Monday, 13 December 2010

"HD ready. I am SO ready for HD. HD will make everything better."

Well, the day has finally come. I now have access to a fully HD (1080p) television. You see, while most gamers are gorging into this generation's high definition, gaming extravaganzas I've been "stuck" with the humble, flat-screen CRT.

I play an Xbox 360, and am more than contempt with the quality of it's composite out on said CRT, as I have been with the vast majority of my other consoles. However, I have found myself asking:  "Would this game really look better if it were  displayed in HD? Will it really "blow-my-mind?", or whatever metaphors marketing departments come up with today to over exaggerate the effects their products have on the human body. “It'll blow-your-mind!” strikes me as very 90's...

But yes, a change of circumstance! Yesterday my parents came home from their weekly shop at Aldi with a 32", fully HD LCD television with as many ports on the back as, well, I have fingers; and oh, how I love ports. No, it's not a fancy-brand tele, it's manufactured by Tevion, but it was reasonably priced and seems to have a rather nice picture. Unfortunately, I've little to no experience with HD teles in order to make a good comparison. In addition to this, the Xbox 360 is  the only machine in the household currently capable of outputting in HD, via it's bundled composite cable, therefore my initial thoughts on the HD experience (with that being the point of this post) will be based solely on it. Don't worry all you visual-philes out there, a Wii component cable is in the works and I'll be visiting Poundand ASAP to get me a fancy-pants, city-boy HDMI cable. As I've heard they're just the bee-knees.

So, my verdict of HDwith regards to gaming? Well, when the Xbox 360 start up screen came on, and the menu appeared, I was pretty wowed. It's crisp and clear and the lack of flicker is a surprisingly noticeable pleasure to the eye. The first game I played with this set-up, however, was Street Fighter IV, followed by Unreal Tournament III. While both games were more defined, it wasn't as noticeable as I would have hoped; Street Fighter IV seeming rather simple with regards to it's visuals, and UT3 being too dark and dingy to really impress. At this point I thought that there might be a HD placebo effect at play. However, that evening my girlfriend had a little run-about on Final Fantasy XIII to see how that would look. It was at this point that I was convinced that HD did over an enhanced gaming experience with HD consoles. It's hard to explain how much better things looked without repeating "X were better defined", so basically...: graphical effects on the enemies' skin looked more realistic, the varying bumpy parts on a mountain side were more visible, and you could see much further into the distance without having to squint. That's another neat thing I'd like to point out; with the previous CRT tele, which was of a decent size, I still had to bring a chair into the room and sit about 4 feet away from the screen to see what I was playing properly. Now I can sit and play on the settee, which is double the distance away. In addition to this, Xbox 360 games that must have been developed with HD displays in mind that were previously difficult to play, for reasons such as to small characters and items as well as tiny text in menus and subtitles, no longer suffer from such issues and are, shall I say, more easily enjoyed.

My criticism about “HD”, which I have encountered in the past, is with regards to the display of non-HD signals, this being, for me, composite and SCART connected consoles. The Wii, for example, which looked great on the CRT, now has a washed out and less defined display. This is disappointing considering it is of this generation, with the lack of a HDMI port on the Wii being a further disappointment; meaning that a good chunk of cash must be forked out for a good quality and proprietary component cable. I dare not hook anything older to it, for example my RGB wielding Mega Drive, as I can only imagine how rubbish it would look on it.

So, in my opinion a HD television is purely a luxury item and will enhance, but not define, a modern gaming experience. Those with only a single HD console could probably do without a HD tele at the moment if their current television is decent and in working order. In addition to this, those who will continue to use older hardware need to think hard about having a second, CRT tele, should older hardware look shoddy on a HD tele. However, when I do find my own place to live, I will definitely be keeping an eye out for a similar HD tele to my parents and will probably end up getting one from Aldi, if Tevion are still producing them for the same  price

For the meantime I look forward to dabbling with HD in general and can see myself picking up the obsolete Xbox 360 HD-DVD payer as well as component cables for the Wii, PS2 and the original Xbox, if they don't end up costing too much.

So that's my first impression of HD. Yes, I know I'm about 5 years too late, and yes, this is a very personalised "review", if you can even call it that, but I never said I was a journalistic mastermind, did I.

So if you'll excuse me I'm going to doze off while I watch my girlfriend play Hexic HD... In HD.


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