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  1. PC Report: GRID Autosport on Linux

    System requirements


    Windows

    • CPU: 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, AMD Athlon X2 5400
    • RAM: 2 GB
    • GPU: Intel HD3000, AMD HD2000, NVIDIA Geforce 8000
    • OS: Vista, 7, 8

    Linux

    • CPU: 2.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    • RAM: 4 GB
    • GPU: NVIDIA 640, 1 GB of VRAM
    • OS: Ubuntu 14.04.2 64-bit, Steam OS 2.0
    From the above we can see rather heightened requirements with the Linux release. While not at all unexpected at this point, it is still a disappointment just how much further up are the minimum requirements for many high-profile ports of Linux games - of course, what we need to keep in mind is that they are often based on the minimum requirements for SteamOS. Added to this is, as usual, a disclaimer promising no support for AMD or Intel GPUs. Feral have released an official statement detailing the reasons, with plans to extend it to said GPUs in the future, once stable driver releases with required features are available.

    Given the game's and series long support of Intel iGPUs, even going as far as boasting Intel-exclusive graphical features, a minimum of a high-end and seldom available Iris Pro 5200 is a bit of a disappointment.

    The following report is based on experience of playing the game on a machine with an Intel Xeon E3-1241v3, 12 GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GTX 770 with 2 GB of VRAM, on Window 7 SP1 64-bit (driver version 359.06) and Ubuntu 15.10 64-bit (driver version 358.16).

    The additional Intel results were gathered on a laptop with an Intel i5-4258U with an Intel Iris 5100 and 8 GB of RAM, on Windows 8.1 64-bit and Ubuntu 15.10 64-bit (using Mesa 11.2 built on 2015-12-14).

    A copy of the game was purchased using personal funds.

    Graphical features


    The game can boast almost full graphical parity with the Windows version. Lightning, reflections, and shadows, as well as every other effect are featured in the Linux version. However, Intel users on Windows get an exclusive feature called advanced blending, an implementation of order-independent transparency. This is the second port to lose this feature in the process, the first being Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.

    settings


    With Nvidia cards on Windows, the game also provides the Nvidia-specific implementation of multisample anti-aliasing known as coverage sampling anti-aliasing. Nvidia claims this allows for the same level of quality at a lower hit to performance. Of course, this feature is being phased out in newer GPUs, starting with Maxwell-based cards.

    ingame


    A quite interesting feature that is not present in the Linux version is native second-screen support. This isn't normal multi-monitor support, which is usually just assured by making the system appear as a single desktop, but rather a secondary view into the game, showing the current standings in the race as well as a cinematic view - a nice addition if you're planning any local tournaments.

    secondscreen


    Performance


    It is always interesting to see how does a port stack up against the original Windows version in terms of performance. It has become somewhat of a given that we will see a drop to a certain degree, given previous experiences, but there's always the hope the next port may provide a degree of improvement in this area. The results are based on the default benchmark provided. Error bars represent the minimum frame rate.

    nvidiapresets.svg


    As expected, we can see a fairly steady loss of about 40% regardless of settings. This of course isn't ideal, as a system the could still easily hit a stable 60 on Windows on higher settings may struggle in the same circumstances on Linux.

    nvidiaAA.svg


    We can see a similar story when using the various anti-aliasing settings. The drop remains consistent throughout the available settings. Additionally, it is possible to use higher quality settings on Windows.

    Benchmarks for additional settings like advanced lightning and global illumination were omitted, as the results produced on Linux were mediocre at best, occasionally rendering the game wholly unplayable due to extremely low performance - at best, they only resulted to a drop to around 30fps, but also introduced stuttering and inconsistent frame rates. By comparison, the game remained playable on Windows, still leaving the game at 60fps.

    Frame rate is not the only measure important in rating performance. Thankfully, when using a setting which keeps you above 60 at all times, the game's frame times do not often exceed 16.7ms often. The situation is not as perfect as on Windows - where none of all frames rendered went above 16.7ms, as opposed to a few slower frames always happening on Linux, resulting in an ever so occasional stutter.

    What is a pleasant surprise, is the fact the game is currently fully playable on Intel chipsets, in contrast to many other titles released recently.

    intel720p.svg

    intel1080p.svg


    The performance drop in this case remains at only around 20% on all settings. The game remains playable on Windows slightly higher settings than on Linux, but more importantly, the game is playable on Linux at all. If you'd prefer a higher frame rate at the cost to the image quality you can drop the resolution, though unfortunately, no graphical settings remain to reduce for further gains at that point.

    While playing, the game remained equally stable on the Intel and Nvidia systems, which is after all the most important part. This is also the first of the AAA ports we've seen release so far (with the exception of Civilization V) that was at all playable on my laptop.

    Experience


    The area of user experience is where the port really shines. Feral have put in extra effort to make sure you don't have to spend time to get to enjoy the game.

