We're now getting onto our fifth installment of this feature, and with every passing year the differences between the consoles continue to melt away. When we first started this feature, the differences between some versions of games were astounding. Fight Night Round 3 looked drastically better on the Xbox 360 with its improved lighting and shadowing effects. The following year, the graphics on both platforms got considerably more even--Oblivion even looked better on the PlayStation 3. Every subsequent comparison pretty much ended the same, with the Xbox 360 getting the benefit of slightly higher-resolution textures and other marginal improvements that wouldn't be noticed unless the images were put side by side. We'll see if the trend holds true with some of the best games from this year.
We captured the following shots at 720p across both consoles directly over HDMI using the Matrox MXO2 Mini. We enabled full HDMI range on the PS3. Each game has six sets of rollover images. The first image is a full screenshot set resized to fit the width of the page, followed by a zoomed-in image set that we created by cropping the original screen grabs to show you how the games look at a 1:1 pixel ratio. The following images work in the same pattern. Mouse over the captions to swap the images back and forth.
Assassins Creed IIAssassins Creed II continues the trend we've seen with the Xbox 360 getting marginally better textures. You can see a bit more detail in Desmond's jeans, and the number 2 is considerably more clear in the Xbox shot. The Xbox 360 might also benefit from normal mapping, which gives the floor surfaces, the brick lines, and the door rivets a more 3D look.
Batman: Arkham AsylumBatman: Arkham Asylum is a fantastic-looking game on both platforms, and if you play it like we did (with Detective mode enabled 90 percent of the time), you'll never be able to tell the difference between the two versions. That said, from a technical standpoint the Xbox 360 benefits from higher-resolution textures, which you can see on the logo located on the guard’s arm in the first set of shots.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2Infinity Ward has done an excellent job with the game engine in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The game runs silky smooth and looks great on both consoles. Outside of a few blurry textures on the PlayStation 3, which can be seen on the gun stock and the ground textures, the two console versions look largely the same.
Dirt 2Dirt 2 certainly lives up to its name. With the amount of mud, sand, and possibly even good-old dirt flying around, whatever difference there is between the two versions simply gets buried. As is usual, the Xbox 360 benefits from more-detailed textures, but the difference in this case is exceedingly minuscule.
Dragon AgeIn a departure from the norm, the PlayStation 3 version looks cleaner because of its higher-resolution textures and the increased depth the textures get from bump mapping. While the Xbox 360 version looks worse, it definitely runs smoother.
Resident Evil 5Much like the other games, Resident Evil 5 looks marginally better on the Xbox 360. The improved textures and shadow resolution give the 360 the edge, even if it is a very small one. Look at the last set of shots and you’ll see that the rag shadows are fuzzier on the PlayStation 3, and the basket (along with other on screen elements) looks more detailed on the Xbox 360.