Kingdom Hearts III Digital Foundry

Kingdom Hearts 3 plays best at 60fps - but which console gets closest?

We've been waiting for this one for quite some time. It's been just over 13 years since Kingdom Hearts 2 debuted on PlayStation 2, before continuing its journey via a range of handheld releases. But a full-blooded home console sequel? That only arrived yesterday, with Square-Enix deploying the strengths of Unreal Engine 4 to deliver a new series entry with a far wider scale and scope compared to the originals. Not only that, but the new title aims high with a peak 60fps frame-rate. The question is, which console is most successful at locking to it? The answer is surprising.

The truth is that alongside recent releases like Resident Evil 2 Remake, Just Cause 4 and Ace Combat 7, there's another firm divide in the quality of the experience depending on the console you play. If you're gaming on an enhanced machine, you're in for a good time, while the base machines can't really compete - a situation that's exaggerated owing to a key limitation in the game: its inability to deliver a capped 30 frames per second with consistent frame-pacing.

The main dividing factor though is, of course, resolution. Perhaps inevitably, sitting at the top of the pile is Xbox One X, delivering a native, locked 2560x1440. PlayStation 4 Pro follows up, with a 2304x1296 pixel-count, around 81 per cent of the X's output. There's a big gap that follows, with the vanilla PS4 dropping down to 1600x900, while Xbox One S languishes at a disappointing 720p. Image clarity drops according as we descend the console power ladder, with the drop in resolution also impacting the quality of both texture filtering and anti-aliasing. The standard PS4 just about holds up, but it's not a great turnout, while Xbox One definitely suffers. Beyond that, the only difference in terms of cross-platform comparisons comes down to ambient occlusion - the base consoles look rather dithered here, while the enhanced machines deliver this aspect in a more attractive manner.

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Face-Off: Kingdom Hearts 3 vs Toy Story

Digital FoundryFace-Off: Kingdom Hearts 3 vs Toy Story

Have real-time console graphics finally surpassed Pixar's CG classic?

Toy Story: the first full-length computer-generated feature, and a revolution in animated film. In 1995 it was a landmark moment for cinema, but it also caused big waves in the videogame industry. Around the time of PlayStation 2's launch in 2000, the visual quality of the original Toy Story became a kind of benchmark, a lofty goal developers strived to hit in their games, even if it quickly transpired to be a vain pursuit. Sadly, there was nowhere near the graphical horsepower in PS2 to achieve such pristine image quality in real time. But two console generations on, do we now finally have the power to match - or exceed - the visual quality of Pixar's iconic movie?

Premiering at Disney's D23 expo, a new six-minute trailer for Square-Enix's Kingdom Hearts 3 may finally provide the answer. The setup is simple enough: Sora and friends are thrown into a new Toy Story-themed level, where really, it's hard not to draw contrasts with the original film - and indeed its more visually advanced sequels. It starts with the characters: Woody is a great example, and it's clear Square-Enix has gone to great pains to mimic the textures and geometric detail of the original model. It's uncannily close.

It's fair to say Toy Story is a more viable target to hit than more modern CG films. For example, it helps massively that the focus of the movie was on toys after all, meaning a PS4 in this case mainly has to render simple, undemanding plastic materials. The colour tone is basic, and even that reflective glossy layer on Woody shows up under light. It's a simplicity that made toys a perfect subject for a full-length feature project, back when CG animation was in its infancy. By extension though, it makes it all the easier for Square Enix to replicate these models on today's hardware - but crucially, now in real time.

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