We used the full retail version of Quake 4 patched to version 1.3.0. It is the fourth game in the Quake series, based on the technically sound Doom 3 engine. However, unlike Doom 3, we found that the game benefits from at least 2x anti-aliasing, and the experience with anti-aliasing at a slightly lower resolution was better than increasing the resolution with no AA applied.
Both anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering were controlled from inside the game. When you select "High Quality" mode, 4xAF is automatically enabled, and when the "Ultra Quality" mode is enabled, 8xAF is automatically applied to the scene.
We did a manual run through from a five minute section of the Nexus Hub Tunnels level and found that a minimum of 15 frames per second and an average of 45-50 frames per second in our test section was deemed to be playable across the rest of the title.
Quake 4 is a favourite game in the bit-tech
offices at the moment, and we were quite impressed by how these three cards coped with the game at 1280x1024. High detail textures resulted in some rather poor frame rates and the gaming experience was hampered by the hitches - it was an unpleasant experience. We found that medium texture details fixed virtually all of the hitching issues we were having in this game.
Both the 3D Fuzion and reference GeForce 7600 GS cards performed similarly. The additional memory bandwidth didn't seem to improve the gaming experience massively - we saw slight improvements in both average and minimum frame rates, but you're not going to be able to tell the difference in real gameplay. Having said that though, the two GeForce 7600 GS's were considerably faster than the Radeon X1600XT, as we had to disable shadows to get a playable frame rate at 1280x1024.
We tried turning off all of the other options, including lowering the texture detail to low quality, and none of these had the same impact on the frame rate as shadows did. With shadows enabled, we attained an average frame rate of 34 frames per second, while our minimum frame rate was 0fps. The experience wasn't pleasant and certainly wasn't smooth with shadows enabled.