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Mass Effect 3: PS3 frame-rate issues persist in final game

Demo code representative of the retail version.

In last month's Mass Effect 3 demo analysis we asked ourselves if the PS3's frequent dips to 20FPS would be improved by the time of its release.

The fact that BioWare has made some sizeable changes to its previous games between demos and full releases gave us hope that something might shift. Regular readers may recall how Mass Effect 2 on PS3 went from a consistent 30FPS with regular tearing in the demo to 20-30FPS with v-sync engaged, although the end results were largely comparable to the 360 version.

However, with retail code of the new game now available, we can confirm that performance on the final PS3 release is extremely similar, if not identical to that of the stuttering demo code. We've put together a quick look at the explosive intro sequence (used for the demo) and a few early snippets of traversal gameplay from the first mission to see where it stands now so PS3 owners can get some idea of the game's performance ahead of its European release on Friday.

The PS3 version is once again capped at 30FPS with v-sync engaged, but often drops to 20FPS in outdoors environments, and sometimes lower during cut-scenes. The game seems better optimised for 360, holding out closer to the target frame-rate with some almost unnoticeable tearing.

As the video demonstrates, the demo is highly representative of the final game on both platforms, with 30 frames per second being an unachievable target during some cut-scenes on Sony's console, particularly at points with multiple NPCs and transparent alpha effects on screen.

The 360 version is also liable to dip during like-for-like circumstances, although never quite as much; as per the demo, the action remains v-synced, though the odd, unnoticeable tear may occur at the very top of the screen when the engine is under stress. As far as traversal gameplay goes, the 360 only shows occasional blips in visual feedback, as opposed to the more regular stretches of 20FPS gameplay we can see on PS3.

Bearing in mind that the days of major differences between PS3 and Xbox 360 games are largely a thing of the past, this is clearly a disappointment - not just from a visual perspective, but also in terms of gameplay as the frame-rate dips impact controller response during shoot-outs to a certain extent.

For a complete dissection of Mass Effect 3, keep a look-out for our upcoming triple-format Face-Off.

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Mass Effect 3

PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U, PC

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Thomas Morgan avatar

Thomas Morgan

Senior Staff Writer, Digital Foundry

32-bit era nostalgic and gadget enthusiast Tom has been writing for Eurogamer and Digital Foundry since 2011. His favourite games include Gitaroo Man, F-Zero GX and StarCraft 2.