We got a chance to fiddle with both the DirectX 9 and the DirectX 10 improvement, which boasts improved graphics and effects over both the DX9 and Xbox 360 version.
We started with the DX9 version, so as to keep our hopes low, and ran through both levels of the demo with full details enabled in a 1280x720 resolution. We used an ATI Radeon X1900 XTX and 2GB of RAM on the first machine, which was running Windows XP, and delved right in and then for performance testing we ran both machines on a Vista PC that used an Nvidia Geforce 8800.
The graphics held up excellently on the first machine with everything on full and AA pushed up to 6x. The gameplay was a little jerky in some of the outside, snowstorm filled levels but it was never enough to really damage the gameplay too much. The snowstorm effect looked good, but not too great. The snow swept towards and away from the screen predictably under DX9, yet in DX10 the effect was much more chaotic and the snow seemed to whirlwind about much more randomly.
The game made excellent use of motion blur and it was one of the first things we noticed, that even turning or moving would create a subtle, but beautiful effect, which was true in both versions though the DX10 demo seemed to have a bit more polish. The depth of field effects too were pretty awe-inspiring so that mechs in the foreground were nicely blurred when they should be.
Lost Planet DX9 Demo, click to enlarge.
HDR was something I'll admit I didn't notice on the first run through, and it's something a lot of people are starting to take for granted. The effect of it under DX9 was slight, but if you're looking for it then it does add to the immersiveness, especially when combined with the detailed textures.
One thing that is definitely worth noting as being excellent, even under DX9, is the animation used in the game. Whether jumping straight up into a vehicle, running across the snowswept plains with an enormous Gatling gun or landing a headshot on a hidden space pirate the animations always stand out as being fluid, detailed and lovingly crafted. It's hard to recall the last time we saw animations that were so good we cheered when someone got into a walking robot.
Lost Planet DX9 (Left) and DX10 (right) comparison, click to enlarge.
Switching to DX10, we weren't sure how the graphics could be improved really. Again, Lost Planet surprised us and showed us just how a game is supposed to look. Everything we've already mentioned was multiplied in its potency and effect and the moans of joy as we played it on full were enough to summon a crowd of dribbling geeks who collectively agreed was 'Spooge-tastically beautiful'.