Image Quality: Still Foggy

As Ryan pointed out in his more timely piece, image quality under OS X is noticeably worse than under Windows.

The Mac screen shots are foggier for some reason and despite the fix that was applied to Portal, Half Life 2 Episode 2 appears to have worse texture filtering quality under OS X than Windows. This is more pronounced of a difference than what we saw under Portal.

Half Life 2 Episode 2 - Windows 7 - Click to Enlarge

Half Life 2 Episode 2 - OS X - Click to Enlarge

It looks like something is wrong with the AF setting, reverting to Trilinear filtering confirms my suspicion:

Half Life 2 Episode 2 - OS X - Trilinear Filtering - Click to Enlarge

But AF isn’t completely disabled. Using the Windows version for comparison it looks like Half Life 2 Episode 2 just forces 4X AF regardless of what you set the texture filtering option to:

Windows 7 4X AF


The sky and muted colors are still a problem and I can’t seem to find out the cause of that one. There’s some texture banding off in the distance in the sky that’s only visible in the OS X version.

The Performance Story Final Words


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  • tipoo - Friday, March 02, 2012 - link

    Yeah, the visual differences look similar to cross platform 360 vs ps3 games, the OpenGL render just seems to have a more washed out look. Reply
  • GTVic - Friday, June 04, 2010 - link

    The Portal comparison seemed to clearly show that the OS X version did not support HDR and I believe the perceived fogginess was actually just a lack of HDR.

    I'm not sure what's going on with this game but it looks like some type of distance related issue. In an outdoor setting, items further away are fogged to simulate a natural environment and items closer to player should be clearer and this is not happening. So that problem plus the lack of HDR results in the muted colours. In an indoor setting like Portal, there is no manipulation for distance so HDR is the only factor.
  • smartalco - Friday, June 04, 2010 - link

    Could you more closely compare AA levels between the two? I noticed in the Portal review that at 4x AA (at least I think that is what it was run at) OS X had better AA quality (I made a comment about that on the last story, but never got a response, I even have an image comparing areas side by side!).
    The screenies you posted I'm not so sure about, because the grenade and hand are about the only things close enough to get a good view of.
  • alreadystarted - Friday, June 04, 2010 - link

    I've never been big on FPS games, but having good games like Portal and HalfLife2 available for my OS of choice is great no matter what the comparison is to the windows versions. I played through Portal and am currently enjoying HL2 and if there are performance or quality issues I don't notice them. I do notice however that they are a lot of fun to play=)

    I'm really glad to have the opportunity to play good games like these for very reasonable prices. Worth every penny IMO.
  • Deusfaux - Friday, June 04, 2010 - link higher resolutions? Reply
  • mi1stormilst - Saturday, June 05, 2010 - link

    I remember the days when MAC had "superior" you? I also remember when that day ended and the shock waves it sent through the MAC stuff ;-) LOL! The also recently convinced Valve the KING of online gaming distribution to get Steam (8+ years old) working on a MAC...nothing like being cutting edge ehh? ;-) Reply
  • Penti - Sunday, June 06, 2010 - link

    The Source engine in question is used in current generation games from late 2007, 2008, 2009 but will also be used in next generation Valve games, Portal 2 will be release on Mac from the start for example. It's not simply third party ports and I expect them to improve. It gives the Mac the whole engine, SDK, and developing environment which some other parties will also use. As they will continue to work on the engine which powers these games and their upcoming titles it's not simply some port of old stuff. And just look at Starcraft 2. It has great interest and support for the Mac platform. From the start and not through some third party. As it's the current generation engine they port it doesn't warrant the crap you come with. It's the tech Valve will use and build on in the next couple of years. It's still a engine with life in it not some last generation abandoned one. It's not the 6 year old Half-Life 2 engine, it's the Orange Box engine which powers HL2, EP1, EP2, Portal, TF2, and newer meaning Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. Future Portal 2 engine. Future HL2: ep3 maybe. Source engine are shared among many games and it's not an old branch of it that's being ported. Allows them to release games for Mac from the start by maintaining a Mac branch of the Engine. An engine that's multi-platform today any way. Reply
  • Penti - Sunday, June 06, 2010 - link

    Besides this has already made other games available to the consumers like Unreal based games now available for the Mac. Like Killing floor from tripwire interactive. Steam is certainly a valuable contribution. Wouldn't have been for Valve in 2003 though. Reply
  • sebmel - Monday, June 07, 2010 - link

    MAC = Machine Address Code, a unique ID number used to address hardware on networks Mac = short for Macintosh, a different spelling of the McIntosh apple after which the OS was named Reply
  • FXi - Saturday, June 05, 2010 - link

    Gaming (and the lack thereof) is the #1 reason Macs are not more popular Reply

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