WTFBBQSAUCE!!! That is all I can say after watching the recently released Uncharted 2: Among Thieves trailer. This game looks phenomenal and is probably the best looking console game to date, which has gotten me to thinking. I have been hearing the phrase, “The best looking console game to date,” a lot lately from the gaming press, but every time I hear it, it’s in relation to a PS3 first party exclusive game. What’s so odd about that statement is that I never hear it for any 360 first party exclusives any more. Well, what gives then? If, according to just about every third party developer out there, both the PS3 and the 360 are about equal as far as power goes, then why aren’t we hearing the same praises in relation to the 360? I have a few answers and below I will give them to you:
The first, and most overlooked, reason I believe you hear the phrase, “Best looking Console game to Date” in relation to PS3 exclusives, is the Unreal Engine 3’s (UE3) fault. Most of the 360’s major exclusives run on UE3. Games like: Gears of War 1 & 2, Mass Effect 1, Bioshock (yes, I know it was a timed exclusive, but it did use a hybrid version of Unreal 2.5), Lost Odyssey, and The Last Remnant. All of the games listed run on Unreal Engine 3 and look great; however, while these game look superb, they all run on a middleware engine, which is what UE3 is.
Middleware engines are good for getting games up and running on single or multiple platforms and porting over code between the platforms. See, the problem with middleware engines is that they are never designed to take full advantage of the hardware they run on, or all of the genre’s that use it. In this instance, that would be the Xbox 360 and a multitude of it’s games. This could be a reason as to why their first and third party exclusive games haven’t been pushing the graphical limits as of late. While Xbox 360’s first-party games with custom engines are not the best graphically, they at least rivaled PS3 exclusives in the same genre upon the time of their release. Games like Halo 3 and Infinite Undiscovery come to mind.
Another reason why the PS3 first party exclusive games have been the only games receiving the phrase seen earlier is because all of them are built, for the most part, on proprietary engines. The benefit of having a proprietary engine for a game is that it is designed from the ground up with the strength of a particular console and genre in mind. By focusing on one console, developers alleviate the need of having to work around the differences between two platforms. Also, the game can be designed to better express the developer’s vision, because not all engines have the same strength in particular genres. That’s why EA doesn’t use Madden’s engine for Need for Speed. Madden’s engine wasn’t designed to utilize a racing game.
The only other reason that PS3 exclusives are getting praised to such high regard is that maybe the PS3 is more powerful than the 360. Maybe the Cell and the Bluray drive in PS3 are giving it an advantage over the 360. However, that is probably just silly talk, and good developers could possibly still develop a game on the 360 despite the PS3 having larger storage on it’s disc and a stronger processor.
Well, whatever the reason, one thing is for sure, I am interested in seeing the 360 level the battle for “Best looking console game to date.” Also, I want to see Microsoft stop relying so heavily on UE3 and getting some proprietary engine for their first party games.