May 5th, 2013, 21:47 Posted By: wraggster
We're moving ever closer to the next-gen era where console games will be available to buy via digital delivery, day and date with the retail disc versions, but in the meantime it's Sony that is leading the charge in providing timely PSN releases of many of the latest PlayStation 3 titles. They're not cheap and you can't resell them, but download titles do offer up the enticing possibility of running your games entirely from hard drive, divorced completely from the much slower Blu-ray optical drive. So the question is, do PSN downloads provide a superior experience to traditional disc-based gameplay?It's a topic that often comes up during our Face-Off coverage. Xbox 360 lets gamers download their discs to hard drive, at the very least providing some kind of loading time advantage - but to be honest, it doesn't offer much else beyond silencing the noisy DVD drive. Meanwhile, PS3 owners are very much at the whims of the developer as to whether or not data installs to the hard drive, with only a tiny fraction of titles supporting optional installs. Utilising digital downloads from PSN returns the choice to the user but more than that, PS3 gamers can use any hard drives they want, even allowing for the introduction of solid state media - SSDs - for the very fastest possible performance.But what does that that extra performance actually translate into during gameplay? Beyond loading times, do we see any improvements to frame-rates, geometry or texture pop-in by embracing digital delivery? We decided to find out, utilising our available library of PlayStation Plus "instant game collection" titles, compared against the retail disc versions of the same game. Our focus titles are Mass Effect 3, Sleeping Dogs, Mortal Kombat and MotorStorm Apocalypse - a decent range of games that should allow us to test both loading times and in-game asset streaming.
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