The availability of a hard drive in each and every PS3 means that SOCOM: Confrontation
could not have been made for any other system, according to Sony Computer Entertainment America's Seth Luisi.
On Sony's official blog SCEA's director of development says:
“SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Confrontation makes full use of the HDD in the PlayStation 3. One of the often overlooked advantages of the PS3 compared to competing platforms is that it contains a 2.5” serial ATA hard drive which allows us to use the Hard Disc Drive for extremely fast data access. Since we can count on the hard drive to be in every PS3 console, SOCOM Confrontation uses a very aggressive data streaming system which in turn allows for much greater detail in the game environments. For this reason alone, the level of detail which you will see in the environments and characters in SOCOM Confrontation is not possible on any other game console.”
For those of us who don't have a degree in computer science, the game dumps data off the Blu-ray disc onto the internal hard disk, which has a streaming rate that's over eight times faster than the Blu-ray disc drive. Loading data from HDD means SOCOM
can rapidly transfer and update high resolution elements - for example, textures - into the PS3's memory when they're needed. Relying solely on Blu-ray, or indeed DVD or HD-DVD, games must instead have textures hanging around using valuable memory as a buffer. Being able to have less data in memory means you've got more space for bigger, shinier textures, geometry and other next-genny stuff. Nice.
Bear in mind, of course, that this comes from a Sony employee speaking on a Sony blog, so he was hardly likely to tell us the game would have been possible on Mega Drive cartridges. The fact remains, however, that the definite availability of a hard drive on the PS3 clearly opens up doors for developers.
Below are some screens Luisi released to show just the kind of detail he's talking about.
For more on SOCOM: Confrontation
head over to SPOnG's dedicated game page.