Games and benchmarks used for testing

Games used

Battlezone - Activision - DX3

Innovative mix of first person shooter and real time strategy with resource management fueled by advanced 3D engine. The critics could not praise this one more, but it is that kind of game that somehow does not sell well. Still loyal fans of this masterpiece are keeping Battlezone 1998 alive for a new generation. Demo animation is benchmarked. Z-buffer usually must be disabled for 2MB cards.

Carmageddon II - Stainless Games - DX5

If you asked me for the most shocking game release since Doom, I answer first Carmageddon. Behind the obnoxious violence lies a treasury of human creativity and technical finesse. I would not realize my place in society so early without driving over the dodging grandmas. The first installment was blessed merely with Glide support and so is out of the question for testing. However, the second part has D3D acceleration out of the box, looks great, and plays great. As far as I know, there isn’t any replay feature and races cannot be reproduced reliably. Therefore test mission without any opponents is used (USS Lewinski) and the framerate can be a bit higher than usual. Patched to version 2.0.

CartX Precision Racing trial - Terminal Reality - DX5

Microsoft's first attempt at realistic racing. Recording of my own one lap against few opponents at Laguna Seca. Chase camera, all details on.

Daytona USA Deluxe - SEGA-AM4 - DX5

Quite simple 3D renderer of Sega Saturn ported title. Two laps of opening demo are frapsed. Polygon mode set to high, to keep as many cards below the 30 fps cap as possible.

Expendable demo - Rage Games - DX6

Simple blazing shooter from top down perspective and rich in graphical effects. For an advanced 1999 game, it has quite good compatibility. Notoriously known benchmark that popularized environmental bump mapping. I used built in timedemo 1.

Falcon 4.0 - MicroProse - DX6

This is advanced and most demanding game in the suite. Microprose squeezed hardware to the last drop to make this realistic F-16 simulator possible, it even supports multithreading. Community kept this game alive for many more years. 640x480 benchmark made by rules of Papadoc. You can see on his old site he cared a lot about proper testing. Patch 1.08.

F-22 Total Air War - Digital Image Design - DX5

One of great flight simulators from DID. First demo at 640x400, all features on.

Fifa RTWC - EA Canada - DX5

Sport games were rarely used for benchmarking and I will oppose this trend. Return to World Cup was the best soccer game on PC for quite a while. Could not find a better way than to replay short highlight of my own game.

Flight Simulator 98 - Microsoft - DX3

First instance of the famous series with 3d card support. Fraps does not work. Benchmarked with built in fps reader in Cessna introductionary video, using virtual cockpit view. All graphics options checked.

Formula 1 - Psygnosis - DX3

Arcadish racer with strong TV feel, using the classic screens and in game commentary. Built in demo, first Silverstone lap frapsed.

Forsaken - Probe Entertainment - DX6

This game wanted to look good and it did. Forsaken was among first DirectX games to use colored blended dynamic lights. Built in first benchmark, 640x480, RGB 5551 texture format preferred. 320x240 tested also because of 2 MB cards unable to display full textures in higher modes. Patch 1.01.

Grim Fandango - LucasArts - DX5

Adventures are rare kind among benchmarks, I wanted at least one. AFAIK Grim Fandango was first in the gender to take advantage of 3d acceleration. The engine has roots in Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, who would have guessed?

Heavy Gear - Activision - DX5

This is what Mechwarrior game without Battletech license looks like. The engine descents from MechWarrior 2 without much visual improvement. Beginning of first story mission is frapsed, switching between cameras, firing a weapon with particles effect.

Hellbender demo - Terminal Reality - DX2

One of the oldest DirectX games, call it Terminal Velocity 2 if you like. In game demo frapsed.

Homeworld - Relic Entertainment - DX6.1

This can be the newest game in my suite, but far from the most demanding. Homeworld was an innovative and highly acclaimed RTS taking full advantage of three dimensional space. Game of the year edition. Long in game early animation from second mission frapsed. OpenGL may be used if d3d fails.

Incoming - Rage Software - DX5

Rage made beautiful 3d games before, but Incoming was first to offer the eye candy hardware accelerated. Arcade shooter with impressive graphics, one of the favorite benchmark of late nineties. Lex ET Robur demo tested.

Interstate 76 Nitro demo - Activision - DX5

Aren't cars with mounted guns always cool? Interstate '76 uses Mechwarrior 2 engine for this fun game, fusing driving with first person shooter.

Jedi Knight Dark Forces 2 - LucasArts - DX3

First part already showed nice 2.5D renderer, Dark Forces 2 introduced Sith engine with fully three dimensional graphics. Version 1.01.

