3D – the blood splatter is horrifyingly realistic in 3D slow-motion.
Of course, there is a performance penalty for playing with 3D Vision. The expected performance hit when playing it with everything maxed out did slow down our GTX 680 in the most intense scenes and we played mostly with 3D Vision 2 using our GTX 690 after we set up for Super-Widescreen resolutions. And of course, we used FXAA over MSAA.
Let’s look at the game’s system requirements as well as the more specific recommendations for playing with GeForce cards and playable settings with Super-Widscreen and 3D Vision as well as our conclusion