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Alien: Isolation’s Crisp Switch Port May Actually Surpass the PS4 Version

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If you’ve never played Alien: Isolation, then you might want to consider picking up the Nintendo Switch version. It’s out today, and our colleagues at Digital Foundry have determined that it’s “actually better than the PS4 and Xbox One versions.”

John Linneman’s report and video on the subject go into great detail about how Feral Interactive’s Switch port of Alien: Isolation manages to outclass the current-gen versions that originally shipped in 2014. The biggest advantage that the Switch version has over the PS4 version is image quality. According to Linneman’s tests, it comes down to how Feral employs a more up-to-date anti-aliasing technique.

As Linneman explains, it’s so superior that even though the Switch version regularly downshifts to lower resolutions, it still outclasses the PS4:

I’ve been arguing that pixel counts simply aren’t as important these days and that’s for good reason. While the PS4 and Xbox One versions are locked at 1080p, the Switch version is substantially cleaner in motion. This is due to a reliance on more modern accumulation temporal anti-aliasing. This approach massively reduces in-surface aliasing and edge shimmering to the point where it looks flat out better than the original console release, even if it is running at a higher pixel-count.

Temporal anti-aliasing, or TAA, is new to the Switch version of Alien: Isolation, whereas the older current-gen console versions use subpixel morphological anti-aliasing, or SMAA. If you’re an expert on all things anti-aliasing technology, then this is enough to tell you why the Switch version of Alien: Isolation looks better in theory.

If you find the anti-aliasing options on PC games to be utterly bewildering, have faith: last year, Digital Foundry made a standalone video that’s dedicated to the progression of different anti-aliasing technologies and the differences between them. The relevant section explaining the advantages TAA has over SMAA starts at around 9:15.

For the sake of learning (it’s fun) and, generally, appreciating games, you should take the time to watch these analyses and learn about how far anti-aliasing has come over the years. Then, as a reward, you can play whichever version of Alien: Isolation you like and end up scared out of your mind regardless of the AA employed. In addition to the $34.99 Switch version which includes all the game’s DLC, Alien: Isolation is still easy to pick up for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One (where it’s a Game Pass title).

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