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There has been some discussion about the recently released demo of Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction for the Playstation 3 on the well known gaming forum Neogaf. A very select few have been having some visual troubles with the game, resulting in a pixelated mess on their HDTVs. This is surprising, since most who have experienced the beauty of Insomniac’s game can see that it is very sharp and pretty damn special to say the least. So what is going on here?

On some 1080p HDTV’s Ratchet and Clank appears to be pixelated, or in the best possible words – a garbled mess. Now reports of this have been few and far between, but it seems that although being a 720p game, when 720p is selected on the display options for the Playstation 3 the game does not appear as it should on some HDTV’s (a 52inch 1080p Sony Bravia is one of the mentioned televisions). When 720p is unchecked, leaving only 1080i and 1080p the picture in fact clears up but at the bottom-right of the screen is a block of broken up, fuzziness.

What could be the problem? Well some research has been done at the Beyond3d forums, suggesting that Ratchet and Clank is 704p or 704by1280 pixels instead of the regular 720by1280. This is unlike the Halo 3 problem of being a 640p image (or even Conan at 576p) being upscaled to 720p (and higher) since Ratchet and Clank is not upscaled by the Playstation3.

Upscaling from 640p to 720p would cause some strange exaggeration of aliasing, and other minor problems with picture quality. Instead, Ratchet and Clank cuts off 8pixels above and below, meaning the remaining image will still be rendered at 720p but with small black bars above and below, such as you would see when you watch an HD film on your television. A 1080p film will have black borders above and below, thus not using all the pixels, but the quality that is displayed still means it is 1080p. Ratchet and Clank is even less extreme than this, since the black borders would be almost unnoticeable if your HDTV didn’t use overscan to remove them completely. This image is sent from the Playstation to your television, and then the overscan of your television will make the final picture fit the screen, thus not showing the black bars.

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Ratchet and Clank being 704p is thus a clever way to save some pixels without impacting visual quality, for Ratchet and Clank is so gorgeous to experience, especially at 60fps, that you will double check to make sure you are not playing through a Pixar film. But could this be a problem for some 1080i/p HDTV’s? It’s not clear if it is, but it could be due to these televisions upscaling from 704p without overscan.

Whatever the problem is, Insomniac seems to be keen to get it fixed for every HDTV out there. While we have yet to confirm that the following is indeed from an employee of Insomniac, it appears that one One of the Insomniac team members has personally posted on the Neogaf forum asking exactly what the trouble is. If it is a member of Insomniac, it would be This is proof of just how down to earth the developer is.

“Hey guys,

Can you send me any brand/model numbers of TVs you have if you are having issues and what the issue is, plus what settings you are running (screen caps are helpful too).

We believe the lower right corner garbling issue appears to only be happening with 1080i/p output forced and with no-overscan. The vast majority of people shouldn’t experience it, and we highly recommend ensuring your PS3 has 720p output enabled as RCF will look best at that resolution and it should correct the issue.

If you’re having the strange pixelation issues, we want to try to replicate that here. We’ve never seen it in-house on all of our various HD sets, and knowing what TVs we need to track down would be helpful.

Appreciate your help
JS”

So let’s hope Insomniac gets this fixed for those that have the problem, otherwise some sorry sods will be missing out on one of the best looking games the Playstation 3 has to offer.

(Note: Insomniac has not confirmed that the game is rendered at 704p.)

Sources: Neogaf, Beyond3d

Update – 10/16 7:36 PM EST
The poster on the Neogaf board has been confirmed as an actual employee of Insomniac. Well known to the board, and featured in several of Insomniac’s Podcasts.