Lands of Lore: Guardians of Destiny - Westwood Studios - DX3

Or shortly LoL2. RPG is a rare kind in benchmarks, but thankfully here is one good candidate of the important genre for my tests. With patch 1.30 the game got Direct3d support. Graphically, it is most memorable for incredibly detailed textures and nice 2d animations, yet at 640x400 resolution with back buffer in video memory, it runs even on cards with 2 MB.

MDK - Shiny - DX3

Beginning of first mission tested. Due to the game running pretty fast and having 30 fps limit, most often only minimum fps occurring during explosions is valuable. Performance index is also recorded.

MechWarrior 2 Titanium - Activision - DX2

MechWarrior 2 started with a plethora of proprietary renders, but then came Direct3D versions and Titanium Trilogy. Custom fraps from first allegiance mission. Default settings, sound have to be disabled to avoid stutters.

Monster Truck Madness trial - Terminal Reality - DX2

Microsoft would not leave early DirectX in the hands of third party developers. Monster trucks on crazy tracks are surely instant fun and colorful commentary adds to the mood. But it won't keep me for long. Graphics are quite raw as one should expect. Tested with Tom's circle demo (used in THG tests) I found in the depths of the internet.

Monster Truck Madness 2 trial - Terminal Reality - DX5

Graphically enhanced version of more or less same game. This time tested with my own replay.

Mortal Kombat 4 - Midway Games - DX5

For a series characterized by digitized characters the transition to 3d was particularly difficult. But Midway got over that and produced worthy follower- at least on PC. Frapsed practice session with AI in Well Arena with animated textures.

Motoracer demo- Delphine Software - DX2

I never felt faster in asphalt races and dirtier in enduro madness than during this game from the fall of 1997. While being an arcade racer, it is surprisingly challenging, but pure playability will carry you through with enthusiasm. The graphics are lovely and for one of the earliest D3D implementation surprisingly non problematic. Tested first demo one lap on fair circuit.

Motoracer 2 - Delphine Software - DX6

More of everything with high detail graphics, vsync off.

Myth 2 - Bungie - DX5

Right, this is not the first Myth that already had 3D acceleration (first among real time strategies?), but after too many troubles I decided to use second part. Not much has changed visually and the water reflection looks neat. Replay of short recording is used.

NHL '99 demo - EA Canada - DX5

Welcome back to when EA Sports cared about PC hockey fans. NHL99 (released in fall 98) was first of its kind with players individually skinned. While the engine is only an update from last year, this was the first release with Direct3D support. With ice reflecting all the action, motion capture animations, cheering crowds and much improved gameplay, NHL '99 was a gem among sport games.

Populous: The Beginning - Bullfrog Productions - DX6

Real time strategies had many difficulties adapting 3d graphics, but Populous 3 did it with great style. Bullfrog brought us so many times inspiring gameplay with state of the art graphics. They shall be remembered.

Quake - Id Software - OpenGL

When Id Software was transitioning to a fully polygonal game engine possibility of hardware acceleration was more and more enticing. John Carmack liked Vérité from the first encounter, but turned sober during porting of first Quake. The VQuake turned out impressive, but after long work. Fight with bugs and optimizations caused lost faith in proprietary APIs and the only possibility for 3d acceleration was going with open one. 3dfx took their chances, dedicated two engineers to Id Software and one week later, OpenGL version and 3dfx miniport driver were out in the wild, fueling demand for Voodoo sky high. Both default timedemo and Bigass demo are measured, vsync off, GlQuake 0.97.

Quake II - Id Software - OpenGL

Version 3.20, default and massive timedemos are used. Found crusher recently, in this CPU demanding demo also minimal framerate is measured.

Quake III - Id Software - OpenGL

For those few monster cards which can handle it, default timedemo, default quality, patch 1.32.

Resident Evil - Capcom - DX3

Capcom's famous survival horror scared PC players as well and is one of the early accelerated games compatible with huge amount of cards.

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire - LucasArts - DX5

Star Wars shooter, but a solid one. Built in performance test just for the kicks. Patch 1.01.

Shogo: Mobile Armor Division - Monolith Productions - DX6

First game utilizing Lithtech engine. From the opening Shogo wants to feel like fancy anime mecha series. But it is you who have to roflstomp enemies. I could not get the fortress demo used in old reviews for benchmarking and could not even find out how to record/replay my own. So my best effort was usage of in game animation. Max details, but medium textures may be used for cards without enough memory. Recently I have dug up RevShogo demo, which features really demanding action. Version 2.124.

Sin - Ritual Entertainment - OpenGL

Version 1.11. We should not leave OpenGL only to Quake. Sin was plagued by delays, but is a fun shooter nonetheless. Simtek warehouse demo measured (demo1.dm2).

