Xbox 360 Versus PlayStation 3 Graphics Comparison: Round 3

Check out how the latest games look on both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360.

by

A solid year's gone by since we ran our last Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3 graphics comparison. The differences between the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 have diminished with every passing batch of games, but some variation still exists between the two machines. Our first graphics comparison between the two consoles showed that the Xbox 360 looked better on most of the games, oftentimes drastically so. The second graphics comparison showed that the PlayStation 3 looked nearly as good as the Xbox 360 in some games, and actually looked better in a few as well. Now with both consoles well into their respective life cycles, developers have had plenty of time to figure out the nuances required to code beautiful games. With our third batch of games, the two machines seem evenly matched. The two trade blows on various games, each with its own set of advantages.

We've upgraded our capture equipment since the previous installments in the series. We captured all 720p images through an HDMI connection and then resized them for use in the article. The fullscreen shots are, of course, shrunk down to fit onto the Web page. The pixels in the zoomed-in shots are 1:1 representations of the original image captures, but cropped to fit our page width. We compressed the images slightly to make them more palatable for the Web, but they haven't suffered too much in terms of quality for it.

Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed is a great example of what a next-generation game should look like, with well-rendered environments that are nicely shadowed and filled with intricate details. The game looks beautiful on both systems, but we did notice that the Xbox 360 has sharper textures with better 3D-depth simulation readily noticeable in the flat cobblestone streets. Edges look great in both games, as do graphical effects such as shadows, smoke, and lighting. The extra time it takes to install the game on the PlayStation 3 doesn't seem to give the console any benefits over the Xbox 360 in initial or subsequent loads of the game.

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

The Orange Box

The Orange Box includes five games, but we stuck with the Half-Lifes for our graphics comparison. Half-Life 2 and all of its variants have been out on the market for quite some time, and the game still looks impressive on both the PC and consoles. The first image set is from Half-Life 2, and the second set is from Half-Life 2: Episode 2. The PlayStation 3 graphics appear blurrier in both games, due to either a lower overall resolution or low resolution textures. The difference feels like sitting in an optometrist's chair and flipping between two different lenses, one of which is clearly not the right prescription. Like with Assassin's Creed, the PlayStation 3 also lacks depth here in its textures, indicating a lack of normal mapping. That said, the PlayStation 3 seems to have a better antialiasing routine. The electric wires in the Xbox 360 disappear almost entirely, and the curbsides have decidedly more steps to them. Once again, we didn't feel that the PlayStation 3's hard-drive installation conferred any benefits over the load times of the Xbox 360. However, the clincher lies in the motion of the game, and the Xbox 360 has the PlayStation 3 beat hands down. Frame-rate issues mar the experience on the PlayStation 3.

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3


Grand Theft Auto 4

One of the most important games to come out in recent history, and certainly the one with the most clout in this batch of games, Grand Theft Auto 4 is a game that will make people buy a console if they don't have one. If there are any benefits present in either version, it might be enough to tip the scales when a late adopter is wondering which console to get.

Visually, the two games differ slightly. A large part of the difference emanates from their color palettes, which is evident regardless of weather or time of day. From the second set of images, on a technical level, the 360 renders the Ether billboard with better clarity, but then its falls behind the PS3 when it comes to cleaning up the checkered stripping of the Burger Shot. The PlayStation 3 also keeps up with its blurrier look, but it's not as apparent, considering that the game looks only slightly less blurry on the 360.

Neither of the machines run the game smoothly enough to confer an advantage, given that moving the camera quickly or speeding through the city makes both versions hiccup from time to time. The PlayStation 3 has a nearly 10-minute-long installation sequence, which helps slightly in terms of in-game loads. However, saved games take equivalent periods of time to load on both machines. If we had to definitively pick a version, we'd go with the 360's rendition of the game for its crisper visuals, but we wouldn't be dejected if we had to play the game on the PlayStation 3.

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3


Call Of Duty 4

Call of Duty 4, one of the most popular first-person shooters released in a while, provides fast-paced action in modern combat environments. The game renders war zones filled with derelict buildings, burned-out cars, and amazing environmental effects. Call of Duty 4 plays and looks great on both consoles, but each has its strengths and weaknesses. The PlayStation 3 does a better job of dealing with antialiasing and shadows, whereas the Xbox 360 provides a slightly more detailed environment with better textures and normal mapping.

