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One of the year’s biggest highlights for gamers, Batman: Arkham City has just released this week on both Xbox 360 and PS3, and seems to be doing fine in terms of sales and reviews on those platforms. But with all due respect to them, the Nov 15 release of the PC version should have you more excited because it seems like it’s going to be the definite version of the game.  That’s why ASUS has the whole gear up bundle, where you get the game with new graphics card purchases.

I can see right through your non-DX11 setup!

Obviously, there’s no arguing over whether a fully fledged gaming PC can outperform a much smaller, cheaper, and older console. That’s not really a contest. The question is whether developers are going to take advantage of the extra muscle? It’s become somewhat of a myth that currently developers don’t bother doing anything extra for PC beyond higher res textures. And while for myself prettier textures are often enough of a bonus, Arkham City developers Rocksteady apparently need more time for the PC edit because they’re going all out on it.

Advanced graphics...the bane of older hardware

NVIDIA is telling us that the PC version will be dramatically different from the console iterations, mostly thanks to DirectX 11 and PhysX implementation. With these driving off the GPU, the PC version will have up to ten times more particles than its console peers on-screen at once, for example, making for far more appealing and detailed world-building. Other extras you get with DX11 and PhysX are dynamic textures on surfaces such as clothing, and vastly more morphable environments: .i.e stuff can be broken down and destroyed convincingly. Due to memory and processing power limitations, current consoles can only deliver moderate amounts of these, but even a mid-range modern gaming PC can outpace them with ease.

A cat always lands on your face with her feet

It’s important to note Rocksteady literally built this game for DX11 and PhysX by default, and so if you plan on running it on hardware that doesn’t support the two standards, you will notice significant drops in framerate and/or effects being cut out to conserve processing power. If you try to force settings to the highest level on inadequate hardware, expect the game to run quite poorly. And we don’t want that.

Selina, my dear...

So, to sum up, with a proper DX11 and PhysX card you can look forward to a lot more detail in models and textures thanks to DX11 tessellation, better lighting, and a boatload more particle effects, all in 1080p and with a solid framerate. These are not cosmetic effects. I think games are exciting precisely because their technology keeps marching on at a steady clip, and this is exactly what we need to be doing – promoting better graphics and more impressive world-building, because those are the foundations on which better stories and better gameplay rely.

Don't puzzle over this, get a new card!

So what’s the bottom line? If you haven’t already, go get your PC a new graphics card. You don’t need to go all out, a nice GTX 560 will be perfect and won’t destroy the bank. Less than a month to go, time to get excited!

And zoom in on one of 2011's most anticipated entertainment events!

ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT 2011 WARNER BROS ENTERTAINMENT INC.

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