The PlayStation 3 and the Dream of 1080p: Part 2 featuring WipEout HD, Pixel Junk and more

The PlayStation 3 and the Dream of 1080p: Part 2 featuring WipEout HD, Pixel Junk and more

Welcome to the second part of “The PlayStation 3 and the Dream of 1080p”. This is DF Retro’s largest project to date, spanning an entire generation of consoles. John Linneman tries to trace the full HD support for Sony’s eighth-generation device, including some of the best – and worst – titles for the system. In the first episode, we followed the early days of the PS3, why Sony chose to market it in 1080p, and what the final games looked like in the early years of the console’s lifecycle. This second part is about the “difficult” time of the PS3, when big first-party triple-A giants were few and far between and the PS3 was still struggling to take on the Xbox 360 in the multiplatform arena exist. As far as 1080p gaming goes, we witnessed unqualified triumph, but elsewhere the Full HD picture wasn’t quite as crystal clear as we’d hoped.

Here are the other parts:

Heading into 2008, however, Sony has made a lot of encouraging strides for its console. Big exclusives like Metal Gear Solid 4 and Motorstorm: Pacific Rift were crowd pleasers, the console received a welcome price drop and past bugs were fixed, like returning the vibration function to PlayStation controllers. And with a few years of development under its belt, at least the multiplatform titles were a step in the right direction. Games have been designed with more emphasis on features and fidelity than resolution, which means that the time period covered by the second part of our video looks pretty meager for the purposes of our story, even if the location of the Overall improved console.

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Part two of our look at the PlayStation 3’s Full HD library includes many titles other than WipEout HD.

However, there has been the return of one of Sony’s biggest franchises in the form of the wonderful Wipeout HD, a game that still looks and plays beautifully today. That’s because Studio Liverpool took PSP assets as a base and developed the game with a 1080p output resolution in mind, using an early form of dynamic resolution scaling to stabilize performance. It’s nice to see the title still holds up.

Elsewhere, Full HD offerings have been rather disappointing in 2008, despite some highlights like Pixel Junk Eden and Echochrome, which are simple but very effective and look great in 1080p. While FIFA Street 3 and MLB The Show delivered fullscreen pixels, you had to choose between resolution and frame rate: 1080p30 or 720p60, depending on which option you chose in the PS3 front end. Capcom’s retro remakes 1942 Joint Strike and Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando also performed better in 720p mode. But it would be a few more years before developers and publishers accepted that 2D graphics were sometimes better suited for remastering older games (Grin’s Bionic Commando is worth a look, though).

In 2009, the PlayStation 3 was refreshed with the excellent Slim revision, while the software finally found steady form with the brilliant Uncharted 2 and Killzone 2. MLB 09 improved the graphics in Full HD mode and restored the post-processing effects that were missing in the predecessor. However, 720p60 was the better choice because even if you had your PS3 configured for 1080p, you still got a 720p picture. Only by disabling the 720p option in the frontend did you get the full HD output.

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Part one of John Linneman’s biggest DF retro project to date covers the first two years of the PS3’s Full HD library.

Other titles from 2009 that aimed for Full HD were Katamari Forever, Fat Princess (1080p30 in the Unreal Engine 3!) and a number of titles inspired by Gravitar and Thrust. The debut of Just Add Water – Gravity Crash – is reminiscent of Geometry Wars in that the vector graphics aesthetic perfectly suited the concept and hardware capabilities, allowing for a resolution of 1080p60. This game is still valid today. Pixel Junk Shooter by Q-Games is even better, complementing the concept with a stunning liquid simulation capable of working with 32,768 particles at 60Hz by splitting the work across five of the Cell processor’s six available SPUs in parallel. Full HD may not have played that big a role in the triple-A space of its day, but when used wisely it can still make a big difference in games like these.

This is just a small overview of the content covered in this second part. Of course, I recommend you watch the full video above. Retro Tier Backers of the DF Supporter Program can watch the full episode in its entirety and feel warm and comfortable knowing that it’s your support that makes great projects like this possible. Otherwise, next week you can watch the third part of this epic, which covers, among other things, the years 2010 to 2012 and the arrival of Gran Turismo 5.

Originally written by Richard Leadbetter, Technology Editor, Digital Foundry