The Orange Box: Hands-On With the PS3 Version

Valve's valuable volume of video game vun...err, fun...is veering to PS3s very soon. We've got a hands-on look.

You'll be hard pressed to find a game with more bang for the buck than The Orange Box. And we do mean bang, as in lots and lots of explosions. This collection of Valve gems starts with the classic shooter Half-Life 2, continues through Half-Life 2: Episode One and Episode Two, takes a mind-bending detour through the sci-fi puzzle game Portal, and ends up at a destination that you'll likely spend ton of time luxuriating in: the full-tilt blast-a-thon Team Fortress 2. Though the game has been out for more than a month on the Xbox 360 and PC, we recently got a chance to spend some quality time with the upcoming PlayStation 3 version of the game to see how it matches up to its counterparts on other platforms.

Pick your poison.

First, let's get the frame-rate thing out of the way. Yes, Half-Life 2 has its slowdown troubles, and occasionally they are ugly. Not necessarily "throw your Sixaxis against the wall" bad, but certainly noticeable. Fortunately, these laggy moments are relatively few and far between; for the most part, the game runs just fine on the PS3. But in these moments--for example, when speeding through the sewers of City 17 on the hoverboat as you're being tracked down by the helicopter--the chop can really pick up. Although you might expect some frame-rate issues during a high-speed chase scene, there are moments of relative calm that have frame drops as well, such as at the way station directly after you have blown the battle copter out of the sky. As we crossed the structure so we could open the gate to give our airboat a chance to jump through, the game's frame rate would slow down here and there, despite not much happening onscreen.

After that section, frame rate in the game seemed mostly solid up to Ravenholm, which is as far as we made it in our play-testing. We didn't spend a ton of time in either Episode One or Two, but we did notice some frame-rate issues in both--again, nothing game-killing, but it's certainly something to be aware of. One other thing to keep in mind across all facets of the Half-Life 2 suite (including Episodes One and Two, as well as Portal): You can quicksave your game on the fly at any point by pressing and holding down the start button. You can continue to play the game when quicksaving, but the frame rate sometimes takes a severe hit while doing so, especially if there's a lot happening onscreen.

If Half-Life 2 and the Episodes have their hitchy moments, what of Portal on the PS3? Having made our way through roughly half of this mind-blowing puzzle game, we're glad to report that it runs just fine. This is probably to be expected, considering that Portal isn't exactly a graphical showcase, but the game's relatively small levels and austere atmosphere add up to what seems to be a perfect port on the PS3. And it was great to hear from GLaDOS again, even if she is a lying, robot harpy who tempts us with promises of delicious cake.

The final piece of the Orange Box puzzle, Team Fortress 2, was off limits; we weren't able to get online with it to test how the multiplayer fun checks out. Unlike Half-Life 2, the Episodes, and Portal, this is the game that will suffer the most from any slowdown, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that the EA PS3 development team went to work on the TF2 code like a Heavy in a room full of Medics.

In terms of content, The Orange Box stacks up as one of the values of the year. PlayStation 3 owners who haven't been able to enjoy this amazing collection yet should take heed: The game will be shipping to retail stores during the second week of December. Will the frame-rate issues be addressed in the final version of the game? We'll keep our fingers crossed and report back in our full review after the game is released.

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Discussion

267 comments
dru34
dru34

Good game,5 games for da price of 1 good deal.

Baker1234
Baker1234

Next-gen consoles have only just become powerful enough to run (barely, with the framerate issue) a game the PC had about 3 and a half years ago. I was able to run the game then at full settings, no framerate probs at a huge resolution. Bloody hell consoles are years behind the PC. You never know in about 4-5 years time a console may even be able to run Crysis (barely) !!!

zeke2040
zeke2040

slow down frame, that sucks... but i hope when it ship's out its all good... i'm crossing my finger for this title as well..

kTvTv3
kTvTv3

Key term darkangel494, he "thinks." And it's not, as I clearly state that what's cheap isn't good, and what's good isn't cheap.

darkangel494
darkangel494

this will no way be as good as the other versions seeing as the half life developer clearly stated that he thinks the ps3 is crappy so the port will probably stay glitchy but will still bbe better than anything else on ps3 none the less

supergamer918
supergamer918

What's the whole point of the PS3 having insane graphics when there are almost no exclusive games for it and have to constantly downgrade it so that it can play other games?

