Based on feedback in our BioShock performance discussion thread, the GeForce 8800 Series of graphics cards is delivering better than expected performance in the "genetically enhanced" 3D action shooter from 2K Games. Since BioShock does not feature an internal benchmark, I began evaluating areas for possible use as a gameplay walkthrough.
A visual walkthrough, as demonstrated by video, is helpful in determining gameplay performance as it provides the reader with the necessary information to execute their own benchmarks. Doing so allows them to compare performance against the system in this article and from other readers. If you have benchmark results to contribute, please do so in this forum thread. We appreciate your efforts for contributing.
Antialiasing and anisotropic filtering were forced via the driver control panel
In-game graphics settings were configured to their highest quality
Creative EAX audio was disabled
PERFORMANCE - THE CRASH SITE
Our first set of benchmark results is a plot of the frame rate per second (fps), a real-time statistic provided by Fraps, as the gameplay depicted in the video was executed. Tests were run at a resolution of 2560x1600 with no antialiasing (red), 2x antialiasing (blue), and 4x antialiasing (green).
Gameplay Performance - The Crash Site
The main area of interest in the graph lies along the 30 fps horizontal dashed line. Graphics settings that can maintain 30 fps across the length of the graph are desirable. Matched with a high-end Core 2 Duo processor, the GeForce 8800 Ultra maintained 30fps in a majority of the frames when no antialiasing (AA) was used.
At the start of BioShock, the player is immediately drawn into the game through its sound and visual qualities. Water and flame effects are convincing and the sinking aircraft is an indication that you are the sole survivor of a tragic accident.
Occurrence of Minimum Frame Rate
The next statistic, which was developed by Clay Angelly in Excel, groups the raw frame rate data and churns out results similar to F.E.A.R. The spreadsheet has two input parameters - the lowest acceptable frame rate and desired frame rate. Both figures are then used to compute the "number of frames" and "percent of frames" statistics.
Gameplay Summary - The Crash Site
Since BioShock is a first person shooter, frame rates between 30 and 60 fps are sought after. At a resolution of 2560x1600 with no AA, 84% of the frames were between 30 and 60 fps in "The Crash Site" test. Performance would improve by forming an SLI configuration with a second graphics card.