Mafia II: Perfection for NVIDIA’s Graphics Plus Technologies?

Author: Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig
Date: August 23, 2010
Product Name: Mafia II
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NVIDIA’s APEX Modules in Mafia II

By now everyone and their mothers have likely already heard about NVIDIA’s PhysX technology which brings physics processing to the GPU. Utilizing the highly parallel nature of today’s graphics cards, complex physics calculations can be done in a fraction of the time they are processed on a standard multi core processor. What you may not have heard of up until now is APEX.

In its more basic form, APEX gives game designers a scalable ecosystem where they can create high-level dynamic and interactive environments without having to get their noses dirty in the programming aspect of things. Anything created within APEX can be can also be scaled across multiple platforms – from the CPU to the GPU to consoles- which creates a simple all in one solution. This could help bring in-game physics to a wider range of gamers and even help optimize code for different applications.

Within APEX, there are a number of modules including Destruction, Clothing, Vegetation, Particles and Turbulence of which one, a few or all can be used within a game. Within Mafia 2, 2K games have decided to use the Clothing and Particle modules for lifelike cloth animations and detailed, persistent debris.



Above we have a quick comparison of persistent debris with and without APEX enabled in the game’s main menu. As you can see, there are a number of differences when it comes to portraying the way the debris moves, interacts with its environment and stays on the floor. For those of you who are wondering: yes, you can shoot apart the concrete columns in order to uncover enemies hiding behind them. There are additional items like some pretty heavy collision detection and cloth interaction as well but the videos above don’t show either of these features all that well.

Below is a breakdown of how the processing is done in each of Mafia II’s APEX modes.


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