It's a foregone conclusion at this point that when it comes to video game visuals and processing power, PCs will always have the upper hand on a mass-produced console. So while developers may use top of the line computers to produce their promotion gameplay footage, owners of the Xbox 360 and PS3 are left wondering how their own experience will look and feel.
Battlefield 3 has already impressed us with near photo-realistic visuals, but now the game's executive producer has warned that while the console versions of the game may still be the best gamers have ever seen, there are going to be a few disappointed fans who notice the differences.
This news won't come as a serious shock or disappointment to most shooter fans, since the finite nature of a home console's hardware means that the technology used to produce games will always advance faster than a 4-year old machine's ability to play it. Some developers who make their bread and butter off of the console market have even seemed to concede the point, with Call of Duty using the same old engine instead of creating newer editions regularly.
Battlefield 3 will clearly be a different story, with DICE's brand new Frotbite 2 engine already generating some breathtaking firefights. The development team has already promised that the console versions of Battlefield 3 will look amazing, so some Xbox and PS3 owners may have already had their hopes raised a bit too high.
Battlefield 3's executive producer Patrick Bach has brought a reality check along for those who are expecting their console to produce visuals on par with the game's trailers. Speaking with VideoGamer.com, Bach explained that while the team still has lofty goals for console performance, they aren't miracle-workers:
"What we're showing on PC might look better than on console...but what we'll show on console doesn't look worse than any other game out there. It's probably even better than every other game out there on console.
"Most people will be very positive because they might be afraid that it won't look as good as other games and it will, and some people will of course be disappointed that it doesn't look like the PC version."
Battlefield 3's devs haven't pulled any punches when placing their game along the competition, referring to their peers as "lazy" for not pushing the envelope forward, and simply building projects to current standards. So while pushing the boundaries of their tech beyond that of home consoles could be seen as leaving millions of gamers behind, Bach made it clear that their goal is to improve games in general, for everybody:
"The problem if you're setting a new bar is you're pushing yourself up. Of course there's a challenge by showing something that looks amazing on PC and then something that just looks great on console. I think the challenge is to beat ourselves. Of course, it's hard to do that because of the practical limitations of the consoles."
If there was ever a good reason for Sony and Microsoft to just start developing an even more advanced console, this is it. Sure, the ability to swap out hardware on a monthly basis will always make the PC a better showcase for visuals, but the console dominance has shown that most gamers don't want to have that much of an investment for playing games.
There's no question that Battlefield 3 on consoles will still impress, if the finished result is anywhere near the GDC demonstration. But how can a developer as large as DICE strike a balance between pushing potential forward and pulling consoles along with them? Would you rather they just focus on the console market and give those versions of the game priority? Let us know in the comments.
Battlefield 3 is set to release on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC this November.
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