How to Use Battefield 2142 to Benchmark your PC
By Gabriel Torres on November 10, 2006
As you may already know, one of the best ways to benchmark PCs nowadays is by running 3D games. If you are comparing video cards, the use of real 3D games is imperative. Battlefield 2142, which was released last month, is the latest game under Battlefield franchise, making a very interesting choice to test the 3D performance of your system. In this tutorial we will teach you how to use this game to benchmark your PC.
Battlefield 2142 is based on the same engine as Battlefield 2. So in theory you could use the same methods used to benchmark Battlefield 2 on Battlefield 2142. The problem, however, is that Battlefield 2142 doesn’t come with any demos and utilities created for Battlefield 2 won’t run on Battlefield 2142 since file and folder names are different and also because Battlefield 2 demos won’t run on Battlefield 2142. Also, since Battlefield 2142 was just released, no benchmarking utility was released so far.
To make things worse, the benchmarking module included on Battlefield 2142 is flawed. Just to give you an idea, after recording our own demo and playing it five times using Battlefield 2142’s internal benchmarking module, we would get five totally different results. For instance, we recorded a demo based on Suez Channel map and we got five different results: 52.55, 44.47, 56.26, 117.93 and 145.44. As we can see, we are not talking about a slight difference, which is normal, but completely crazy results (especially if you keep in mind that this game has an internal 100 FPS lock, so it can’t produce more than 100 FPS if this lock isn’t disabled).
So, how to use Battlefield 2142 to benchmark your PC? First you will need to create your own demo, with at least 30 seconds. Second, you will need to edit your demo to add a new camera track. Third, you need to run FRAPS. And finally you need to run your demo under the video configuration you want to measure (resolution and image quality). We did this and we could get very consistent results, i.e., running the same demo five times the difference between the results was negligible (below 1%).
You don’t want to go through the hassle of creating your own demo, creating a new camera track and learning the commands to run your demo? No problem. You can download our very own demo, based on Sidi Power Plant map. This is a long demo were we drive a truck from one side of the map to the other, presenting a very consistent number of frames per second. On our zip package you will find all necessary files to automate as much as we can the benchmarking process. We will give you detailed instructions on how to install and run our demo and how to benchmark your system with it. Do you want to create your own demo? No problem, we will teach you how to do this as well, if you want to go through this.
We included automated files for 1024x768 and 1600x1200 resolutions. If you want to benchmark Battlefield 2142 in other resolutions, copy 1024x768.tmp and 1024x768.bat and rename the copies to the name of the resolution you want (e.g., 1280x1024.bat and 1280x1024.tmp). Edit the new .bat file with Notepad (right click it and choose Edit) and change where is 1024x768.tmp inside that file to the name of the file you created (e.g., 1280x1024.tmp) and change the resolution after +szx and +szy parameters (e.g., +szx 1280 +szy 1024). Edit the new .tmp file with Notepad and configure the resolution you want on demo.renderwidth and demo.renderheight options (to 1280x1024 you should change 1024 to 1280 at demo.renderwidth and 768 to 1024 at demo.renderheight).
One final important remark: Battlefield 2142 has an internal 100 frames per second lock. We disabled this lock with a command inside our Init.con file. If you do not copy this file, your results will be wrong, since the game will easily reach 100 FPS and then the average number of frames per second will be compromised.
That’s it. We think our demo is quite satisfactory for almost all situations, but if you want to create your own demo, read on.
Creating your own demo is quite easy. The complicated part is to create the camera track.
A demo file is simple a record of a game sequence. You can record your demo at any time during your gameplay by calling the game console (pressing `) and entering the command demo.recorddemo file_name, where file_name is obviously the name you want to give to your demo. After entering this command everything that happens on the game will be record to this file. Stop recording your demo by entering the command demo.stoprecording at the console.
Since this will record a real game, you will need to decide with map and game type you want to record. This is up to you. Resolution and image quality aren’t important here.
