R265 Driver Enables Ambient Occlusion for Starcraft 2

Ambient occlusion is a popular feature we introduced into our R185 GPU driver last year. It adds rich, realistic soft shadows to games, making even older games like Half-Life 2 look better. The R265 driver adds ambient occlusion support for one of the most popular games of the year: Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. Ambient occlusion improves the quality of lighting, shadows, and depth perception in many parts of the game.

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In the scene above, four Siege Tanks guard the path up a ramp. Ambient occlusion adds an extra layer of richness to the lighting, especially where the tanks make contact with the ground.

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The Vespene Geyser also shows the effect nicely. Ambient occlusion brings out all the layers in the earth's crust where the Geyser has pushed through, giving it a rich 3D look.

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Finally, Starcraft II has many great looking cut scenes, most of them rendered using the game's graphics engine. Ambient occlusion adds some nice touches here. In the bar scene with Tychus and Raynor, ambient occlusion adds a gloomy look to Tychus' face.

A Note on Usage and Performance

Generally speaking, ambient occlusion is a fairly subtle effect. On some scenes, especially where regular shadows are fairly prominent, it may not be very obvious. It's best enjoyed in the single player campaign where the maps have more complex buildings and environments.

Ambient occlusion is a fairly graphically intense operation. Expect a 30-35% performance hit. We recommend using it only when you have a good deal of performance headroom.

Finally, because the effect is applied at the driver level, you may see some minor artifacts for certain game settings and maps. For best results, we recommend using it when the game's shader setting is set to "Ultra."

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