Thursday, December 4, 2008

For the last time...The Wii is more powerful than the Xbox

Two years later and this is still a debate? Do the people arguing the xbox's superiority over the Wii even understand the tech of which they speak? Short answer...hell no. The fact that most developers are putting forth subpar efforts on Wii has nothing to do with the power of the system.

Here is a funny fact for you all. The gamecube was more powerful than the Xbox. Did you miss that? I said... THE GAMECUBE IS MORE POWERFUL THAN THE XBOX. The tech wizards at Factor 5 even stated that the GC had the most powerful general purpose cpu ever in a console in 2002. They stated that the Gamcube CPU was every bit as fast as a 733mhz pentium III(an Xbox) and even exceeded it in key areas.

The Gamcube was a beast in 2002.

Perception and bottlenecks kept the Gamecube from being the monster it could have been. There was this perception that the GC was even less powerful than even the PS2 because of the conservative spec numbers released by Nintendo as opposed to what Sony and Microsoft were touting with the PS2 and Xbox respectively. Nintendo stated the Gamecube was capable of 6-12 million polygons per second which was easily attainable on the system and perhaps a little to conservative considering a launch game for the system made in a mere 9 months were running at 12-15 million at 60 frames per second. Sony claimed the ps2 was capable 75 million which was actually 75 million "Raw" meaning it could not be achieved in-game and were essentially fake numbers that failed to calulate textures, lighting,framerate, know...things that make up a game lol. Microsoft did the same, claiming the original Xbox could do 120 million when that was a raw number as well. Which is even funnier is that if you look at the spec shet for the Xbox 360 you'll see that 120 million poly number back again except this time it's real time and not made up unrealistic raw number bs.

The truth is that for its' time, the Gamecube was a polygon monster. Didn't any of you find it odd that Rogue Leader a 2003 Gamecube title is running at double the amount of polys and double the amount of framerate of the best looking Xbox titles? It can be your opinion that Xbox had the best looking games of last generation but they certainly were not the most hardware taxing. Rogue leader could not run on the Xbox in it's current current form. F-zero GX could not run on Xbox in it's current form.

The best looking games on Xbox either:

-ran at 30 frames or less
-had very limited geometry
-limited color pallete

or most time... all of the above.

There is a reason for that. The GC could display more on screen at a time and at a better framerate to boot. This is why Xbox developers had to rely on shaders and normal maps to make things appear more detailed than they really were. A game like Metriod Prime has far more detailed well...everything than a game like Halo 2 and if you believe otherwise is because you don't understand the purpose of a normal map. Developers use normal mapping and shaders so that they can use less polygons in their models...not more. That is part of what makes games like Metriod Prime 3 and Super Mario Galaxy so impressive is because they use next to no normal mapping or shader effects and still look excellent.

Shader effects are possible on the Wii as evident in games like the up and coming The Conduit. However, unlike on systems like the xbox and xbox 360, these effects must be built from scratch and add a large hit to the systems performance. The Wii uses the TEV Unit for it's texture combining "shader" effects and the more stages they use the more it eats into hardware performance. The use of shader effects on the xbox and xbox 360 come at pretty much a zero hit on performance on those systems. They basically get shader effetcs "for free" so to speak. The fact that The Conduit has been known to pass for a 360 title at first glance, all while taking a huge performance hit because of the mandantory custom shader effects is a testiment to howe powerful the little white box is. The xbox cannot handle the visuals the way Wii the Wii is forced to (custom).

The Wii also has no harddive to help with texture streaming it wouldn't otherwise be capabale of.( I'm looking at you doom 3 and halflife2 on xbox). The GC's lack of disk space also put a damper on what could have been regarding the gamecube's graphics potential. Developers were forced to compress textures resulting in lesser quality. Wii however does not have this problem. It is more powerful than the Xbox is every area. It may be easier for the Xbox to create shaders but that doesn't change the fact that the Wii is a more powerful system and also doesn't change the fact that pixel and vertex shader effetcs are possible on the Wii platform if developers simply take the time.

The power is there. It's up to developers to make use of it. Let's hope that High Voltage Software and Factor 5 aren't the only dev teams interested in the potential of the Wii's while not bleeding edge...very capable hardware which happens to be quite a bit more powerful than the Xbox.