Benchmarkcheck: The Secret World

Florian Glaser (translated by Tobias Niendorf), 07/15/2012

No standard MMO. With 'The Secret World', EA has released an unusual online RPG that feels different from many of its competitors. Adventure elements have taken priority over relentless grinding and common fetch quests. This Benchmarkcheck analyzes which mobile GPUs are best for low, mid, and high quality graphical settings.

Introduction

Evolution or revolution?
Evolution or revolution?

The Secret World raised numerous questions before its launch. Can a MMO without proper character classes and levels even exist? Developer Funcom has learned from the mistakes made on the last major project Age of Conan and began again almost from scratch. Will this unique setting find plenty of supporters? We can't give a final word just yet, but the first few hours of gameplay will certainly make you want more.

Description

Nicely designed character editor
Nicely designed character editor
Mysterious intro videos
Mysterious intro videos

As shown in the intro video, the background of the Norwegian developers becomes clear. Prior to the MMO phase, Funcom programmed classic adventures that scored with quirky characters and an interesting plot. Although not top titles, it is worthy to include the published titles The Longest Journey and Dreamfall in 2000 and 2006, respectively, which are still among the most atmospheric, emotional and exciting adventures.

These influences can be seen throughout TSW. Shortly after the beginning, the player finds himself with three NPCs in the subway of Tokyo in order to combat a mysterious disease. The dark atmosphere here reminds one of Hellgate: London or Vampire: Bloodlines and immediately catches the player's attention. If the left side of the screen wouldn't be occupied by a chat window, TSW could almost be mistaken for a single-player title. According to other reviews, you will encounter several quests in which you use the integrated Web browser - a potentially interesting idea.

The excellent spoken dialogues (silent protagonist notwithstanding), the successful musical background and the individual character and monster design are further strengths of the MMO. Graphically, The Secret World will win no prizes as the graphics aren't much more than standard for an online RPG. Lighting, shadows and textures, however can be quite good in the higher settings. We will examine the performance of the gaming engine a little further down.

Fortunately, bugs and crashes and other problems did not occur during the our benchmark tests. The only thing that bothered us during the short review time was the moderate accessibility. Although TSW players are guided at the beginning, you have to learn many elements by yourself. The complex skill wheel makes the start of the game a bit less accessible than it could have been. Other online RPGs are much more accessible in this way. The boring menu design is also nothing to write home about. Instead, Funcom appears to have focused much more of level design.

Benchmark

Benchmark route
Benchmark route

Since the frame rate is much lower in wide areas that are populated with NPCs and other players, we used the London streets sequence for our benchmarks. With the tool Fraps, we recorded a nearly 30-second run from the "Rackham" theatre (right next to the building "The Horned God") to the puppeteer at the Ealdwic park (see map and video).

In order to avoid performance fluctuations, the camera was always center-aligned (not showing to the ground or sky). Depending on the environment, a doubling of the frame rate is not uncommon. More than 20 fps in our sequence suggest a decent overall experience.

Settings

The Secret World offers four convenient general graphics presets that control all the options in the Advanced menu, from 1 (low) to 4 (Ultra). While SSAO is active from the high setting, anti-aliasing is only active from the maximum preset. Motion Blur (blur effect for sudden camera movements) and tessellation (dynamic increase of the level of detail of some objects) are disabled by default.

Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings
High Settings
Ultra Settings
Ultra Settings

Settings II

Speaking of tessellation, The DirectX 11-only technology significantly increases the quality of the pavement as can be seen in the screenshots below. Instead of a flat 2D texture, the player sees a plastic-like 3D structure. However, the modern software technology will cost a lot of power. Full tessellation ("Ground and World") throttles the frame rate by about a third. Without a high-end notebook, active tessellation is not recommended.

Note: For tessellation to be activated correctly, the setting must be turned on manually.

Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings
High Settings
Ultra Settings
Ultra Settings

Settings III

By reducing the graphics settings, the texture and shadow quality will take noticeable nosedives. Reducing anisotropic filtering will also greatly decrease the quality and sharpness of distant objects. Lack of anti-aliasing will lead to an unclear picture while motion blur is as always a matter of taste.

Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings
High Settings
Ultra Settings
Ultra Settings

Settings IV

Convenient: A legacy GPU driver warning will pop up when TSW boots up for the first time. For our test, we mainly used Nvidia's beta driver v304.79. The AMD cards are driven by Catalyst 12.4 and 12.6.

Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings
High Settings
Ultra Settings
Ultra Settings

Results

At low settings, the hardware requirements are relatively moderate. At 1024 x 768 pixels and low presets, a GPU like the HD 4000 or the Radeon HD 7660G can handle the game just fine.

For more details and 1366 x 768 pixels, we recommend a reasonably powerful notebook. A dGPU on the level of a GeForce GT 630M should be adequate, while an upper middle class GPU (such as the GeForce GT 650M) is closer to ideal for high settings and 1600 x 900 pixels.

For 1920 x 1080 pixels, anti-aliasing, full tessellation and the Ultra preset, players should opt for a high-end GPU like the GeForce GTX 675MGeForce GTX 680M or even the Radeon HD 7970M. Since the RPG is part of Nvidia's "The Way it's Meant to be Played" program, GeForce models will show a higher performance than AMD models.

Note: You can set the graphics options to 0 in the Advance menu, which  will completely turn off numerous effects for the benefit of lower-end GPUs (e.g., the HD 3000). Any graphical setting, save for the DirectX API, can be changed directly in-game.

Benchmark table
Benchmark table

Verdict

The Secret World is not only a technically promising MMO, but it also offers quality gameplay. It stands out from the standard MMO genre with a fresh scenario and art design. If you are bored by orcs, paladins or Jedi Knights, this might be worth a try. Funcom has brought new life to the genre, but don't expect a total revolution of the MMO scene.

Test Systems

Our highest regards go out to Schenker Notebooks (mysn.de) for providing us the test equipment that have made these benchmarks possible:

  • XMG P702 (Core i7-3720QM, GeForce GTX 680M & Radeon HD 7970M, 8 GB RAM)
  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 675M, GTX 670M & HD Graphics 4000, 8 GB RAM)
  • XMG A501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 555M, 8 GB RAM)
  • Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000, 8 GB RAM)
From left to right: Schenker XMG A501, Xesia M501 & XMG P502
From left to right: Schenker XMG A501, Xesia M501 & XMG P502

Our next Benchmarkcheck will be Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Stay tuned!

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     The Secret World
 The Secret World (2012)
low
1024x768
Low Preset DX9
med.
1366x768
Medium Preset DX9
high
1366x768
High Preset DX11
ultra
1920x1080
Ultra Preset DX11 Full Tessellation
FXAA
 6NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M SLI
73.9
62.9
31.1
 11NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
76
73
64
48
 12AMD Radeon HD 7970
75.7
66.2
65.9
36.7
 22AMD Radeon HD 7870
74.8
64.7
62.8
31.7
 29NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
81.4
69.2
64.82
322
 32AMD Radeon HD 7970M
66
56.8
37.9
25
 52AMD Radeon HD 6870
64
21
 60NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
62.4
54.9
48.7
19.4
 63AMD Radeon HD 7770
70.2
61.1
48.7
19
 76NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
67.7
51
40.4
16.3
 94NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
58.152
49.352
35.43
14.83
 106NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
64.7
49
36.2
13.8
 145NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
38
37
26.9
9.1
 176NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M
43.8
34.1
21.1
8.1
 218NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
35
25.3
17.3
5.8
 244AMD Radeon HD 7660G
24
16
 261ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650
28.4
21.3
19.2
5.6
 313Intel HD Graphics 4000
23.5
17.8
11.6
 319AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5
27
19
10.5
Pos      Model                                     The Secret World
lowmed.highultra
 404Intel HD Graphics 3000
13.7
11.3
 461*Intel HD Graphics (Sandy Bridge)
11
* Smaller values are better. / * Approximate position

 

Legend
5Stutters – This game is very likely to stutter and have poor frame rates. Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, average frame rates are expected to fall below 25fps
May Stutter – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, stutters and poor frame rates are expected.
30Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 25fps
40Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 35fps
May Run Fluently – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, fluent frame rates are expected.
123Uncertain – This graphics card experienced unexpected performance issues during testing for this game. A slower card may be able to achieve better and more consistent frame rates than this particular GPU running the same benchmark scene.
Uncertain – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game and no reliable interpolation can be made based on the performances of surrounding cards of the same class or family.
The value in the fields displays the average frame rate of all values in the database. Move your cursor over the value to see individual results.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Benchmarkcheck: The Secret World
Author: Florian Glaser, 2012-07-15 (Update: 2013-06- 6)