Welcome to the Sub-HD generation of gaming

2 min read


What’s going on with developers lately?

The upcoming Playstation 3 shooter Haze will be yet another game that falls short of the true HD mark.

In a recent interview with Free Radical, the developers of Haze made it known that the game will not be hitting the 720p mark. In fact, this game will only be running at 1024×576. Why are so many developers creating their games in a resolution lower than true HD? I understand that many of them are dropping the resolution to allow the game to run at a smoother framerate but It’s becoming a popular trend lately.

In the interview, Free Radicals creative lead, Derek Littlewood says the following:

“Yes. Well, as you develop an engine you’re aiming for a certain thing, but as all the pieces slot into place, you end up realising what sort of resolution you can run it at and that’s where we ended up with for Haze.”

When developers set out to create a new title for one of the HD consoles, why aren’t they setting the goal of a true HD game from the beginning and then sticking to it? Now I know that in many previous cases such as Halo 3 on 360 and GTA4 on the PS3, the sub HD results have been perfectly acceptable. That’s no excuse though, many gamers are promised true HD gaming and that’s exactly what they should be getting.

Why is this happening? Why aren’t console manufacturers doing more to ensure that gamers get what they are promised? As mentioned previously, sub HD results have been acceptable but I still believe that 720p should be set as a target for the developers that must be reached. So many people have spent their hard earned cash to purchase TV’s capable of displaying 1080p but the money is going to waste if 720p televisions aren’t even hitting their full potential.

If you play a game like Halo 3 that runs at 640p on your 1080p TV, it will be upscaled by roughly 40%.

Forty percent!

It feels to me as if dropping the resolution is like a “get out of jail free” card for developers. Make your game the way you want and if it happens to run like a tortoise on tranquilisers, no problem, just drop the resolution.

How would you feel if you bought any other product only to find out you were only getting 90% of what you paid for? You might argue that the games have looked fine so far. But if you forked out a ton of money for a sportscar and then later realised that it had 10% less power than you were promised, you wouldn’t shrug it off.

We should feel cheated.

Free Radical Interview can be found here .

Last Updated: May 20, 2008

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since ’08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

  • and you are “AngryGamer” πŸ˜›

  • BigDadDy

    Is 576 not PAL SD?

  • fred

    Pal SD is 575 lines interlaced , this is 576p. I still would like at least 720p though.

  • Miktar

    Who cares? Resolution doesn’t make the game.

  • PillsburyDeeBoy

    Agreed, but it’s a bit of a double edged sword, right? Though I have a hard time believing most people can discern between 576p and 720p, it is, I guess, for lack of a better term, a “value for money” thing. People are thinking, “I bought a 720p television so I could play my 720p games as was promised by MS and Sony and now I don’t get 720p”. It’s a legitimate argument, quite frankly.

  • LazySAGamer

    To be honest 1080p was promised and over hyped by Sony… if I had gone out and bought a 60″ 1080p TV I would feel slightly shafted.

    However I agree with Miktar, graphics don’t make a game.

  • BigDadDy

    At the price of a 60″ 1080P Sony TV I would feel Arthur Browned!

  • PillsburyDeeBoy

    I agree with you and Miktar both about graphics not making a game and people not really being able to count each and every progressive scanning pixel πŸ™‚ , but hey, that’s how it goes, I guess.

  • Fox1

    Majority of gamers are gaming at 720p so I think that should be the bare minimum for gaming resolutions.

    I also agree with Miktar. Take a look at the games on the Wii. They all look so smooth although it’s only 480p 😯

  • BigDadDy

    Well the reviews are coming in and this looks like a game I will avoid…

    IGN 4.5/10
    IGN: Haze Review

    Gamershell 6.5/10
    Haze (PS3) – GamersHell.com

  • kay

    Wii games all look like they’ve had a liberal amount of Gaussian blur applied on my 720p TV… πŸ™„

    kay’s last blog post..Donald Knuth Interview

  • kay

    I agree that it’s not ideal, but smooth gameplay beats resolution any day of the week.

    It is easy to imagine how this might happen, especially on a brand new game. Your project plan is a couple of years in advance – you can only speculate how much you can do with the platform. By the time you have something running, marketing has promised X features, your textures are at a certain level, your 3D models have a certain amount of detail, your physics engine takes up resources and you can’t scale down because it’s essential to the game play. Pretty much the only thing you can do is turn down the visual fidelity to get a playable framerate.

    kay’s last blog post..Donald Knuth Interview

  • Ye, it doesn’t bother me.

    Jinja’s last blog post..Bill O’Reilly Outburst: Behind The Scenes

  • fred

    Resolution directly relates to the graphics quality … they are called VIDEO games , aren’t they?

  • JimBob

    And what if the game has neither graphics nor gameplay, which seems to be where Haze is? (4 out of 10 from IGN).

  • I attribute it to nothing more than laziness. If developers can create things like Gears of War at true 720p or GT5:P at 1080p60, then there is little excuser for it.

    Especially when it tanks as badly as Haze is doing at the moment.

  • kabraal

    Well maybe not laziness but just general skill/resources. Some companies make better car engines than others. Some companies make better game engines than others.

  • AhmaD

    I can’t think of a single torrents games type where a sub HD resolution would adversely effect the gaming experience…

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