How Does The First Quad Core Tegra Tablet Handle Gaming?

Having spent an extensive amount of time playing games on a dual core Tegra 2 Android tablet, I can only imagine how much better gaming must be on the new quad core Tegra 3-powered Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime. Why? Because I don't have one. Joanna Stern at The Verge does, however, so we'll let her tell us how it games.

Slimmer and sexier than its predecessor, the new Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime splits its time between being a powerful computing machine, a capable camera device, a gaming platform, and confusing fans of the Hub network's latest transforming robots cartoon. You might remember me playing a game called Riptide GP on a (sadly borrowed) Motorola Xoom. That was two cores. What can four cores do?

It is here that the performance and those extra cores really shine. When we received the tablet, we also received a review packet that's actually thicker than the tablet itself. In it, Nvidia outlines exactly how Tegra 3 makes the bundled games more beautiful, more detailed. And Nvidia's absolutely right; compared side-by-side with the standard version on Transformer, ShadowGun looks markedly better. The Transformer Prime tech demo (taken from the second level of the full game) adds steam effects to the loose pipes, more detailed textures, and an entire miniature lake to show off the water physics engine. You can wade through the pool - after clearing the area, of course - and watch the ripples. Although the lighting is also supposed to be better, I didn't find that to be as noticeable.

Several companies have already prepared games that harness the power of the Tegra 3, though it seems like the bulk of what Joanna and company got to play were little more than glorified tech demos.

If you were reading carefully, you'd notice a key phrase there: "tech demo." All the titles that really harness the Tegra 3 processor are either unapologetic technology showcases or abridged versions of a full game that show off the potential of the platform (Riptide is the most fleshed and definitely a fun jet ski racer). Make no mistake, the games are beautifully detailed and the frame rates are smooth (exception here being the slow down during Nvidia's own Glowball), but outside of these demos, the real games don't yet benefit from the added power. And they probably won't until more games are optimised - and that's going to be a slower process. As of today, Tegra 3-optimized versions of Riptide, Zen Pinball, and Sprinkle are available in Tegra Zone app. ShadowGun will hit in the next couple of weeks, while DeVinci and Bladeslinger are promised by the end of December.

So far it looks like the usual suspects — the same developers that came out to support the Tegra 2 initially — are the ones jumping on the early Tegra 3 bandwagon. Hopefully the power of the new quad core CPU and features like native controller support will lure more big-name developers and publishers to the Android side of mobile gaming.

Asus provided us with a $US40 Logitech USB gamepad, but the Prime also supports wired Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 controllers - even the Wii remote (configurable via the NV WiiMote app). The supported games work well enough, but we didn't have a lot of customisation options - no look inversion or look sensitivity adjustments in ShadowGun, for example.

Give it time. Now that the tools are readily available, I predict we'll be seeing a rush of console-quality gaming experiences heading to devices like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime in the near future.

Hit up the link below to see what Joanna thinks of the tablets less gaming-centric features, while I hastily amend my Christmas list.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime review [The Verge]


Comments

    Is it just me, or are these Android tablets moving too fast? It seems like there's hardly any good Tegra 2 games out for the original Transformer, Iconia Tab, Xoom and so on, yet here we go again with a new tablet. Having so many options is probably enough to turn certain consumers off. At least with the iPad you know what you're buying will be the top dog for a year. I bought an Iconia Tab a few months ago, but feel like I should try to sell it off asap with the next wave sure to hit soon. Sigh.

      Yeah android phones move too fast as well. I got a Samsung galaxy s2 and now they are about to release something like it with bigger screen (resolution and size).

        Android has a great pace because it innovates quickly and there are a range of devices for different audiences. The Galaxy S II is almost a year old and will still be supported with firmware updates.

        You shouldn't be concerned that the Galaxy Nexus has come out because it shouldn't affect how you use your device now either. Demanding an artificial limit on how many phones can come out because you want to visibly own the latest gadget is more of an Apple thing.

      I know it was probably a bit of a troll, but is the iPad/iOS situation really any different? We've had iPhone 3, 3GS, 4, 4S all come out annually, and iPad, iPad 2 on an annual schedule. Apple fans know that iPhone 5 is coming soon, and so is the iPad 3. Apple are just as aggressive with their pushing of "improved" products that perform better.

      You also have Windows 7 and Windows 8 tablets and phones coming out next year, not to mention the Amazon tablets are eating marketshare too. Then there are the upcoming Ultrabooks. The tablet/ultrabook/mobile marketplace is going to be incredibly crowded next year and anyone who doesn't keep striving to be on top will rapidly be pushed out.

    The funny thing is, despite all these 3D accelerated Android devices coming out, the majority of popular mobile games are still 2D (Or low poly 3D), simple button/touch affairs and I'd hazard a guess that only the more hardcore (as much as I hate the term) gamers will be interested in the Tegra 3 powered devices purely for games. That and there's very few decent games in the Tegra Zone right now and the Sony Android Zone (or whatever it is) hasn't launched yet.

    It will be interesting to see what happens when the Vita, a machine at half to a third the price and dedicated to gaming but still running all the social and media apps people use often, comes out. I have a Transformer TF101 with the Tegra 2 and I hardly use it for gaming. Mainly because I have too many devices that I can play games on already and my tablet is usually only used for media and browsing.

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