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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Battlefield 2: The Video Card Controversy

As a PC Gamer you expect to upgrade, you expect that at some point your hardware will not run the latest games acceptably. Battlefield 2 does not even give you that option. It attempts to make all non DirectX 9 compatible video cards obsolete. Which means all GeForce 4 and older video cards will not run Battlefield 2. You cannot even start up the menu. Neither Electronic Arts nor the game's developer DICE have any plans to fix this. Even though the GeForce 4 line of video cards has enough horsepower to render the game it is not compatible with Pixel Shader 1.4. Emulation to Pixel Shader 1.3 would easily make the game playable on these cards but redundant texture checks make this difficult to implement.

The response from Electronic Arts on the Issue was:

"We've been talking to Benjamin Smith on the development team about this. There are no plans to implement GeForce 4 support in a patch. The engine was not built to run acceptably (performance or appearance-wise) on the GeForce 4 series of cards."

Then why does it run on slower cards such as the ATi Radeon 8500? The performance of this card is no better then the GeForce 4 line except for the inclusion of Pixel Shader 1.4 support.

Pixel Shader (Defined) - a program used to determine the final surface properties of an object or image that run on a graphics card, executed once for every pixel in a specified 3D mesh. They operate in the context of interactively rendering a 3D scene, usually using either the Direct3D or OpenGL API.

DirectX 8.1 or DirectX 9?
All GeForce 4 cards are DirectX 8.0 compatible and support up to Pixel Shader 1.3. Dice claims only DirectX 9 support but clearly shows support for a DirectX 8.1 video card, the ATi Radeon 8500. The major difference between DirectX 8.1 and 8.0 is Pixel Shader 1.4 support. When ATi introduced Pixel Shader 1.4 back in 2003, nVidia argued against it and failed to add it to the GeForce 4 line. Yet, here they did nothing to argue for support of video cards still capable of running the game? Even more insulting is the nVidia seal of approval on the box: "The Way It's Meant To Be Played" - I'm sure this is reassuring to all the nVidia GeForce 4 card owners who cannot play Battlefield 2.

Pixel Shader 1.3 vs. 1.4
The main difference is that Pixel Shader 1.4 lets graphics chips render up to six textures in a single pass instead of four. This is a performance difference. When Pixel Shader 1.4 is used, the ATi Radeon 8500 would take only one pass to render, as opposed to 2-3 on the GeForce 3/4 graphics chips. The performance argument is lost because in real world situations the GeForce 4 line easily beat out the Radeon 8500. Proving that (performance wise) the GeForce 4 line would be more then capable to run this game.

Other Games
Doom 3 supports at least a 64MB GeForce 3 and Half-Life 2 supports at least a 64MB GeForce 2. These are graphically superior to Battlefield 2 yet support older hardware. These are forward thinking developers who understand PC Gamers and the upgrade cycle. Valve's Half-Life 2 survey clearly shows over 20% of PC Gamers would not be able to run Battlefield 2. Where are the similar statistics from Electronic Arts or DICE?

PC Gamers expect older cards to run slower and at lower detail levels with newer titles. They clearly understand newer video cards will make games look and run better. But this is not the point. When games support older but capable hardware it gives the PC Gamer an incentive to upgrade because they can see the difference with their own eyes. That decision however should be up to the game buyer to make; it should not be forced upon them by the developer. No matter how innocent the developers intentions turn out to be, this comes off as a way to try and sell more video cards for nVidia.

If you can't count on the game developers, you can count on the community. Some faithful programmers have created a work in progress shader modification that gets the older cards to work. Download it and give it a try but remember this is far from finished and currently looks poor because all the shaders have not been converted yet. But it does give owners of "obsolete" video cards some hope.


rottenass said...

I think the only thing gamers can do which developers will understand is not purchase the game, it's obvious. Developers are in it only for the money, it's the only thing they understand. Hit them where it hurts, in the numbers. They don't give a hoot about budget gamers they want the big bucks. I just hope this is not a trend but just greed on these developers part. New and better games will be coming out and hopefully will not cut off so much of the market, so let this game pass something better is always just a few weeks away.

