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Checkpoint: Framerates and Image Quality Edition

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Having grown up with limited funds to obtain the latest and greatest PC hardware to play games on, I’m used to wringing out the most performance possible out of my hardware and software. If this means I need to do some overclocking of the hardware, I will do it. I’m not afraid to do registry hacks, toy with configuration files or go through anything with a guide in order to improve framerate or improve image quality.

I wanted nothing, but the best framerate and image quality my hardware and I could muster. I wasn’t willing to settle and I certainly couldn’t simply go out and pick up a $300 video card. And although my gaming now occurs primarily on the consoles, I still want that smooth framerate and high image quality out of my games. But with console games, I cannot tweak or overclock the hardware to make them run faster. The best I could do is to choose the right platform or choose not to buy it.

With such differing hardware, finding games that are identical on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is tough. As a general consensus, the Xbox 360 version of a multiplatform game is usually superior. This is great if I wanted to do all my gaming on Microsoft’s console. But since I don’t have an Xbox Live! Gold subscription, any game with an online component comes under scrutiny.

You will be surprised how many games are not running at the standard 1280 x 720 high definition standard. And then there’s the anti-aliasing methods of each console which can greatly affect the image quality of a title between the two platforms. Is VSYNC in affect for both platforms and at what cost to the framerate?

I’m a stickler when it comes to framerate. I don’t expect everything to run at 60 FPS, but I do expect things to run at a smooth and consistent rate. I will gladly choose a capped 30 FPS game than one that is uncapped and can run anywhere between 30 FPS to 60 FPS. Not only is it more pleasing to the eye, but it also ensures consistent controller response times and allows me to accurately predict what is going to happen on screen. And believe it or not? There multiplatform titles which implement different approaches for each console.

Fortunately for me, these are the things Digital Foundry looks at. They break down the games and compare them to one another to find out the best looking and best performing version. Sometimes the differences are minor and I cannot go wrong with either, but there are times when I have to weigh in online component and, on occasion, the controller preference for the title. And who can forget exclusive content? (Such a terrible trend.)

In the end, I don’t always get the best looking or best performing version, but at least it was an educated decision at that point. If I’m going to settle for lower framerates for the sake of free online play, at least I went in knowingly.

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