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PC Games (Games)

25 Games Tested in Vista 102

Posted by Zonk
from the games-for-working dept.
mikemuch writes "Jason Cross at ExtremeTech has installed more than 25 PC Games in Windows Vista and reports back with his experiences with each. For the most part, the OS handled games with aplomb, but on the whole ran them slightly slower than XP, and some required logging in as administrator to install them. These and other minor issues were the result of immature drivers. It was hit or miss whether games would appear in the Games Explorer correctly with box art, and GameTap doesn't work yet at all."
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25 Games Tested in Vista

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  • by DrMrLordX (559371) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @06:08AM (#17902118)
    Provided that MS is able to get developers to switch to DX10, nobody will notice how much slower Vista is for modern gaming once they are rendered incapable of running current titles under anything BUT Vista. Vista's sluggishness is only an issue whenever XP can compete in the same arena. Sadly, DX10 won't fix any current driver issues.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @07:35AM (#17902620)
      If the Wine project ever gets their DX10 implementation completed, it'd show everyone pretty clearly how slow Vista is compared to every other platform: XP, 2000, Mac, Linux, etc. Supposedly, they're planning on a complete implementation by the end of the year thanks to their switch to WGL, but I don't really know the details.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mongoose (8480)
        Yeah, it's pretty neat. Once they can port their D3D to their WGL basically they can port DX10 to anything they can port the WGL to... in other words you can run DX10 on Windows XP. I think it's a great stick in the eye for an overly controlling company in the industry. Thanks to the move to shaders it gets easier and easier to shift/translate D3D to OGL. I'm getting 30-50 FPS in Oblivion running Wine on Ubuntu x86_64 already.
        • I know you can run Wine on x86_64, but I don't think Wine actually supports Win64 yet. Wake me up when it does, though -- that's one of a very small number of things that keeps me booting Windows for games.
        • by mgiuca (1040724)
          Wow... I kind of figured since DX10 was only for Vista it would be a long time till we saw it in Wine. One major reason why I've been dreading the release of Vista (since I absolutely refuse to upgrade for DRM and licensing reasons, it means I'll miss a lot of games in the meantime. Which is why I chuck a fit every time I read someone saying "If you don't like Vista, don't upgrade! It's simple!")

          If Wine can show DX10 working on Unixes, then it'll prove that it's "necessarily-Vista-kernel-entrenched" as they
          • by Sparr0 (451780)
            DX10 seems to be mostly a marketing trick to cheat WinXP users out of Shader Model 4.0 functionality in their cards. That should be trivial to get working in wine and cedega. Just calling the appropriate matching opengl functions. *FAR* less complex than the real work involved in getting "original" directx functionality working like directplay.
            • by mgiuca (1040724)
              Hm.. well let's hope so. In any event, I think this game (the IT game) is all about interoperability. You can pretend do be about interoperability for so long (as MS does), but when your business model is about preventing interop, you're eventually going to lose. Wine will make that happen, sooner or later.
      • by kalirion (728907) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:43AM (#17904996)
        Great, then can I use a Win32 Unix Emulator on XP to run Wine to run DX10 games?
    • Since you're the first one in this article I've seen refer to the drivers that these games install, I gotta ask:


      I get why a video card needs to install drivers, and I can see where a game would only run on maybe DX9+, so that if you have DX8.??- then it should check that and report to you, and ask you to install DX9+ before you continue.

      BUT WHY WOULD A VIDEO GAME INSTALL ANY DRIVERS? A game should process the bits from the disk and the bits from the controller and display some other bits on the screen
      • by wampus (1932)
        Starforce copy protection uses a driver for some damn thing.
        • Ah, but that is not the game, surely. I thought that was the game vendor trying to lock you into a method or pattern, not the game requiring that lib to translate bitA and bitB to produce bitC
    • by Gr8Apes (679165)
      And right now, what reason do developers have for switching to DX10? Minimize their potential market? That's not how they work. While MS owned properties such as Ensemble might go DX10 only, for the next 2-3 years, at least, DX9 will still rule.
      • by Tuidjy (321055)

        I use my XP box for two things - playing games and writing programs for Windows Mobile. I will not switch to Vista until I'm unable to play the games I want on XP. I assume that they are people who will be unable to switch to Vista simply because they don't have the hardware for it. It would be madness for game developers to release DX10 only games if it will reduce their customer base.

