It’s never given the amount of column inches or due attention compared to the razzamatazz of eye-melting graphics, but audio in the game industry is just as an integral element for an immersive gaming experience.
Speaking in an interview with Develop, SCEEs audio manager Dan Bardino has extolled the PS3 for being a vanguard in the aural domain. Quoting a “vast evolutionary leap” in the way sound is implemented in gaming since the nascent days of squeezing everything into miniscule amounts of memory, Dan reckons the area has come on leaps and bounds. He says:
“There were real problems before, but I think game audio has taken quite giant strides over the last few years. Of the 2MB of RAM we had for sound on the PS2, for The Getaway we used that to recreate the sounds of the whole of London; all the car effects, all the gun sounds, some of the dialogue, music. On a standard audio CD, 2MB accounts for twelve seconds… With the PS3, we’re benchmarking at 25MB.”
The article goes on to mention the well-documented challenges surrounding the PS3’s “split” memory configuration as opposed to how the 360 offers up the full 512MB of RAM for developers to assign however they please. In fact, it’s only now in this the third year of the PS3’s life-cycle are we seeing developers come to terms with this constraint – a condition that promotes better, stream-lined coding practices – and delivering multiplatform titles that are genuinely comparable. It’s in the audio field, however, that Bardino believes Sony’s platform are leagues ahead. He continues:
“Of course, the PS3 is 7.1-native, so we’re doing interactive 5.1 music on a lot of our games. Killzone 2 and Wipeout HD were both 5.1 and interactive, there’s nothing else out there that’s doing that. That’s pushing music further than anything else.”