That's my opinion

rottenass said...

I don't think anyone will read this but, anyway. Just for my curiosity, will my system run battlefield 2.

P4 2.53 XP Home SP1 1 gig 266 ati radeon 9600 XT 128mb CT Audigy 2 ZS Samsung 120gb HD. Up to date drivers.

If it can I won't be buying it anyway, they don't need my money.

That's my opinion,

Andrew said...

Yes your system will work. These are the official Requirements:

Windows XP (32-bit) with Admin rights
1.7 GHz Pentium 4 / Athlon XP or greater
512 MB or more
460MB of HD Space
DirectX 9.0c compatible (*video)
DirectX 9.0c compatible (sound)

Video card must have 128 MB or more memory and one of the following chipsets:
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 or greater
ATI Radeon 8500 or greater

Keep in mind it should also run with a slower CPU or a 64MB Video Card so long as it is one of the compatible types (DX 9.0c).

Chad said...

Man I really want this game so now I need to buy whole new computer. This is some bull. I'd slap those guys if I knew where they were.

zach said...

After reading this article, I am highly steamed.

I upgraded from a gf4 ti4600 to an ATI Radeon X800 XL, specifically for bf2. Once I actually played it, I was highly disappointed... even on this monster card, the game still has major performance issues (and this has been the complaint from the majority of people I have talked to).

DICE's decision not to support pixel shader 1.3 cards is very lame, but it gets worse. Once you get into the game, you realize just how bad the developers at DICE and the Overlords at EA are who have any control over QA. Here's a small list:

1. The interface is the worst interface I have ever seen in a videogame, hands down. It's 2D and yet it runs and responds slower than the actual 3D portion of the game. It is 100% impractical to try to use this to get into a server, as it takes way too long between the time you click something and the time it actually responds (15 seconds in some cases). I am seriously wondering if they made the interface super-lame to try and get people to use GameSpy(ware). You can't even paste IP's into the "Connect To" screen, so you have to alt-tab between your IP source (All Seeing Eye or perhaps an IP someone pasted on IRC) and the ultra-slow interface. Have these guys been paying attention AT ALL to game interface design?

2. The randomness of the gun/bullet physics makes competitve play all but impossible. Are you a deadeye when using iron sights in Americas Army or Call of Duty? Well sorry to burst your bubble, you you aren't in BF2. Nobody is. You simply can't be because the random inaccuracy of the weapons is overdone to a most heinous degree. It penalizes people who actually use battle sense and combat experience (albeit virtual), while rewarding the people who don't know how to duck or hit the deck when they hear gunfire (often you'll be prone, have a standing, clueless enemy sighted up and empty the magazine and he will live).

3. Possibly the most annoying and intrusive aspect of BF2 is that, in order to play online, you have to log into the EA Account Center (or whatever it's called), REGARDLESS of the fact that you may not be playing on a ranked server. In other words, EA knows every time anyone ever plays BF2, whether or not you are on a server meant for stat tracking. Who knows what else the game client sends while you are playing?

4. Were you an ace pilot in BF1942? Supreme Chopper Commander in BF 'Nam? Well you aren't in BF2. Nobody is. First of all, they reversed the controls in aircraft by default. No problem, you say.. I'll just check the "invert controls" box. Uh oh. Now that the controls are back to normal (normal being "like every other flight game in the world, including the past two Battlefield titles"), something is different: The controls for mouselook have now been reversed. Yes, thats right..no matter what you do, either your aircraft controls or your mouselook controls are going to be reversed. You can't have them both set to the normal, traditional way that battlefield 1942 and Vietnam were setup. Oversight? Or just another terrible, horrible, deplorable decision by someone who should not be making decisions at DICE/EA?

I would love so much to go on... believe me, I'm not even at the halfway point on my list of complaints. I'll spare you the details...

Just trust me when I say that if you are expecting a new & improved Battlefield experience, you WILL be disappointed. You'll probably do what I did: Buy the game, and then continue to play it in some vain attempt to get your moneys worth. The only people I could picture liking this game are people who have either a) never played BF1942/BF'Nam, or b) never played an FPS before.

