Monday, December 20, 2010

An IGNoble disgrace

Regular readers of this blog will know that I hate console wars or console versus PC zealotry. Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses, and using individual games to compare them (and say "this one is the best!") is something I generally consider to be a sign of fanboy postulating. So when I saw a "professional game website", which IGN claims to be, doing a (please don't click this link, for reasons I will explain) head-to-head video comparison of Mass Effect 2 on XBox360 and PS3 and sparking a raft of "PS3 is so much better" claims across various other websites, I was a little disappointed.

A still from the video (PS3 left, XBox360 right)

You can click the two images in the post for a higher resolution image. But, just taking a quick look at the above shot, it looks like the PS3 version has better contrast and colour saturation. That was my overall impression from watching the video, which struck me as an odd thing. Now, there might be some graphical differences between the two consoles but I knowing the Unreal Engine and its precalculated lighting for static surfaces, I wouldn't have thought the differences would have been quite so noticable as they are in this video. I would have attributed to the game being run on a different television, but I would hope for IGN's sake that they created the two videos using the same television so as to remove such bias.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure that I can even give them that much credit, because their comparison seems to be wholly unreliable. Check out the screenshot below.

What is that? (PS3 left, XBox360 right)

Now, aside from the slight difference in the position of the frame for both the screenshots here (that's right, they're slightly out of sync), there's some serious frame-blurring present in the picture on the right. If you take a screenshot from a game, it shouldn't end up blurred - and particularly not to the great extent that can be seen in this shot. Go pause a gameplay video from a console game and see if you get blurring. If it's a high quality video, you won't. If it's not... well, guess what can happen?

This "comparison" appears incompetent at best, and blatantly biased at worst. It appears that these are two videos of different quality placed side-by-side in a console comparison - if IGN demonstrated that they produced these videos on the same television using the same video resolution and compression, I'd happily retract this post. But as it stands, their video appears to be nothing more than a shameless attempt to garner website hits by provoking a console flame-war.

I expect more from gaming sites that claim to provide "video game journalism", as should every person who relies on these sites for a supposedly unbiased and objective analysis of games.  Shame on you, IGN.


  1. The fact that you were even looking at IGN should be enough shame on you.

    The other part is that allegedly Mass Effect 2 for PS3 is being ported to the ME3 engine. So they probably wanted to make it look that bit more distinctive.

  2. I agree with WeeMadAndo. The more fuss about it, the more clicks they generate.

    Better comparisons between current-gen consoles are found at

    Those include screen shot comparisons with sliders/roll-overs, tearing and fps analysis and also load times get checked.

    They sometimes go in-depth about aliasing methods or resolutions used, feature comparisons (such as self-shadowing working on one system better than another), texture detail and so on.

    The current verdict on the ME 2 demo seems that it's still worse than on Xbox 360 (like most Unreal Engine-titles) - even with the so-called upgrades. Going to be interesting if the retail version is any different.