Officially, the wait was supposed to be 60 minutes to get up to the PlayStation 3 demo area, but I must have gotten lucky since I just walked in with the group after a 30 second wait. Maybe it was the press badge, or maybe it was just my elite sneaking skills.
The games they had on demo were just allright. First was "Heavy Rain: The Casting" which was a technology demo showcasing the future potential of digital actors.
While the technical detail of the demo was good and it was clear that the developers were using sophisticated shaders and high-resolution textures, the lighting models were still insufficient to make it look better than what I'd consider currently on the market.
I chose the best picture from the official press images to show you, and I know it looks pretty good. The problem is that in motion it's much less impressive due to lighting. You can download the direct-feed video of the technology demo at:
Go ahead and download the video – before reading on. Watch while reading…
So, the blurred effect at the intro works very well, but once the digital actress enters the frame, the motion seems awkward. Things only get worse when the digital actress starts talking. Most glaring is that the animation of the mouth seems off an the result is a digital actress who appears a bit too masculine. The digital actress is actually based off a real person, Aurelie Bancilhon. The real Aurelie Bancilhon (http://comoedia.fr/afficheActeur/7008) is far more attractive than her digital doppelganger.
This actually highlights the number one challenge of next-generation gaming. The hardware is reaching the point were developers have sufficient freedom to do the things they want to do. You can have massively multiplayer online worlds, tens of thousands of enemies on screen at any given time, and even worlds that can take hundreds of hours to explore. Even so, art plays a critical role in providing the optimal experience. This is true not only for graphics, but for hardware-accelerated physics as well – but more on this in a future article.