        I hope Stalker, Crysis, Bioshock, etc... work well in DX9. I am pretty sure strategy games will not become DX10 exclusi

  • by GFree (853379) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @06:08AM (#17902124)
    Article's pretty good. It's definitely true that performance will be (slightly?) under what you'd experience in XP. It's up to you whether you wish to pay money for an operating system that, for now, actually provides less performance than XP.

    BTW, clicking on the "Print" link in the Options under the first page will show all pages as one. Useful if you don't want to click next all the time.
  • by Flodis (998453) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @06:38AM (#17902298)
    Asus A8R32-MVP with *** Socket AM2 ***? using DDR memory. And an FX 60? He obviously has a 939-system. How far can we trust this guy to have opinions on drivers and stuff?
    • whatever it is.

      "Asus A8R32-MVP with *** Socket AM2 ***? using DDR memory. And an FX 60? He obviously has a 939-system. How far can we trust this guy to have opinions on drivers and stuff?"

      I don't understand what the issue is. Please explain. I am not up on this terminology or equipment models...

      I am assuming that the system as described is not possible. This would, of course, invalidate the results.
      • by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @08:14AM (#17902798)
        The mobo is a socket AM2, an AMD socket with 940 pins. The processor is a 939 setup (939 pins.) This may not seem as though it wouldn't work, but the AM2 setup rearranges the way the pins are aligned such that only an AM2 processor fits in it. So yes, the described system is not possible. Even if it were possible, surely there are better mobo choices, it's memory is DDR 400 for goodness sakes.
        • Even if it were possible, surely there are better mobo choices, it's memory is DDR 400 for goodness sakes.

          I believe you can also only use DDR2 memory with AM2 processors.

          Also, from TFA: >>In fact, performance is really quite impressive. Our 3DMark06 score at default settings was 8052, where we score 8830 in our original GeForce 8800 GTS review. That system used a Core 2 Extreme-based test system that, all other things being equal, should outperform the Athlon 64 FX-60 we're testing Vista with he
          • by Flodis (998453)

            In other words, they ran 3dMark06 on two completely different setups and got different results. Geez.

            I'm of the opinion that it could be more significant than this... I mean, are we supposed to beleive this guy actually found the QueryPerformanceCounter BIOS issue when he doesn't know the equipment he's using?

            On one hand, it could be a typo. On the other hand, this mistake is a bit too obvious if you know your hardware...

            In any case, most people wouldn't care about the QPF/BIOS unless it kicked them

          • I am unsure of memory compatability between AM2 processors and DDR 400, but it still remains that both his specs and the motherboard's officially state DDR 400, so it would seem that the AM2 socket itself can use DDR 400. But the processor he lists is a socket 939, which I know does not support DDR2. I agree with the gggp that this is atleast worthy of suspicion, to take it with a grain of salt I suppose.

            Not sure what the 2 different setups = 2 different results comment was about, though I would still say
            • Not sure what the 2 different setups = 2 different results comment was about, though I would still say in all fairness to the scientific method, the tester shouldn't have bother metioning it.

              It tells nothing about how Vista affects 3dMark results, for starters. He had an AMD setup running Vista and a faster Pentium setup running XP. Well, guess what, the Pentium one got better results. What did we learn? Nothing.
        • by Flodis (998453)

          The mobo is a socket AM2, an AMD socket with 940 pins.
          Just to clarify, the Asus A8R32-MVP is socket 939 [asus.com], just like the rest of the components named. That's why I reacted to TFA calling it an AM2-system - and in the heading of the specs table at that.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by KillerBob (217953)

          The mobo is a socket AM2, an AMD socket with 940 pins. The processor is a 939 setup (939 pins.) This may not seem as though it wouldn't work, but the AM2 setup rearranges the way the pins are aligned such that only an AM2 processor fits in it. So yes, the described system is not possible. Even if it were possible, surely there are better mobo choices, it's memory is DDR 400 for goodness sakes.