Don't buy it. You've been warned.

I will never spend money on another EA game as long as I live.

The warez community are doing awesome things now with cracks and cracked servers.

Anyway, thanks for listening.


Daniel said...

Ahem, you can reverse the controls ;) but yea the randomness of the bullets are a little over the top as for aircraft. pretty eays when you get the hang of it. (TIP: Reduce the helicopters control sensivity)

As for the GF4 range, that really sucks I've luckly enough to be able to borrow a ATI9800SE it will do for the mo till I upgrade blah. Guess I knew that time was comming anyway games have been increasingly more laggy due to poor HW.

Andrew said...

IMO the games are more laggy due to sloppy unoptimized code. I've seen the code for BF1942 and it was pure crap, filled with tons of redundant lines and useless entries.

Harry Spincter said...

I have a Radion 9200 and it doesnt work either, I had a heck of a time before EA told me to send them the game and a copy of my receipt to get my money back. The funny part is that it supports the 8500 or greater, until you look at the trouble shooting portion and then it points out it doesnt work with that card.

zach said...

Yes..you can reverse the controls. But in doing so, it reverses the controls for mouselook...

So, say you use shift as your mouselook key (assuming you know how to edit the Profile.con file in order to even allow shift to be bound to mouselook). You've reversed your controls so that pulling back pitches the nose up, pushing forward pitches it down, like a normal airplane. Why it's not like this by default, like every other flying game out there including the last 2 battlefield titles, is beyond me...

Now that you've reversed your controls, and are flying around in your jet, try holding your mouselook key and looking around. You'll notice that the mouselook is reversed too. It can be dealt with (read: gotten used to), but we already have to get used to a whole lot of other pointless "features" and changes they made to the existing control scheme and play style.

Matt Bastid said...

Do not expect this game to run well on anything less than a modern 256 card and at least 1gig of ram. I have both in my system, and the game eats memory like Fat Bertha eats fried rice in an all night chinese buffet. My page file usage was at 1.06gigs during a recent online game in a 32 player server. 1.06 gigs!! thats fucking ridiculous. its got to be bad coding, the graphics arent' THAT good, and the draw distances are no more than a top of the line flight sim which doesn't even use that much ram.

gamerlikeu said...

I already bought the stupid game and nothing happens aparently my computer isn't "good enough" so im heading off to frys to find the right graphics and pray i dont screw my computer up trying to install these graphics.

Guru said...

well people like to say go out and buy a new video card... well my main computer I use is a laptop... its only 3 months old hp zv5000 with amd 3700 64 processor well it came with a geforce4 440 go card... now I cant just go out and buy a new video card for my laptop... Im not sure if you can even install or buy a video card for a laptop... and if you could I wouldnt want to risk breaking my laptop... now see Im kinda screwed here... people keep sayin go buy a new video card but I dont have that option, and I know this laptop can run bf2 it runs half life 2 perfect so its frustrating to me that I go buy a game and have this happen then have someone to tell me to buy a new video card... Im sure im not the only one out there with the same problem

Fassn said...

I would have to agree with all of you.
This game is rated extreamly to high. I use a laptop just like guru, I can play any new game thats out with full blown 3D rendering but for some reason this Battle Field 2 wannabe Delta Force game just sucks. Delta Force was made in the mid 90's and owns this game hands down! The game would be good but for the fact its extreamly slow even on a FX Go6800 is pathetic, not to mention I have major error's since EA decided not to support the mobile line of video cards that Nvidia puts out. Iv been getting the update driver bs screen for days.. after every game finishes and it goes to switch maps the game drops me back to logon since my card "supposedly" cant support it. Iv contacted EA to see about a fix but its been about 2-3 weeks now and iv gotten jack back from them not a damn email..... Iv even resent the damn support request...... But for any one who reads this.. dont buy BF2 its so pathetic Circuit City gives away gift cards with any purchas of it since they have an over stock and such a high return rate. The game really does suck a fatty. If your looking to play a game thats like 10 times better go play Counter Strike or Metal of Honor.

as for buying EA games.... I hope they go out of buisness..... bunch of bastards

Mack Tung said...


