Cryostasis Techdemo PhysX Performance
The state of PhysX gaming today
Ever since PhysX was first announced, we’ve been hammering AGEIA, and now NVIDIA for a killer app that really showcases the capabilities of the technology. Tech demos like Cell Factor and Warmonger have successfully shown the potential for PhysX, with fully destructible environments, realistic smoke/fog as well as cloth and fluid animation, but actual games that package all these effects together into a cohesive package have been few and far between. Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfigher and GRAW 2 were the first games to take advantage of the PhysX processing unit (PPU), but these games featured cheesy effects that were of questionable value and honestly some of the physics effects were handled by Havok’s physics middleware.
Epic’s Unreal Tournament III was a better illustration of what PhysX is capable of, but this was clearly a case of a game that wasn’t truly designed with PhysX in mind; the technology was limited to just a few bonus levels that didn’t ship with the actual game. PhysX was basically tacked on to UT3 to illustrate its potential, not to really enhance the core game itself.
PhysX did make inroads this year though. Both of the most popular game engines in use on the PC today - Unreal Engine 3 and Gamebryo - support the technology, and last week publishers EA and 2K Games signed on with their support.
In 2009 PhysX could be poised to take the next step forward as a result of these announcements, and the arrival of several new PhysX-enabled games. Mirror’s Edge is set to arrive for the PC next month. We’ve already discussed this game pretty extensively, and posted side-by-side videos of the game with and without PhysX. Another game launching early next year that we haven’t discussed in much depth is 1C’s Cryostasis.
Described as a first-person survival horror shooter, Cryostasis is set in 1981 aboard the Russian nuclear icebreaker North Wind. You’ll play the role of Alexander Nesterov, a meteorologist that’s been dispatched to investigate what happened onboard the ship. Apparently the ship ran into trouble near the North Pole and it’s up to you to find out what happened to the ship’s crew – did they die due to the harsh arctic environment or was it something else?
“Okay” you’re probably saying to yourself, “what’s so scary about a meteorologist running through an empty ship?” Well it turns out that the North Wind isn’t exactly empty; the ship’s crew is indeed dead, but in the process they’ve mutated into creatures hell bent on making you join them.
Survival plays a huge role in the game. Not only must you survive against the ship’s crew, equally important is surviving the elements. With the game taking place in the North Pole, the environment is frigid. Since everything is frozen, you’ll have to watch the outside temperature as well as your own body temp. After all, if you get too cold, you die. Because of this, you’ll spend the game constantly looking for sources of heat (instead of featuring a traditional health meter, Cryostasis relies on a heat meter). Lights, pipes, fires, can all be potential sources of heat. As you heat up areas to stay warm, the ice turns into liquid and this is where PhysX kicks in.
PhysX is used for fluid effects simulation in Cryostasis. More specifically, smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH). According to NVIDIA “Unlike a regular particle system which typically only accounts for collision, SPH computes viscosity and repulsion forces which make the particles splash and puddle as if they were part of a real fluid. Additional PhysX features include tarps, curtains, rag dolls, rigid bodies.”
Today NVIDIA has released a tech demo
showcasing the PhysX effects in Cryostasis. The techdemo runs you through a scripted sequence showcasing many of the game’s PhysX features. We’ll provide you with a quick pictorial walkthrough…