HTML_d00d
HTML_d00d

If anyone is a ps3 fan go to http://ps3.psu.com/PS3-Orange-Box-gimped-News--a1939-p0.php read some of the things this article states, they say that Gabe Newell, the man behind Half-Life development studio Valve Software, doesn't care about this version of the port, so that could be the reason for the frame skips, bad development

TacticalElefant
TacticalElefant

These issues make no sense. It can't be a graphics issue when it comes to the framerate, considering the RSX (which virtually is an Nvidia 7800 GPU) should be able to run HL2 at full max settings, with 2x or 4x MSAA, all at NATIVE 1080p framebuffering and still stay above 50 Hz framerate. This has got to be an issue with the Cell and code optimization. I bet you they are not even using more than 1 or 2 SPEs just to run the game, hell they might just be using the control PPC core to run the game, with a single SPE for physics, and another for texture and geometry streaming to prevent those oh so infamous "loading" screens that shouldn't even be there in the HL and HL2 games.

The_Godfather_
The_Godfather_

the orange box is one of the best game of year. I am sure the orange box will be excellent on PS 3.

SonyGameHolder7
SonyGameHolder7

Well, Uncharted can run without problems so I thinks the third-party developers should have more contact with Sony to help them if they encounter any problems and not try to do it themself to see it horribly fail and then release a bs product.

alfie1980
alfie1980

smak_1292...runs like a dream mate,with no slowdown.....what so ever.

gtafighter0
gtafighter0

as long as the frame rate doesn't eat my ps3, im gonna buy it, ive been psyched about this game on my ps3 for months =)

chamber303
chamber303

frame rate, frame rate, frame rate it'sd funny how this frame rate issue is so untrue. I have both ps3 and 360 connected on 2 identical bravia tv's and the only thing i notice is how much better picture i get on most games when trying them on both consoles side by side. i have never seen any frame rate issue with the ps3 on any game. what is going on here?

Mr_Flesh
Mr_Flesh

Uhh starting with Unreal Consoles will have a modding community. Tropical plants are glossy , particularly the frondy ones. And I think this frame rate issue is going to kick this game in the balls. I'm already holding off on it.. Really if Oblivion and Uncharted can do this without frame rate issues why not Half-Life. Although I do hate Oblivions pop up.

cameronU2fan998
cameronU2fan998

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

EMERlCa6969
EMERlCa6969

To the people complaining about the gloss on foliage in Uncharted, have you ever been in a tropical forest or rain forest? Alot of the leaves on plants look glossy because of moisture in the air or from the rain that happens quite often. If anything, it is a touch of realism, not a cover up.

Brucisidro92288
Brucisidro92288

I must agree with mrfrieze. GTHD looks way better than Forza 2. And after seeing screenshot after screenshot of GT5: Prologue, I can safely say that if the final game looks anything like that, then GT5 will make Forza 2 look like a cartoon racer.

alrocko
alrocko

fix the framerate damnit, or so help me god I wont buy it

mrfrieze
mrfrieze

flyingdutchdog- Gears? Your crazy gears looks like crap compared to game out now. I found it odd that the jungle looked so shinny too, but lets not for get that its a damn game and people are not limited to photo realistic graphics when making a game. I highly doubt it was system limitations to cover something up. But to speak of gears pulls covereng up bad graphics with dark colors and smog pretty damn well. I to own both systems and GT does in fact make froza 2 look bad.

Flatline304
Flatline304

All I can say is BOOOO!!If Uncharted and god help me Oblivion can run well why can't this crap?!?!

topraman517
topraman517

"omfg PC's best ever FPS is now cross-platform what an insult. Microsoft will never buy out Half-Life 3 we will get it first on PC. You consoles kids stole GTA from us now you try to steal Half-Life! Consoles have no modding community to hell with you." No one's trying to steal anything. It's the company's decision. If you have a problem, go take it up with Valve.

dynomitemasta
dynomitemasta

flyingdutchdog-------you are 100% right about the shine thing on Uncharted" and on PS3 games in general. Jungle foliage is NOT suppose to have a high gloss finish, why do you think that is?? Compensation for something else that is lacking? Anyway, the Orange Box will be just fine on the PS3, it wont be enough to ruin or even hinder the gaming experience, so if you have a PS3 , . . get it, or rent it, or both, or you will be missing out on an incredible ride that will take you many hours to beat.