Yes your system will work. These are the official Requirements:

Windows XP (32-bit) with Admin rights
1.7 GHz Pentium 4 / Athlon XP or greater
512 MB or more
460MB of HD Space
DirectX 9.0c compatible (*video)
DirectX 9.0c compatible (sound)

Video card must have 128 MB or more memory and one of the following chipsets:
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 or greater
ATI Radeon 8500 or greater

Keep in mind it should also run with a slower CPU or a 64MB Video Card so long as it is one of the compatible types (DX 9.0c).

6/27/2005 4:09 PM

This is actually incorrect. EA says any card not listed in the README file is not supported. Which meant my 9200 was unsupported. Sucks.

Hazzzed said...

For all those who, like me, are still using a gf4 TI card I say this:

1. Fuck EA!

2. Infinity Ward, I've got $50 burning a hole in my pocket waiting for Call of Duty 2 and I know you will support my hardware, baby!

John Doe said...

Ok I agree with a lot of statements about EA and BF2.... server browser is officially the worst ever created ya....accuracy on guns.....sometimes not to bad, sometimes frustrating but I don't normaly have a problem, but I think that BF2 is still a great game. It has good squad mechanics and a great sense of teamwork if you find the right guys. This game had excellent stat tracking as well. As for the graphics, i'm running everything on the lowest settings, due to a ATI radeon 9600 xt and the graphics are not great, but i'v seen worse. Also I have seen pics of the graphics at max level and it's very nice looking. People are shitingh on this game way to much, ya EA dropped the ball on a lot of things, but they also made one of the best online FPS to date. If you can get this game ,do it, a lot of the problems mentioned EA is aware of and have released a patch to fix some problems. So to all of you people who can't play sorry but there's always another game you can play.

John Doe said...

Ok I agree with a lot of statements about EA and BF2.... server browser is officially the worst ever created ya....accuracy on guns.....sometimes not to bad, sometimes frustrating but I don't normaly have a problem, but I think that BF2 is still a great game. It has good squad mechanics and a great sense of teamwork if you find the right guys. This game had excellent stat tracking as well. As for the graphics, i'm running everything on the lowest settings, due to a ATI radeon 9600 xt and the graphics are not great, but i'v seen worse. Also I have seen pics of the graphics at max level and it's very nice looking. So to all of you people who can't play sorry but there's always another game you can play.

saprtan said...

i just saw about BF2 and i was like wowa. then i was like what about my GF4. i was thinking that it should work. and i just got it as a gift. i had to upgrade my computer for other games and the fact that this does not work because of my gforce 4 is i think bullshit. the people who make the games may have inough money to pay for $700 vido cards and all this hitec shit but im not one thats has the funding to buy new things every time a game comes out becase it does not like what i have. my GF4 is a great card and very powerfull. forcing people to upgrade is not what a game maker should do. i have a GF4 about 2gh cpu i and 512 mb or ram. i paly cs HL2 doom3 wow with no problem what so ever i finaly have a computer that works and now i have to upgrade again. im just guna pass a waite for a better game to come along and i think that you should do the same.

tommy.b said...

OMG what the fuck . EA NEW that most people run a ge 4plus sooo whhy on earth they made it so u can only run on ge 5or wot ever its name is is plan fucking stuiped . only bran new computers less then 8 months old come with ge 5 . so thats stuiped i fink so unless u brougth a computer in last 8 months or u prpared to fork out couple hundred pounds to by a new video card. BASICALY u cant play the game unless!!!! u wait for this new matey whos changing it so people with ge4+ can play it .but at the moment hes only 30% percent done on it so u only egt 30% of the quality at the moment. BUT still ea shouldt sit there and thinck about this. if they want to be known as the worst games company therre going right way about this by doing this in first place and not releasing a patch to sort this out. i fink everyone should either put preasure on ea to fix it or just dnt buy the game. iv played the game but the graphics arnt all that like and explosion if u watch it slwoly it looks like a 3 year olds drawing. but game plays ok i did notice somethign about the shotting but was not sure about it. everything else is great but ea new this problem would accur but there all bunch lazy cunts and didt. AND if ea are truely a games company they pubicaly announce whos disceation it was to evan do this with video cards. then we can actualy egt some striahgt facts out the bastard and if he says well its make the game run smoother they chat major shit cos its jumpy as it is on all computers and this becasue of crap codes and extra shit used when its not needed. like the main menu is running when ur gameplay that make sit slower on old ones when u went to the main menu form gameplay it take a few secs cos it needed to open it but i was pk wid that but new one sucks already running pointless.

