The Worst Port on the PS4 Pro
A 2009 game with an awful frame rate
I love Red Faction Guerrilla. It’s one of my favorite games of the Xbox 360/PS3 generation. It made incredible use of the era’s multi-threaded processors, pushing both consoles and PC’s with standard-setting destruction effects that are still impressive a decade later. That it ran as well as it did on console hardware from 2005 was shocking.
Recently, Guerrilla was remastered for current machines by Kaiko Games, a studio with a lengthy development history and a few other strong re-releases under their belt. They added new textures and effects, touched up the post processing and lighting, remixed the surround sound, and aimed to crank resolution and performance to levels beyond the previous generation.
Even at the bottom end of the power spectrum, the Nintendo Switch version turned out really well. It’s one of the essential ports on the platform, with two different graphics modes both offering reasonable performance sometimes pushing past 30 frames per second, and all of the new visuals created for this release.
On the much more powerful Xbox One X, users can choose between a 4K resolution locked at 30 FPS, or an 1800p resolution locked at 60FPS. Base console users aren’t left out of the 60 frames per second party either. Both the standard Xbox One and the standard PS4 target that frame rate at 900p and 1080p, respectively.
New graphics and great performance regardless of machine, what’s not to love? The answer is the PS4 Pro build. In a word, it’s atrocious.
I don’t know what happened here. I read Digital Foundry’s excellent article about this version months ago, and since it’s on PS Now I decided to check it out for myself. I hoped that the game had received patches in the wake of the competent Switch release. My hope was misplaced.
Like the Xbox One X and Switch releases, the PS4 Pro offers two graphics settings: High Quality and High Performance. Both offer the same upgraded visuals. Quality attempts to run at 4K and 30 frames per second, and Performance goes for 60 frames at about 1500p.
The “High Quality” mode shouldn’t even be in the game. It’s a train-wreck. A performance and optimization disaster of the highest order. From the moment you’re dropped into gameplay, it’s a stuttering mess. Framerates never hit a solid 30, even when you’re standing still and turning the camera a little. Engage in any sort of gameplay, whether that’s movement, combat, or destruction, and the framerate tanks down dangerously near the ten frames per second mark.
It feels completely unplayable in this mode. Red Faction Guerrilla relies extensively on fast-paced shooting action where you’ll need to make smart use of cover and destructive elements, and protagonist Alec Mason can die in just a few hits. Without a decent frame rate, the game feels sluggish and completely un-fun.
Things improve a little bit in Performance mode, but it doesn’t hit the 60 frames per second target. It’s at least playable, but the framerate is fully unlocked, varying wildly depending on what’s happening on screen and still dropping below 30 regularly.
It’s baffling how bad the PS4 Pro runs the game compared to the other versions. The game turned out great on every other system, and it simply screams on the PC. Perhaps the PS4 Pro was an afterthought? Or maybe there’s some kind of deep-level bug here that they didn’t have the time and money to fix? Digital Foundry discovered that forcing your Pro to output 1080p largely fixes the performance issues, so I’d guess that when it came time for optimizations the budget ran dry, and this version got left out.
Third party games need to run well on both PS4 consoles. The PS4 is effectively the current lead platform due to its massive sales lead, and the PS4 Pro isn’t known to be dramatically more difficult to work with. Most of the Pro upgraded titles on the market show obvious improvements.
Not so with Red Faction Guerrilla. It’s less consistent and less fun to play than the Nintendo Switch conversion, in spite of its higher resolutions. Both Dynasty Warriors 9 and Lichdom Battlemage suffered from similar bad performance issues at launch, but they were quickly patched up. Those were also brand- new games with demanding graphics engines, not decade- old titles with a light coat of new paint like Guerrilla.
This game is crying out for the dynamic resolution scaling mode from the Switch version, but I realize there’s probably no business reason to develop a patch. If you have to play this game, either play it in High Performance mode, or try to play on any system except for the PS4 Pro, if you’ve got any other hardware around. Just as with Borderlands 3, there’s no excuse for this level of performance on the most popular current console platform.