Mass Effect PS3 Performance Analysis

Since the original Mass Effect has been recently ported to PlayStation 3, Digital Foundry has taken the chance to review how it performs compared to the Xbox 360 version. As it turns out, it's a fine port though perhaps not quite as polished as you'd expect it to be, after all the years it took it to surface and the improvement to the technology the game is based on:
The wait is over, and PS3 owners now have the ability to sculpt their own Shepard from the beginning of the Mass Effect series right the way through to the controversial conclusion. Technically, there are a swathe of genuine advantages to playing the latest Sony release too. To reel off a few of the major points: texture pop-in has been minimised hugely thanks to the install, frame-rates have been improved for cut-scenes, and there's now absolutely no screen-tearing throughout. There are a few design choices that may be preferable to some players as well, such as the reduced intensity of the bloom, and also the minimised film grain filter that characterises the game's 50s sci-fi aesthetic.

It's not a perfect transition though. Negatives points such as the lower-resolution normal maps may pass many players by, especially without an alternative image to compare it to. However, the use of flickering PCF shadows on character faces stick out even more than the 360's dithered approach, and produces sharp bands of shade across enclosed environments too. It's also a shame to see the PS3 can't break away from the incessant 15FPS feedback around Chora's Den or Noveria's wintry cliff-sides. In this respect, it's only marginally improved over the 360 in the performance stakes.

Extra content is factor too, and may be the clincher for those eyeing up the Mass Effect Trilogy package on PS3. While the 'Pinnacle Station' DLC hasn't made the cut due to issues with the source code, the 'Bring Down the Sky' pack does come bundled with this release at no extra cost. However, both add-ons have been inexplicably chopped from the inventory of the 360 collection, so to complete the set there, you'll need to visit the Marketplace [Updated: Pinnacle Station info corrected]. In all, the PS3 edition hangs on to many of the horrid performance spikes that we hoped would be eroded by time. It's a noticeable step forward that matches up to the competition favourably, but we can't help but feel the opportunity to give the game a more radical make-over has been missed.