Lunchtime Discussion: Comparisons

So yesterday we had the Digital Foundry comparison of Call of Duty: Black Ops. I’ll happily admit that I love Digitial Foundry, I think their comparisons are an amazing insight into the various technical differences between the 360 and the PS3 and every article gives you an insight into the technical side of gaming which rarely gets an in depth analysis; generally any comment on technical performance is based on subjective  perception rather than the actual technical breakdown that Digital Foundry performs.

That’s why I find it so odd that Digital Foundry seems to fairly regularly get accused of flame-baiting. Now if this were anyone other than Digital Foundry I’d be inclined to agree, just looking at images side by side and commenting on which you think looks better is, for the most part, little more than creating controversy for controversies sake. These kind of comparisons really don’t teach you much beyond “some guy has an opinion you may or may not agree with.”

Digital Foundry is basically the complete opposite of this style of comparison. By providing a detailed technical break down of resolution, frame-rate, screen  tearing etc… they’re able to give you a meaningful conclusion on which version of the game performs better. What it really means is that the information you’re presented with has actual meaning, has a context and a valid source that makes the article actually worth reading and elevates it above simple flame-bait.

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That’s my take on this, and is all I really have to say for the moment. How do you feel about comparisons? Do you trust Digital Foundry? Do you ignore all comparisons? Do you find them interesting or useful in anyway?

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27 Comments

  1. I personally don’t give *** about which version is “superior”. Comparisons are nothing but fuel for fanboys. Go on to any comparison video and you will find a s***** load of fanboy comments.
    Most of the time i can’t tell the difference between both versions.

    • Can you communicate without swearing?

      There is nothing fanboyish about analysing things and then displaying the facts.

    • See below!

  2. They do unintentionally fuel silly fanboy arguments but the bigger picture is that it Digital Foundry fill a gap in the market that is necessary. It provides us intelligent mature gamers with as objective information as possible about the system they are using. This in turns informs them of what the downsides of each console are and therefore in their next purchase allow a more informed decision.
    It could also be argued that they enable easily accessible copmpetition between console manufacturers, development houses and publishers, surely that can only be a good thing

  3. i only have a PS3, so i dont care!

    • same and many of my friends only have xbox but it doesn’t stop people going to have a look so they can brag about having slightly less pop in texture

  4. Plenty of people are dual console owners and friends list aside the performance levels of the game would be a reason for buying in one format over another.

    The DF articles are a great geek-out, they are unrivalled online and are completely unbiased appraisals of the facts. If some people can’t deal with those fact without going into a fanboy rage perhaps they should be cut off from the Internet until they can grow-up.

    Sure, no one really cares if you can’t see a shadow on the other side of a stone you’re going past at 200mph, but things like the level of detail differences in Mafia 2 and RDR 360&PS3 wasn’t slight, it was considerable and if I owned both consoles I would want to know these things.

    Secondly, screen tearing and variable framerates are an arse and should be highlighted.

    Good work DF, and long may it continue

    • considerable if you’re an internet dweeb. Normal people see no difference even on them 2 games mentioned.

    • Hear hear!

      • Personally I do own both, but the PS3 tends to get the nod for me, despite the fact that many games seem to be developed with the 360 in mind these days.

        This is mainly because I have no gold account, nor intent to buy one and also that I have a far bigger friendbase with PS3s, making trades, online meetups etc more feasible.

  5. I have a PS3 and dont own an Xbox 360. I have thoroughly enjoyed multiplatform games like RDR which is supposed to be weaker on the PS3 and have had no complaints. Knowing that the title is technically better on another console doesnt affect my enjoyment of the title as long as the experience is not adversly affected by the technical differences. Several games recieve patches to improve them later in there lifespan (GTA IV, Dragon Age, Fallout 3 etc) and I would be interested to see similar comparisons made once these patches have been applied in order to see how much of an improvement the developer has made.

  6. We compare everything in life whether we know it or not, be it music,films,food so at some point games would fall under our eye and given its a easy medium to compare its always going to a thorny issue

  7. DF’s technical comparisons are great. Fanboys, the amateur biased comparison YouTube videos and websites that regularly post flame-baiting views from extreme ends of the argument in search of hits are the problem.

    Sure it might be disappointing if your console of preference is perceived as coming off second-best, but if you enjoy the game who cares? (I’ve written as much here before: http://www.thesixthaxis.com/2009/08/26/ghostbusters-missing-pixels-found/)

    As long as people feel the need to constantly have their own opinions reinforced (and psychologists will tell you that’s not going away any time soon) there will be a console war and ‘wars’ need ‘sides’ to fight them.

    Combine that with the fact that development resources (time, people, money) are always constrained, they will be allocated where they will make the most money. If I were an American developer of FPS titles, for example, I’d use more resources on the 360 version as that’s where I’d sell more copies.

    To be honest console-owners, if graphics are the only thing that matters to you, buy a PC and do all your gaming on that.

    We should also look more at the positives that the technical comparisons highlight. Whether they be the cross-platform equivalence that developers like Criterion achieve or the techniques that are developed to counteract the short-comings of a particular platform.

    That concludes my random collection of semi-relevant thoughts. :)

    • Watchful wrote: “To be honest console-owners, if graphics are the only thing that matters to you, buy a PC and do all your gaming on that.”

      +1
      Both consoles are so far behind the curve now, the discussions of petty differences between them is pointless.
      I have a PS3, which I still use, why is it so difficult to accept its limitations?

  8. I hate these comparisons. Most people have only one console (whether for financial or practical reasons), so what difference does it make if the frame rate is higher on another machine? Agreed, the technical information is interesting in a “peek behind curtain” kinda way but in general they just fuel fanboyism and flame wars.

  9. I do value the occasional comparison like this that does analyse the state of play with cross platform games, and with DF’s you really can’t argue with how they’ve done it, as it’s as close to a scientific experiment as you can get.

    For example, they’ve pretty conclusively determined that Killzone 3 has a much lower input lag compared with Killzone 2, which is a big part of how the game feels more responsive.

    The downside is that this does spark up the partisan arguments once more, and it’s not helped when people come along to it in an uninformed manner.

    Anyway, my conclusion coming out of this is that a) the PS3 version isn’t quite up to the same standard as the 360 version, b) the 3D implementation is rather slap dash and unoptimised, c) the graphics engine is reaching the limits of what it can manage, d) cross platform games developed with the 360 as the lead platform continue to struggle when ported to PS3.

  10. If I owned both consoles, I’d want to know which platform would perform better, so that my investment is worthwhile. Unfortunately, the shower of ,erm, “Tommy tankers” use it as an excuse to start a flamewar, something which I despise.

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