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3


Burnout Paradise

The latest edition in the Burnout franchise doesn't disappoint on either of the consoles. The game looks largely the same on both, and we were hard-pressed to find significant differences. The PlayStation 3's images seem to be a bit blurrier than the Xbox 360, but it also looks cleaner in some areas. The differences are noticeable only if you zoom in and nitpick like this. If you're actually playing the game, none of this would be apparent because the backdrop of the game regularly turns into a blur of carnage and wrecked cars.

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3


Rainbow Six Vegas 2

Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is a clear-cut victory for the Xbox 360. The PlayStation 3 version of Vegas 2 lacks good lighting, forgets about normal mapping, and appears to have slightly lower resolution textures. The golden dragon is probably the most obvious example of normal mapping, but the issue pops up everywhere from the card tables to the carpet. And of course, the lights provided by the lamps don't look anything alike. The Xbox 360 provides lighting with deep dark and overbrights, whereas the PlayStation 3 has simple lighting of uniform intensity.

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3


Need For Speed Pro Street

Need for Speed Pro Street turns the usually informal racing series into a more, well, professional affair, with actual racing circuits, point systems, and racing events. Although the game may have taken a more professional stance, the graphics didn't exactly follow. The game doesn't look eye-poppingly great on either of the consoles, but the PlayStation 3 looks decidedly worse. The PlayStation 3 version comes with lazy shadows, fewer onscreen elements, and--in what seems to be the theme of the article--a blurrier look. You'll find shadows in both games, but the PS3 version doesn't bother to completely render the object's shadow. The sides of the track on the first set of images also lack many small details such as shrubbery.

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3


Madden NFL 08

In a way, sports-franchise games have it easy. They build the game once and tweak for the next release. From a screenshot perspective, the differences between the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions border on negligible. Aside from a marginally blurrier look on the PlayStation 3, the games look virtually identical. The players have similar shirt and pant folds, and the shadows match up completely. However, the Xbox 360 is considerably smoother in motion, given that it has nearly double the frame rate. The PlayStation 3 version of the game is more than playable, but the 360 definitely edges it out.

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Xbox 360 Playstation 3

Conclusion

After going through another eight games, we've found a few trends that follow both of these consoles around. Outside of Rainbow Six Vegas 2, our findings didn't show any drastic differences in image quality between the two consoles--nothing compared to what we found when we compared first-generation games in our original comparison feature. The PlayStation 3 generally lags behind the Xbox 360 in high-quality textures and the depth/normal maps that go with them. However, in the same games, the PlayStation 3 sometimes comes ahead with better shadowing and antialiasing. Games on the PS3 do tend to be blurrier than their Xbox 360 counterparts, but the PlayStation 3 games can look just as good as the Xbox 360 games when developers put some effort into it, as is evident with both Grand Theft Auto IV and Burnout Paradise. Overall, the PlayStation 3 outputs visuals that are either on par with the Xbox 360 or only slightly behind.

Discussion

6059 comments
MasterZoen
MasterZoen

The only real difference I'm seeing is whether the game was coded originally for one system or the other. I'll be interested in a system comparison of Mass Effect 2 and 3 on these systems because ME2 looked better on my PC than my 360. This tells me that graphics on both systems has fallen behind PC graphics. The blurriness could be abated on the PS3 by coding for the system first, and putting more workload on the Cell, but the RSX needs some tweaking to get the best lighting effects compared to the more common coding of the 360's Xenos chip since there is only half as much ram in the PS3. Frame rate issues are an important fix, and will probably requiring an increased lode adjustment to the sub-cores for the PS3. It's just like with computers, you need to develop drivers for each chipset and if you don't make the effort it only looks good on one. Developers should be able handle this with ease, but are probably just going with, "It's good enough."

Carlos161
Carlos161

X360 has more detail but PS3 isn't bad either

drumma1
drumma1

i think the main difference here is that the PS3 is slightly darker. In otherwords, theres practically no difference.

tonybendoni
tonybendoni

All of the screenshots are very similar although Xbox360>PS3 for this graphics comparison

travlr
travlr

They desiogn for the LCD ,which is XBOX360 and then port it to the PS3 what do you expect. If they designed it for the PS3 the 360 wouldn't be able to run it.

