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]