Do you remember back in 2005, there was a stink about PGR2 and Perfect Dark Zero not running at a full 720p? They are rendered at a lower resolution, and then upscaled to 720p (or whatever resolution you have your 360 set to). So here we are, almost a full 2 years later, and the consoles biggest game even suffers from the same affliction. The smart people at the Beyond3D Forums got out their digital cameras and started counting pixels, and this is what they found:
Now before you call shenanigans, let me explain how this works. This has been confirmed using multiple stills from different sources. Here is how the math goes: Each “step” in a jaggy alias line equals one vertical pixel at the images native resolution (for angles beneath 45 degrees). In this example there are 16 steps in the jagged line. This means in the native rendering, there in a 16 pixel height difference between step 1, and step 16. This picture was taken on a 720p native LCD, running Halo 3 at “720p.” So when you have an alias line with 16 steps, there should be a physical height difference of 16 pixels. But instead here, there is an 18 pixel height difference!
What this means is the native image is only 16/18, or 88.88% (repeating), of the 720p outputted image. That means Halo 3 is only internally rendered at 640p, and the image is upscaled by the 360 to 1280×720.
More examples (on a 1080p display, so the math is slightly different)
Running at only 1138×640, that means there are 728,320 pixels. That’s a full 193,280 pixels LESS than 720p. In fact, it is even less pixels than your very average 1024×768! Hardly what anyone would consider “high-def.”
Again, these conclusions are not just being drawn from this one image. It has been verified on multiple displays running in 1:1 mode. When an LCD is running in 1:1, that means ever pixel in the image is mapped to it’s own pixel on the display. In every instance it is conclusive that Halo 3 is running at precisely 640p. This of course does not change how much fun the game is, or even how good it looks… even if we’re getting robbed of a few (hundred thousand) pixels.
On the bright side, Halo haters can no longer call Halo 3 “just Halo 2 graphics in HD.”
Side note: Before anyone accuses me of Halo hating… I’m enjoying the game thoroughly. I just think it’s sad the 360′s flagship game isn’t even running in high-def, let alone with anti-aliasing. I’m not a graphics whore though, and I still believe gameplay comes before graphics… but come on. Don’t put 720p/1080p on the box, and tell us everything on the 360 is in HD.