After recording your own demo, it will be saved to C:\Program Files\Electronic Arts\Battlefield 2142\mods\bf2142\Demos (if you use a Windows version not in English, Program Files will have a different name). Two files will be created, the demo file (.bf2142demo) and a camera file (-def.bf2142cam).
Since you record the demo while playing it, the camera file will play your demo as the view of your character during the gameplay. The problem, though, is that your head will appear all the time, spoiling your demo.
You will need the Demo.cmd file in order to create your own .bat and .tmp files necessary to play your demo and record your new camera file. The Demo.cmd that Electronic Arts provides works only on Battlefield 2. We edited this file and made the necessary changes to allow you to use this utility together with Battlefield 2142. So the Demo.cmd file present in our zip package is a different file than the one provided by them. Copy this file to the game main folder (C:\Program Files\Electronic Arts\Battlefield 2142).
Enter the command prompt and run the following command to watch your demo with the default camera: C:\Program Files\Electronic Arts\Battlefield 2142\Demo.cmd demo demo-def, where “demo” is the name that you gave to your demo. After entering this command Battlefield will be loaded and your demo will be played. Notice your character’s head appearing in front of you all the time, spoiling your demo.
The next step is to create your own camera track, i.e., a camera track without your character’s head on it.
To create this, you will need to run the command C:\Program Files\Electronic Arts\Battlefield 2142\Demo.cmd +c demo camera-def, where “demo” is the name of your demo and “camera-def” is the name of the new camera file that will be created.
After entering this command, Battlefield will be loaded under camera editing mode. Here things get a little bit complicated, because this mode is badly documented.
You will at first see a paused screen on the map you played, but at a location that has nothing to do with your gameplay. This happens because the game is paused and the camera is located in a different place. You must move the camera to the correct place you want to record. You can do this by hitting the Q key and then using the W, A, S, D keys and mouse to move the camera around.
After you positioned the camera on the correct place, you start recording the camera track. Basically, the demo will play and you will be able to view it from a different perspective. Everything you do with the camera will be record on the camera track, i.e., the way you are viewing the demo is the exact way that it will be recorded.
Besides the W, A, S, D keys and the mouse, you can also move the camera up and down with the Z and Ctrl keys. The mouse scroll will work as zoom in/zoom out. Clicking with the mouse you can change between free camera mode and player follow camera mode, i.e., from looking the gameplay from “outside” the character’s head to looking the gameplay as if you were one of the players (the advantage here is that you can zoom out from inside the character’s head, so you won’t be “inside” the character’s head anymore as it occurs with the default camera track). In the player follow camera mode you can hit the spacebar to change the player.
The game will still be paused. You can control the playback speed through the number keys. “1” means “pause”, “2” means “normal speed” and “3” on plays the demo in slow motion. After exiting the pause status by pressing 3, for example, everything you do will be recorded.
Of course at your first you won’t get a perfect camera track at your first try. Record as many camera tracks as you like – your demo file will remain unaltered. Play around until you get what you like.
To playback your demo again but now with your new camera track, just run the command C:\Program Files\Electronic Arts\Battlefield 2142\Demo.cmd demo camera-def, where “camera” is your new camera file.
After you think your have you camera track ready, you will have two files created by Demo.cmd under C:\Program Files\Electronic Arts\Battlefield 2142\, demo.bat and demo.tmp. You will have to edit both files to setup the resolution you want to use. After doing this, follow the procedure we described in the previous page to benchmark your system using your own demo file.
You have to copy our init.con file to C:\Program Files\Electronic Arts\Battlefield 2142\mods\bf2142. Battlefield 2142 has an internal 100 frames per second lock, and we disabled this lock with a command inside our Init.con file. If you do not copy this file, your results will be wrong, since the game will easily reach 100 FPS and then the average number of frames per second will be compromised. Our configuration file will also make Battlefield 2142 to skip all the introductory videos that play every time you load the game, speeding up the benchmarking process.