Nurg said...

What a load of moaning .. yeesh.

"Developers are in it for the money" because they aimed the game at less than the entire market by demanding high end graphics.. that makes sense.

"It doesn't work on my GeForce440go or other 400 series card" Here's a clue: neither does any other decent 3D game apart from HL2, these are worse than proper GeForce4s.

"It doesn't work on my GeForce4600ti" Boohoo, since when did games have to pander to old hardware? They decided pixelshader1.4 would be minimum. You don't have that. You can't play it. Get over it..

"Random weapon accuracy means I can't pick you off from the far side of the battlefield every time I spot you".. you mean I can move between cover with bullets smacking the scenery around me rather than hitting me every time? The alternative is magic soldiers who can get shot 50 times before they go down, like every other game. This is one thing BF2 has dead right.

"I fired on full auto until I ran out of ammo and didn't hit a barn door." .. well duh .. maybe next time try firing single shots? I get pistol kills at extreme range with careful aiming all the time so the accuracy can't be *that* bad.

"I have seen the code and it's rubbish" this seems likely... (sarcasm)

Yes the GeForce4000s were good cards in their time. But that time has passed, yes BF2 is buggy, yes the server browser is crap. Yes it has memory leaks. Yes it stutters if you don't have a high performance defragged hard disk.

But with the settings on max it looks really fantastic. (A64 San Diego, 1gb, Radeon X800)

And it's bloody brilliant to play. That's all I ask...

*ps hope I don't cause any offence with this post, none is intended! :)

j said...

NVidia is monopolising using anti-competitive tactics.

The plan is simple - get games to favour your product.

Example - bribe BF2 developers to not support the GF4Ti and force upgrades to FX.

NVidia are now and will be leading the market because the games coming through are being developed for `features`.

You can't pick a card by performace vs price anymore; you buy into `features`.

This MUST be stopped!

No one said...

ok sure, i havnt bought that many games... i actually have only a few game boxes sitting right there on my desk...

nhl 2003
nhl 2004
nhl 2005
ut 2003
ut 2004
bf 1942 + 2 expansion packs
bf vietnam

i will not be seeing bf2... and i probably won be buying nhl 06 because of this bs either...

you lose ea/dice/nvidia/ati

DeQuosaek said...

If you have an old GeForce 4 card it's about time you upgrade anyway. This isn't the most sinister move on EA / DICE's part. Just drop a dime and get a video card that was produced in the new millenium.

Andrew said...

The GeForce 4 was produced in this millenium, 2002 to be exact. If you ever used the card (which you obviously have not) and are able to play EVERY other game perfectly fine and most on high detail you would understand.

CARLI2 said...

i have just bought battlelfield 2 game and it does not work with my NVIDIA GFORCE4 MX 440 card . I really think got stolen from EA game developers motherfuckers.
They are joking of a lot of Pc gamers, trying to sell new video cards. I WONT BUY ANY EA GAME IN MY LIFE, THE SAME FOR NVIDIA, they should know who are getting in bed with.

CARLI2 said...

i found this possible solution from
some guy. i will try it today. good luck
geforce 4 mx 440 rebooting
i got the solution,this worked for,(if it doesnt work contact ur motherboard manufacturer and also run the AIDA diagnostic to check if ur a runnning at 4x) i also installed servic pack 1 and other updates i can almost guarantee this will work
there are two things u need to do,

1st if u got AMP u need to install the large page minimum patch,
Go to http://www.amd.com and search for the windows 2000/xp agp patch
while u r there also download the agp driver pack.