EvilGamerD
EvilGamerD

On the last pic, does the ps3 seem a bit blury. (Underneath altair, or is that loss of detail?)

darfnader
darfnader

To be honest though, it really just depends on what system you perfer, so stop being big babies arguing over toys and realise arguing won't get you anywhere.

Vikasgames94
Vikasgames94

in my opinion consoles are are good in terms of gaming but the technical problems in xbox holds it back but then again good graphics and better online keeps it there

A-84625
A-84625

@SalarianChemist - First of all I am going to school you on something very simple. If you are going to claim that the 360's GPU is better or "more powerful" than the PS3's, DO NOT USE the polygon count as your example. While what you say about the polygon count is true it DOESN'T even remotely matter because the PS3 & 360 will both run out of RAM, LONG BEFORE they even approach using 200 million polygons. So the extra polygons DON'T even remotely matter. In reality the 360's GPU is only slightly better than the PS3's, but the PS3's CPU being able to render graphics picks up the slack from your SLIGHTLY better GPU.

darfnader
darfnader

the ps3 is cool i mean with blu-ray the publishers could have a lot clearer image but they dont try hard enough but the xbox has a better operating system and it supports better textures i still think they are both tied, but the ps3 can have way longer games.

zombie100
zombie100

i think gamespot likes xbox than playstation... ): '

SalarianChemist
SalarianChemist

It's no surprise that the Xbox 360 version of Red Dead Redemption has better graphics than the PS3 version. After all, the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto 4 has better graphics than the PS3 version. For example, the Xbox 360 version of GTA4 runs with a native resolution of 720p while the PS3 version ran at only 640p. This provided the Xbox 360 version with much sharper graphics. Red Dead Redemption is a game where the graphics are significantly sharper on Xbox 360, and the graphics have far less aliasing problems on Xbox 360. This is obviously because the Xbox 360 GPU is more advanced in terms of polygon power and anti-aliasing techniques. Multiplatform games like this (where space is not an issue) almost always end up with better graphics, faster load times, and better online play on Xbox 360. The simple fact is that multiplatform games use an LCD (lowest common denominator) method in development. The Xbox 360 GPU can display up to 500,000,000 polygons per second, while the PS3 GPU can display only 275,000,000. This means a multiplatform game like Red Dead Redemption has a limit of 275,000,000 polygons in development. This pushes the PS3 to its limit, but it still leaves Xbox 360 with extra power in reserve. As a result, the developers are free to do things like give the Xbox 360 a smoother framerate or higher resolution (increasing the sharpness). A couple examples are All-Pro Football, which runs at 30 frames per second on the PS3, but 60 frames per second on Xbox 360. Another example is Soul Calibur 4; it had the PS3 as the lead platform and runs at 1280x720p on the PS3. However, the developers increased the resolution of the Xbox 360 version by 40% up to 1365x960p. Sometimes developers will actually choose to keep certain polygon details out of the PS3 version in order to maintain a smooth framerate. For example, in the Xbox 360 version of Bayonetta there are extra graphic details such as clocktowers that do not appear in the PS3 version. The reason for this is because if those details (made out of polygons) were to appear in the PS3 version it would result in either a loss of framerate or a loss of resolution. The developers of Bayonetta chose to keep the sharpness and framerate steady in the PS3 version, but they were forced to sacrifice detail in order to do it. As far as load times go, Tekken 6 is a game that was designed with the PS3 as the lead platform. It is identical graphically on both systems, but the Xbox 360 version loads faster due to the fact that Xbox 360 transfers data at a rate of 16MB per second compared to only 9MB per second on the PS3. Another example of loading is Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, which takes only three seconds to load each time you swap characters in the Xbox 360 version, but it takes a terribly long eight seconds each time you swap characters in the PS3 version. As far as Red Dead Redemption goes, both versions look great. However, there is no doubt that the Xbox 360 version looks better as a result of the superior GPU in the Xbox 360.

yukicore
yukicore

the key is darker shade and picture contrast and brightness. that's all. only thing that really, really matters is FP/S. i see xbox 360 has higher fp/s, but why?

yukicore
yukicore

I edited picture of ps3 versions on photoshop. only levels and curves. and i got even better results, so all that matters is color and what details creators of the game have added, like they've done with the game, they develop it on xbox 360, convert to ps3 and then they add some more details to xbox or ps3 version. i mean they like split up, there are testers for ps3 and xbox 360 and they just say what needs to be changed and stuff.

mercucio61
mercucio61

360 obviously allows for more detail and awesome graphics, the PS3's graphics just seem less detailed. If you want to see what I mean, look at the "Orange Box" screenies...the beam of light is basically just a beam of light, with the 360, you can see that that there are seperate streams of light flowing throughout the entire beam. And in Assassin's Creed, you can even see the folds in Altiar's robes in the PS3 version, this too is also less detailed than the 360.