          (emphasis mine)

          The motherboard (ASUS A8R32) is a Socket 939 motherboard. You can tell from the "A8" in the model n

          • Might want to be careful about the K8- comment. I have a Socket-754, PCI-E, nForce4-4x K8N4-E SE sitting right at my feet ;)
    • I guess you could say that.
      Your sentence: "Asus A8R32-MVP with *** Socket AM2 ***? using DDR memory. And an FX 60? He obviously has a 939-system. How far can we trust this guy to have opinions on drivers and stuff?" - especially the first half - is the exact reason why I - and I consider myself a PC hardware expert - am fed up with BTO and self assembly PCs. Back in the day (only 3 years ago) you could say "AMD + Socket A" and know that your hardware would work.

      Now, 5 additional sockets later (adding up to
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by Broken scope (973885)
        Yes it is cheaper. OH NO! I have to pick the right memory and the right socket! OH GOD THAT IS SO FUCKING HARD I NEED SOME DIVINE INTERVENTION!..

        That or I could just compare the socket and move on with my life and get a better computer cheaper with less bloatware on it.
        • I don't think it's always cheaper - it depends on what you're buying and what you already have. Initially I think it's more expensive. However, over time I think it ends up saving you money if you decide to stick to bleeding edge and leaving some components in the box, such as the CD/DVD drives, hard drives, audio card, etc. I had two or three cycles where I basically just upgraded the motherboard, cpu, ram, and video card for about $1000 (P3 to P4 upgrade) and the only reason I had to upgrade the memory
          • For me it has always been cheaper. Recently I had to do a complete rebuild. I started with nothing. I could have bought a dell for 1700 to get comparable components. I got mine with the case I wanted, with the Mobo I wanted, with the expansions I wanted, with the power supply I wanted all in the form factor I wanted for 1500. Yes, in some cases it will be more exspensive, but you get a level of custimazation that you cannot get from dell or even alien ware or voodoo. Though I do like voodoos cases.
    • by mikemuch (870535) *
      This has been fixed in the article.
  • by kailoran (887304) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @06:41AM (#17902318)
    ...I was wondering where it gets the box art from, and how.
    All I did was run some old game (UT99 iirc) without installing anything, and lo and behold it got added to the games explorer. Now, it's not such a bad thing in itself, but who did Windows send the information on what I've just played? How is it even detecting that a game has been run? Is it screening all DX apps and sending a checksum of the executable somewhere?
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What? You mean your firewall didn't report an application trying to open a connection and pass information to another machine? Oh, wait, this is *windows* we're talking about. Of course it didn't.

      I don't think "secure" means what microsoft thinks it means.

    • by erroneous (158367) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:15AM (#17903210) Homepage

      Yes and No.

      It's done by reading a local Game Definition File which will - in Microsoft's vision of the future - be created by the developer and included in the game install.

      However for games without such a file - presumably including all legacy games - Vista will dial the mothership and request the data using "Windows Metadata Services".

      See http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb173447. aspx [microsoft.com]

      • by kailoran (887304)
        Is there a way to turn this off? (other than filtering at the firewall level, obviously)
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Shabbs (11692)
        Holy crap! So, when you're surfing the pr0n, do icons for BangBros and what not get added to the "Pr0n Explorer"? ;)
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by d3ac0n (715594)
          Now that would be funny to see as an add-on to the Explorer interface.

          Start -> Porn Explorer :)
      • Just as a little bit more information on when WMS is sending back anything: Vista actually has a pre-installed database of games through the built-in system compatibility database; known games are identified via executable and the database applies a fix called "GameUX" to them. GameUX is what's triggering WMS to pull stuff up via the internet and to add the game to the Games Explorer. Presumably this could be entirely pre-loaded in to Vista, but I'd imagine MS went for the WMS approach to save space and dea
  • ... and some required logging in as administrator to install them.

