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Dead Space 3 Benchmarked

Florian Glaser, Tanja Hinum (translated by Peter Krastev), 02/12/2013

Horror cubed? Almost two years after the last installment, EA releases the third game of the Dead Space series to horror fans. The nightmarish third-person title will attract players with a well thought out co-op mode and a diverse crafting system. We tested the single-player mode for several hours and have determined the hardware requirements.

Dead Space 3 Logo

Description

For the original German review, see here.

One of the biggest strengths of Dead Space 3, as was for the first two games, is its thrilling and dark atmosphere. A quick look at the level design clearly shows that the U.S. developers from Visceral Games really know what they're doing. The dismal sci-fi world, built around the mysterious Markers and the necromorph mutants, looks a lot like a mixture of Judge Dredd, Riddick, Blade Runner and Deus Ex. The developers have successfully created a dystopia and players are quickly immersed into the game universe.

The first chapter in the "Lunar Colony" is especially full of lovely details. We fight our way through a shopping street that invites us to stay and explore around every corner. The overall positive image also comes from the good technical implementation. Although the graphics are not necessarily outstanding, the developers have a done a good job. We were particularly impressed by the great lighting and the excellent shadow play. The numerous effects manage to hide the smaller texture weaknesses very well.

The scenery and the enemies remind us of Lost Planet.
The scenery and the enemies remind us of Lost Planet.
Sometimes we are in the snow.
Sometimes we are in the snow.
The prologue is very well made.
The prologue is very well made.
We abandon ship on a rope...
We abandon ship on a rope...
...slide on the icy surface...
...slide on the icy surface...
...and are almost crushed by debris.
...and are almost crushed by debris.

In terms of sound, Visceral Games has done a generally solid job. When you hear a strange noise at the end of a pitch black corridor or a monster lurking round the nearby maintenance shafts, you would want to run as fast as you can and leave the whole horror behind you. There is nothing to complain about the weapon sounds and the music either.

In terms of gameplay, Dead Space 3 is a double-edged sword. On the positive side are the scattered puzzles. Although they are very much alike and generally of low difficulty, the brain-teasers are a nice break from the horror routine. The player must activate energy nodes, repair machinery, move objects and avoid dangerous rotors, all with the help of telekinesis and stasis abilities. These skills also come in handy during brutal fights. After all, opponents are noticeably less harmful when slowed down.

Another advantage is the crafting system that is surprisingly extensive for a third-person title. The developers have divided the weapons into different modules that the player can combine anyway he wants. The resources that the player collects can also be used for the construction of other items, such as ammunition. Dead Space 3 even has a small character system. The so-called "RIG" suit can be upgraded in several stages. You want a larger air supply for the space levels? Then just put more resources in the corresponding category!

The first chapter takes place 200 years later...
The first chapter takes place 200 years later...
...on the New Horizons Lunar Colony...
...on the New Horizons Lunar Colony...
...where you will also fight conventional enemies.
...where you will also fight conventional enemies.
The city is full of billboards...
The city is full of billboards...
...that create a great atmosphere.
...that create a great atmosphere.
For most puzzles we need the telekinesis ability.
For most puzzles we need the telekinesis ability.

In order to increase the suspense, the developers have incorporated a lot of scripts. Sometimes these are so spectacular that the player is left open-mouthed in front of the monitor and the satisfactory "WOW" and "OH" follow as well. In addition we have the boss encounters, regular Quick Time events and the zero gravity passages. The latter offer lots of freedom of movement and are a nice contrast to the rather linear indoor levels. The interesting story is motivation enough to continue playing.

We were not quite as satisfied with the fights. While the "alien" battles offer a whiff of tactics thanks to the "dismemberment" mechanic (it pays off to shoot foes in the limbs), the "normal" enemy fights feel somewhat boring. First reason: compared to other action games, the main character's movement is relatively slow and clumsy. Second reason: more can be desired from the AI.

Overall, Dead Space 3 tends to have more action and less horror for our taste. The unique atmosphere, characterized by isolation, sometimes goes down the drain. True horror fans should look at the development of the series with a bit of skepticism.

Dead Space 3 is definitely not for children.
Dead Space 3 is definitely not for children.
Despite the retrospect, newcomers will sometimes have trouble following the story.
Despite the retrospect, newcomers will sometimes have trouble following the story.
We are happy to roam spaceships and space stations.
We are happy to roam spaceships and space stations.
The inventory is filled up quickly.
The inventory is filled up quickly.
News messages give the universe depth.
News messages give the universe depth.
In addition to the classic mission descriptions, we also have the optional target marker.
In addition to the classic mission descriptions, we also have the optional target marker.

We think it's a shame that EA has not focused on the strengths, which made the series great in the first place (even the first game offered more than enough fights), but has rather gone for the modern "Hollywood formula". A bit more peace and suspense have worked well for the third installment in the series. For us, the first signs of exhaustion came after a couple of hours.

