Graphics Settings

Rainbow Six: Vegas as we mentioned came with a lot fewer bugs and less clunkiness in the interface than the previous Splinter Cell: Double Agent we reviewed. We didn't experience any of the crashing problems with certain hardware when changing settings and we didn't have to restart the game constantly to get some settings to change. Also, loading and exiting a game to the menu took much less time which made our testing much easier - something we were very thankful for after our negative experience with the Double Agent interface.

The graphics quality settings for Vegas are a lot more straightforward than with Double Agent as well, while still offering control over a few basic settings. Some gamers might have liked more control over specific graphics options, but unfortunately they are out of luck. Still, some control is better than none, and here are the options we have available.

  • Hardware Skinning: on/off
  • High Dynamic Range: on/off
  • Shadow Quality: very low/high
  • Motion Blur: on/off
  • Blur Quality: very low/very high
  • Eye Adaptation Effect: on/off
We found that the shadow quality settings tended to have a larger impact on performance than the other settings, much like we saw with Double Agent. They also happened to be one of the most noticeable graphical elements in the game when turned from highest to lowest, but even at their lowest quality setting, the jagged, blocky shadows aren't a big hindrance to gameplay given the performance boost they provide over the smooth subtle ones.

As with Double Agent, we tested Rainbow Six: Vegas at two different quality settings: one with the graphics settings at their highest, and one at lower quality settings for the lower-end cards. We only tested lower-end and midrange cards at the low quality settings, as they were the only ones that could really benefit from the extra performance. Also, the highest resolution available in the game menu is 1600x1200, but even for those with displays capable of higher resolutions, running Vegas smoothly at this resolution with the settings on highest quality will need a powerful graphics solution - something more along the lines of an 8800 rather than a 7900 GTX or X1950 XTX.

When testing at the highest quality settings, each setting was turned "on" or to the highest option available. Conversely, with the lower quality settings, we turned everything to "off" or to their lowest setting, with the exception of hardware skinning. We found this setting didn't cause much of a performance hit on our benchmark when enabled, so we left it on for all the tests. (Note that this might not be the case in other parts of the game where there are lots of characters in the scene, and turning hardware skinning off is suggested to improve gameplay performance if necessary.)

We found that with Rainbow Six: Vegas, there wasn't as much of a performance gain as we would have liked with all of the quality settings at their lowest, but we also didn't notice much difference with the settings all off, aside from the most obvious shadow effects. The game is still enjoyable with the lower quality settings, and even at a resolution of 800x600 it still looks good. The lack of an in-game option for selecting widescreen resolutions is unfortunate, but luckily some enterprising souls have created a hack available at the WSGF for the interested.

The Benchmark

Our benchmark was suggested to us by Ubisoft and it's basically an average FPS of looking out of the window on the first helicopter ride over a cityscape in Mexico. The game has no quicksave or save options, only a checkpoint system that lets you load a checkpoint as you progress in the game. There was no timedemo function to record a demo so we used FRAPS to benchmark the game. This is unfortunate because it means we can't test how the game performs during firefights, which are more graphically intensive than the helicopter ride. We can get a general idea of overall game performance, however, taking into account our benchmark results.

The cityscape in this first helicopter ride is impressive, with individual buildings stretching far to the horizon and large mountains looming over them in the distance. Smoke billows out of smokestacks, and some skyscrapers jut out higher than the others, while the helicopter's shadow is cast realistically further and closer on the buildings as you approach the drop-off point.

Because there aren't really any characters in the scene we used for our benchmark, the frame rate we will see in our tests will be a little higher than what we would expect during much of the gameplay of RSV. You can expect performance to decrease by as much as 30% or more with multiple enemies and your teammates all fighting in a scene. This makes things difficult as the action in the game can be very fast paced, and finding a target and hitting him accurately and quickly is sometimes vital to your survival.

Index Setting Expectations
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  • kreacher - Monday, May 21, 2007 - link

    I would love to see an update on this article once the 2600 has been released.
  • SGTLindy - Saturday, December 30, 2006 - link

    it runs better on ATI and does not have many graphics options because its a Xbox 360 port!!

    Runs great on the 360....runs slower on the that was tuff to figure out.

    Gears of War looks better on the U3 engine because...the GOW team made the U3 engine...if anyone is going to know how to tweak a U3 based game it would be them, especially since the engine just came out.

    None of this is rocket science.
  • Sharky974 - Friday, December 29, 2006 - link

    There is a user over at B3D saying his Rainbow Six Vegas box (he also provided a photo) says Unreal engine 2, NOT Unreal engine 3. And his photo backs that up. Apparantly R6 might be a "UE2.5" game.