    I've got no problems having to install apps/games using an admin account. I think that's a good thing, stopping kids from installing crap for one thing, and a lot of setups will actually prompt you for admin-level credentials if you're not already running with them. But you shouldn't have to run them as admin to use them - Palm f'n Desktop, for example. :(

  • There will be plenty of similar reviews, but I recommend the article at Firingsquad.com,
    http://firingsquad.com/hardware/windows_vista_aero _glass_performance/ [firingsquad.com]
    which shows that Vista, with the most CPU/GPU?Mem intensive Aero GUI enabled, is not negatively impacted as far as gaming performance is concerned.
    Everyone just assumes that Vista is going to be a bloatware, but according to the numbers, it is going to be a great OS for gaming as far as the performance goes.
    If you add nice GUI, taking advantage of the
    • by benzapp (464105)
      It's pure FUD. Especially if you install the 64-bit version on a dual core proessor and have more than 2 gigs of ram, Vista is significantly faster than XP (although I've never tried XP x64).

      I'm very happy with my installation of 64-bit Vista. It hasn't crashed once, every program except Adobe Creative Suite 2 works fine (it's a warez copy though, so who knows...) And best of all, it is much more responsive, even with many background apps running simultaneously.

      And, with Virtual PC being free... I have
      • by Khuffie (818093)
        Can I ask what your experience with drivers (ie, ati, audigy, plugging in webcams/external harddrives/digital cameras), and running day to day software (opera, messenger, things that weren't specifically compiled for 64-bit Windows) runs? I have a Core 2 Duo, and should be receiving my copy of Home Premium next week. I've been running the 32-Bit RC2 and it's been great, but I'm wondering whether I should instal the 64-bit or the 32-bit version
    • The previous post is not a troll... It's definitely Blatant mod abuse.
  • Vista and gaming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by faloi (738831) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:49AM (#17903564)
    Here's the sad thing... I've griped about M$ forever, but I still run their OS because I play computer games. A lot. I know you can do wonders with various Linux tools, but there's something nice about not fussing with that sort of stuff to just play some games after work. Vista, with all its "features," is about to push me to something else in a hurry. Especially if the performance enhancements that are supposed to come down from on high with DX10 don't really meet expectations. Never leaned so far toward a Mac before in my life (the only game I play these days will run on that natively).
    • I felt exactly the same way last week so I started piddling around with some Linux distros: Fedora, Ubuntu, and Debian. I enjoyed an exciting round of Kolf but otherwise couldn't get anything good to run. I couldn't even figure out how to install NVidia drivers on Ubuntu. It's a good thing I took several Linux classes in college or I wouldn't have even gotten as far as that. Cedega looked like a probable solution but I hate the concept of having to subscribe monthly to play games I already bought.

    • by technos (73414)
      Windows XP isn't end-of-life yet, and will continue to be useful for gaming well past it. There is very little point upgrading right now, and if sales don't start taking off for it very soon there will be little point for game companies to go DX10. Lots of games published today continue to run as far back as Windows 98, after all.

      Worry about it in a year or two, when the fact you're running Windows XP becomes a security headache, or it becomes time to upgrade the machine.

      On the other hand; If the game you'r
  • I guess he just didn't notice details like the fact that surround sound won't work in World of Warcraft (and plenty of others) with his Audigy 2 soundcard on Vista, thanks to Microsoft's removal of the Hardware Abstraction Layer.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If you'd read the article you'd see he talks extensively (relative to the article's size) about it. Don't guess. You suck at it.
      • by oc255 (218044)
        All I saw was

        Creative is working on a solution called the ALchemy project. It's a simple app that scans your game directories and puts a new directsound3d.dll and .ini file in there that basically interrupts DirectSound calls and translates them to OpenAL, which bypasses the Vista audio stack and allows for full hardware 3D sound acceleration.

        Which didn't pop up as "HAL surround sound in my book". Why the hate from the AC to the GP?

        Anyway ... this app that scans for dll's and replaces them? Is this good?

