S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl uses the ‘X-ray Engine’ to power the graphics. It is a DirectX 8/9 Shader Model 3.0 graphics engine. Up to a million polygons can be on-screen at any one time, which makes it one of the more impressive engines on the market today. The engine features HDR rendering, parallax and normal mapping, soft shadows, widescreen support, weather effects and day/night cycles. As with other engines that utilize deferred shading (such as Unreal Engine 3 and CryENGINE2), the X-ray Engine does not support anti-aliasing with dynamic lighting enabled. However, a “fake” form of anti-aliasing can be enabled with the static lighting option; this format utilizes a technique to blur the image to give the false impression of anti-aliasing. The game takes place in a thirty square kilometer area, and both the outside and inside of this area is rendered to the same amount of detail.
Benchmark Results: The XFX GeForce 9600 GT is based on the reference clock speeds (650/1600/1600), but it was still enough to out perform the ATI Radeon HD 3870 in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. The XFX GeForce 8800 GT 256MB graphics card was able to perform well at 1280×1024, but it fell short of expectations at 1920×1200. It just goes to show that having a larger frame buffer is important at higher resolutions. The overclocked Palit and EVGA cards did great and were just a bit slower than the GeForce 8800 GT 512MB. The EVGA SCC GeForce 9600 GT proved to be the best 9600 GT of the trio thanks to the 740MHz core clock, 1950MHz memory speed and 1835MHz shaders.