MTMind2
MTMind2

@cwead13 To be honest I don't really understand what you're saying about 1080p, because the vast majority of games in Gamespot's graphics comparison features (all the rounds so far) are less than 1080p on both consoles (in fact, the vast majority of games in total for both consoles are 720p or less). There are one or two exceptions within these comparisons, but they were not the most graphically impressive games around. You're right there are overall more 1080p games on the PS3 (mostly PSN games), but there are native 1080p games on the 360 too. And regarding upscaling, the 360 has a built-in upscaler chip and therefore actually upscales better than the PS3, and anti-aliasing is something that varies from game to game on both consoles. But yes, I agree with your last sentence, these are just games. :)

MTMind2
MTMind2

@t0psecretx7 and @cwead13 Comparing exclusives (or the game with the best graphics on each) is not comparing like with like. Only multiformat games offers anything close to a like for like comparison. Haze was an exclusive FPS for the PS3, but so was Killzone 2, and yet Haze is nowhere near Killzone 2's quality. So why does KZ2 look so much better on the *same* console? Is it because the devs spent more time on the game? Did they have more money? Perhaps they had better programmers? Perhaps they understood the hardware better? Or maybe it's all of those things and more. So even when comparing different games from different devs on the SAME console, there are many issues which affect the quality of the game and therefore it tells us more about the devs than the console. Comparing different games across different consoles from different devs only magnifies this problem and therefore once again tells us more about the developers than the consoles.

cwead13
cwead13

I agree with t0secretx7... If you wanted a true test of graphical superiority, you should chose the best what is considered to be the best games graphically, sound-wise, and control system (my really rough, short list). I for one know the PS3 has a wonderful anti-aliasing system using the SPUs on Cell Processor, but the 360 attempts to solve the 'jaggie' problem by up-scaling the games resolution. Almost no 360 games are naively 1080p; rather they are up-scaled to appear 1080p and in return the 'jaggies' appear less noticeable due to the higher resolution. The problem is often-time the image suffers quality problems because it's not the native resolution. I'm sure everyone agrees that the native resolution is the cleanest, sharpest version. Just my two cents; I'd love to hear anybody's rebuttal. Remember these are games, so everybody have fun.

t0psecretx7
t0psecretx7

i think the best way to even consider comparing graphics is choosing the best graphic game for the xbox 360 and the best one for the playstation 3 and compare them because danny does have a point that the multiconsole games are limited to a certain size, therefore you can't add more pixels or textures to the game on the playstation 3, which is definitely capable of happening.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

Also most games are multi console anyway so the games on the PS3 are limited to the space on a DVD anyway because they can't cram extra story onto blu-ray because people with a 360 won't see it. I hate it when I hear the word xbox 360 or PS3 when I am with someone else because I know that within a few minutes everyone who plays games within ear shot will be over and trying to batter the hell out of the people with the opposed console. What is wrong with people. Just stop being immature and play the god damn games on which ever console you have. This comparison might go better if we had a vote counter on each image that we can click on to say which console we think is best for a given image, just a thought.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

PS3 Is very blurry in more pictures than it isn't. The PS3 seems to have the edge for detail of textures in a lot of cases but then it is ruined by the blurriness of the surroundings. In all cases there are examples of where the PS3 did it right for a particular game and ones where the 360 did it right. I guess in the end I don't think that either console is currently better than the other in terms of graphics because in these comparisons the differences were so small they are almost impossible to tell apart, and unless you stood still and compared both consoles together you would never be able to tell the difference while actually playing the games and in the end that is what we do with them. My preference is the xbox simply because I prefer the controller on the xbox, I think the online experience is superior to the PS3 and I think the PS3 has a lot of games I would never play on e.g. Little Big Planet, the new one with the web cam and the monkey! Also a lot of the selling points of a PS3 I'm not really bothered about, bigger hard drive for media, I have those things called DVDs. Blu-ray, yeah ok, it's modern and a good idea, but in order to utilize the graphics and space of a blu-ray movie you need a blu-ray compatable TV and I don't have several hundred pounds lying around to spend on a TV that I don't need.

pedrovieira123
pedrovieira123

@ izmickey Maybe because there is no way of comparing them to anything else? FACEPALM!

gabrielkipp
gabrielkipp

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

VengenceZero
VengenceZero

I think they should compare exclusives, since mutli-platform games are based on one console and ported to the other console. This game is based on the 360, and I hate they always port to the PS3 or vice versa

izmickey
izmickey

@melty3219 Yet all PS3 exclusives are superior. Get used to it.