Su-27 Flanker - Eagle Dynamics - OpenGL

This simulator may look like a remnant from the DOS era, but it can be unique OpenGL benchmark. Well, I am not sure what exactly is happening here. 3D is used only in out of cockpit views and the game uses very little software texture mapping. Anyway only Gouraud shading is accelerated, making it compatible with all cards. CAS1 mission replay is frapsed, using only F4 camera. While the framerate rarely drops with modern CPU, flybys through smoke are demanding and lowest FPS tells some story.

Sub Culture - Criterion Games - DX5

Interesting game with lovely graphics. Imagine Freelancer in a micro underwater world. It is one the earlier Direct3D implementation, but also supports proprietary APIs of 3dfx, PowerVR and Rendition. Short travel through the sea is measured.

Thief Gold demo - Looking Glass Studios - DX6

You should not steal. You should not steal from the poor without large mansions full of treasures and guards and lords plotting to bring chaos to the world. Thief popularized stealth gameplay by realistic world and complex AI. The renderer might not be most advanced, but many old cards will fail its blending of prerendered lighting.

Tomb Raider - Core Design

Core Design mastered the entry to 3d graphics and gave birth to most popular female character. Those storming shops for 3D accelerators to improve visuals of Tomb Raider may be questioned whether they wanted better rendition of the world or her body. It is irrelevant, the game is of course a great action adventure with stunning visuals. From behind the thick layers of nostalgia the original charm is still shining through. First Tomb Raider supported many proprietary APIs. I had to depend on built in performance counter, bilinear filtering and perspective correction enabled whenever possible.

Tomb Raider 2 - Core Design - DX5

Inevitable second part starring Lara Croft. She has much more polygons and better animation. TR2 dropped proprietary renderers and features a D3D engine with dynamic lighting. You can now lighten up those big levels with flares or gunfire. Really nice looking yet very compatible game.

Turok - Acclaim Entertainment - DX3

Famous first person shooter which pushed N64 to its limits and was ported in spring 1997 to PC. Hot action exploration play combined with great graphics and its own test suite cannot be missed here. Large environments, many interesting weapons and yes, dinos. Second demo of the bunch. I am not gonna spend half of the day waiting for tmark score.

Ultimate Race Pro - Kalisto Entertainment - DX5

First, there was the famous Ultimate Race in 1996 bundled with PowerVR cards to show their muscle at incredible 800x600 resolution. Two years later "Pro" version of this arcade racer came out with Direct3D support and still looked awesome.

Unreal - Digital Extremes - DX5

The first person shooter shaking the industry in 1998. Even though only Glide is perfectly implemented, with last patch we can use feature rich Direct3D renderer that brought first generation 3D cards to their knees. OpenGL, SGL and Metal are available as well. Triple buffering and vsync off, patch 2.26.

Viper Racing - Monster Games - DX5

I really wanted to have some Papyrus game, since the company was among leaders in 3d acceleration support. But I did not find any good way of benchmarking until Grand Prix Legends, which is too much for old cards. So here is Viper Racing from Monster Studios, which had connections with Papyrus. My own 3 laps at Daytona, first behind opponents, second behind ghost car and third alone ahead. Near chase camera, all details, latest beta patch.

Warbirds demo from 1998 - Interactive Magic - DX5

Very demanding game for old cards, but it is included as I could not get constant results from other WW2 simulators and such important genre of the time should not be missed.

Wing Commander Prophecy Gold - Origin Systems - DX5

Back in 1992 Origin had the most advanced 3D texture mapped game thanks to Ultima Underworld. Famous Wing Commander series was pivotal in inviting gamers to three dimensional space. In 1997 Prophecy, still with a bunch of cheesy movies, but improved gameplay, brought new life and new engine supporting Direct3D.

Wipeout 2097 - Psygnosis - DX3

Psygnosis was another developer on the forefront of 3d engines. Wipeout may be most famous as part of Playstation library, but PC got it's blessing also. Air brakes are fun. Too bad there does not seem to be commands for demo replay. Custom test frapsed.

Synthetic benchmarks used

3DMark 99 - Mad Onion

The first 3DMark was one of the first 3D benchmarks to be aimed directly at the 3D gaming community, rather offering a generic overview of a PC's capabilities. The graphics tests use an early version of Remedy Entertainment's MAX-FX engine build around DirectX 6. Because of limited memory of early cards I used dual buffered 640x480 resolution.

Final Reality

Final Reality is the easy to use graphics benchmark for DirectX 5 and Windows 95 that measures your PC's 3D performance in realistic environments. Or so they claimed, anyway good job and nice tribute to demo scene.

X demo03 - Egosoft

Just to play it safe I count this one as non-game although this is a prerelease presentation of X: Beyond the Frontier. Since the scenes use varied amounts of resources (like transparent faces, vertices, renderstate changes) the differences can give you precise impression of what a 3d accelerator can do. Also, it saves screenshots of exact frames, helping me with image quality comparisons. "Use settings" is always unchecked to keep the default settings.

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