    Anand wouldn't be the only site to make that mistake, but you guys might wanna look into it..
  • bisket - Wednesday, December 27, 2006 - link

    exactly, rocky.

    the heli rides do not tax my system at all. it's during levels that i have the *oh so very annoying* fps random drops to 20 from 60.

    i just hope this is not a growing trend in games. enough said. anandtech rocks! ;)
  • R0CKY - Wednesday, December 27, 2006 - link

    Was benchmarking the heli ride in these test really the best way to test Vegas performance? What percentage of the game is actually spent flying in a heli, and is testing the part of the game where the player switches off and doesn't really care what is going on in game the best part of the game to test?

    I appreciate there was no easy way to benchmark due to there being no in-game system to replay the same scene more than once, but at the end of the day it is the game's performance during firefights and urban scenes that is of interest to the gamer, not level-transition heli rides.

    Is it valid to assume that the engines rednering performance is the same for detailed character models as it is for long draw/low detail high altitude scenes?

    Rather than settling for an easily reproducible scene of little revelance, personally I'd would have liked to have seen something a bit more relevant tested, even if it took some ingenuity to come up. It is possible to get quite accurate comparisons, for example, by simply recording the FPS as a character runs the same path through a level several times - at least that way we'd get a report showing FPS from scenes the player is interested in, rather than unimportant heli rides.

    That comes of like a bit of a rant, but it is meant to be constructive comment, honest!


  • mlambert890 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    Weird, but to be honest, I actually do better in game (even during fire-fights), then in that heli ride. My thinking was that the engine isnt particularly efficient at rendering the wide-open city scape.

    With an FX-60 o/c to 2.8Ghz and an X1900XTX@650/775 and 2GB PC3200 I get 30-40fps on the heli ride, but I very rarely dip below 45fps in game. A couple of the big fights dropped into the 20's but it didnt really disrupt play that badly. Gameplay for 90% of the game ended up better than the heli ride bench would have implied.

    If you're interested, AMDZone did an R6:V bench using an avg of in-game framerates rather than the heli ride:">
  • VooDooAddict - Monday, February 19, 2007 - link

    thanks for the link to that review. Especially like the Single Core vs Dual Core and Dual Core vs Quad.
  • anandtech02148 - Wednesday, December 27, 2006 - link

    Gears of War got excellent lighting n shadows,
    worst unreal 3 engine game... REd orchestra.
    i like the first paragraph of this article, It hit the spot, consider i have downloaded 2Gig of patches for BF2!!!
    considered games now break the $100 easily for a title.
  • bisket - Wednesday, December 27, 2006 - link

    i don't see really, how this game can get that much praise.

    1. first off no widescreen support for pc except with a hack.

    2. imo i thought graw look a heck of a lot better then this. i hate ports from consoles to pc they dumb it down too much.

    3. i'm running a 8800gtx with a c2d 6600 with 2 gigs of pc6400 ram. and this game game me a good 60 fps (1920x1200 everything maxed with widescreen hack) in some areas. in some areas my fps droped to 20 which is unexceptable and just plain dumb. why? maybe because it's just a port and not optimized, i don't care if it's the unreal 3 engine or not, i'm not impressed.

    4. before i bash it too hard, i do have to say that despite it's major flaws the game is fun and could be *tons* better.

    5. i took this over to a friends house that has the dell 30" and same setup as me (8800gtx and whatnot) and we could not establish a framerate over 30fps, which is just ridiculous. i do not look forward to future pc games that are ported from a console. i will be saving my money next time.

    6. why all the low-res texture nonsense? and low geometry? i just don't get it.

    7. also, praise for the smoke? it looks bad (as in, not good), IMHO.

    i give this game a 5.5 out of 10.

    summary: decent graphics with major glitches and major fps drops in random places. fun gameplay. have fun playing online when it doesn't crash. very cool cover system and nice enemy ai.

  • 100proof - Thursday, December 28, 2006 - link

    8.) Ingame advertising ---> spyware..">

    My question is why don't Review sites like Anandtech hold game publishers like EA and Ubisoft accountable for this new trend of double dipping? Why also aren't publishers held accountable for not having information about spyware on outside of the packaging?

    Credit goes to SlipperyJim for info/screencaps below

    This shows traffic from when you double click the game icon to when it says "Press any key to begin:">

    Traffic from when you select "Multiplayer > Online":">

    Traffic from when you login with your Username and Password:">

    Traffic when you get a list of games:">

    The interesting locations seems to be "" and Demonware.

    "" is Massive Incorporated server. This is the server for in-game adverts. If you add "" to your Windows host file it appears to block the in-game advertising. Below is a link to how it is blocked in Swat 4 (follow the same method but add "" to the list):">

    DemonWare is a company that offers matchmaking services (probably just like Gamespy in that they will check your CD key and maintain a master server list of available games). It also is a company that has lobby advertising and also offers something called "DemonWare DNA" which sounds a lot like spyware. Frown">

    The most shocking part was next. The client contacted madserver to tell the advertisers how long the gamer spent with each advert in their view. This is mapped to the gamer id, so they know which player in the game saw the advert, and when, for how long, and from how far away (by virtue of the size attribute). Even the average viewing angle is passed back.

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