If you’re one of the gamers who waited anxiously for the PC release of Batman: Arkham City yesterday, and you have a reasonably high-end PC, there’s a good chance the initial experience caused some serious concerns. Originally launched last month for the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles, PC gamers have waited for what they hoped would be the superior version, complete with DX11 support. The game released on Steam yesterday, and like many we were in line for the download. 16GB+ later, I fired up the game and decided to see what it could do—as a benchmark, of course.

Now, a bit of background information on my PC: I have a GTX 580, 12GB RAM, an overclocked i7-965X processor, and plenty of storage, all hooked up to a 30” LCD. Gaming in general isn’t a problem on this system, even at the native 2560x1600 resolution. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim for instance launched a couple weeks back, and after poking around at the settings for a bit I settled for 2560x1600 and the “Ultra” defaults, and I still get >30FPS throughout the game, and typically >60FPS. Batman: Arkham Asylum was a great game, but it wasn’t particularly taxing on PC hardware, easily pulling 60+ FPS even on moderate systems. So, with that in mind I decided to go for the glory and set everything to maximum quality.

Upon launching the game and playing through the intro, it became readily apparent that the settings were too much. FRAPS was showing 60+ FPS in some areas, but with frequent dips into the single digits, and averages of around 30FPS. Ouch! I decided to dial it down a notch, since 1.5GB of video memory might not be enough for 4xAA and 2560x1600, right? Off went AA, with almost no difference in performance. Hmmm. Then I dropped to 1920x1200, still with very little difference in performance: single digit minimums remained in the built-in benchmark, with averages around 35 FPS. I tried disabling PhysX, which helped a bit, but the choppy performance remained. Then I tried turning off DX11 Tessellation (nope, it didn’t help), Ambient Occlusion (again, nope), and eventually I disabled the DX11 features entirely. Bingo!

Without DX11 features enabled, my setup is able to max out all the remaining settings (including PhysX) and still pull >60FPS in most areas, with dips to around 30FPS in scenes with a ton of PhysX eye candy (e.g. the pellets from the ice gun in the built-in benchmark). Turn off PhysX and minimum frame rates are above 50FPS with averages above 85FPS. So at least on NVIDIA, there’s a serious problem with DX11 right now, but what about AMD hardware? Additional testing confirmed that the extreme choppiness with DX11 features enabled extends to AMD hardware as well; on an HD 6950 DX11 mode got 22FPS average (and 0FPS minimum) while disabling DX11 bumped it up to 70FPS. The problem is also confirmed by this Batman forum post (for those who likely missed it).

So for now, disable DX11 support for the game and you’ll be fine as far as performance goes, but there’s a bigger question: why did this happen? I don’t think it requires a mathematics degree to put things together:

Thanksgiving Break + Black Friday + New Release = Profit!

There’s no way this didn’t get caught in validation testing, particularly since DX11 support was one of the new features added for the PC version of the game. Sadly, not only do we get second-hand treatment but we also get broken enhancements. We’ve heard a fix is in the works and should come within the next week or so, at which point we can add Batman: Arkham City to our revised benchmark list and move forward. Still, after the delayed DX11 support for Crysis 2 this sort of thing doesn’t leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling. On the bright side, if you liked the last Batman game, Arkham City picks up pretty close to where things ended and is so far looking to be another intense and entertaining outing for the Dark Knight.

PS: As if the above doesn’t already show the PC version was shoved out the door, Steam Cloud, Games for Windows Live, and/or Batman apparently overwrote my save game when I ran it on a second PC, wiping out my progress. Probably some combination of the three, but regardless I’m a bit ticked that several hours of playing just went poof. Consider yourself warned.

Source: AnandTech Testing

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  • RussianSensation - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    Crysis 1 was so much better looking than anything else from its release date until Metro 2033 came out, that its demanding performance was more than justified. Even today, not many games are better looking than this 4 year old title!! Contrary to this, the graphics in Batman are nothing special. There is no way a game like Batman should be running at 30 fps with dips to single digits on a $450 GTX580!

    Also, the fact that performance doesn't improve by removing key DX11 features such as tessellation is a sure sign DX11 codepath is borked. Since performance skyrockets in DX9, while still retaining PhysX and everything on high supports Jarred's viewpoint that the only logical conclusion is an unoptimized DX11 codepath/bug (since this also affects AMD cards).
  • Th-z - Friday, November 25, 2011 - link

  • arjuna1 - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    Poor console ports, rushed releases and infested with drm malware. The saves corruption is not new, it happens ofter in Arkham Asylum, it's a gfwl problem, and if they added steam cloud saves to the recipe...

    Stop acting like spoiled kids who have to have it all right now, **do not pre purchase games**, wait until the first few bugs are ironed out and the most important, vote with your wallets against DRM infested releases like this one.

    Any of those and the combination of all three will send a clear message to publishers putting out crap like this, which btw is now happening way to often.
  • cactusdog - Friday, November 25, 2011 - link

    I agree, I made a similar comment when RAGE was released. This is getting beyond a joke, even the massive blockbuster games are seriously flawed or buggy in one way or another when released. Its happening way too often.

    I hope Anandtech or somebody can do a story on it. Games are expensive and so is gaming hardware, we deserve better than this BS treatment.

    I thought maybe they do it on purpose to thwart the pirate guys, because they usually pirate the game on release, maybe they want users to NEED patch updates to run the game properly and they're trying to make pirating the game too bothersome.

    Or they just dont care about PC gamers like they do about consoles because consoles is where the money is. But thats no excuse these games are making hundreds of millions of dollars.

    I'm losing my faith in games, they're usually broken or even if they work, its just a sequel and the same old stuff we've seen before. BF3 and MW3 are the most over-rated games ever, same game different map.

    That why I look forward to games like Batman, at least its original, even though its a sequel its something different from the rest....but it doesnt run omg.....

  • at80eighty - Friday, November 25, 2011 - link

    An artcle by Anandtech on the state of PC gaming would be interesting at this juncture. Lot of games promise a visual experience that would kick Crysis in the butt, however it all is watered down nonsense with useless 'patches' later after release. I too spent on my machine looking at a few promising games this year but it's been a waste.

    What baffles me is how game producers are definitely reading feedback all over the Internet ; however do nothing different. Meh.
  • jabber - Saturday, November 26, 2011 - link

    Remind the staff they are there to work on producing a quality product.

    Remove the fussball table, lock away smartphones and personal laptops and other such distractions.

    Tell staff there will be a substantial bonus payable if the game arrives on time and fulfills all the quality criteria for release. If it doesn't then bonus gets cut entirely or reduces 25% for each month its overdue. After 4 months, zip!

    At the end of the day staff have to know what they are there to do and what they are paid for. Many times I view staff seeing work as an annoying distraction between Facebook, the next latte and Twitter.

    Doesn't apply in all cases I know but its getting a problem in a lot of places. Needs a little refocusing.
  • Lerianis - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - link

    I could understand one game getting out with a development DX11 build, but not two in less than 6 months considering how few are released for the PC that have uber-graphics.
  • shin0bi272 - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the heads up. I was thinking of getting this game but now I think I'll either wait till theres a patch or not get it at all.

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