Why Gran Turismo PSP Looks So Good

gran-turismo-psp-unaliased

Although many people debate the exclusion of “career mode” in Gran Turismo PSP, it’s generally considered one of the best-looking games on the portable console to date. When you look at some of the static screenshots, though, it can appear rough or “jagged” around the edges (like above), but sure enough – when you play the game or see it in motion it looks much more impressive. Why is that? Keep reading to find out…

The jagged edges are formed by an effect known aliasing, apparent in all computer generated graphics. To make it less obvious, anti-aliasing algorithms are used to “smooth” out these edges so they look better on your screen (learn more about anti-aliasing here). The downside to this technique is, of course, an increased load on the GPU – something which the PSP cannot afford. For Polyphony Digital to achieve their goal of 60 frames-per-second without aliasing ruining the visual quality of the game, they had to use a more unusual technique, uncovered by user Dopefish at Beyond3D.

It’s surprisingly simple: the screen’s image is shifted back and forth by one pixel for each frame. Slowed down (a lot), the image looks something like this…

gran-turismo-psp-anti-aliasing-technique-slowmo

At 60 FPS, it will look like this to your eye…

gran-turismo-psp-anti-aliased

Hopefully other developers will catch on to Polyphony Digital’s technique, with better-looking portable games as a result. Nice work, guys.

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Comments (45)

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  1. FlareKR

    It’s still jagged to my eye, BUT A LOT LESS THEN ALL THE OTHER PSP GAMES. Hey, you can’t fix what’s totally stunted, so you work the best you can. Very smart PD!

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  2. robert

    i really dont care what ign say anyways coz they are full of themselves…..im enjoying this version of gt just as much as 1 2 3 4p 4 and 5 so end of the day there opinion means little to me….. and yeah the graphics are amazing considering the processing power of the psp…. congrats to PD

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  3. Rick

    don’t listen to ign’s complaints of “No career mode” They should grow up. but other wise the cars in the game imo, look BETTER than in GT4!

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  4. Methroix

    Actually this method of applying anti aliasing isn’t something new, at least not in computers.
    It’s called Temporal Anti Aliasing and was first introduced to the mainstream by ATi a few years back I think. Basically what it did (and still does) is compute two different AA sample patterns and switch between them every other rendered frame, much like what you see above.
    The downside is ofcourse that you need constant high FPS in order to avoid flickering edges, which probably is why the technique never really took off.

    Having said that it’s great to see how cleverly the technique has been adapted by PD. I haven’t seen it in real life, but the images above speak for themselves.

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  5. fritter

    That’s awesome, it looks like a still picture for the 3rd one. A still picture with anti-aliasing :P

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  6. lainlives

    hmm it seems to disable this and limit fps at 30fps at 222mhz, it looks very ugly if you set the cpu freq to 222

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  7. un_peacekeeper

    @jbthbt

    That wouldn’t be motion blur. It is not intentional, but rather just the ghosting of the PSP LCD screen…have you ever tried playing Grand Theft Auto on the thing…it’s gruesome.

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  8. jbthbt

    The only graphics gripe I’ve had concerning GT PSP is the motion blur that occurs of the other cars. Oftentimes when I brake or turn sharply, the other cars and track edges will blur making it difficult to discern where the apex is, or the exact location of the other car itself. That being said, the graphics and gameplay are head and shoulders above any other PSP racing game I’ve tried. I expected to hate it because of the lack of career mode, but I’ve been pretty hard at it for a few weeks now.

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  9. Wolfer

    FyreandIce: AA is not more effective, but looks more nice for sure. But that doesn’t mean they can’t combine traditional weak AA with this in gameplay (becuase the replays runs usually in 30 fps) as it consume almost nothing out of processing power. That could look impressive in motion.

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  10. Devedander

    Interesting… so it’s like progressive interlacing @_@ I am amazed at how well it works, I have never noticed anything odd looking while playing that would relate to this. Big Thumbs up to PD for using this technique to get the great graphics!

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  11. FyreandIce

    Very interesting idea.

    Wouldn’t really work for hd games on consoles though.

    AA is far more effective.

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  12. IMD1

    Nice idea but it can’t be applied to games just because a developer feels like it. Since GT PSP is locked at a 60fps limit we don’t feel any irratation from the shifting screens(or rather anything significant to complain about). A 30fps would be more noticeably irritating on the eyes if there were screens being Very few games run at 60fps on the psp to make use of this properly. I still gotta give them props for making it run so nicely. I was surprised when I started playing it because it was a lot less aliased then the screenshots made it out to look like.

