All right, all right...I know that Dark Messiah is a Source powered game. But the page with all of VALVe's games was already getting very long, and besides: Dark Messiah is a different beast entirely. Bundled with each of the 8800s, Dark Messiah ended up being quite a stressful benchmark for the cards.
Dark Messiah in-game
Click Image to Enlarge - 2560x1600 (986KB)
The game is gorgeous, though a few of the textures here and there ARE a bit on the low-resolution side. But, not only does it look amazing, it's incredibly fun to play! The environment is a weapon in itself, allowing the player to incapacitate enemies by kicking them off ledges, by kicking out support beams causing an upper layer to come crashing down or by kicking enemies into numerous spiked wall coverings. On top of that, the importance stealth plays is a throwback to the days of the amazing Thief series. With the Source engine's HDR implemented in full force, Dark Messiah has the look of a medieval Lost Coast that demands lots of power to keep the game looking pretty and running smoothly.
Just as with Oblivion and Neverwinter Nights 2, I tested at 2560x1600 and 1920x1200 with no antialiasing as a baseline, then 2x and 4x. The remaining engine settings are outlined in the table below and are identical to the earlier Source Engine settings.
Source Engine Settings
I used the attacking troll and ghouls after reaching Stonehelm as my benchmark as shown here in this video (MPEG-1 4.3MB). I just ran through the courtyard trying to soak up as much of the action as possible and to get as far away from the massive gateway to allow the troll ample time to reach me before pummeling me.
Dark Messiah FPS (2560x1600)
As was expected, 1920x1200 offered a substantial performance increase over 2560x1600, but the game was still quite demanding at points.
Dark Messiah FPS (1920x1200)
Dark Messiah was pretty brutal (compared to the other Source-based games) and definitely gave the 8800s a run for their money. Not as bad as Neverwinter Nights 2, but it's a relatively demanding game nonetheless. As demanding as it is, though, it still had fantastic performance even after antialiasing was applied. At both resolutions the difference between 0x and 4x was miniscule.
One thing to note, in Dark Messiah I experienced an odd sound bug that I've only experienced otherwise in Guild Wars: Nightfall when I had the 14-day trial. After roughly two minutes of gameplay or even just being in the game at the menu, all sound stops and an ear-piercing high-pitched hum starts coming out of my speakers until I quit the game. While the noise stops, sound does NOT start working again and a restart of the computer is necessary. I have yet to determine what is causing the problem as well as find anyone else reporting this. I can't say if it has any impact performance-wise on gameplay and therefore I felt it necessary to mention.