March 17th, 2013, 00:26 Posted By: wraggster
In an ongoing series of articles, Digital Foundry takes an in-depth look at the most high-profile PlayStation Vita releases, talking with the developers and gaining new perspective on what it's like creating games for Sony's brilliant - but underperforming - handheld. In this second instalment, our focus is Need for Speed: Most Wanted, one of the most fascinating games available for the platform. Criterion Games' objective here was ambitious: to incorporate PlayStation Vita into the cross-platform development workflow of what turned out to be one of the most technologically advanced current-gen games on the market. As you might expect from the Guildford studio, the result isn't just a great game but a remarkable technological achievement."For the first time in the handheld's history, we can happily transpose all of our praise and criticism of a home console game to the PlayStation Vita version - which is something of an occasion in itself," wrote Martin Robinson in the Eurogamer review. "Much of the credit must go to Criterion, which handled the Vita version of Most Wanted itself. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the studio's pedigree, it's done an impeccable job... Understandably, it's taken something of a visual hit, but it's never enough to undermine the incredible achievement or the immense novelty of having a faithful handheld port day and date with its bigger cousin."A lot of this article is going to discuss that "visual hit", so it's important to put Vita Most Wanted into context. Your PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 - assuming they are the latest models - draw something like 70 to 80 watts of juice from the mains. In contrast, PlayStation Vita uses just five per cent of that total, burning up around 3.5 to 4W during gameplay. Even up against the highly efficient Wii U at 33W, we're talking about a tiny amount of physical power available to power a triple-A game designed for much more capable systems. While efficiency in rendering has come on by leaps and bounds over the years, that's still a huge gap to close. To tell the truth, it can't be closed, and compromises need to be made. Most Wanted is one of five renditions of the same game produced by Criterion, and the team simply didn't have the luxuries open to developers of first-party Vita titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and WipEout 2048, where the game design and core rendering technology could be shaped around the strengths and weaknesses of the mobile hardware."The Vita version is the same game," confirms Idries Hamadi, technical director at Criterion Games. "There's a machine in the depths of our basement somewhere that's syncing our Perforce and building all five versions of the game every three minutes. It is not a bespoke version, it's a first-class platform for all of them."
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