Review: PhysX on Borderlands 2 with an NVIDIA GeForce

BatRastered Posted by: BatRastered Sep 18, 2012 | 3 comments
Tagged: borderlands-2 hardware review video
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We played a couple hours of Borderlands 2 on PC while waiting for our Loot Chest editions to show up. We checked it out with PhysX turned on to see the difference. How does it compare to the console experience? Exclusive video.

We first saw the PhysX demo that NVIDIA released on youtube about a month ago. I have to say, we were blown away with that video, but needed to see it for ourselves.

PhysX with and without

When building GoukiJones' rendering machine last year, we included a GeForce GTX 560ti (then $249). The good news is that card is still up to date enough to play Borderlands 2 on high detail with PhysX enabled (on GoukiJones' 16x10 monitor). The better news is you can now get a GTX 660 for about $230 that will outperform the 560ti while using less power.

We were given a steam code by NVIDIA for a copy of Borderlands 2 so we could test the PhysX engine vs the console versions we usually play here at the Gouki.com offices. Thanks guys!

Seeing the extra elemental sparks fly looks really cool and the bodies fall to the ground realistically while bits and pieces of their armor pop off and wheel away in all directions. Though what really changes are the various cloth awnings, tarps, banners, and flags that inhabit the world of Pandora. Instead of being solid objects that don't move at all, they now come to life, blowing in the wind, reacting to your movements and gunshots, and generally behaving like you'd expect in the real world. It's not vital to game play, but it certainly makes the environment feel more alive.

Many other, smaller things stood out to me as well... from the snow melting on the screen to the goop (for lack of a better word) that sticks around after the exploding barrels are dealt with to the blood that pours from your own body after your shield is gone and you take a hit, PhysX makes for a more believable experience. I love how the little bits and pieces stick around in the environment during the gunfight. It littered the ground after one boss battle.

I used a Razer Onza tournament edition to control the game, it worked really well and just as I expected coming from the Xbox. This made the transition pretty smooth and I felt right at home on Pandora. One of the big differences from the consoles is just the huge amount of customizations you can do to the video settings, changing the FOV and customizing the level of detail and hud and just about anything else you could want.

This test proved one thing to me at least, the consoles are really overdue for a refresh. At this rate, last year's GPUs are doing some amazing things that I would consider "next-gen" if I saw it on my TV... and with Valve's announcement of "Big Picture" mode for Steam, and the rapid decline in prices of last year's GPU tech, putting together a gaming PC for the living room for less than the launch price of typical console ($350-450) seems within reach. Hopefully more and more games support the controller out of the box too, as I'm horrible with a keyboard/mouse when it comes to gaming.

NVIDIA GeForce

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Release Date: N/A

Buy it! 89 % - Rent it! 5 % - Flush it! 5 %

Verdict: Buy It

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