Crysis 2

           The world has been ravaged by a series of climatic disasters and society is on the verge of total breakdown.  Now the aliens have returned, with a full invasion force bent on nothing less than the total annihilation of mankind, starting by trying to rip the heart out of Earth's most iconic city.
           In New York, terrifying alien invaders stalk the streets and a nightmare plague strikes down the city's myriad inhabitants with brutal epidemic speed.  The city's systems are in chaos, its streets and skyline are smashed and in flaming ruin. This is New York City like you've never seen it before.
           Neither paramilitary law enforcement nor the might of the US military machine can stand against the invaders, and all who choose not to flee are dead men walking.  Just to survive in this maelstrom of death will require technology beyond anything any modern soldier has ever seen.

          One man will inherit that means to survive. One supersoldier, wielding the combat enhancement technology of the future with Nanosuit 2, will make the last stand to save humanity from destruction in the urban jungle that is New York City.

Crynet Systems Nanosuit 2

          When Crynet Systems released the first Nanosuit four years ago, we described it as “battle armor perfected”. That wasn’t just our opinion: in a scant two months the N1 had become the armor of choice for military forces around the globe. All of which left us at Crynet Systems with a bit of a problem: how do you improve on perfection?
  • This time, we perfected the soldier.
          Not that we’ve ignored the hardware. Our latest offering comes with all the bleeding-edge features you’d expect from Crynet: rad-hardened ceramic epidermis, dynamic Faraday mesh for unsurpassed EMP shielding, state-of-the-art countercurrent heat-ex-changers for thermoneutrality in the most extreme environments. But the soldier within remains our highest priority.

          No matter how sharp the intellect or how great the courage, the men and women that operate this technology are only flesh and blood. They can grow tired. They can quail in the face of overwhelming odds. They are only human. Until now.

         For the first time, combat armor not only protects your soldiers but improves them: immunizes them against fear and fatigue keeps them razor-sharp around the clock, feeds real-time tactical telemetry from a thousand sources directly into the brain. Crynet has created something that is more than man, more than machine: something that shares the strengths of both and the weaknesses of neither.

          The human brain is the best battlefield computer on the planet, but when it comes to the instantaneous processing of thousands of simultaneous data streams, it can use a bit of help. That’s where the N2’s Semiautonomous Enhanced Combat Ops: Neuro-integration and Delivery AI (SECOND) comes in. Powered by a parasitic blood-glucose infusion and our optional electrolytic microstack, this nonsentient biochip runs at a blazing 1.5 BIPS.

          SECOND instantly integrates remote telemetry and firstperson input from up to six thousand distinct channels (ranging from full-spectrum EM to acoustic, barometric, and pheromonal) presenting clear, concise tactical summaries via an interface integrated directly into the visual cortex. It can also take over the operator’s purely autonomic and regulatory functions in the event of somatic damage.

          SECOND’s most innovative feature, however, its ability to not only monitor the physical and neurological state of the soldier, but to actually optimize those states for mission success. SECOND continuously regulates dopamine, lactatic acid, and corticosteroid levels, anticipates debilitating stress and fatigue reactions, and counteracts them before your troops even feel the urge to yawn. SECOND not only mitigates debilitating reactions; it actively augments beneficial ones. Adrenaline, GABA, and tricyclic levels are all maintained at optimal levels for lightning reflexes, maximal sensory acuity, and positive emotional state. Your forces will pursue their objectives with tireless and unswerving dedication for days on end.

Mafia 2

      Mafia II is a third-person action shooter that combines Grand Theft Auto-like gameplay mechanics with a world heavily inspired by the classic films Godfather and Goodfellas. Not coincidentally the protagonist is a soon to be made-man called Vito. The game is a direct sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven released in 2002 having received mostly positive reactions from critics and gamers alike. 
      Developed by the same team as the original (2K Czech, formerly Illusion Softworks), Mafia II was released for the Windows platform last August 24th. The game also received simultaneous launches for the PS3 and Xbox 360, but in spite of this the visual quality of the PC version does not suffer from the "crappy console port" syndrome. Rather Mafia II looks to be one of the best games of 2010 to show off the capabilities of current generation high-end GPUs.

         We will tell you upfront we are somewhat skeptical about seeing a fair fight between ATI and Nvidia GPUs when testing this game. Nvidia took a close interest in Mafia II and as a result exclusive features such as PhysX, 3D Vision and Surround gaming have been worked into the game. While not a bad thing at all, it means the game is likely optimized to perform at its best with Nvidia GPUs. 
         Out of those three Nvidia exclusive features we are most interested in PhysX, which is meant to add a new layer of realism to action sequences (check out the video below). Mafia II features Nvidia
’s APEX which is a scalable dynamics framework that provides artists with easy to use authoring tools to take advantage of PhysX. APEX supports a number of modules that include destruction, vegetation, particles, clothing and turbulence. As far as we can tell Mafia II only uses the clothing and particles modules.         
        To date very few games have adopted PhysX and we believe APEX is Nvidia’s attempt to help increase the number of titles that take advantage of it.
        Interestingly, Mafia II only includes support for DirectX 9. Despite all the talk behind DirectX 11, 2K Czech has played it safe and stuck with the tried and true DX9 rendering mode to push this game's impressive visuals. The Illusion engine was specifically written for Mafia II, with some saying it rivals the CryEngine 2 game engine (Crysis Warhead). That said, even the most meticulous of gamers have a hard time spotting a difference between Crysis running in the DX9 and DX10 modes.
           So with a new full version copy of Mafia II loaded onto our test system and two dozen graphics cards lined up ready to test, we set about to deliver another GPU & CPU performance article. Not only have we tested a huge range of graphics cards, but we will also look at the impact PhysX has on performance with and without a dedicated card. As usual, we'll also take a quick look at CPU scaling performance for those concerned if they have the necessary guts on that front as well.