Sackboy: A Big Adventure: Here's how Sony tackles the generation gap - article

Sackboy: A Big Adventure: Here's how Sony tackles the generation gap - article
In some ways, and many think so (including myself), the launch of a console is not complete without an excellent platform game and luckily Sony, together with the developer Sumo Digital, has fulfilled this 'requirement' with Sackboy: A Big Adventure. It's a beautiful game and a shining example of how a developer straddles the generation gap: while Sackboy harnesses the power of the PlayStation 5, it also offers PS4 and PS4 Pro support. So the question is: Sumo Digital has given the title the kind of magic that is expected from an exclusive launch product for the next-gen and at the same time also offering a good experience for those who will still remain on the PlayStation 4 family of consoles?

First of all it is worth remembering that Sackboy: A Big Adventure will be able to leverage the characters and artistic style of the Little Big Planet games, but the concept is decidedly different. Think of it as a 3D platforming experience in the style of Super Mario 3D World: fun, fast-paced and thrilling. The main difference with the LBP series is that there is no creation mode. This is instead a simple and linear platform with splendid graphics that fully exploits the potential of Unreal Engine 4.

And this is already evident from the cut-scenes generated in real time at 60fps, which look spectacular. When the camera zooms into Sack's world, one notices the incredible level of detail put on the screen but it is the lighting and quality of the materials that steal the stage. The mix of volumetric, dynamic lighting and ambient shading gives a realistic look to the scenes. You are left speechless. This is doubly true of the game materials. Sack's own physics-based materials combine with small alpha transparencies designed for surface fibers.

Little Big Planet has always been focused on real world materials but the Unreal Engine and brilliant new art design allow this aspect to stand out. Great depth of field works in tandem with the dynamic camera to create something beautiful. In essence, the team uses many features of Unreal Engine 4 and combines them with level art direction to create something that at times really feels like a pre-rendered movie.

But what is the game like? Well, as always in the series, Sackboy combines real objects and materials for his worlds. You will run on wooden plates that have a realistic grain, you will launch yourself among the branches of trees made of spongy materials, or you will run across fields of wool, climbing here and there. Everything is expertly mixed to create an incredibly detailed world. Like in Super Mario 3D World, the camera is fixed and follows up to four players, and it's a fantastic experience.

This content is hosted on an external platform, which will only display it if you accept targeting cookies . Please enable cookies to view. Manage cookie settings Sackboy: A Big Adventure - Digital Foundry's technical video review.

Watch on YouTube. The game also excellently implements techniques such as screen-space reflection. It is not a new technique and certainly not newsworthy, but since it is applied only to small objects rather than large surfaces, it is more effective than usual and the limitations inherent in the technique itself are not understood.

So, to this period, we have a very good PlayStation 5 launch title, but let's not forget that this game also runs on PlayStation 4 base and Pro, so it will be interesting to see how Sumo Digital faced the challenge of scaling. Let's start with the traditional metric, which is resolution. Tests have shown that the average resolution on PS5 is around 75% of 4K, or 1620p, with the added potential of dynamic resolution scaling.

Temporal AA from the Unreal Engine and super sampling combine to create an ever-flowing game. Moving on to the current-gen consoles, the resolution drops as expected: PS4 Pro seems to set itself at 1080p while the standard PS4 is closer to 720p. A resolution that seems very low, but we must not forget that this is a game designed for PS5 and with all the features active in the Unreal Engine it is reasonable to expect heavy compromises, as we have seen on many other current-gen UE4 based titles.

Here we have an example of a game that scales across seven years of PlayStation hardware releases, but it's important to point out that resolution isn't the only differentiating element between the two console generations, quite the contrary: Sumo Digital has made strategic changes to the technical-aesthetic aspect. The game still looks good on PS4 and runs at 60fps, but side-by-side comparisons reveal a number of changes. The quality of the shading is greatly reduced, and there are fewer screen-space reflections; the sun's rays are removed radically modifying the lighting of certain places, and the work of the materials is also different.

In the cut-scenes the biggest differences are noticed, while during the gameplay the cuts are more on the general detail, on the effects and on the materials. So, for example, entire fields of yarn are removed on PS4. If you hadn't seen them on PS5 you probably wouldn't have even noticed their absence, so they lend themselves well as an element for a graphic upgrade. On PS5 the visual impact is better: there are a lot of additions that once removed on PS4 do not compromise the visual quality. Overall the PS5 version appears much more detailed but the PS4 version with all the cuts and downgrades of the case does not look bad.

The opening cut-scene shows the abysmal difference in resolution and quality of shading between PS5, PS4 Pro and PS4 .. The sunbeams on the left disappear on PS4 and Pro. Also see how the artifacts due to the temporal reconstruction become less evident as the resolution goes up, particularly in Sackboy. The exceptional work on Sackboy component materials gains immensely quality with the increase in resolution. Look at the yarn fields under Sackboy. An example of a wasteful effect from the point of view of computational load, which must be eliminated on last-gen consoles. The shading and material holding in general does not seem to keep up with the PS5 on PS4 and Pro. This shot also highlights how the accumulation of previous frames benefits enormously from the higher resolution. Some will say that the art style of the game is more conducive to scaling: several effects are reduced or removed, but the game is equally fascinating on last-gen consoles. But graphic fidelity isn't the only difference. Sackboy takes advantage of the PS5's SSD to move between areas fast enough to remember room transitions in Super Mario 64. When you enter a new level, a short transition screen pops up and then you're almost instantly catapulted into the new area. It's a super fast process, however on PS4 the uploads are pretty good and generally in line with UE4 games running on this class of hardware.

Most Read Now

PS5: Where is it still available for purchase?

The updated situation.

Video games with reversed controls? Even scientists are trying to understand why

Research aims to understand why some players use inverted controls.

Ellen Page, Oscar nominee and star of Beyond says: 'I'm trans , my name is Elliot Page '

Canadian actor steps forward with a long post on his social media.

So we think Sackboy benefits from PS5 in a smart way: the new console It is not a game changer but it offers a number of nice touches that greatly improve the presentation of the game. Plus, it starts up much faster. But how does the game play? We can divide it into two categories: the cut-scenes and the gameplay. Stable 60fps is generally maintained on all three platforms, but performance is flawless on PS5. On the new console, performance holds up quite well in the early stages. Frame-rate stability is a crucial area for this game, and Sumo Digital has done a great job in this respect. But when it comes to the cut-scenes, the GPU goes under stress and can't maintain 60fps. On PS4 this situation has improved, but not as great as on PS5.

We feel it safe to say that Sackboy is a perfect game for a console launch, with a great presentation and compelling gameplay, but there is a another point on which we would like to focus briefly: music, a crucial aspect in Little Big Planet titles. The games in the series relied heavily on the work of The Go Team, which you'll also find in Sackboy, but there's a lot more this time around. The original soundtrack is fantastic, but there are also licensed tracks that perfectly match some specific levels focused on timing. If you remember the rhythmic acoustic levels of Rayman Legends, then you can understand what we are talking about, it is a similar experience but in 3D. The idea works well and the choice of licensed music is spot on.

Overall, Sackboy: A Big Adventure is a success and offers a great experience for PlayStation 5 while managing to be a cross-gen release at the same time. We were initially concerned about the cross-gen nature of this title, troubled that having to run the game on older consoles would reduce the ambitions of the next-gen version. But Sackboy adopts certain concepts that can perfectly manage the generation gap without negatively impacting the experience, while still offering a significant graphic boost on the new generation hardware. This game is a great example of how to do a cross-gen game well, and we can only recommend buying it.

Powered by Blogger.