The gap between current and last-gen gaming is getting bigger

3 min read

2014 is most likely the final year for any cross-console games. It’s a transition that we’ve gone through before, from the PlayStation 1 and N64 days, all the way up to the latest devices as players hop from PS3 to PS4 and Xbox 360 to Xbox One. As you might imagine, there’s always going to be a gap between games released across generations. But right now, that divide is simply massive.

Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry took another look at Shadow Of Mordor on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, a game which already looks outstandingly terrible on those systems. As usual, the game looked uglier than sin, although Digital Foundry remarked that massive open-worlds that were detailed and populated, had been difficult to create on older hardware as of late:

But can Shadow of Mordor’s open-world design excuse this to any extent? After all, ambitious sandbox games have rarely proven a strong suit for the PS3 or 360. Even as a jewel in the generation’s crown, the incredible Grand Theft Auto 5 still has trouble rendering complex inner-city areas, plagued as it is with pop-in and frame-rate lulls on last-gen.

Another case in point is the Assassin’s Creed series. After seven releases in as many years, each one improving upon its core AnvilNext tech, the series is still resigned to sub-30fps frame-rates as the generation draws to a close. By comparison, Shadow of Mordor’s engine has no existing template on last-gen from which it can quickly develop an open-world design. Sadly, the end result here reminds us of the early, ramshackle efforts at this gameplay form on PS3 and 360.

But ambition can always be tempered. You can still port a great game over, even if you do have to make some sacrifices. All it takes is a little bit of tender lovin’ care to do so. Something which the port of Shadow Of Mordor clearly never received according to the Digital Foundry report:

It’s a worrying sign for PS3 and 360 owners keen to stave off a console upgrade for as long as possible. Inevitably, it falls on each developer to make the best call when weighing the viability of these last-gen versions. The increasing need to be technically progressive on PS4 and Xbox One – to truly show off their mettle going forward – also stands to make each port to last-gen a greater challenge. We hope to see this fantastic era in gaming wind down with grace, but with more ‘me too’ releases in this mould, the aftertaste isn’t set to always be so sweet.

And I echo those sentiments. Right now, I’ve got friends and family expressing an interest in gaming, asking me what hardware to get. And my response is to tell them to get stuffed an older console and dip into the vast library of games that are available. Hopefully, they won’t be getting any of these horrid ports.

Still, credit where credit is due. Destiny looks just fine and runs smooth on older tech, the final old-gen Assassin’s Creed game was the best game of the year from Ubisoft and GTA V still looked fantastic last year. But don’t expect to see any more games of that calibre, from next year.

Last Updated: December 18, 2014

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