    Controller support works exactly as expected, thanks to the use of SDL2. But in case you're having any trouble getting the game to recognise your controller, make sure to bind it in Steam Big Picture. More importantly, when it comes to wheel support, the game is quite the opposite of what DiRT Showdown brought. With built-in support for most of the popular wheels available, including force feedback and 900 degrees range, the game leaves very little to complain about.

    Of course, it'd be nice if the in-game icons matched the prompts present on these wheels - and those are usually the same as DualShock's. Interestingly, the game does provide such overrides when on OS X, so hopefully this feature may still come in a future patch, or in the least in upcoming ports.

    On the other hand, the game loses some features as well. With the rise of hybrid laptops and touchscreens, the Windows version also features a touch based UI and input, but these are not present on Linux. Of course, given the fact that there are practically no readily available Linux laptops, and with SteamOS being the bigger concern, this is not a major loss.

    For those inclined to mod their game, you'll be happy to find out mods work great and without issues - among the first things I did after downloading the game was finding a mod that removed the unnecessary blur from the cabin and added working reflections to the mirrors.

    And most importantly, if you use more than one OS, the save files are fully cross-platform and will synchronize across systems as they should. Unfortunately, in a rather random fashion the save file I was using occasionally became unreadable for the Windows version of the game, though this was sometimes resolved by just playing another race and letting the game create a new file. And as one might expect, with this also comes cross-platform multiplayer, so you do not have to worry about playing the game with your OS X or Windows using friends.

    With this port, we also get a nice addition that OS X users had the chance to enjoy for some time now - a launcher. Right now only providing support information and a resolution choice, Feral have confirmed to me that future ports will see the featureset come closer to the OS X version, with additional options being available directly in the launcher.

    Conclusion


    While the performance of the port is a bit of a let-down, especially taking in light the fact the other game on the same engine (albeit older version) is even able to run at a higher frame rate than on Windows, the port is really good over all. With emphasis put on the user experience, you don't have to spend a lot of time fiddling with settings to enjoy the game.

    Hopefully in future releases Feral Interactive will not only be able to provide a superb user experience, but also matching performance. Considering they have quite a few more ports announced as coming, we'll see soon enough.

    PC Reports are a series of quick first impressions regarding the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor Soeb. For an up to date account of GRID Autosport fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.

    Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed reading this and want to us write more articles, more often, please consider donating to PCGamingWiki's Patreon campaign:

    • Dec 22 2015 04:16 PM
    • by Soeb
  2. PC Report: GRID Autosport

    System Requirements


    Minimum

    • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.4Ghz or AMD Athlon X2 5400
    • RAM: 2 GB
    • HDD: 15 GB
    • GPU: Intel HD3000 or AMD HD2000 Series or NVIDIA Geforce 8000 Series Series
    • OS: Vista, 7, 8

    Recommended

    • CPU: Intel Core i7 or AMD FX Series
    • RAM: 4 GB
    • HDD: 20 GB
    • GPU: Intel HD5200 or AMD HD7000 Series or NVIDIA GTX600 Series minimum 1 GB RAM
    Although the system requirements might look rather concerning for some, GRID Autosport isn't exactly a very demanding game by itself, and it does manage to have it's moments where it looks very nice, but otherwise the art style on some of the tracks slightly ruins this impression which is a shame seeing as some tracks are downright beautiful while others do look rather bland in comparison.

    Testing was performed on a system with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 CPU with 4 GBs of RAM and an Nvidia Geforce GTX 650 Ti running at a resolution of 2048x1152.

    Video settings



    GRID Autosport features a surprisingly vast array of video options, the choice being rather staggering. The most notable option being the native multi-monitor support, otherwise nothing else really stands out, other than the local split screen mode which is something very rarely found in a PC game but that's unrelated to the video options.

    Video Settings

    Advanced Video Settings

    Advanced Video Settings 2

    Advanced Video Settings 3


    Having to deal with such a vast amount of options can get slightly confusing and tedious, meaning that some tooltips explaining very briefly what each setting changes could've been pretty useful, seeing as some of the options did not clearly display any obvious new changes when turned on.

    The differences between Ultra Low and Ultra are pretty extreme and instantly noticeable.



    However Ultra and High do not appear to differ as much, the differences between each preset being rather more subtle at the maximum settings.



    Setting everything to the max might seem pointless, seeing as some options behave rather inconsistently, only affecting a few select entities instead of the game as a whole, which the player might not usually pay attention to. The Ultra settings are far more useful for players who love to take high resolution pictures in order to get the most out of their picture quality, but from a gameplay standpoint most values can easily be set to High without any huge loss of details.

    Night lighting



    A pretty cool effect, although it is only applied to the car's headlights during night tracks instead of actually affecting the ambient lighting of the level itself.



    Ground cover



    This setting mainly affects the outer parts of the racing track, where dirt and such may be found which adds some extra details such as foliage, the main difference between Ultra and High is the quantity of grass being rendered at the same time. The grass also appears to dynamically move.



