The Three Shades of Orange Box
It’s no news that the Orange Box experience varies based on the three available platforms given (PC, 360, & PS3). We’ve seen videos recently comparing the 360 version of Orange Box to the PS3. The PC versions have even been compared to the 360 in the past. So how do all three compare?
Eurogamer recently reviewed all three platform versions of Orange Box and compared them each side-by-side. Their conclusion? The PC version is without a doubt the one to give you the best experience. The less-than-perfect Xbox 360 version would be the second choice, followed by the “playable” but performance hurdled PS3 version. Nothing we couldn’t have predicted all along, really.
What’s nice is Eurogamer provides a handful of high-res screenshots of all three platforms side-by-side for our perusal (400×400 videos can’t possibly tell the whole story). One can now clearly see that despite the performance estrangement of the console versions of Orange Box, the visual translations of each are virtually identical. Minor complaints? The 360 has blatant aliasing. The PS3 seems to be using post processing giving it a blurred image. Past those observations, I can find no other major visual trade-offs being made (at least at the frame-buffer level). This is unusual in terms of console ports. Usually sacrifices in detail are made for performance reasons. In the case of Orange Box for console, neither the polygon count or texture detail (PS3 or 360) have been dumbed down in any way compared to the PC.
Which leads to a few questions still. Should EA have opted to lower the native rendering resolution, texture, and/or polygon count to bring the PS3 Orange Box framerates up to par? And if the 360 Orange Box framerate is constantly pegged at 30fps, why didn’t Valve enable some form of anti-aliasing (or a v-sync disable option for that matter)? It’s almost as if Valve secretly doesn’t want the console versions of Orange Box to compete with the PC version at all, microscopically speaking. Then again, perhaps the tech junkies are over-analyzing things here.
Console hoopla aside, the fact still stands that I am still amazed at how well Orange Box looks and runs on a PC as old mine (Boo to Epic for UT3!). If anything, Orange Box has been a prime example of how developers can successfully optimize their game for a wide range of PC hardware. Given Valve’s experience with the PC platform, it seems almost expected at this point. It’s unfortunate their foray onto this generation of consoles has been less-than perfect. Perhaps next time around they’ll give it more serious consideration?