[tabs] [tab title=”About Lag Factor“]One of the common trends I’ve noticed on this website and around the internet is whether or not input lag is a big deal to different kinds of people. As part of this website’s ongoing focus to educate the masses about input lag and its effects, I’m thrilled to introduce Lag Factor. Lag Factor is essentially a form of reviewing games, but it will not function like a traditional review. Lag Factor will break down the technical aspects of the video game, such as frame rates, visual fidelity, game responsiveness, as well as the effects of using different televisions for different kinds of games. I hope this new addition to Display Lag is informative and appreciated![/tab] [/tabs]
About The Last of Us:
A game of this caliber certainly doesn’t need much of an introduction. Unless you have been living under a rock, The Last of Us is Naughty Dog’s latest Playstation 3 masterpiece, walking away with several 10/10 reviews among the gaming media, earning its title as the Citizen Kane of video games. Naughty Dog, a studio famous for its Uncharted series, decided to make a survival horror/action video game with striking resemblance to the popular series The Walking Dead with its emphasis on characterization. The story primarily follows Joel, a man fighting for his survival after an epidemic breaks out in the United States, and his relationship with Ellie, a young girl with a significant role in the game’s storyline.
How it looks:
Throughout my time with The Last of Us, it was very clear that Naughty Dog has completely maximized the system’s graphical potential. The character models are highly detailed, albeit very jaggy on the edges, and the locations are detailed as well in their own right, though a little drab in their color (understandably so, as the game’s focus on a post-apocalyptic world requires lots of dark, moody color usage). The game runs at a native 720p resolution (1280 x 720 pixels), which is great considering that so many games tend to render even lower due to hardware constraints, even though they are falsely advertised as 720p. Make no mistake though, you’re going to have to turn up your HDTV’s sharpness if you game on a 1080p set, as some aspects of the game are visibly low-resolution, such as the environmental textures. The upscaling to 1080p results in a softer image than gaming on a native 720p display. The biggest influence on the game’s gorgeous presentation is the lighting effects. Naughty Dog gives a lush presentation with an emphasis on contrast between light and dark scenes, in which the lighting plays a huge role. Speaking of dark scenes, there are a lot of them. I don’t recommend playing this game on a HDTV/monitor that has poor reproduction of black levels, as it will hamper the visual presentation of the game. You definitely want to maximize those shadow details, even though there is a flashlight available to use during dark areas. The game also uses a film grain filter to enhance its cinematic nature.
How it feels:
The Last of Us attempts to keep a locked 30 FPS (frames per second), however the game frequently dips below this in areas of combat or heavy graphics, roughly anywhere between 24-30 FPS. This has a huge impact on controller response. A game running at 60FPS tends to have a minimum of 3-4 frames of controller lag (66.7ms) regardless of the display being used. Therefore, a game running at 30 FPS results in a fixed controller lag of at least 6 frames (100ms+). Combine that with a HDTV that has a high lag rating, and you definitely got some issues when it comes to handling the gun. I frequently found myself having trouble with aiming specific body parts on the Infected, resulting me in hitting the retry screen more often than I would have liked. A part of me feels that it was a deliberate design choice to make controller response frustrating, in order to heighten the tension between the player and the enemy. The game does allow you to upgrade certain aspects of weaponry and handling, making it easier over time. The display that I played the game through is a Samsung HDTV rated 48ms in our input lag database, which is rated ‘Okay’ on our grading scale. Subsequently, I decided to test out the game on my ASUS monitor to see if the reduction of input lag helped the responsiveness of the game.
Switching to the ASUS monitor definitely helped with precision targeting, however due to the erratic frame rate of the game, the advantage of a low lag display was undermined. When the frame rate was stable, it was a lot easier targeting shots towards specific limbs, which I had difficulty doing on my Samsung HDTV. As input lag rises with the reduction of frame rate, scenarios in the game that involved a lot of enemies were equally frustrating on the ASUS monitor, as the frame rate wasn’t stable during these sections. Hand-to-hand combat fared pretty well, as a lot of the combat scenarios force you to commit to actions than react to what’s on the screen. Joel has an advantage over the Infected in this department, unless they gang up on you, forcing you to seek refuge behind cover.
Pros:[list type=”plus”] [li]Gorgeous lighting effects[/li] [li]Excellent primary character models and facial animations[/li] [li]Hand-to-hand combat is satisfactory[/li] [/list][/column] [column size=”one-half” last=”true”]
Cons:[list type=”minus”] [li]Erratic frame rate falling under 30FPS[/li] [li]Low resolution textures in some areas[/li] [li]Heavy input lag affects the accuracy of gun play[/li] [/list][/column]
Recommended Display for The Last of Us:
Not for you? Don’t forget to check out our input lag database, with over 200 displays tested and graded for input lag!