Dark Void PhysX Gameplay Performance and IQ

Dark Void was recently released with some neat PhysX effects. We’ll explore gameplay performance and show you what PhysX support will do for you in this game with plenty of screenshots and performance comparisons.


Dark Void was released on January 19th, 2010 by Airtight Games and Capcom. It was released for the PC, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Sony PlayStation 3. Dark Void is a sci-fi game set in the World War II era, relying on technology and creatures from alternate dimensions to provide the science fiction aspects of the game and its story. Music for Dark Void was composed by sci-fi veteran composer Bear McCreary, best known for his work on Battlestar Galactica. Dark Void represents McCreary’s first foray into gaming.

Dark Void received a lukewarm welcome from game critics, with most criticism falling on the lack of depth in its story and it’s lackluster flight mechanic. It’s highest professional review score was 7/10, given by Game Informer. The PC version of Dark Void has earned a Metacritic rating of 57.

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Dark Void

Dark Void is a third person shooter featuring a hybrid of foot combat and aerial combat. It is set in the Bermuda Triangle during World War II. The main character, Will, is a cargo pilot who predictably crashes, leading players to encounter the Watchers and their advanced weapons technology. The most unique aspect of Dark Void is the jetpack. With the jetpack, Will engages in aerial dogfights with actual aircraft. It is also used to bolt from cover to cover using the high-altitude vertical cover system. There is also a traditional cover system, allowing Will to shield himself with low walls, columns, and various bits of ruined architecture. Like all the weapons in the game, the jetpack is upgradeable. Upgrades are purchased at weapons lockers using tech points acquired by killing enemies and collecting a glowing yellow ball that each foe drops at death.

Dark Void also supports NVIDIA’s proprietary PhysX technology. PhysX is used to accelerate effects, such as particle systems for weapon damage, and dynamic fluid systems used to simulate smoke from the jetpack’s engines. As it is an NVIDIA-specific feature, AMD video cards are automatically at a disadvantage by not being able to utilize these effects.

The Technology

This game operates on a modified Unreal Engine 3 platform. It uses Microsoft’s DirectX 9.0c gaming API. As it runs on a nearly four year old game engine, and a five year old API, we expect performance in Dark Void to be stellar on all of our current generation video cards. The only caveat there is the addition of NVIDIA’s PhysX technology. PhysX potentially adds a tremendous amount of detail, and as such the GPU requirements can be more advanced, in spite of the maturity of the game engine and graphics API. We will certainly examine what manner of performance penalty PhysX brings to Dark Void.

The Video Cards

For this evaluation, we are showing eight video cards. From NVIDIA, we have the GeForce GTX 295, the GeForce GTX 285, the GeForce GTX 275, and the GeForce GTS 250. From AMD, we have the ATI Radeon HD 5870, the Radeon HD 5850, the Radeon HD 5770, and the Radeon HD 5750. We excluded AMD’s ATI Radeon HD 5970 from this evaluation because we found that it brought absolutely nothing to the game to improve the experience beyond what the Radeon HD 5870 was capable of doing.