AGEIA’s Savior

The AGEIA PhysX mod for the newly released Unreal Tournament is out and we take some time to sit down and play it. Does it make the new $99 price of the PhysX cards more interesting or is it another flop?


We’ve been waiting a long time…

PC Perspective has continued to cover the world of gaming physics and physics hardware year after agonizing year.  The wait for killer applications and games has been about as long as waiting for companies like NVIDIA and ATI to actually produce SOMETHING based around the hours and hours of press briefings that I was privy to. 

I first talked about AGEIA and their PhysX technology in May of 2005 and the product saw the actual store shelves a year later.  It was in May of 2006 that we first start hearing about Unreal Tournament 3 (then UT 2007) and its implementation of the PhysX engine.  We knew then that only a few levels were going to be custom built for PhysX hardware owners, and these maps along with the final release of the UT3 game, are finally available.

As of this week, owners of both UT3 and a PhysX PPU add-in card can get the mod pack that includes tools to develop maps as well as two pre-made maps that feature PhysX technology. 

Unreal Tournament 3 PhysX Mod Maps

I’ve never claimed to be a game reviewer, as my expertise lies in the hardware side of things, but I know that a LOT of you are interested in the level design as well as how the new PhysX features work in them, so I have setup a lot of screenshots and even four video files to help you get the idea of how the new mod pack affects UT3.

The basic idea behind the PhysX mod to the UT3 is that it allows much of level to be destroyed based on the users actions: ala firing a gun at a wall blows it up.  This is also applied to some floor areas allowing you to proceed “down” the level faster than normal.  The PhysX mod also does things like change the way the shock rifle works: now the blue orb that it fires as its secondary attack attracts all loose debris to it.  You could use this to hit your opponent with all the debris, thus deadening him.  Seems simple enough; let’s see it in action.

The first of the two maps here is titled Lighthouse.
 
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This first series of screen shots shows a section of a wall as it is decimated piece by piece.  If you follow each image from 1 through 12 you’ll see how the entirety starts and how it ends after it’s destroyed. 

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Just to show you what happens when you shoot a wall that is NOT destructible, here is a rocket launcher firing at one.  Ouch. 

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There are some “cleverly” placed barrels of random explosive that allow you to destroy walls all at once.

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Some of the flooring areas can be destroyed as I mentioned before and this series of shots shows that in action.

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Finally, an interesting area in the Lighthouse has wooden floors that you can destroy making it much harder to go through the room later on.

Because we like our readers so much, I also decided to include a pair of high-res videos for your downloading pleasure.  Our friends at FileShack are hosting them for us:






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