How does the PlayStation 4 compare to a PC, really?

2 min read
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Elemental

Sony’s imminent PlayStation 4 is essentially a PC, and not an especially high-specced one at that. While many developers, including Epic Games, have been extolling the console’s virtues as the future of video gaming, just how does Sony’s new box compare?

Epic recently unveiled their Unreal engine 4 elemental demo running on actual PS4 hardware, and the folks at Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry have put up a comparison video.

Here it is.

Epic says the demo has been retooled, but it’s quite plain to see that the PS4 demo just doesn’t quite compare. Textures seem a little flatter, and there are noticeable fewer particle effects. worse is that the real-time global Illumination seems to be missing, replaced with baked in Lightmass lighting.

"The biggest casualty is the omission of real-time global illumination, which produced some really impressive lighting in the original presentation," says Digital Foundry in their report. "GPU particles are fewer in number, depth of field has been significantly retooled and isn’t quite as impactful on PS4, while object-based motion blur appears to have been removed. The flowing lava effect had real depth and texture to it in the original PC version – on PS4, it’s significantly flatter."

Epic’s senior graphics engineer Brian Karis says the two are closer than it might seem at first glance.

"Feature wise most everything is the same, AA resolution, meshes, textures (PS4 has tons of memory), DOF (I assure you both use the same Bokeh DOF, not sure why that one shot has different focal range), motion blur.

"Biggest differences are SVOGI has been replaced with a more efficient GI solution, a slight scale down in the number of particles for some FX, and tessellation is broken on ps4 in the current build which the lava used for displacement. We will fix the tessellation in the future.

It’s worth noting that while the PC version was running on pretty high end PC hardware; top of the line i7 CPU and Nvidia’s GTX 680, which makes the PS4’s attempt at parity pretty impressive, considering you’re pitting a $1200 PC against a $400 console.

It’s probably also prudent to note that the PS4 is running some new API’s, while developers are already quite well versed with the DirectX 11 tech running on the PC – so it’s safe to say that over time, the PS4 will still compete.

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Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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