  • When I tried Vista Beta 2 RC1 I put a few games through the paces. I was quite impressed to see WoW work flawlessly with NVidia's beta drivers, though the framerate was definitely about 10% slower than on XP. I couldn't run Guild Wars at all, though this incompatibility is known by the developers and they're working on it. I also tried Half Life 2 which displayed really freaky polygonal artifacts - clustered red polygons on the torsos of NPCs that looked like throbbing tumors.

    Finally, I tried DOSBox w
    • by shoptroll (544006)
      So DOSBox works fine? Awesome. Have you tried using it with the D-Fend frontend?
      • Not in Vista, though I assume it would have the same problem since all it does is modify the txt file. I think users only have access to save files in the Documents folder. What a hassle.
        • by shoptroll (544006)
          Even with admin privs? That's bizarre.
          • by Chazmyrr (145612)
            If you're using UAC and a program modifies files under the Program Files directory, file access may be redirected to shadow copies in your profile.

            It's a decent idea and mostly it works well, but some apps have problems with it. Disabling UAC solved almost every problem I had with any applications. I probably could have worked around most of them, but I have one app that I absolutely need and absolutely will not work with UAC enabled.
          • I had only created one user in Vista and I don't remember whether I had admin privs. However, whenever I made changes to system configuration the screen went grey and I was prompted by a dialog with an OK button with a shield icon. I took this to mean that either I was admin or I had the capability to do administrative tasks without entering another password.
  • Well the chap at http://www.nvidiaclassaction.org/ [nvidiaclassaction.org] is so upset with the Nvidia 8800 drivers that he has set up this site for all aggrieved to register for a class action suit. I find it very hard to reconcile the "25 games all working fine" articles with the existence of the class action lawsuit website- which arose as a result of literally thousands of complaints at the Nvidia website. Now given the fact that Nvidia is the only company offering a DX10 compliant graphics card - I would hold this article und
    • What did that guy really expect? That his first-gen hardware wouldn't have bugs that needed working out? The 8800 was released before Vista was even released on shelves, of course there will be bugs... Any idiot can tell you to avoid Vista until atleast Service Pack 1. Who seriously expects a brand new piece of technology to work flawlessly?
      • If the ads and marketing made that impression and can't deliver, then he has the law on his side. Everything advertised must be fulfilled, if I buy a piece of hardware that doesn't support the features it advertises under the advertised OS (i.e. Windows XP) I bring back the piece to the store and get my money back.

        I don't really know what www.nvidiaclassaction.org is all about though.
  • Great (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kmac06 (608921)
    Great, WoW runs on Vista.

    I'm still not going to buy it...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, try running WoW (or any other game for that matter I suppose; I only tried WoW) with 1 GB DDR2 under Vista. On my machine, WoW runs on almost full details with ~25 addons at around 40 fps in supression room in BWL (hardware intense environment - lots of particles, many objects on the scene, etc.) under XP. WIth Vista, I get ~20 fps in an easy to process environment. Faulty drivers? Nah, don't think so.

    That alone convinced me, even though my uni is MSDN e-academy subscriber and I can get Vista Bussines
  • New driver model (Score:5, Informative)

    by cbhacking (979169) <been_out_cruisin ... @ya h o o . c om> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @10:51AM (#17904242) Homepage Journal
    This is unconfirmed info, so take it with a grain of salt, but I've heard two things about Vista's Direct3D that could cast some light on the slight performance loss.
    1. By default, Vista tries to use DirectX 10 when running a 3D program. DX10 is not backward compatible, so Vista also includes DX9. However, if a game needs DX9, Vista will waste some resources trying DX10
      Workaround: set Compatibility Mode - XP. I found that gave me a significant increase (maybe 10% or so) in frame rates, and decreased startup times..
    2. As with, for example, the nVidia proprietary driver for Linux, Vista uses as little kernel-mode driver as possible and runs the real code - the stuff that puts a load on the CPU, not the GPU - in user-mode. (The reason in Linux has to do with keeping the kernel-mode code OSS while still having full proprietary capability, while in Vista the change was made for stability reasons.) This causes a small but noticable (I usually hear 5%-8%) performance loss, as the user-mode code goes through the kernel-mode driver before reaching the hardware.
      The only workaround for this with current hardware would be using XP (or other non-WDDM) drivers... probably not worth it. However, cards and drivers optimized for DX10 may negate this issue. The idea behind DX10 isn't to do anything DX9 revision C couldn't; the idea is to do it much faster, and to take advantage of WDDM (Windows [Vista] Display Driver Model).

