Video Graphics Quality Settings
In the image below, graphics quality is set to “Low”. Notice that round objects are comprised of large triangles due to lack of tessellation, causing objects such as Sam’s ear to show flat discernible angles. The detail is much less sharp, causing walls, floors, and clothing to appear blurred. Shadows are coarse and jagged, and lighting is unnatural.
With graphics quality set to “Medium” for the image below, textures sharpen for map objects such as the stone wall, tile floor, and wooden bench. Buttons appear more defined, and cloth now has wrinkles in the fabric. Tessellation is still not employed, causing unrealistic round objects. Shadows are slightly smoother with fewer jagged edges, but light sources remain unnatural.
Adjusted to “High” quality for the image below, textures are much sharper overall yet round objects still generate sharp or flat angles instead of smooth curves. Shadows are smooth, with shaded portions of textures, such as fabric and hair. Objects do not receive tessellation at this setting, so rounded surfaces are still comprised of many flat angles.
With graphics quality set to “Ultra” in the image below, Splinter Cell Blacklist utilizes its most detailed textures and shadows. Most round objects feature smooth curves thanks to DirectX 11 tessellation, with only a few detectable flat angles. Small objects such as Sam’s ear and worker’s fingers appear more realistic, yet both buffer wheels and the belt pulley display large flat transitions. Shadows have soft diffused edges, while dynamic ambient occlusion causes light sources to appears more natural.
Finally, with “Ultra” graphics quality and 4x NVIDIA TXAA enabled, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist looks its best. Tessellation hasn’t changed, but TXAA has dulled some of the sharpest edges to make flat curves appear slightly less conspicuous. Shadows appear soft and deep with larger area coverage, and light sources use Horizon Based Ambient Occlusion technologies.
Most all modern GeForce GTX video cards will enjoy Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist set to the highest graphics quality, but features such as NVIDIA TXAA and Field AO & HBAO+ may be more suitable for single-player missions than the much-darker Spies vs. Mercs multiplayer game where enemy lurk in the shadows. Ultimately, a custom combination of settings will yield the best graphical quality and frame rate performance.