Last week we took an in-depth look at the PlayStation 4 beta version of the upcoming stealth action game from IO Interactive, Hitman. We were quite impressed with the PS4 version and for the beta, the game was running quite well except for a few hiccup in frame rate and optimization issues. The PS4 version has pristine image quality and the native resolution of 1080p certainly helped matters. Having said that, we were quite excited to get our hands on the PC beta of Hitman and see how it turns out.
Hitman Absolution on the PC was quite the looker when it launched in 2012 and hence we had high expectations from the PC build of Hitman. Before we jump into performance parameters, what kind of graphical settings does the game provides? For a AAA game, Hitman does not pack a ton of options, compared to say something like the Ubisoft’s The Division. You can adjust the shadow resolution, shadow maps, anti-aliasing up to SMAA, SSAO, Level of Detail, Texture Quality, Texture filtering up to AFX16 and Super Sampling. The addition of super sampling is quite interesting. Sliding it all the way down makes the image blurry but if you slide it all the way up, you may face performance issues depending on your hardware.
For some odd reason there is no definitive ultra-setting in the game, with many of the options only limited to high. Also it does not seem like the beta is utilizing the DirectX 12 build, as we were expecting it earlier. It’s not clear whether a DX12 patch will come at launch or sometime later. Overall the graphical options are okay. Personally, I am a tad disappointed. They are not as exhaustive as I would have imagined but I suppose that complain is out of place given this is a beta.
What matters is the performance and we ran the game on a Radeon R9290 4GB GPU along with an AMD FX 8350. This is also the same hardware specifications which the developer has listed as recommended. Performance was pretty bad during the game’s 1st tutorial. The engine was struggling to run the game at 30 fps during many occasions and when the player entered a crowded area, the frame rate dropped. I imagine the situation is similar to Assassin’s Creed Unity wherein the game struggled to run well during the crowded sequences but the beta is not set in an open world, so it’s disappointing to see performance issues. During the second training sequence which takes place during the night, frame rate was fairly stable and we averaged around 50-80fps for most of the sequences. Interestingly the second sequence does not have a lot of crowd and this is perhaps one of the main reasons behind a fairly decent frame rate. This also goes to show that you need a fairly solid CPU to run this game at a 60 fps.
Switching our specifications to GTX 980 and i7 5960x drastically improved performance. So the morale of the story is that the game desperately needs optimization. The PC version essentially needs two things desperately. First, a frame rate capper, something we saw in The Witcher 3 and secondly, revamped graphical options. At this point and with this limited set of graphical parameters, Hitman on PC isn’t looking like a very scale-able game. Fortunately, you can cap the frame rate of the beta, using these instructions [Note: We haven’t verified the instructions so use them at your own risk].
So how does the PS4 version stacks up against the PC build? Well, the differences are expected. The anti-aliasing largely seems to be similar with extra layer of refinement on the PC due to extra samples it can utilize, shadows and textures are crisper and the PC supports better texture filtering.
It will be interesting to see how IO Interactive builds from here. The game is due in a couple of weeks and it kind of seems unlikely they will be able to optimize performance on both platforms unless they set a frame rate cap on the PS4 version and have variables to play around with on the PC.
As usual, it must be noted that this is the beta build and things can always change in the final build. We will report back with our final analysis when the game launches on next month including a look at the Xbox One version.