Compuse
Compuse

To my idea the PS3 isn't loading all the textures correctly(seems to have certain shader problems), the picture is more blurry and mostly over-lightened(to much gamma) Weird, ..

AaEd123
AaEd123

yeah i told you they are making xbox 360 better so ppl can buy it but am gonna buy the both but the ps3 is always better than Xbox 360

HonorOfGod
HonorOfGod

@Zallomallo DUDE!! whenever you get to use a PS3 go to the menu and finde HD options and turn on Full Whites and RGB to full and you will see this comparison is a lie.

melty3219
melty3219

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Zallomallo
Zallomallo

The Xbox 360 looks more Aliased, but the PS3 has really shallow colors.

AaEd123
AaEd123

they are definitely with xbox 360 they are making it better X( X( X[

AaEd123
AaEd123

man that really become stupid why in call f duty modern warfare 2 the xbox 360 look brighter and the ps3 is not but here the ps3 become brighter and the xbox 360 is not this is wierd only if the ps3 was xbox360 pics here and the xbox 360 are ps3 pics am i right or wrong ?? see by yourself in modernwarfare 2 the ps3 is not brighter its really wierd !!!!!!

drill60
drill60

i think the ps3 just had the brightness up higher im looking at my it now on my ps3 and it looks way better

melty3219
melty3219

my god its like a bloody ghost down in here is there any comment here that is not marked as spam lol :P

penguins227
penguins227

Yep. Hacker. I have had all of mine be marked -10. Exactly. Where would I report this?

penguins227
penguins227

It's funny: I have looked through the "marked as spam" comments, and it seems to me there are quite a bit of very high quality comments hidden in there! Maybe it's all of the Ps3/360 Fanboy unions coming in as a group and marking them all as bad... who knows? :lol: Notice how almost ALL of the marked comments are exactly +0 and -10. Seems to me like a Union Raid, or a Hacker... having zero + points on very good, non-biased points, and EXACTLY -10 on dozens in a row.

penguins227
penguins227

LinuxOS137 had a VERY good point: "you know, most of these ps3 graphics problems can be fixed if you enable "super contrast", and "RGB HDMI FULL" in display settings. once enabled you will immediately notice deeper blacks, more colors and better shadows."

penguins227
penguins227

I love gamespot, but I must say, whenever they said (mainly for the game COD4) the difference is negligible, that is ALWAYS when the Ps3 emerges! Now, they need an article stating on the 46% failure rate of Xbox 360's, compared to the 13% failure rate of Ps3. Maybe they could write an article about how the Ps3 has FREE online, bluetooth, blu-ray, and FREE connection to wireless internet. Not to mention a much cleaner, more business-looking template for their menu system. Did I mention FREE ONLINE??

penguins227
penguins227

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

LordAragis
LordAragis

ps3 should look better in multiplatform games too but oddly thats never the case. only exclusive developers really try to suck the power out of the console.

thesovvolf
thesovvolf

There doesn't look to be much of a significant different between the two, not much to be causing all hate full comments below. I don't get some people.

1r3ap3r
1r3ap3r

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Darkno
Darkno

I own both systems and Assassins Creed on both, it was free with both lol. It is very easy for a real gamer to see the diffrence, and here is what I see here and what I see when I play both versions: Detail = 360 - Shading = 360 = Draw Distance = 360 - Fps = PS3 - Character Detail = 360 - Controls = 360 - Anti Aliasing = 360. But remeber this is just for Assassins Creed game, and the game is not made for the two consoles, it just depends on what the developers try harder for and the hardware for the game itself.

MTMind2
MTMind2

That's right LinuxOS137. People should ignore the brightness/contrast 'issues' because they are not issues, but instead focus on what is said about textures, detail, framerate etc.