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Sure, there's that wonderful depth-of-field filter that can blur the backgrounds...
Above: After rendering all that incredible detail, it gets blurred out for artistic effect
...but the simple fact is, this city appears to be as open as any GTA, yet has detail stretching far into the distance, with no visible draw-in at any point in the demo. There's no way this is going to be running on an Xbox 360. No. Way. And it must be one hell of a PC mega-rig that's doing it now, not even dropping a frame as the camera pans around in the street.
Above: Yes, it looks like GTA IV, but the quality is way higher here
In fact, every single element of the scenery looks better than GTA IV. Granted, GTA IV is getting old now, but look at how every curved surface is genuinely rounded in Watch Dogs:
Above: Look at the rounded pipes on the left. And that tyre. Mmm - circly
Yes, we have dynamic lighting in games now. but the quality of this is way, way in advance of anything in similar games. Look at the reporter going on air in front of the club. A light comes on, highlighting her from the shoulders up. Then, Aidan walks behind her and is faintly illuminated by the residual glow. Impeccable.
Above: 1) News reporter. 2) Illuminated new reporter. 3) Dimly-lit Aidan FTW
And what about reflected light? At a shallow enough angle, paint on the road reflects sunlight (with some bloom), before returning to opaque paint-like tarmac as the camera gets further over. But look - imperfections in its finish are still reflecting the light. Not impossible on current-gen, but this sort of detail is everywhere you look in Watch Dogs.
Above: Look at the bottom of the picture, in the centre. Sparkles in the white paint
And then there's the most obvious lighting effect - the shadows. Everything self-shadows and passes on its shadow to other objects. Collars cast shadows on lapels. Cheek jowls cast shadows across faces. And ever single 3D-rendered leaf casts its own shadow on the floor, perfectly diffused around its edges without a single jaggy in sight. That's definitely not going to look like that on a PS3.
Above: Some of the best lighting this side of ray-tracing. Which is years off in real-time gaming, of course
Even with the textures turned down, the lighting less perfect and a compromise in everything from the depth of field filter's quality to the animation routines of the NPCs, I struggle to see how an Xbox 360 or PS3 is going to run this. Even the NPC behaviour would likely need to take a hit - there's just too much going on here. It's so seamless. You look at the quality of Assassin's Creed 2 and it looks amazing. But compared to this? This blows it out of the water in terms of fidelity, believability and immersion.
Ubisoft isn't going to be allowed to announce the next generation of consoles before Sony and Microsoft themselves do. At least not officially. But with this, it may well have sneakily shown us anyway. A glimpse at the future? Why would you demo it on such a souped-up PC if you're going to release a noticeably inferior console version a year down the line? Why wouldn't you demo the 360/PS3 version and get people excited anyway about what is certainly looking like being a phenomenal game? They're showing us 'the future' for a reason. This is very probably Ubi's next-gen technology - and it's looking incredible.
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