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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Game Play: GTA IV & The PS3

I haven't mastered parking yet, it seems. The dented up semi that I thought I left outside was no longer there when I went tearing back through the neighborhood in the stolen SUV. Course, it was really more of a consolation prize after sending that muscle car off the bridge.

Must remember to take the construction signs more seriously.

So yes, the PS3 arrived yesterday and so GTA IV finally had a home. We briefly tossed San Andreas into the machine, just to watch what would happen. I swear the game is actually a little smoother, like maybe a hardware level of anti-aliasing has been enforced. I rode CJ around his bike for a while, stole a motorcycle and then he went back into the box.

Next we installed GTA IV. And as we were sitting on the couch waiting on the little bar to go to the end (The Girl occasionally egging it on) it seemed to me that maybe it really isn't fair to say PC gaming is dying when the next generation behaves almost as much like a PC as my PC does. I just hope the annoyance ends with installation waits.

When the game finally loaded up, it was an eyeful. Now we're playing this on an SDTV and I can safely say that for the most part it looks completely awesome on an SDTV. In fact, if anything this game has leaned me more to the belief that "720P is sufficient for most everyone" unless you have like a honking 60" set. I mean if the game looks this good at 480i and full resolution isn't even 720P but like 680P or whatnot, then is the extra $700 ever going to pay off?

Still, there's a bit of eye strain involved with all that detail being slightly unfocused. And those text messages are like an eye test from hell. Being the good geek that I am, I'll probably get the 1080P plasma. Probably. But at this point I'm mostly convinced that it will mostly benefit those times we tack a Mac to the thing.

Anyway, GTA IV. We quickly ignored Roman and his constant whining about a taxi and whatnot and went rampaging down the city streets in whatever car we could find. I think this is the first GTA (aside from III) that's required serious adjustment. Having just played San Andreas made flipping to the shoulder controls for driving a bit awkward. The added physics are a little odd as well, but I think in general an improvement as it honestly feels like I have more control of the car at times. Plus all those wonderful physics are great when you plow headlong into an armored truck.

Payday. Yay.

I'll have more on the game and the console later, I'm sure. I downloaded the Haze demo last night to see how it fares on 480i. For now the HDTV purchase is still on hold, but inevitable.


jvm said...

Awesome. Welcome to the fold. Now get Uncharted and download Super Stardust HD. Thanks.

Josh said...

And fl0w, right?

jvm said...

Actually, I amend my suggestion: if you like Desktop Defence, then get PixelJunk Monsters. I think that's a fine game, and the kind of thing I'd probably show off to friends.

Thomas said...

To be fair, having now owned an HD-capable TV and console, it does make a slight difference. My TV technically has 768 lines of vertical rez, so running at 1080i gives the equivalent of anti-aliasing on an already super-sharp image when it gets downscaled.

But is it that much better than 720p? Not really, particularly since a lot of HD-era games don't seem to be actually running in HD (funny, that). But it is a little better, particularly on Assassin's Creed.

jvm said...

Speaking of AC, it's down to $30 used at GameStop. Thinking about picking it up, but GTA4 takes up a lot of my time and I have to be ready to play MGS4 in a few scant weeks...

Josh said...

But 720P televsions can do 1080i, right?

I'll break this out into a longer post later, but essentially my thinking is:

I can get a good 720P for just over a thousand (if I time it right on Amazon).

A decent 1080P is just under two thousand. That's a decent spread.

The only source right now that really, really uses 1080P is Blu-Ray. And our Macs.

The visual difference between 1080P and 720P is perhaps discernable, but probably negligible on a 50" TV. Especially from the 10-12 foot distance to our couch.

So is that spread worth having slightly better movies and more distinct text on the computer?

sterno said...

Of course you realize, we'll need to play multiplayer now and go on a rampage :).

Btw, you should not play GTA4 on an HDTV if you want to continue to hold out on buying one. I was seeing some commentary on this where they had it on SDTV, thought the game was fine, then went and played on HDTV and now can't stand it on SD. It's not that the graphics are that much better but it makes it way easier to see details on your radar, etc.

I'm still enjoying the game, and I've yet to find any serious glitches. Sometimes on a mission, the AI on an NPC gets a little wonky, but otherwise it's pretty solid.

Oh and as for 720P/1080i, it depends on what kind of TV you're talking about. With an LCD, there's no such thing as an interlaced mode because there's no scanning. I think it may be the same for plasmas. So if you get 720p, it's just 720, not 1080.

jvm said...

Regarding resolutions and viewing distances: click here

Now, beyond that why does my LCD say it does 1080i if it's only a 720p set?

Josh said...

Yeah, I imagine it's a bit like going to broadband. You thought it was a luxury until you had it. Then you can't go back.

@jvm: That might be one of the best drawn graphs I've seen in a while. More concise than most of the tables I've looked at for sure.

So basically we'd be at the cusp of discernability. Would 1080i make that obsolete, I wonder.

The TV in question, btw.

Thomas said...

TVs that may only offer 720p or so lines of resolution can still often use a higher rez signal. Mine doesn't go all the way up to 1080-anything, but I can feed it that signal if I want. And since it's not a native 720p set (many of them aren't) I do want to feed it something higher and have that downscaled rather than upscaling the 720p image to 768.

Josh, that TV you're looking at would do the same thing--it's natively 1366x768.

LCDs don't update the same way as a CRT does, but an interlaced image is still interlaced and will appear that way onscreen (during high-speed movements, slight differences in alternating scanlines could be visible, as each frame actually only consists of 360 lines).

I've heard people say that, given the speed of videogames and the relative quality of the two HD resolutions, you're better off with 720p (and no scanlines) than with 1080i (thus producing a higher resolution with a risk of interlacing artifacts). I haven't noticed anything like that myself, though. Depends on how the TV handles it, I think.

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