We must also criticize the controls. The options menu is literally overflowing with buttons. There seems to be a different key for every mini-action. After all, this is not a complex flight simulator, but a rather simple action game. Convenient controls were achieved with a bit of practicality. Older action games worked fine with less buttons (Doom for example). Another problem: some menus have a limited or no mouse support at all. Yet, Dead Space 3 runs smoother than its predecessor. Even the first part had slow and clumsy controls.

The cool scripted scenes add some adrenaline.
The cool scripted scenes add some adrenaline.
The characters are well built, but look rather artificial.
The characters are well built, but look rather artificial.
Occasionally they lack facial expressions.
Occasionally they lack facial expressions.
If needed, we can easily change our suit.
If needed, we can easily change our suit.
Even the basic model is visually appealing.
Even the basic model is visually appealing.
The difficulty of the puzzles is rather limited.
The difficulty of the puzzles is rather limited.

Benchmark

Our benchmark sequence lasts approximately 60 seconds. The real-time rendered introduction to the first chapter gives a good overview of the expected frame rate (minimum/maximum/average). A video card should be capable of at least 35-40 fps, because the fights require quick actions and reflexes. A lower frame rate would cause annoying stuttering.

We used the proven Fraps tool for the benchmark. As you can see from the video below, we start the recording right as the advertising and propaganda monitor appears. The benchmark is stopped when Isaac falls on the floor of his apartment.

Settings

The graphics menu is intended for both beginners and advanced users. Those who do not want to deal with the details should use the four practical preset options and ignore the "custom render settings" submenu. In addition to the graphics quality, the user can change the resolution, the display mode and the brightness. The Vertical Synchronization should be turned off only for benchmarking purposes.

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

Great: all graphics settings can be changed directly in the game and no restart is necessary. The short loading times are also noteworthy. With an SSD, the selected levels load after only a few seconds. During the test we did not notice any bugs, crashes or performance problems. The technology seems well engineered.

The action game offers an extensive crafting system.
The action game offers an extensive crafting system.
The weapons are divided into several segments.
The weapons are divided into several segments.
Chip tuning of a different kind.
Chip tuning of a different kind.
You can send a mini-robot that automatically collects resources.
You can send a mini-robot that automatically collects resources.
The missions include numerous mini-games.
The missions include numerous mini-games.
The suit can also be upgraded.
The suit can also be upgraded.

Results

Despite the good graphics, Dead Space 3 does not have high hardware requirements. A video card of the upper middle class such as the GeForce GT 650M is sufficient for a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels and the preset "Very High". Those who will be happy with 1366x768 pixels and the "High" setting could easily do with a weaker middle class GPU. The popular GeForce GT 630M managed just over 35 FPS in the benchmark. Entry-level models such as the Intel HD Graphics 4000 are only good for low to medium details.

Benchmark-Tabelle: Dead Space 3

Verdict

In our opinion, Dead Space 3 has fallen between two stools. It is too action-packed for a horror game and at the same time it is too clumsy for the shooter genre. That does not mean the complete package is not fascinating. From a technical point of view, Visceral Games has done a good job. Notebook users will appreciate the moderate hardware requirements.

Without a helmet, the main character would be in dire straits.
Without a helmet, the main character would be in dire straits.
The space levels feature an amazing view.
The space levels feature an amazing view.
We can move around quite freely in space.
We can move around quite freely in space.
The controls could have been a bit better.
The controls could have been a bit better.
Mysterious drawings on the wall.
Mysterious drawings on the wall.
Video messages are displayed via hologram.
Video messages are displayed via hologram.

Test Systems

Our three main platforms are courtesy of Schenker Notebooks (mysn.de):

  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670M, GTX 675M(X), GTX 680M, Radeon HD 7970M & HD Graphics 4000)
  • XMG A502 (Core i5-3360M, GeForce GT 650M & HD Graphics 4000)
  • Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000)
  • Each with 8 GB of DDR3 RAM (2x 4 GB @ 1600 MHz), 160 GB SSD (Intel 320 Series)  & Windows 7 Professional 64 bit

GPU drivers: Nvidia 313.96 Beta, AMD 13.2 Beta 5 & Intel 9.17.10.2932.