flyingdutchdog
flyingdutchdog

@aznhayato7: Actually I do know what I'm talking about .... owning both consoles (without being a fanboy of either) I take my experience from first hand knowledge ... I've played the games and I stand by what I said. I'm thoroughly not that impressed by Drake's Fortune's graphics. It does look good as I said, but there is way to much shine used on everything ... it's graphics are nowhere near Gears of War or Call of Duty 4. I am more impressed by Ratchet and Clank as far as graphics go. It shows more of what the PS3 is capable of. Yes I have seen and played Gran Turismo HD and to say they "make Forza 2 look terrible is completely ludicrous ... you are so beginning to sound like a fanboy at this point. Personally both systems are equal in different ways and to go ballastic over one system tends to give one tunnel vision which I think you are showing signs of. Enjoy your games ... I do ... and give my kudos to that author who has a degree in computer engineering lol.

pyire
pyire

So another failure to blame at EA? We'll see I guess...

slim-jim69
slim-jim69

Wow can't wait till this comes out on the 360.......Oh wait.....

oliver1415
oliver1415

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

olthof
olthof

All this review talked about was the **** frame rate....

rob3nelson
rob3nelson

LOL. It'll be exactly like the Orange Box for the XBox 360 but with a slower frame rate.

mulletman39
mulletman39

I agree with 'aznhayato7' ....LOL @ 'flyingdutchdog' ....he got prwnd! =D ...uncharted is fantabulous & looks bloody gorgeous...& R&C looks like a pixar movie....alot of the recent games I've played also have amazing camera work so to speak....meaning I'd be sat there watching a cutscene...then all of a sudden the camera would slowly swivel as the cutscene ends then .......your playing!! =S/=O ...TRULY ASTONISHED! (here's looking at u uncharted! ;P) ...it never cut off once to go into in game!! ...seriously impressed (& I've used programs like 3D Studio Max at Uni...it's bloody hard to create anything that good (the graphics, movements & camera stuff, etc....) anyways, back on topic, canny wait for orange box still but valve have lost ALOT of my respect....considering Half Life is one of their few franchises....HOW (when they've already delayed the PS3 port) can they not be bothered to do it themselves?! ...YES the PS3's programming language/archetecture is different (i.e. NEW) or w/e BS reason they come up with...but surely a company this big should be able to learn a new structure of a system and produce a decent port....although admittedly the original xbox port had crap loads of loading AND slowdown, so I doubt the slowdown will bother me (so long as there isn't) TOOO much! BUT the fact that Gabe or w/e he's called & all his lazy fat workers cba to do it & thusly EA r having to port it! This is my main concern as, dispite being a big company, they ain't exactly the best...they just churn out alot of sports titles.... anyhoo rant over & (can't remember who said it but i agree) they should spend as long as is needed to make this game as good as possible/the other ports!

Vamenti
Vamenti

omfg PC's best ever FPS is now cross-platform what an insult. Microsoft will never buy out Half-Life 3 we will get it first on PC. You consoles kids stole GTA from us now you try to steal Half-Life! Consoles have no modding community to hell with you.

smak_1292
smak_1292

How does the game run on 360? Are there any problems? And if there are, which ones?

Hitamaru-homia
Hitamaru-homia

... It's only bad if you nit pick at it xD! But hey its jus Half Life 2...

mercenaryreaper
mercenaryreaper

I don't understand how a PS3 can't run Half-Life 2 flawlessly. The game runs just about perfect on even mid-range hardware. ------------------- You should understand, that the pc version has complete stops in order to load. My guess is that the ps3 version tries to have NO load screens, thus "streaming" the entire way. Thus, instead of loading at the beginning, the ps3 probably loads on the go, which might produce problems.

BlueBirdTS
BlueBirdTS

I don't understand how a PS3 can't run Half-Life 2 flawlessly. The game runs just about perfect on even mid-range hardware.

haesuse
haesuse

yeah this should not be released unless its fully functional on PS3, specially TF2. however if they do screw it up, there is always CoD4 to be played or wait for SOCOM: Confrontation!

sunkcontrol
sunkcontrol

don't release this game pleeeeease..not yet..get it right first.... i don't care how long i have to wait for it..as long as i have an enjoyable time playin it .... with all this slow down frame rate .... O i don't know i was looking forward to this game...F*^k it

lemec78
lemec78

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Martin_G_N
Martin_G_N

I wonder what people work at EA games?? When most people can make a game like Unreal Tournament 3 run smooth on the PS3, why can't EA make a game like HL2 run constantly at 60fps?? The HL2 engine isn't that hardware demanding, look at the PC version. And the same goes for the rest of the games from EA.....rubbish. Call of Duty 4 has 1080p, looks awesome, and runs smooth. And EA games can't even make a car game run smooth:P.

