Whilst this topic may seem somewhat premature for any european readers who, at the time of writing, are still waiting for the release of this game, this page is worth a look.
The page provides some detail as to how some of the eyecatching effects in this visually stunning game were conceived and produced. The opening statement regarding how, in the final days of a console’s shelf life the ‘masterpiece’ games appear. I’ve always believed this to be the case and enjoy this era of a console the most. After five or so years, many of the PS2’s tricks have been learned and optimised and ways of making the machine perform tasks that appear beyond it’s reach have been discovered.
You need only look at games at the end of the 16 bit era to see further proof of how technically savvy programmers had become. The Megadrive / Genesis in particular had some incredible titles that, unlike the SNES, didn’t depend on an extra chip to perform miracles. I’m thinking of stuff like Gunstar Heros, Ranger X, Contra Hard Corps, Alien Soldier, Red Zone and Vector Man in particular. And, yes, I’m well aware of the chip used in the 16 bit conversion of Virtua Racing.
I feel that the current turnaround in hardware – particularly on the PC – allows for a degree of laziness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way inferring that game developers are lazy! However, if a game needs a lot of videoram then the specs will call for a videocard that can give it. Because there is no one universal hardware spec to program for, as with consoles, games do not need to be optimised for it and the required specs to run it can just be bumped up instead of the developers endlessly opitimizing their code. This is an observation, not a criticism.
Anyway, back to the linked article, I don’t think it’s necessary to understand all the technical terms mentioned but I do believe it’s worth taking on board just how much planning, effort and consideration went into each aspect of the game. The same applies to development teams in all games actually. Gamers simply don’t and can’t know just how much clever stuff is going on and what tricks have been thought up just so you can enjoy a game a little more. Shadow of the Colossus is probably one of the finest examples of this but, trust me, all games have an unbelievable amount of work put into them.
When gamers criticise games such as, say, GTA San Andreas for having poor graphics I have to wonder just how ill-considered such criticism is and just what degree of understanding of graphics those criticisms are based upon.
Still, great article for a great game. Go read it!