What’s Your Game Rendering at? – True Resolutions 2

Posted in PS3,The Industry,Xbox 360 by Michael Pica on the December 18th, 2007

A while ago I wrote an article called True Resolutions where I looked at Tony Hawk’s Project 8 and Call of Duty 3 since there was a considerably amount of arms up over the fact that they did not deliver genuine 720p at 4xMSAA as promised by Microsoft so many years ago. More recently Bungie was blunt over the fact that Halo 3 doesn’t actually renter to 720p but 640p due to technical reasons behind other graphical effects that they deemed more important.

Someone recently asked me about resolutions on 360 games and I started thinking about it and then I started digging since I recalled a few other less notable games running at lower resolutions. I eventually found an interesting French fellow who is dedicated to finding all of the next gen games that aren’t as HD as they claim to be.

Quaz51 of the Beyond 3D forums has an interesting setup he’s got an HDMI enabled 360 and PS3, and a native 1080p display capable of mapping the incoming graphics at a 1:1 ratio. He then uses the built in pause feature of the display to extract a single frame from the game’s actual gameplay. At this point he’s got a pure unadulterated snapshot of the game on his display as it was output from the console. He then takes a photograph of the image at resolutions many times higher using his digital camera and analysis it on his computer. Using basic geometric maths and and a very strong understanding of image scaling and anti-aliasing functions he’s able to determine what the original rendered resolution was and how much AA was used. The process is repeated from several screenshots within the game to ensure accuracy.

His results range from interesting to shocking. You’d be surprised how many games don’t actually support the “guaranteed” minimum requires set by MS, more so, you’ll be surprised which ones they are.

Xbox 360

  • Not True 720p
  • Call of Duty 3 – 1040×624 – 2xMSAA
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – 1024×600 – 2xMSAA
  • Conan (demo) – 1024×576 – no AA
  • Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – 1024×600 – 2xMSAA
  • FIFA 2006: Road to FIFA World Cup (demo) – 1024×576 – 2xMSAA
  • FIFA 2007 (demo) – 1200×675 – no AA
  • Halo 3 – 1152×640 – no AA
    • in photo mode – 8064×4448 – no AA
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Legend (demo) – 1024×600 – 2xMSAA
  • NCAA Football 08 (demo) – 1024×600 – 2xMSAA
  • Perfect Dark Zero (demo) – 1152×640 – no AA
  • Pro Evo Soccer 6 (demo) – 1024×576 – 2xMSAA
  • Project Gotham Racing 3 (demo) – 1024×600 – 2xMSAA
  • Ridge Racer 6 (demo) – 1440×810 – no AA
  • Tony Hawk’s Project 8 – 1024×576 – 2xMSAA
  • Virtua Fighter 5 (demo) – 1024×1024 – 2xMSAA
  • 720p with Reduced AA
  • Assassin’s Creed – 1280×720 – 2xMSAA
  • Bioshock – 1280×720 – no AA
  • Burnout Paradise (demo) – 1280×720 – 2xMSAA
  • Forza Motorsports 2 – 1280×720 – 2xMSAA
  • FIFA 08 – 1280×720 – 2xMSAA
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 – 1280×720 – 2xMSAA
  • Half Life2: The Orange Box (demo) – 1280×720 – no AA
  • Project Gotham Racing 4 – 1280×720 – 2xMSAA
  • Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground – 1280×720 – no AA
  • Viva Pinata – 1280×720 – 2xMSAA
  • True 1080p Games
  • NBA Street Homecourt (demo) – 1920×1080 – 4xMSAA
  • Virtua Tennis 3 – 1920×1080 – 2xMSAA

While some of these numbers were generated from market place demos the list is far more expansive than one would have expected. Most interesting is the wide use of the 1024×600 resolution with 2xMSAA. Apparently that resolution is popular due to the size of the Xbox 360′s frame buffer it can be generated without tiling the frames (rendering sections at a time) which makes life easier for the developers. At 2xMSAA the 1024×600 resolution fits perfectly to accomplish this task. Clearly this is popular option for those who feel that their game game would benefit more from 2xMSAA than true 720p and lacking the optimization for both or better. Clearly this resolution isn’t as bad as some make it out to be considering notable games such as Oblivion and Call of Duty 4 were able to sneak it in without anyone so much as sneezing doubt over their graphical prowess.

