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The Laws of PhysX

Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2

Turns out; no and Dan was quickly pointing out to me a lot of smaller features which I hadn’t noticed when I first played and reviewed GRAW 2 for PC – the type of thing that isn’t generally thought of as being part of the game physics.

“The leaves on the ground will swirl and move according to the wind and the trees will sway in the same way.” Said Dan, who was controlling the game for us and running it up on a massive projector. He promptly whipped out an assault rifle and mowed down a tree, shooting individual coconuts off the top of the tree and pointing out that the tree will fall differently each time based on the wind at the time.

“This actually puts a massive load on the CPU as well, as the computer has to alter the A.I. to cope with these new barriers, so it’s actually part of the gameplay. This tree won’t disappear or anything, it’ll stay there permanently.”

Well, sure that’s nice, but does it really have a massive effect on the game? We pushed for details and Michael and Dan moved on to other aspects of the game which more fully affected the game experience. The huts and watchtowers which could be blown up looked nice enough when hit with a grenade, but it was when Dan pointed out how the game could be tackled differently because of PhysX that we got really excited.

The Laws of PhysX Ageia Island
GRAW 2, Click to enlarge

“The whole tower is fully simulated, so I can do things like this to get around enemies.” Dan said, first shooting the roof supports on the top of one watchtower so that the ceiling fell down on top of the guard and then shooting straight up from underneath another tower and destroying the floorboards beneath another guard.

Now, this was the type of thing that interested me much more. Not only did it allow massive flexibility within the play experience, but it also opened up multiple routes for players to defeat enemies and directly affected the gameplay. It wasn’t enough to change my opinions on GRAW 2 and, if I’m going to be perfectly blunt, I think it’s the wrong game to use for such a demonstration because the examples are contrary to the very essence of the game – which is a stealth, tactical shooter which is about avoiding using more than a single round.

Taking a team game from a Tom Clancy series and using it as a basis for a single player level which is disconnected from the main story probably wasn’t the best idea either, though Michael was adamant that it was a game level and not a tech demo;

The Laws of PhysX Ageia Island
GRAW 2, Click to enlarge

“It absolutely not was intended as a tech demo. It’s there with a series of objectives, three objectives throughout the level and everything is structured. We helped Grin to optimise the levels and by supporting them as much as possible...The SDK for it is free, so we can really help out developers a lot.”

We moved on away from GRAW 2 after that, taking a look at some pre-alpha code for NetDevil’s Warmonger, Operation: Downtown Destruction. While the game was loading up I took the chance to press Michael and Dan on a couple of issues.