There's always a lot of talk in games about developers pushing things to the limit. About forcing every last drop of amazing from processors and engines and other things that I do not pretend to fully understand. Several not-yet-released games are promising that the pushing of limits will be taken to their very limits. And possibly beyond into a hitherto unexplored dimension of limits.
Examples: Killzone 3 is pushing the limit of PS3's power. Crysis 2 has already pushed the needle to the limit. Gears of War 3 is absolutely going to take it to the limit. And Halo: Reach is applying so much force to the limit that the Xbox 360 is actually bending.
But what about games that promised much limit pushing that have been released? These are 8 games that all modestly claimed to be spanking consoles to breaking point. Was the big talk justified? Let's find out.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
They said: "We always push to the upper limits. It's just a matter of working around them at this point." [source]
Justified?: Doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever. Are the upper limits pushed and then worked around? Or must they be worked around before they can be pushed? Either way, I love the two Modern Warfare games and have complete faith that Infinity Ward pushed the limits to their uppermost apex and any preceding or subsequent working around of the limits was done to the highest possible standard. So well done to them for doing that.
They said: "Again, at first, Echochrome may not appear to be such a CPU-intensive game. However, in the background, the title is pushing the processing power of the PSP to its limits. It’s like a swan swimming on a lake. It looks graceful to our eyes, but beneath the surface of the water that swan is actually kicking its feet pretty hard to just to move around." [source]
Justified?: My instinct says absolutely no way. It's just lines and whiteness. To my brain it's very basic. But the swan analogy is so beautiful, I think it should be believed. So let's believe it.
Final Fantasy XIII
They said: "The retail version will make use of nearly 100 percent [of PS3's power]." [source]
Justified?: Yes. Although I'm not even sure what it means. But maximising POWER usage indicates that a thing is STRONG. And by definition that means the thing cannot at the same time be WEAK. And nobody wants to play a game that is WEAK. So more POWER obviously means more better.
Final Fantasy XIII is many hours in length, has very pretty graphics and lots and lots of cut-scenes. All of that must have taken a lot of POWER. In fact, it's so full of POWER the game needs three times the normal amount of Xbox 360 discs to hold it all.
They said: "We are really pushing the limits of what the Xbox 360 and PS3 can do with Fracture... To put it simply, Fracture is one of the few games that really takes advantage of all of the processing power of the new consoles." [source]
Justified?: No. Unless, of course, your definition of 'pushing the limits' is making bits of the ground go up and down. Because that was pretty much Fracture's gimmick. And it wasn't very exciting. Maybe they forgot to remove the limitation restraining bolt from their console development kits. Or maybe they were just talking complete bullshit. I'd probably say it was the latter.