In Defense Of: 60 Frames Per Second

Last year, EA was pushing to take over the console shooter market with their latest installment to the Battlefield franchise. In Battlefield 3 (BF3), they showcased their brand-spankin’ new Frostbite 2.0 graphics engine. Truly, it was (and still is) a phenomenal advancement in next-gen gaming engines. In retaliation to EA’s shiny new toy, Infinity Ward (IW) touted Call of Duty’s (CoD) ability to run at 60 frames-per-second (fps) on consoles; twice as much as the normal 30 fps BF3 and most other games run at. Now, I’m an active CoD fan and at the time I could care less about the Battlefield series (for reasons I’ll discuss at a later date), but this claim by IW seemed very much like an, “Oh Yeah? Well…” remark. Seriously, all you can come back with is 60 fps? You do realize that the human eye can’t distinguish between 30fps and 60fps, right? Why do you think movies traditionally run around 24fps? This seemed like a desperate attempt to try and keep CoD as a legitimate franchise despite having a very aged engine.

Well, your eye can’t process information faster than 30fps, but your thumbs can. The human body’s nervous system receives and processes information at several hundred times faster than your eyes; there’s almost literally no limit to how fast you system works. Why should that make a difference? Because games that run at 30fps only process controller input information 30 times a second, and games that run at 60 fps process controller input at 60 times a second. This means that your hands can tell the difference between 30 and 60 fps even though your eyes can’t.

I learned of this actually not too long ago, so I decided I needed to test it out myself to see if it holds true. On one gaming outing with my brother-in-law I put both our tvs together and put Battlefield 3 in one and Modern Warfare 3 (MW3) in the other, and set the aim sensitivity in each game as close to the same as possible. I normally play with a Kontrol Freek FPS Freek stick extender to allow greater precision aiming but still use a normal 360 controller. I then went back and forth in both games with several different weapon types doing various drills of target acquisition at close, medium, and long distances, ducking in and out of cover and strafing stationary and moving targets. I did very little actual shooting as MW3’s and BF3’s actual gunplay mechanics are vastly different with BF3 favoring actual recoil and aim drift while MW3 simply sticks to bullet spread. This was simply to determine how well I could acquire and maintain a target with the aiming reticle. At close ranges, I didn’t really feel much of a difference. MW3 seemed more responsive than BF3, but only just. At medium ranges and farther, however, MW3 truly performed better than BF3. I was able to acquire and keep on targets (no matter who was moving) far easier than BF3, and getting on top of long range targets was much faster. MW3 really did feel more responsive than BF3, and I bet it has to do with the 60fps.

Now before someone starts a CoD/BF flame war, know this: I have put more than four times the amount of time on BF3 as I have MW3, and I love both titles. This is merely to point out that IW’s claim to 60fps is not a half-assed attempt to seem relevant, but a serious claim on the performance and tightness of their controls. Having tested this out for myself, I REALLY cannot wait for next-gen hardware to arrive that will allow more titles to run at 60 frames-per-second.

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  1. All I know is that I have a feeling the 60 fps is why I get so motion sick when I watch you play :/
    ~le Wifey~

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