I’ve seen almost no one talk about the PS3 or Xbox 360 versions of Wolfenstein: The New Order. Even Digital Foundry — well-known for in-depth tech analyses, so far has only looked at the PC, PS4, and Xbox One versions of the game. I thought I’d go ahead and take a look at the PS3 version, which is surprisingly not bad all things considered.
Why? I thought I’d rent the game from GameFly to see if I should buy it on PC (a physical PC copy because there’s no way I’m downloading 50GB from Steam), and I don’t have a PS4 or Xbox One yet. The last game I tried this with was THIEF which turned out terribly in my opinion. Wolfenstein fares better, and in my opinion is even an improvement over the last PS3 idTech 5 game — RAGE. I should say though that these observations only come from maybe an hour of gameplay — I didn’t even have enough time to finish the prologue before writing this. This also won’t go into Digital Foundry levels of techno babble.
The first thing you should know though is Wolfenstein definitely looks like a game built for modern PCs, the PS4, and Xbox One, and then ported back down to PS3 and Xbox 360. The gameplay most certainly functions as intended on PS3 and even still runs at 60 frames per second — in itself a testament to the idTech 5 engine. The FPS gameplay here isn’t a quantum leap in next generation gameplay or anything. It’s well-designed but standard stuff technologically, so it works on older hardware. However, this game doesn’t look quite as visually coherent as PS3 games from years’ past.
The two most obvious things are that the anti-aliasing and most of the texture resolution are gone. Machinegames clearly just took the next-gen textures and chopped the resolution down instead of making textures that the PS3 and 360 can handle. The game also looks predictably jagged. If you’ve seen the PS3 or 360 version of THIEF, Wolfenstein on those systems looks similar, just at twice the framerate. That said, the texture pop-in isn’t nearly as bad as the PS3 version of RAGE. That edition probably still has the worst texture-streaming I’ve ever seen. I could tell the game could literally only maintain the textures I was looking at, visibly popping in pretty much everything as I moved and turned my character’s head. Texture pop-in is visible in Wolfenstein, but not that atrocious.
If there are supposed to be any other fancy graphical effects that are in the “real” versions of Wolfenstein, I’m not seeing them here. RAGE however, even on PC, didn’t employ fancy lighting tech or physics either. idTech 5’s main tech claim is its megatexture feature which helps RAGE’s art direction shine when it’s in a good mood. Maybe that’s also the case for Wonfenstein whenever you can actually see the textures.
And that’s the main difference with playing the game on PS3 from what I’ve been able to tell so far — same game, just with no anti aliasing and almost no textures. I should really restate how impressive it is this version still runs at 60fps. Even if it’s only most of the time or if there are some framerate issues later on, it runs far more smoothly than Grand Theft Auto V, Far Cry 3, or THIEF do on the old consoles. If PS3 or Xbox 360 is your only option for playing this game and you’re one of those people who really doesn’t care about graphics if you absolutely love the gameplay, I say go for it.
UPDATE: Playing this game a little bit more, its art direction holds up better than I thought it would on PS3. The textures are still significantly downgraded from the new consoles and PC, but a lot of the environments still manage to look attractive enough. The framerate has also still held so far, only visibly chugging for a few seconds during one particularly intense scene.
Looking at this makes me a bit more interested in Shinji Mikami’s upcoming The Evil Within. Also on idTech 5, the videos so far make it seem like a game built for the old consoles and then made to look a bit prettier on modern hardware. A big reason I’m interested is the artist behind the Gamecube Resident Evil remake’s environments is applying his work to id’s megatextures.