This is a good analysis. Unreal got away with some evildoing with their super good looking renders that varied a lot on the actual game. On PC however, I must say to this date, Unreal is a beautiful, evocative game engine (as in UT3 and Bioshock). Technically the engine may make some shortcuts, but in frenzied gameplay, the engine, well, I like it.
So anyways why in titles such as Fallout3, Dead Space, the PS3 graphics are worse than the Xbox360? Not sufficiently good coding of the PS3 titles?
The Transformers game graphics on the PS3 are quite average, is this because this game title is generally a just average movie game anyway?
Are our standards too high now because PC hardware lends itself to now almost monthly updates to peak graphical processing power?
Metal Gear Solid 4 (IIRC) as I have played it briefly on a PS3, the graphics, engine and playability, dare I say, are thoroughly beaten by the latest Ghost Recon, Valve's HL2: Episode2, latest Call of Duty and even in some ways, FEAR Extraction Point. FEAR: Project Origin: will the PC version play, look and feel better than the PS3 version?
I'm really curious because I'm at the stage of deciding between PS3, XBOX360, and going back to PC gaming.
Originally Posted by WaitNextEvent
What is remarkable about this gen is we have seen the most enormous graphical power advantage one console has had over its competitors with the PS3.
It is understandable when you look back at what went wrong at Microsoft and led them to being forced to release such a poorly designed console. Back in 2005 the losses from the Xbox fiasco were up in the 4 billion plus range. The console had been on the brink of cancelation at least once and promises were made that if they were given a second chance they would get things right.
So manufacturing was halted around the middle of 2005 and the Xbox team scrambled to throw together something to get out the door as a replacement. Intel obviously had to be dumped if they were going to have something that wouldn't get humiliated by Sony,IBM,and Toshiba's upcoming Cell chips. IBM was their only real option and they basically just slapped a third core onto existing chip tech and made some tweaks to the vector stuff. A half-assed chip where all three cores are fighting over a single cache but certainly better than anything Intel had to offer and a large enough performance win over Intel that would be worth throwing away easy backwards compatibility.
But it was the ATI hardware where things went terribly wrong with the 360. It is graphics hardware that is essentially made for 480p being forced to try to handle 720p. The 360 was gimped with only 10 megs of EDRAM for frame buffer rendering. That is exactly enough memory for a 480p 4xAA framebuffer. To support anything larger than 480p with decent AA you are forced to waste time and performance breaking up your scene into tiles that fit sequentially into the small EDRAM. Many devs just didn't bother with AA and just added in for marketing bullshots. Amazingly stupid when there was so much bragging about 'free AA' on the system when in reality that was only for Nintendo Wii sized resolutions.
It was no surprise that given the rushed and botched hardware design on the 360 that it became to be known as the Xbox 1.5. It wasn't until Epic started putting out their laughably fake Unreal Engine marketing shots for Gears of War that the system had anything that wasn't a graphical embarrassment. There was such a desperate need for something to shed the Xbox 1.5 label that people didn't care that Epic was trying to pass off 5k by 5k marketing renders with massive AA and detail on models and world geometry ramped up as 'in game'.
What was even more embarrassing for the 360 was even when you got past the massively downgraded actual in game graphics for the flagship graphics title for the console, the game had been so massively gimped to allow the weak 360 graphics hardware to put those shiny normal maps on everything that the game ended up being an essentially claustrophobic on the rails shooter with levels designed to be tiny rooms and corridors with tiny numbers of objects on the screen at once or absurdly short draw distances with everything outside of the immediate foreground blurred out to try to hide the limited draw distance.
It’s now been three years since the 360 was released and it is shocking that the same outdated Unreal Engine is the ‘graphical showpiece’ for the console. There never has been another console that didn’t have a single first party game running a custom engine but instead had to rely on a third party crossplatform engine.