Borderlands 2 Performance Analysis

24 Sep 2012

Eurogamer's Digital Foundry has the verdict on Borderlands 2's performance across the board. According to them, the folks at Gearbox have done a good job with platform parity, with the Xbox 360 having a slight performance edge over the PlayStation 3 version, and the PC version is the one to get, with a huge edge in terms of performance, graphics and options. Quite a far cry from the original Borderlands' PC version:
It's often to state the obvious that the PC version is the one to vouch for, but in this case it's worth putting a special word in. Borderlands 2 is well optimised for even the most modest PC builds, and comes with a plethora of extra bells and whistles, enhancing texture quality and adding to the draw distance substantially. We're fascinated by the PhysX support in particular, where simulating cloth tearing, fluid spills and debris creates a wild scene of carnage once you've left a battle victorious. The graphical settings menu feels feature-rich in almost every respect. The only option we feel deprived of is a proper, built-in MSAA mode, or even the TXAA support that was once rumoured to be making the cut.

By comparison, the home console versions can't compete in the graphical arena, but they do have one benefit: split-screen mode. The performance may be on the erratic side at points, but it's a feature well worth having in a co-op orientated shooter. Much like the original game though, it's unfortunate that the UI still isn't scaled to fit the halved real-estate available to each player. After all the looting is done, it's still necessary to pan across the menus with the right analogue stick, making the process a tad more tedious than need be.

To summarise image quality, both the 360 and PS3 versions carry distinct visual leads over the other. On the one hand, the PS3 has sole command of a depth of field effect, which grants the game a distinct cinematic quality, while the 360 has free rein over both ambient occlusion and light shaft effects. In all, the deciding vote for us must be based on performance. Tearing is in abundance on PS3 during battle, though they're both liable to drop v-sync when under strain from smoke and fire effects in particular. Moreover, frame-rate drops are more regular and sustained on Sony's console than they are on the 360 version - we see hitches down to 20FPS while running through the Sanctuary hub-town, while the latter version gets away in holding out at the target 30.

It's a testament to the diligence of Gearbox that all three versions come as well-equipped as they can be to deliver the Borderlands experience. The console versions arrive with their own unique advantages, of course, while the PC platform greedily combines the best of both worlds, and adds even more to the equation. If this isn't an option however, then it's clear the 360's more confident handling of the Willow Engine makes it the one to recommend on the console front.