Another Interesting discovery is that Halo 3′s special overlaid 640p resolution isn’t anything new, because the same technique was utilized on the 360′s first major in house shooter, Perfect Dark Zero. Of course photo-mode in Halo 3 provides massive super-sampling (SSAA) by way of rendering to a 8064×4448 and scaling down. This essentially tiles the image across the frame buffer 7 times. It can afford to do this of course because it’s not rendering in real time.

Anything not listed above can be assumed running full 720p at 4xMSAA, Quaz51 has tested a vast majority of the Xbox 360′s catalog including XBLA titles. The 360 isn’t the only console that’s getting his treatment though, he’s also going over Playstation 3 titles and finding similar results.

Playstation 3

  • Not True 720p
  • Call of Duty 3 – 1088×624 – 2xMSAA
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – 1024×600 – 2xMSAA
  • Conan (demo) – 1024×576 – no AA
  • Def Jam Icon – 1152×648 – no AA
  • Jericho (demo) – 996×560 – no AA
  • MX vs ATV (demo) – 1024×576 – no AA
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – 960×720 – no AA
  • The Darkness (demo) – 1024×576 – no AA
  • Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground (demo) – 1024×576 -no AA
  • Virtua Figther 5 – 1024×1024 – no AA
  • Not True 1080p
  • GTHD – 1440×1080 – no AA
    • in Vehicle Selection – 1920×1080 – no AA
  • GT5 Prologue (demo) – 1280×1080 2xMSAA
    • in garage/pit/showroom – 1280×720 4xMSAA or 1920×1080 no AA
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – 768×1080 – no AA
  • Rub’a’dub – 1600×1080 – no AA
  • Transformers – 960×1080 – no AA
  • Virtua Figther 5 – 1024×768 – no AA
  • True 1080p
  • Blast Factor – 1920×1080 – no AA
  • Calling All Cars – 1920×1080 – 4xMSAA
  • Full Auto 2 (demo) – 1920×1080 – 4xMSAA
  • Go Puzzle – 1920×1080
  • Locoroco Cocoreccho – 1920×1080 – 2xMSAA
  • Marvel: Ultimate Alliance – 1920×1080 – no AA
  • NBA07 (demo) – 1920×1080 – no AA
  • NBA08 (demo) – 1920×1080 – no AA
  • NBA Street Home court = 1920×1080 – no AA
  • Pixel Junk Racers – 1920×1080
  • Ridge Racer 7 (demo) = 1920×1080 – no AA
  • Stardust HD – 1280×1080 – no AA
  • Sudoku – 1920×1080
  • Tekken 5 Dark Resurrection – 1920×1080 – no AA
  • Virtua Tennis 3 (demo) – 1920×1080 – 2xMSAA

The PS3 renders a few games in native 1080p, though half of them are Playstation Network games it’s still a better showing than the Xbox 360 for the resolution. The Less than 720p group sees pretty much the same cross platform games that were in the Xbox 360 list. Perhaps most interesting here is that the Gran Turismo series, isn’t rendering in True 1080p, similar to Halo 3 it does actually reach it’s proper resolution when in the menus and areas where fast processing isn’t required.

While it’s interesting to look at what the actual resolutions of these games are I think it more proves the point over how over valued the resolution battle is. No one questioned Oblivion, or Call of Duty 4, or Tomb Raider because those games look amazing, and are often used as shining exmaples of the best graphics the 360 and PS3 have to offer. How is it then that the most graphically impressive games have apparently underwhelming resolutions?

The answer is simple, and that is there is much much more to what makes good graphics than resolution. Arguably the horsepower required to pump out those extra pixels could be detrimental to other aspects of the image’s quality. Surely the creators of Halo 3, Gran Turismo, and Call of Duty 4 realized that they could produce an overall more impressive image if they allowed the resolution to suffer a bit. On the other end of the fence games like Ridge Racer 7 and NBA Street Homecourt are lacking a lot of detail and run at much lower frame-rates in comparison to their 720p-ish brethren.

Often tell people that 1080p could actually HURT the quality of their graphics and that they need to stop drinking the Sony “Full-HD” Koolaide. If seeing that list and thinking about how good those games actually look doesn’t convince you then nothing will.

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382 Responses to “What’s Your Game Rendering at? – True Resolutions 2”

  1. incognegro Says:

    wow thats a very eye opening write up…O__0

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