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  13. HaVoK_

    Was playing last night on my break in the ER and still it amazes me how good the graphics are in GTPSP. Funny how before GTPSP, i hadn’t even touched the PSP for almost 2 years. Now before i go off to work it’s almost second nature taking the PSP + charger :) Thanks PD for an excellent handheld experience.

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  14. Loren

    The jaggies are still totally visible in GT PSP if one looks closely.

    The PS3’s GPU can handle anti-aliasing fine if software uses it properly.

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  15. Hernan

    Very nice but in some tracks the game looks kind of messy, you can see white lines between some track textures ala PS1.

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  16. Praggia

    Blah blah blah
    so we go on and on and on. Nitpicking is what everyone is so good at hey!!!
    You wanted GT for PSP
    You got it we never expected it to be perfect but you got a whole lot more than any other racing title out there

    If you like it, cool. If you don’t ? DEAL WITH IT

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  17. PWRex

    Ok they’ve faster accleration also in reality ok (I didn’t know that sry) but it’s still unfair i can’t win a race so i made the settings so that i race 3 minoltas not nice but necessary to have fun with the game so maybe i’m a bad player but it’s still sad for me…

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  18. abcaa

    a lot of people forget that you have only 2 cars in GT4 Dirt/Snow tracks but still maintain 4 cars in GTPSP dirt/snow tracks.

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  19. PWRex

    I like GT PSP but I reached a point in the game i want to sell the game an this is driving a group c car (minolta toyota) and have no chance to win. I can drive nearly perfect and i will loose by 5 seconds… i have to race 3 ferrari F2007 (which are faster which i trouve very unrealistic because i don”t believe that formula cars are faster than le mans cars not even in acclerating) i mean it’s destroying the whole fun of the game and really don’t to play it anymore an i have only 14 cars or so… in GT4 Group C cars were a reason to play it in GT PSP it’s a reason to throw the game at the wall and destroy it, my love for this game is past thank you polophony to destroy my dream of a good GT PSP even though i didn’t missed a career mode…

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  20. lainlives

    that blur in the distance is normal, the psp dont have much power to do antisotropic filtering

    thats a filter for such purposes

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  21. snicker3s

    @ Wolfer : Isnt your first sentence a contradiction??? (Since purpose of AA is making things look better).

    Combining traditional and temporal AA does not make sense (In traditional AA you calculate perfect color to fill the jaggies, why would you mess with perfection doing extra operations using temporal AA).

    Temporal AA is indeed less intensive since you can leave the expensive alpha blend calculation behind, but I wouldnt say its almost costless. 60 fps + temporal AA = Pretty impressive stuff. Anybody knows other games doing this??

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  22. CaptCalvin

    Sure, the game’s graphics aren’t mind-blowing (although they do at some points), but over all, the graphics are some of the best on PSP.

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  23. Shokz

    I’ve got to say the graphics in GTPSP don’t actually look amazingly good… Sure, they’re better than a number of racers on the PSP, but they’re most certainly not the best.

    Let’s just say i wouldn’t have thought about asking the question in the title :/

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  24. Wolfer

    @snicker3s: I admire that I didn’t think it through, it was just a basic idea. Maybe there is a way to achieve something similiar. It’s PD after all…

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  25. Methroix

    @snicker3s:
    In the PC world it used to be just a simple registry tweak away to getting it in all games supporting normal AA.

    In theory using 2xTAA (Temporal Anti Aliasing) will give you the same benefit as using 4xAA, but with a lesser performance hit. Although TAA only moves the AA sample pattern, so unlike the PD implementation you wouldn’t suffer from blurred textures. On the other hand it doesn’t provide free AA for the Alpha channel (also known as Transparency AA) like PD’s solution does.

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  26. AyJay

    My only problem with the graphics is how the textures seem to only become clear (ie the lines on the track) once they are close to you, they are noticeably blurry in the distance. Also, I can see small “gaps” in the track, of where the sections of track join, but they don’t quite meet completely or something. I’ve noticed this a lot on the Test Track’s high speed ring, probably cause there’s not all that much else to look at :p

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  27. mk1992

    (first comment!)

    Yeah they really got the best out of the PSP, lets hope they do so with the PS3 too!

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