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DirectX® 11 Case Study — Total War: Shogun 2™

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Microsoft DirectX 11 brings breathtaking graphics and unparalleled realism to Creative Assembly’s strategy game of feudal Japan.

Creative Assembly's Total War series features strategy games depicting large scale warfare during a number of historical periods. The original Shogun: Total War shipped in 2000, and since then, Creative Assembly has developed games based on the rise of Rome, the Medieval era and the Napoleonic wars. Their latest offering, Total War: Shogun 2™ is based on the Sengoku jidai era in Japan. The new title implements Microsoft DirectX 11, which along with select ATI Radeon™ HD 5000 and AMD RadeonTM HD 6000 Series graphics cards creates a stunning gaming experience.

One of the technologies enabled by DirectX 11 and AMD Radeon™ graphics cards is called “tessellation.” Tessellation creates a deeply immersive experience in Total War: Shogun 2™ by creating realistic-looking scenes. Game worlds are typically built from many, many virtual triangles. Tessellation creates smoother geometry by automatically creating more and smaller triangles. To generate the additional geometry, the graphic engine detects areas of the terrain that lack topological detail and then uses an application called a Phong tessellation shader to introduce extra vertices where needed. The result is smoother, rounder hills and more detailed terrain. Tessellation is also used to improve the silhouettes of some objects.
The game also uses anti-aliasing techniques available only with DirectX 11. Anti-aliasing makes the entire scene look more realistic by removing stair-step artifacts from lines (“the jaggies”). In addition, DirectX 11's performance optimizations improve frame rate and minimize stuttering.

AMD Radeon™ GPUs and Microsoft DirectX 11 together facilitate film-like depth-of-field effects, where objects are blurred or sharp depending on where you’re looking. The effect makes distant trees and buildings look blurry, directing your focus to the areas you want to examine.

AMD worked with Creative Assembly to create essential graphic optimizations, such as improved performance of screen space ambient occlusion, or SSAO, a technique that casts shadows within detailed objects. In faces, for example, shadows from noses, eyebrow ridges, and wrinkles add depth and realism. The two companies also worked together on a lighting technique called high dynamic range, or HDR, which allows bright parts of a scene to look good without sacrificing shadowy detail in darker areas. Early dawn landscapes can show bright sunshine reflecting off metal objects, while details of units in trees and shade are still visible.

Total War: Shogun 2™ also takes full advantage of AMD Eyefinity multi-display technology , including using a three by two screen setup, which looks spectacular. The game supports a three by one LCD panel array as well. Full bezel correction is supported, meaning the image compensates for the frame of the monitor so every part of the scene is visible.

AMD Eyefinity technology users will see even more robust performance with dual GPUs running in AMD CrossFireX™ mode, which enables both GPUs to work together to render a scene faster, or by using the new AMD Radeon HD 6990 dual GPU card. Using AMD Eyefinity and AMD CrossFireX technology, plus Microsoft DirectX 11, Total War: Shogun 2™ players will get an unparalleled battlefield experience.