    Vehicle details



    The most obvious change at lower settings is the fact that the game will stop rendering the player models for other drivers which are located in the cockpit.



    This setting also mainly affects how other cars will look on the track, the player model itself only suffering from a very slight lighting change at higher values, although the player's own model is still going to be rendered at a value beyond Ultra Low but again the differences are very subtle and on more higher end systems what this value is set at doesn't exactly matter.



    Reflections



    The difference between reflections is far more noticeable while actually driving, Ultra reflections being slightly less exaggerated than reflections on High although they are slightly more demanding framerate wise, some surfaces or objects may also cast reflections in a slightly differently way, Low and Medium still look pretty similar to High otherwise.



    Shadows



    The differences between Ultra Low and Ultra are clearly pretty large, on the other hand Ultra and High are much more similar. On Ultra the shadows are slightly blurred out looking more realistic while on High shadows have a slightly fuzzier and simpler look which is not the case at the maximum setting.



    Advanced fog



    The fog helps the skybox blend in better with the rest of the ambient which may also be used in order to mask some of the less detailed areas.



    Particles



    The differences might be harder to spot during usual gameplay, High and Ultra look pretty similar while Low and Medium particles will appear as being slightly less well-defined, the particles themselves having a cheaper look.



    Crowd



    At lower settings members of the crowd in the distance will appear to be rendered as 2D figures while on Ultra the LOD isn't really used anymore, the crowd being fully rendered at all times using the highest quality settings and details. The difference from High to Ultra however is pretty minor, the only obvious change being the improved lighting while the LODs will start loading a whole lot more aggresively at lower settings.



    The crowd can also be turned off completely, it is curious however how the crowd itself is randomized each time a new race is started.

    Cloth



    Nothing exactly special here other than some extra eye candy. Some shadows are still somehow being cast although this is a very minor issue anyway.



    Ambient occlusion



    The HBAO in GRID Autosport is rather more subtle than most games but it still manages to add some extra depth to the overall scene.



    The soft HBAO setting also goes along to add even more depth to the shadows which does not affect the framerate too much.



    Trees



    Trees follow the same logic as the crowd, being always perfectly rendered on Ultra, the LODs progressively starting to load far more aggressively on lower values, on Ultra Low however trees always use the lowest possible LOD available. Maps featuring large amounts of trees in the skybox are not affected by this setting.



    Objects



    Most smaller or less important entities appear to be affected by this setting which mainly changes which LODs are being loaded, some buildings may even appear as taller.



    Advanced lighting



    Again, this only appears to be applied for very few specific light spots or entities along with some very minor lighting changes affecting cars. The performance difference is certainly not worth the very small benefits it does showcase.



    Texture quality



    The new vehicle textures from the HD texture pack appear to have modified how the Low, Medium and High values function, meaning that the same textures are always being loaded at all times somehow. Without the texture pack itself there were still no clear differences between the three quality settings, other than the vehicles looking slightly different.



    Shader quality



    There's a very large difference between Ultra Low and Ultra, most decals not being rendered at all. On Medium and High the shader appears to apply a Depth of Field effect around most objects which looks fairly nice in motion. Setting the shader to Ultra Low will also stop it from rendering any cosmetic related damage or even some very specific decals located on the player's car.



    Oddly enough the changes between Low and Ultra aren't as large, setting the Shader to Low will also allow players to disable the rather odd DoF effect in the cockpit view, some effects such as the lens flares and such will otherwise be missing.



    Anisotropic filtering



    This can easily be set to Ultra or High seeing as there is pretty much no performance loss, what's interesting is the fact that this setting also appears to affect the crowd.



    Performance analysis



    GRID Autosport comes bundled with an already included benchmark test which can be very handy, the automatic settings have been pretty much spot on and overall the performance has been pretty great.

    GRID Autosport Preset Benchmark


    Controls



    The game features full controller support along with fully customizable keybinds. By default the game also has a preset for left handed people, allowing one player to play with a controller while the second player uses a keyboard. It is disappointing however that the game features no mouse controlled menus whatsoever, and using the mouse in-game is not possible either.

    Controls Settings


    Audio



    There's a wide array of audio options too although it is rather odd how some settings cannot be completely muted and the lack of a master volume setting is a minor issue but otherwise it is still very complete.

    Audio Settings


    Conclusion



    GRID Autosport is a very nice PC game which comes bundled with pretty much anything one might imagine to be available by default, although it still does miss some features which would truly make it complete, the video settings menus feel a bit too spread out seeing as some sort of categorization would greatly help. It is surprising however how nicely the game was handled showing that indeed nice PC ports are clearly a possible feat, the only downside being that they do require a whole lot more effort than most normal games, which might in the end be slightly detrimental towards other aspects.

    PC Reports are a series of quick first impressions regarding the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor RaTcHeT302. For an up to date account of GRID Autosport fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.

    • Sep 24 2014 03:09 PM
    • by RaTcHeT302