The Orange Box PS3 Review
It’s all very simple really. If you are interested in the contents of the Orange Box, and you just own a PS3 then you buy the game for that platform, it’s just that good. Sure, it is a slightly inferior version than the rest – with some crazy inexplicable framerate problems in random areas throughout the game – but the core product is still excellent enough to warrant you playing the compilation. However, if you own either a capable PC or 360 along side your PS3 then you either log onto Steam or rush out to the local shop o’ games and buy it for one of those platforms instead.
But what are these annoyances is a question I am sure you want answered. Well, they are a weird mess of nuisances to be sure. The most evident are a collection of framerate problems, and an increased amount of loading screens that are now longer in duration than they were on the 360 and also seem to appear much more often. The framerate problems are probably the most annoying, as they seem to crop up in the weirdest places. An example of this is while you’re fighting in Ravenholm in the original HL2. In the town you can face off against a whole fleet of enemies, and not get annoyed by the framerate hiccup once, then as you are walking down an empty street the game will start to noticeably chug along for next to no reason. Another great example is when Dog throws you a ball when you first get access to the gravity gun. At this point in the game you are supposed to catch the ball Dog throws with the gun, but this is yet another point when the game seems to have framerate problems, problems that are so bad that I guarantee you’ll misjudge the catch the first few times the game tasks you with preforming it.
Unfortunately, the problems are not confined to the first game in the HL series, as more framerate annoyances can hit in the other games. In fact, in some of the more confined firefights in Episode One the game can see a considerable amount of slow down, making aiming very juddery and highly unpleasant. In truth, there really can be no other reason for this mess other than it being a rushed programming job by the internal team at EA that handled the port.
Of course, then there is the loading, which can stick around a lot longer than it is welcome. The Half Life 2 games have problems with this too, but the game which is hurt most by these long loads would have to be Portal, so much so that you actually dread having to go into one of the elevators in the game as it will end up triggering what feels like a minute-long load as you wait for the next area to finally appear as the doors open. Then, aside from these annoyance there is also a small bit of screen tearing on show here and there, along with the occasional blurry texture in certain areas of certain game. All in all you basically have every kind of technical problem you’ve seen in you whole life condensed onto one disc.
But let’s not get too down, there were a few changes for the better through, but most had nothing got to do with the game itself. One particular nice change was how welcoming most of the PSN players were in Team Fortress compared to the absolute bastards that infect most Xbox Live games. In fact, not only were almost all the players better behaved, they were also better players over all, with many using each of the abilities of the game’s characters much better than most of the 360 players I experienced late last year. Furthermore, I has such a good time when checking the game out for review I am sure I will be going back to play the game on PSN again as soon as I finish this write up. Finally, another small change is the inclusion of a quick save feature, accessed by holding down the Start button while playing. I have to say it is a nice extra, albeit one that only saves about 5 seconds of your time when you want to stop playing the game.
But still, in spite of the problems of the PS3 version you can’t help but be impressed of by the quality of the five games on show. You still get the narrative nirvana that are the Half Life games, with the 25+ hours of top notch action that makes many other FPS’s cry with inadequacy issues. You will have access to the pinnacle of puzzling perfection that is Portal, which was one of the more welcome, exciting and surprising game of 2007. And finally, you will most certainly still get to partake in the multiplayer madness that is the fantastic Team Fortress, which can quite honestly stand toe to toe with any of the Halo’s or COD4’s of this world, albeit not having the size of community it may deserve.
So that’s about it. The worst thing you can say about the PS3 version of Orange Box is that it is a bad port of a top notch title, but remember that it is still one hell of a great game. If you have to buy the game on PS3 then do so, you will have to put up with somewhat of a diminished experience but you’ll still experience one hell of a ride. However, most importantly, regardless of the flaws and regardless of the console it is on, The Orange Box is still the most frugal gaming choice you’ll make all year, and one of the few games released that can honestly be described as a must play for almost everybody – well unless you have some kinds of crazed aversion to the FPS genre.
The future just got a little less bright, but it’s still Orange.