From left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502
From left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502

Overview

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AMD Radeon Pro WX 4150
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AMD Radeon HD 6990M Crossfire
AMD Radeon HD 6990M
AMD Radeon HD 6450M
AMD Radeon HD 6470M
AMD Radeon HD 6350M
AMD Radeon HD 6320
AMD Radeon HD 6970M
NVIDIA Quadro P600
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
AMD Radeon Pro WX 4130
AMD Radeon HD 6760G2
AMD Radeon Pro WX 3100
AMD Radeon Pro WX 2100
AMD Radeon HD 6770M
AMD Radeon HD 6775G2
AMD Radeon HD 6545G2
AMD Radeon HD 6430M
AMD FirePro W5170M
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AMD Radeon HD 7520G
44
23
18
AMD Radeon HD 7490M
AMD Radeon HD 7500G
55.8
27
21.4
AMD Radeon HD 7480D
76
31.8
23.4
12.8
AMD Radeon HD 7450M
NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
184.9
89.6
69.3
41.7
NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 (Laptop)
NVIDIA GeForce Tegra 4
NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450
248
113
85
48
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti
NVIDIA GeForce GTS 360M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti
NVIDIA GeForce FX Go 5700
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6250
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470M SLI
NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 Max-Q
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NVIDIA Quadro P1000
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AMD Radeon HD 6830M
AMD Radeon HD 6520G
AMD Radeon HD 6540G2
AMD Radeon HD 6380G
AMD Radeon HD 6370M
AMD Radeon HD 6290
AMD Radeon HD 6250
AMD FirePro W2100
AMD FirePro W7170M
AMD Radeon 530
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AMD Radeon HD 6740G2
AMD Radeon HD 7570M
91.9
33.2
26.1
AMD Radeon HD 6520G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5
77
31
23.7
13.3
AMD Radeon HD 6330M
AMD FirePro W5130M
AMD Radeon 610
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6200
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AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56
AMD Radeon HD 6630M
AMD Radeon HD 6640G2
AMD Radeon HD 7310
AMD Radeon HD 6620G + HD 7670M Dual Graphics
92.5
45.2
35.3
20.9
AMD Radeon HD 7690M
AMD Radeon HD 7340
AMD Radeon HD 7690M XT
AMD Radeon HD 6650M
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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M
NVIDIA Quadro 1000M
AMD Radeon HD 6730M
AMD Radeon HD 6620G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6645G2
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AMD Radeon Pro WX 3200
NVIDIA Tegra X1 Maxwell GPU
AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100
AMD Radeon Pro WX Vega M GL
AMD Radeon R2 (Mullins/Beema/Carrizo-L)
AMD Radeon R2 (Stoney Ridge)
43.5
20.8
16.5
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AMD Radeon R4 (Kaveri)
AMD Radeon R4 (Stoney Ridge)
45.5
22.9
19.5
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6150
AMD Radeon HD 7430M
AMD Radeon HD 7420G
49.6
18.4
AMD Radeon HD 7370M
AMD Radeon HD 7350M
AMD Radeon HD 7400G
43
17
13
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645
AMD Radeon HD 7850M
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Intel HD Graphics 610
Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
164.6
73.2
55.3
32.7
Intel HD Graphics 6000
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU)
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6100
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260M SLI
PowerVR SGX540
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI (Laptop)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480M
NVIDIA Quadro P3000
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7300
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7950 GTX SLI
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7950 GTX
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GTX
NVIDIA Quadro P520
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GTX SLI
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS SLI
AMD Radeon HD 6790
AMD Radeon HD 6570M
AMD Radeon HD 6550M
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AMD Radeon R7 370
AMD Radeon HD 6620G
AMD Radeon HD 6530M
AMD Radeon HD 6870
353
170
135
85
AMD Radeon HD 6550D
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AMD Radeon HD 6310
AMD FirePro W4190M
AMD FirePro W4100
AMD Radeon HD 6490M
AMD Radeon HD 6480G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6480G
AMD Radeon 630
AMD Radeon 620
AMD Radeon 625
AMD FirePro W4170M
AMD FirePro M6000
AMD FirePro M4100
AMD FirePro M8900
AMD FirePro M4000
AMD FirePro M5100
AMD Radeon 540X
AMD FirePro M3900
AMD Radeon HD 6970
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AMD Radeon HD 6970M Crossfire
AMD FirePro M6100
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AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
46.2
21.1
16.5
AMD FirePro M5950
NVIDIA Quadro P500
AMD Radeon HD 6755G2
AMD Radeon HD 6950M
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU)
NVIDIA Quadro P5000 Max-Q
AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
43.7
19.5
15.5
NVIDIA Quadro P5000
AMD Radeon HD 7290
AMD Radeon 520
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AMD Radeon HD 6515G2
AMD Radeon HD 6510G2
AMD Radeon R7 M260
76.8
42.4
36.8
21.5
AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
AMD Radeon HD 7470M
NVIDIA Quadro P4000
NVIDIA Quadro P3200
AMD Radeon HD 6720G2
AMD Radeon R7 250
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AMD Radeon Pro 560X
AMD Radeon R7 384 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
AMD Radeon Pro 560
AMD Radeon Pro 555X
AMD Radeon HD 6750M
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 16
AMD Radeon HD 6690G2
NVIDIA GeForce GT 645M
155.2
73.3
55.4
32.5
(-) * Smaller values are better. / n123 Number of benchmarks for this median value / * 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
60Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 58fps
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.
?Uncertain – 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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Florian Glaser, 2013-02-12 (Update: 2013-02-12)