E3 2011: Behind Closed Doors - Witcher 2 Xbox 360... and a Nurse - Page 1
Published on 9th Jun 2011, written by Alex G for Games - Last updated: 9th Jun 2011
One of the games I got to see behind closed doors this year was Witcher 2 for the Xbox 360. The presentation began with a brief introduction on the style of the game with heavy emphasis on "hardcore RPG" and "grey decision making". At any rate, the demo began with Geralt in the cell, and the player has to escape the dungeon. Two Xbox 360 slims were setup, each with a wired controller plugged in.
The Red Engine was briefly mentioned as a multiplatform effort, and it was stressed that they were only focusing on 360 for the time being. For what it's worth, the demo crashed twice on the one Xbox unit, but ran flawlessly on the other.
For a piece of hardware with only 512MB of memory, it wasn't too surprising to see lower resolution texturing, however, they did seem to give certain textures more attention and higher detail than others. In the demo, the stones of the castle still maintained a good resolution with the specular maps whilst giving that wet surface look. Ground textures weren't so impressive, and it seemed like there was only trilinear filtering at best. It was too dark to tell for certain if there was any parallax mapping in use. That said, it was fairly impressive for a console title, and they definitely managed to maintain the gritty art style.
Character facial details are certainly not like the highest settings on PC, but they were quite sufficient. The body textures on the guards were not particularly good resolution though. For main characters, the details were given more attention, though skin shading was also noticeably pared back compared to higher end PC settings. Given the hardware, it is understandable that they would not be using floating point render targets for lighting or shaders.
I could only briefly glimpse the shadow filtering for Geralt at the end of the demo when he was finally taken outside of the castle, and it appeared to have a dithered penumbra. The environment shadows seemed hard edged from a distance.
Transparency and post-process effects (magic spells, fires, bloom) were naturally of a lower resolution. Let's face it, the hardware is coming to six years of age and the fillrate isn't going anywhere.
Although there were few instances to do any sort of loading time measurements, the transition from the castle interior to the exterior consisted of approximately five seconds of a black screen. That said, there were also no streaming or texture/geometry popping issues at all throughout the demo. It remains to be seen if this will extend to the disc-based retail edition, but it does seem promising assuming the game is installed.
For the pixel counters, I can only confirm that there was no anti-aliasing or post-process edge blurring applied (or whatever silly acronym you want to call it, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH"). It's not like the TV was native 720p. For what it's worth, I did get the seat closest to the television. (Little did they know that AlStrong would be in the audience >_> ).
By far the worst aspect of the presentation was the insane amount of tearing whilst inside the dungeon. When Geralt was outside, the framerate was not particularly smooth either, though the tearing was not noticeable there. Hopefully by the time of release (end of 2011), they'll have fixed things up, including those bugs.
At the end of the presentation, we were given a little spiel about GoG.com (how odd for a console presentation!), and press members were given a bottle of "get huge pills" by a rather buxom nurse (Sorry, no photos *wink*).