If you were to believe the hype, the PlayStation 3 version of The Orange Box is an unplayable mess. The man would have you believe that the game (which ran so smoothly on capable PCs and the Xbox 360) suffers from game-breaking frame-rates issues, resulting in what 1UP called a "slideshow." We ran the story, and the responses ranged from Xbox 360 owners laughing, to Sony fans cursing Electronic Arts for not being able to deliver a competent port.
Now before I go any further, I have to admit something -- if I were playing a game and the framerate dropped from 30 FPS to 29 FPS, I probably wouldn't notice. The Internet, it's equipped with some high-tech, top-secret military-grade cybernetic eyes; slight dips in framerates calls for 47 page threads on message boards, and our tips inbox being flooded with comparison videos. Really, I just don't get it. It should also be noted that I played through Half Life 2 and Half Life 2: Episode One on a sub-par PC, one that had me sitting through load times of up to a minute, and framerate issues when I fired a pistol. But I'm not blind, just forgiving, and if the issue isn't seriously hindering my fun, then there's no need to release the hounds.
But Portal, as it was pointed out to me, was not the main culprit. Portions of Half Life 2: Episode 2, according to 1UP's preview, were a disaster. The PS3 port had "technical flaws, which at best merely hinder gameplay and at worst make the experience downright unplayable." Well, that sounded like fun, and I couldn't wait.
I guess the bottom line here is this: If you own an Xbox 360 or a PC that can run it smoothly, you're probably better off picking up The Orange Box somewhere other than the PS3. The game does look slightly better on the 360, and I can't recall any noticeable framerate issues while playing through that version. Plus, achievements are always nice, if you intend to work for them. But for those who only own a PS3 and are concerned by reports of a lousy port, don't sweat it. The Orange Box is still one of the best values in gaming, and that isn't changed by the slight technical issues I ran into on the PS3 (negligible framerate problems; Alyx Vance disappeared and then re-appeared on me once).
[Editor's note: I did not have a chance to spend any time with Team Fortress, beyond my starting up an empty room and running around. I'll be spending some time playing on an EA-hosted server next Monday, and if there's anything significant to report, you'll be hearing from me then.]
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5:00 PM on 03.30.2015