We’re at that point in a console cycle where games usually come in two flavours: Half-arsed attempts that do the bare minimum on the visual front, and games that squeeze every single terror floppy of power out of the hardware to render a product that pushes what that technology is capable of. More than half a decade since it hit stores, the PlayStation 4 has been a beast of a machine.
It has changed and evolved over the years, gone through a mid-cycle crisis and pierced its ears as it donned a trendy PS4 Pro identity. While there will be games released on the PlayStation 4 for a good while after the PlayStation 5 arrives, chances are that none of them will look as good as what Sony’s next-gen device will be capable of. I mean duh, that’s the whole point.
So why is it, that right now, I’m convinced that I’m already playing a next-gen title on my current PlayStation 4? Here I am, sitting with a base model console that in 2014 shipped with sharp edges and a static approach to what was possible on it. No upgrades save for what developers could squeeze out of the internals, and right now I’m sitting with my mouth agape at just how magnificent this slice of retro goodness looks. Don’t believe me? Peruse these screens from my first playthrough and see for yourself:
How good does that look? According to Digital Foundry, Square Enix has worked some black magic on Final Fantasy VII Remake and are now ready to unleash a game built on a more intimate knowledge of how the Unreal Engine 4 works. “Perhaps learning from the lessons of a somewhat uneven showing on Kingdom Hearts 3, Final Fantasy 7 Remake reveals a developer more at home with the UE4 technology,” the visual experts explained.
The somewhat disappointing 900p/1296p resolution split seen with Kingdom Hearts on base and enhanced consoles gets a significant upgrade to a dynamic 2880×1620 on PS4 Pro and a dynamic 1920×1080 on the vanilla PS4. The DRS solution on Pro relatively restrained, with most of the action playing out at the 1620p upper bounds, with the most heavy scene – the Scorpion boss battle – dropping to 2304×1296. Owing to the frenetic action and the reliance on TAA, the drop to image quality is not especially an issue.
Dynamic resolution is less commonly seen on base PlayStation 4, but there are cases here where it can drop to 1600×900, notably in the Scorpion boss. No further tweaks or cutbacks are immediately noticeable between the two machines: motion blur, depth of field, shadow quality and volumetrics all play out at the same quality level. Meanwhile, performance is entirely locked at a properly frame-paced 30 frames per second on both consoles.
Try as we might to break the game, the FF7R demo played out with absolute consistency – a breath of fresh air after the variable frame-rate (and uneven frame-pacing on Pro’s stable mode) in Kingdom Hearts 3.
The end result? A game which doesn’t just look fantastic, it aims to remain consistent with that level of quality even when the action reaches a critical point of rendering. If we’re entering the twilight of the current console generation, then Final Fantasy VII Remake may just be the most graphically gorgeous bang that the PlayStation 4 could hope to go out on.
Last Updated: March 4, 2020