Next try this , i have an asus a7n 266 vm motherboard which uses the nforce platform,
Go to the nvidia grphics driver page,
here there are three boxes,
ist box has the following options
2.platform /nforce

select the second then select the windows xp option and u shud cum to a page that gives u the unified drivers, this is what u need. download it and install it.

these two things fixed my problems. another thing it did was make my card run at 4x which was by default earlier running at 1x,
i discovered this when i ran a diagnostic calles AIDA, search for it and download it , it tells u everything about ur comp.

This shu do the trick, the unified drivers is wht is most important,

please let me know if this works,
plus try to have a smps of at least 300 watt power supply, ur card is a big drainer..

Andrew said...

The GeForce 4 MX line does not support pixel shaders at all, which means the Shader Mod will not work. Nothing can get BF2 to work on your card. MX cards are really glorified GF2 graphics cards. If it was a regular GeForce 4 card the shader mod would work.

DeQuosaek said...

Ok, maybe I was a bit harsh about my millenium comment. But the few posts under my post make it clear that many people do not know the limitations of their video cards. Any GeForce 4 MX is not a good gaming card period. Never really was. They are based on the core of the GeForce 2 line of cards. You will not be able to play any newer game at high settings (or even at low settings) very well at all with those cards.

I have used a GeForce 4 ti card Andrew. In fact I have a ti4200 installed in this computer. (my work computer) I put it in here because it was sitting around gathering dust at home since I have upgraded 2 or 3 times since it was a good video card. 3+ years is a long time in computer components and GeForce 4 cards are simply old, outdated technology that have passed their prime and had their 15 minutes of usefulness.

Will a GeForce 4 series run Doom 3 (practically a year old now) at high settings? No. Will it run many other newer games at high settings? No. You must be exaggerating quite a bit when you say it plays EVERY other game perfectly. To me "perfectly" would mean with the best quality graphics and a decent speed and that series of cards is not capable of doing the more complex Direct X 9 functions and cannot keep up the speed in the newer games. Unless by EVERY other game you meant Quake III and Unreal Tournament 2003 and EVERY other OLD game.

If you have a GeForce 4 series video card (especially an MX) and can't play BF2 and you really want to play, it is time to upgrade your video card. EA is not out to get you.

Andrew said...

GeForce 4 MX cards do not have any shader support so it is impossible for them to play BF2. GeForce 4 Ti cards can play the game as evidence using the shader mod. Obviously they would not be able to play at high detail levels but they should be able to play at medium to low settings. This is all I and anyone who owns a Ti card is asking for.

I own a Ti 4600 card and it can play Doom 3 on medium detail fine. This is acceptable. Being able to play at high resolutions and being able to play at all are two very different things.

You do realize that a one year old game. Battlefield Vietnam is played at high resolution on my Ti 4600?

zoinky35 said...

Man this sucks EA Games need to update the box!!!! It says it will work on ATI Radeon 8500 or greater but crap it dosen't even work properly on mine. I keep getting into a game then *bing* turns off the game and goes to my main screen what B.S.. btw I'm using a
RADEON 9200SE... But yeah I use this Graphics card with doom3, counterstrike:source, halflife2 without any problems.. then I get to this game.. what a ripoff!! Forget EA games from now on!!

nobody said...

if u read the requirements it says that RADEON 9200SE wont work (which is bs) but u can buy an ATI radeon 9000 pro wideo card for about $120 and goin down

James said...

why not drop a benjamin on an ATI Radeon 9550? doesnt seem too extreme for me. plus its listed in the readme under "supported video cards."

smkdjnt said...

the link to the shadermod didnt work, I found a site that is hosting it though.


Azn said...

hmm why is everyone having soo many problems.. i have a laptop with an ati mobility radeon 9200 64mb and battlefield 2 works. i get decent framerates round 30 at low detail and 1024x768 resolution.

computer specs:
pentium 4 HT 3.20ghz processor
512mb ram
80gig hardrive
ati mobility radeon 9200 64mb with omega drivers 4.12

Andrew said...


That is because everyone complaining has a more powerful card that does NOT work.

iir0 said...

Will bf2 work on my computer?¨
I have:
Windows Vista
Intel V pro
Intel Q965/Q963 Express Chipset Family
16g of free space on hard drive