It has been nearly two years to the day since we brought you our first 3D Performance with Call of Duty article
. In between those two years, Infinity Ward, creator of the Call of Duty series, has been pretty busy. While Gray Matter Studios was busy with Call of Duty: United Offensive, Infinity Ward was quietly working on Call of Duty 2.
All new graphics engine
Whereas the original Call of Duty as well as the expansion United Offensive were both based on id Software’s battle-tested Quake 3 engine (a graphics engine Infinity Ward was quite familiar with, having used it for Medal of Honor back when they were at 2015), Call of Duty 2 utilizes an all new DX9 graphics engine Infinity Ward has developed in-house. The new engine sports all kinds of eye candy in the DX9 code path (a DirectX 7 path is also available for older hardware), including some of the best-looking smoke that has ever graced the PC. You’ll find high-resolution textures everywhere, including hi-res normal and specular maps, which are used effectively on the houses and buildings in the Stalingrad campaign, where you’ll be locked up close in urban combat with the German infantry.
The bottom line is that this is one sweet-looking game.
The only downside to all this graphical eye candy though is that Call of Duty 2 can be pretty unforgiving if you’d planned on relying on older hardware to play the game. Like F.E.A.R., Call of Duty 2 requires a pretty cutting-edge system with lots of graphics horsepower at its disposal to deliver crisp frame rates. (We’ve already seen forum posts from eForce 6800 users complaining about poor frame rates.) In fact, CoD 2 is so demanding that we didn’t even crank up all the eye candy settings to their maximums for this article, and we’re testing with the fastest hardware on the planet right now!
As a launch title for the Xbox 360, we have a sneaky suspicion Infinity Ward and Activision spent too much time playtesting CoD 2 on the Xbox 360, rather than the PC.
In any case, with this in mind we figured we’d start off by evaluating Call of Duty’s performance with today’s latest and greatest high-end cards, and work our way down to the mainstream cards later this week.
To test Call of Duty 2, we created our own custom demo, which is taken from the multiplayer map Villers-Bocage, France. Our demo is pretty intensive, with 26 players on the server and smoke grenades popping off everywhere. The screenshots you see here are taken from our custom demo.
Before we get started with the head-to-head ATI vs NVIDIA comparison, let’s see what impact 512MB of graphics memory brings (if any) to performance in Call of Duty 2.