Sniper Elite V2: Supersampling, Contact Shadows, and Compute Shaders



Product: Sniper Elite
Company: Rebellion
Author: Sean Ridgeley
Editor: Eric Amidon
Date: July 21st, 2012

Introduction, Setup, Requirements, Supersampling

Rebellion's third-person shooter Sniper Elite V2 has wound up something of a cult favourite among shooter fans. While not without flaws, it's one of the very few shooters that focuses almost entirely on sniper rifles instead of a wide array of guns, and it does a fine job of it.

Since its launch a couple of months ago, the game has been improved steadily with free multiplayer maps, but also new graphics features (Compute Shader versions of HDR Bloom and Depth of Field, Supersampling, and Advanced Shadows aka Contact Hardening Shadows) and increased performance. Today I'll be taking a look at the latter two, seeing how the new features compare visually, and measuring their performance.

All testing was performed on the new in-game benchmark under the Ultra preset with Advanced Shadows at High. As the benchmark reports some consistently inaccurate framerates, FRAPS was used to measure performance.

Test Setup

  • Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 1055T 2.8GHz (Stock)
  • Memory: Corsair XMS3 8GB DDR3-1600 (1333mhz)
  • Graphics: XFX Radeon HD 6950 2GB (Stock)
  • Resolution: 1680x1050
  • Driver: 12.7 beta, no CAP

System Requirements

  • OS: Microsoft® Windows® Vista (Service Pack 2) or Windows® 7 (Windows® XP is NOT supported)
  • Processor: Dual-core CPU with SSE3 (Intel® Pentium® D 3GHz / AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 4200) or better
  • Memory: 2GB system memory
  • Hard Disk Space: 10GB of free drive space
  • Video Card: Microsoft® DirectX® 10.0 compatible graphics card with 256 MB of memory (NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800 series / ATI Radeon™ HD 3870) or better

Supersampling

Supersampling is an aggressive form of anti-aliasing which renders the image at extremely high resolution before downsampling to the user's resolution, resulting in even smoother objects. As you'd think, it's very expensive.

The benchmark shows about a 50 percent drop per setting in some places; 2.25x is only recommended for those with multi-GPU setups or extremely high-end single-GPU setups, and 4.0x is only recommended for those with multi-GPU setups.

Supersampling adds that final touch of smoothness to the image, though the much more prominent effect is a sharper background image; it seems drawing from higher resolutions has the added effect of 'cutting through' the aggressive Compute Shader-enabled Depth of Field somewhat, resulting in a nice balance.