    In any rate, I game in Vista, and if my framerates are slightly worse, they are plenty good enough... and well ahead of, for example, Wine (though there's something awesome about playing even a DX8 game like WarCraft 3 in Linux/BSD).
    • by KillerBob (217953)

      In any rate, I game in Vista, and if my framerates are slightly worse, they are plenty good enough... and well ahead of, for example, Wine (though there's something awesome about playing even a DX8 game like WarCraft 3 in Linux/BSD).
      Psst... I'm playing DX9 games like GuildWars in Linux...
      • by cbhacking (979169)
        Ah... the only DX9 game I play regularly is EVE, and last I checked (a good while ago) that was firmly on the "doesn't work" list. I should take a look again, though.
        I actually used EVE for benchmarking (although my info comes from a variety of sources). The DX9 workaround in particular I found while trying to figure out why EVE was blanking the screen for 4 seconds during screen loads (this wasn't a powerful machine, and it was an old beta of Vista, but still didn't seem right... and wasn't.)

        • by KillerBob (217953)

          Incidentally, you ARE using Wine, right? The commercial variants would actually cost me more than a valid Windows license (the joys of being a CS major).

          Cedega, but that's only because Wine doesn't support 32-bit mouse curors. In order to get the cursor to display in GuildWars, you need to do a minor hack to Wine's mouse.c library to force it to use the X cursor instead of allowing the game/program to specify its own. Other than that, though, GuildWars does run on Wine in Win2K or WinXP mode using DirectX

  • As far as most Windows-using folks I know are concerned, the one big reason they use the Microsoft OS instead of a Mac is because the games they want to play aren't available for Mac OS X. Not like it would cause a mass exodus or anything, but it would be more ammo for your average Mac evangelist.
    • by mjolnir_ (115649)
      I was playing Battlefield 2 on my MacBook Pro quite happily, booting into XP for games. I have read that plenty of people have played PC games without rebooting, using Crossover or Parallels or the like...
  • I haven't read the article yet, but wouldn't it be normal behavior to require administrative rights to install software on a computer? In my opinion, what isn't acceptable is to require these rights to play the game.
  • Ok, anyone who's read my opinions on Vista knows I'm no fan of the OS. But judging by every benchmark I've ever seen this conclusion is wrong.

    Our 3DMark06 score at default settings was 8052, where we score 8830 in our original GeForce 8800 GTS review. That system used a Core 2 Extreme-based test system that, all other things being equal, should outperform the Athlon 64 FX-60 we're testing Vista with here. So yes, there is a performance difference, but it's not nearly the 10% it looks like: Much of that is due to the difference in CPU speed.

    The long and short of it is that Vista gamers can expect to generally lose a small amount of performance until a few months have gone by and the drivers can be better optimized. I expect this to happen pretty quickly, and for Vista performance to be comparable to Windows XP performance, overall (with some games up to 5% slower, some up to 5% faster).

    Part of that I can accept. I'm sure it will improve in performance with better drivers in the next few months (not enough to interest me) but come on... a Core2Duo system a mere 10% faster than an aging socket 939 system? I haven't seen any benchmark anywhere in which even the slowest Core2Duo processor didn't beat out a socket 939 by significantly more than 10%. T

  • by StikyPad (445176)
    I was unceremoniously kicked from the server before even getting into the game, with a note that Punkbuster had inadequate OS privileges.

    You know what? GOOD. PunkBuster is crap. My BF2 CD key was banned less than one week after I bought the game for supposedly running some sort of hack. I tried protesting, but PB said "we have clear evidence that you were using a hack," although they wouldn't elaborate AT ALL as to what sort of evidence it was, or what sort of hack it might have been, and they said the

Porsche: there simply is no substitute. -- Risky Business