aznhayato7
aznhayato7

@flyingdutchdog You really do not know what you are talking about. Uncharted and Ratchet and Clank have better graphics than any game of its kind on the xbox 360. If you look at the reviews, like the New York Times, whose author has a degree in computer engineering, he said that he believes that xbox 360 can not achieve the graphical quality of Ratchet and Clank. Uncharted DOES have the same quality of ANY xbox 360 game. Its graphics are Gears of War like and just as good as Call of Duty 4. Everybody knows that the graphics of Call of Duty 4 are the same on both consoles. PC may be better because well its PC. So really, tell me which 360 games have better graphics. Dont tell me halo 3 because call of duty 4 has better graphics than that. And have you seen the Gran Turismo HD or Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Demo? They make Forza 2 look terrible both physically and graphically.

flyingdutchdog
flyingdutchdog

@tebbit: It ain't ... I have played Drake's Fortune and although it looks nice, it does not look better than most games on my 360 ... Ratchet and Clank looks great, but not to the degree were it out does anything on the PC or 360. Just play your games and enjoy them .... don't worry so much about what has more power ... you might give yourself a stroke.

Agermemnon
Agermemnon

I am suprised it's not come out for the ps3 yet are valve having that much of a tough time with it ?

Cirus2
Cirus2

How does HL2 slowdown?? my gfx card recently broke and been using Geforce 4 mx and runs ok a steady 40-50fps surely the ps3 has better?

GrimBee
GrimBee

maggamuffin - don't blame gamespot, blame eidos. They churn out a game, they pay gamespot a load of cash to put ads on there, but then when Jeff discovers that its not all that its cracked up to be - eidos then said "look, we can either get you to write a fake review and get people who read this site to be fooled, or we can sue you for everything you have - lost sales, etc". Eidos could basically hammer gamespot because they can make a case against them because of lost profits. Imagine them claiming $30,000,000 for damages... Eidos would make that money back, but Gamespot won't. Eidos know this, so this is why they have given gamespot the ultimatum of "either you change the review, or we will sue". As a result - Jeff probably want to do a disservice to the readers, he has been doing amazing reviews for years and I tend to agree on his reviews. Imagine if he just bit the bullet and then re-wrote the review.. His credibility would be long gone. So, Gamespot probably felt it was needed to give him the sack as an action to avoid legalities, and to make them out that they are not standing by Jeffs opinions. I take my hat off to Jeff for sticking to his words, because I would dissregard every review he had ever written if he just edited the review to intice more game sales. Reviews are free speech, but when advertising is involved with a large corporation, they end up getting websites by the crotch until they cough up. Jeff's sacking is just the result of Eidos churning out an average game, with alot of money put on advertising, his review would put a dent in their profits because his words are read by millions. This is a great shame, because now it is hard to imagine other reviewers standing by their own words for fear of getting sued or fired. I hope Alex N goes rock and roll on them!!! :D

Nedoq
Nedoq

Guys, you have to remember that any business, industry, whatever... their aim is to get the most profit they can out of their products. New technology such as the PS3 Always takes time to get use to, to develop games for it, etc. How Valve sees porting The Orange Box to the PS3 is that they will lose profit / make minimum profit or lose time they could have to develop a different game that will give them more profit than porting The Orange Box to the PS3. They chose to not port it because the end result is not beneficial to them... you have to see this in their point of view before forming conclusions.

maggamuffin
maggamuffin

EVERYBODY ATTENTION JEFF GERSTMANN WAS FIRED FOR GIVING KANE AND LYNCH A BAD REVEIW AND NOW THEY'VE BLOCKED USER REVIEWS FOR IT. I'M STRIKING ON USING GAMESPOT AND YOU SHOULD TO!!!!!

footfoe2
footfoe2

why couldent they play tf2. 3rd party companys dont know how to program on the ps3, as you should know its way more complicated and the companys put 4 ppl on formating it to the ps3 its going to have problems

OmegaNemesis28
OmegaNemesis28

The 360 has it's share of HORRIBLE frame-rate problems itself. Not to mention, it has nothing to do with Sony at all. It's EA and their HORRIBLE distribution team. CoD4 ran beautifully on the PS3, this goes to show that EA will work great on one game but not the other. And last time I checked, CoD4 was alot more graphically advanced then the Orange Box.