So, The Hong Kong Massacre was released earlier this week to really positive reviews (ours is coming very soon). However, upon playing the game for a few hours, I encountered a few negatives which I would like to share – they aren’t technical issues or faults, just design choices which personally affected me whilst I was playing it on the PS4.
I thought it might be helpful to do a separate article highlighting these, catching up on the patch which Steam users received today, talking about the resolutions of the console version and also show off some 60fps footage from my PS4 Pro.
So, let’s begin…
My experiences with the game are based on the PS4 Pro and the base PS4, I’ve not played it on Steam but I’ve heard great things about the PC version – I expect that was the primary platform for the small two-man team of developers. The first thing I wanted to touch upon is something which will crop up in my review – the game has a lot of screen tear within it. This is visible on both the PS4 Pro and the base model. However, it doesn’t impact you that much unless you go looking for it as it’s most apparent when standing still and spinning around. I believe this is occurring to keep the framerate as high as possible. Thankfully, the developers are aware of this and are looking at implementing some kind of V-Sync process to either eliminate or reduce the tearing on the consoles.
One question I asked the developers, which I don’t think anyone else had, was what resolutions are the consoles running at. This may come as a surprise, but the base PS4 runs at a native 720p and the PS4 Pro runs at a native 1080p. Considering each area is a small enclosed setting with instances of tearing appearing on the screen, those resolutions were a bit of a shock to me. I would have thought the base unit was 1080p and the Pro was around 1440p – but I was wrong in my assumptions. Again, I imagine this is to keep performance at it’s best as you’ll have a lot of particles and debris flying around the screen whilst you dive over obstacles and slaughter the unworthy!
We also need to remember that VRESKI is a very, very small indie development team, with only two developers. So, optimising and enhancing may be a little hard, especially if they have any time constraints to work towards as well.
My first issue with the game, in general, is the reticule. On PC, you control this by moving your mouse and you have full-reign of the screen to get an accurate and split-second shots as you literally point-and-click on the enemies. On the PS4, with the DS4, you’re stuck with a reticule which spins around as you move the right control stick. This in itself isn’t a bad mechanic – a lot of games do this but for me, it felt like the reticule was too far away. There’s no option to set your own distance for the crosshair (closer to you would allow for faster aiming but maybe less accurate) or to use a ‘free-move’ option like some games have adopted where the right stick acts like a mouse would and lets you do some precise aiming.
Another option, which would be great for this game, would be if the developers could activate a mouse and keyboard mode for it on the PS4? The console already natively supports both devices but a lot of devs never activate it as it could give you an unfair advantage. In the case of The Hong Kong Massacre, we may get people with quicker scores on the leaderboard, but that’s the extent of the multiplayer.
My final issue is one which was actually resolved in today’s patch on PC: “Removed mouse slowdown in slow-motion, can be activated back with Legacy Aim in the menu.” When you enter slow motion, your aiming reticule also slows down and goes very sluggish by design. I actually ended up getting a cramp in my thumb for playing four hours of the game due to the slow-down aiming. It didn’t make sense that when you slow down to get an advantage, you actually lose the advantage because you’re also running slow like the enemies. Hopefully, we’ll see this update come to the PS4 soon!
So far, I’m really enjoying my time with The Hong Kong Massacre, even though I’m not great at it. Hopefully we’ll get the same updates Steam are getting, maybe with a few of the things I’ve wished for above? Also, if all you’ve taken from this article is the resolutions the game runs in, there’s more to games than the pixel count – the game tries it’s hardest to keep a high constant framerate, something I believe it manages to deliver.
Below you’ll find a video I’ve put together – it’s in 720p (but recorded from a PS4 Pro, so 1080p downsampled) so that I could keep the recording framerate at 60fps with my capture card. So, ignore the quality of the visuals, as the 720p downsampling didn’t do it any favours, but you’ll see how the game performs in a 1:1 situation – which is the most important aspect in this type of game. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or Tweet me on Twitter.