Bulletstorm PC Performance Analysis

By on February 22, 2011

With Bulletstorm being officially released, it’s time to see how it performs to the PC platform. Did People Can Fly optimize even further the Unreal 3 Engine? Is it CPU or GPU bound? What about the 3D Vision support? And does it scale well in SLI systems?

We used a Q9650 @ 4.2GGhz with 4GB DDR2 and a GT295. Our OS was Windows 7 64bit and we used the latest official ForceWare drivers from Nvidia. Bulletstorm demonstrates some interesting visuals. People Can Fly used some amazing assets and the transition from the actual levels to the skyboxes is incredible and by far the best we’ve ever seen. Characters are highly detailed, albeit a bit generic. There are a lot of low-res textures that can be easily spotted in shadow-y places. On the other hand, the specular maps are highly detailed and the game supports most of those post processing effects we are used to, like DoF, motion blur, soft particles and sun rays.

SSAO, low-res textures and DoF can be easily spotted in this screenshot

The game runs incredibly and scales amazingly in SLI systems. Be warned though that you will have to edit its profile through Nvidia Inspector. Nvidia made a mistake and didn’t include its filename, so add the “ShippingPC-StormGame.exe” to Bulletstorm’s profile. With this fix, Bulletstorm was flying with constant 62fps at 1080p with 4xAA and max details. Our GPU usage was averaging around 50-98% in both cores. When we tried to force 8xAA, we were running with 45fps and had constant 98% usage in both cores. But what about those that don’t have a high-end GPU? We also run it in Single-GPU mode and were able to get great performance at 1080p without any AA and max details. With 4xAA we were averaging around 30-40fps. Bulletstorm is clearly GPU bound and you can see bellow that it doesn’t need a high-end CPU to run ideally. We tried to simulate a dualcore system and Bulletstorm was running again with constant 62fps, although we had more stuttering.

But what about the 3D Vision support? According to Lukasz Migas, lead programmer for People Can Fly, Bulletstorm looks amazing in 3D. Well, I am sure Lukasz had access to some beta, unrealeased version of ForceWare. Because according to Andrew from Nvidia, the latest version of ForceWare doesn’t include any 3D profile for Bulletstorm. Nevertheless, we tried to run the game in 3D but we experienced a lot of ghosting when we increased our depth level. Performance also took a great hit and we were forced to disable AA in order to maintain smooth framerates (above 40fps). Nvidia promised to release a new beta driver that will include the 3D profile of Bulletstorm, but we don’t know when. So right now, forget the 3D experience that Bulletstorm promises.

And there you have it. Bulletstorm is one of the best performers and proves how flexible Unreal 3 engine still is. It doesn’t tax the CPU, so those that still have a dualcore system will be delighted. If you have a GTX295 or better GPU, you will be able to enjoy this game to its fullest. And if you have a GTX275 or weaker GPU, you’ll have to make some sacrifices in order to maintain a nice framerate. Or you can up the details till you get a performance similar to the one of consoles (aka 30fps). Feel free to comment and check out our video review of Bulletstorm.

About David Scarpitta

I am a critical guy, and love to review and give my professional opinion on just about anything. Though have a love for tech/gaming and music alongside the cinema. You can catch me consulting and developing the net any day of the week.