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Xbox 360 Versus PlayStation 3 Graphics Comparison: Round 2

Find out how the Xbox 360 and PS3 compare in our latest graphics comparison.


It's been more than six months since we published our first Xbox 360 versus PlayStation 3 graphics comparison feature. Games on both systems looked great, but the Xbox 360 games had more polish. We found that the Xbox 360 edged out the PlayStation 3 with higher-resolution textures and better lighting. The result of the first comparison wasn't surprising--the Xbox 360 had been available for a year and developers were already cranking out second-generation games, while the PlayStation 3 had just arrived in retail with its first-generation games. We decided to check on a few games released in recent months to see if the PlayStation 3 has caught up to or overtaken the Xbox 360.

We took all our screenshots at 720p using component video cables. The Xbox 360's component output has more color saturation than the PS3's. Users can adjust TV display settings to account for the color differences, but we did not modify the color levels in the images because we wanted to preserve the original output as much as possible.

Armored Core 4

Armored Core 4 has a lot of wide-open maps for mech combat. The buildings don't have much detail, and there isn't a lot of clutter in the streets and other outdoor environments. That means there's less to distract you while you're busy looking out for enemy mechs. The game looks similar on both systems, but we did notice that the PS3 has sharper road textures in the first shot. You can see the traffic lines all the way up the street in the PS3 shot, but those same lines melt away on the Xbox 360. The PS3 had its own share of blurriness with the buildings in the background, but you could argue that it's a simulated camera trick designed to focus attention on the foreground.

Mouse over the default Xbox 360 image to see the PlayStation 3 comparison shot.

Def Jam Icon

Def Jam Icon has richly detailed maps that include several dynamic elements that move with the music. It was difficult to capture matching images with clouds rolling overhead, objects bumping onscreen, and rappers beating the crap out of each other, but we came close. Both games look fantastic. The only real difference we noticed was the Xbox 360's antialiasing. Compare the Xbox 360's clean cable lines to the jagged lines on the PS3. The porch railing in the second map also has better antialiasing on the 360.

Mouse over the default Xbox 360 image to see the PlayStation 3 comparison shot.

NBA Street Homecourt

It was difficult to spot graphics differences between the Xbox 360 and the PS3 in NBA Street Homecourt until we examined the character models in the cropped comparison images. Both games looked almost the same when we compared them on two HDTVs sitting side-by-side, but the PS3's player models appeared slightly grainier than the Xbox 360's when we took a close look at the screenshots. There's a big difference between sitting six feet from an HDTV and sitting a foot away from a computer monitor flipping back and forth between JPEGs.

Mouse over the default Xbox 360 image to see the PlayStation 3 comparison shot.

Virtua Tennis 3

The stadium objects in the PS3 image visually pop on the rollover. We can't tell which lighting style is more accurate, but it's a noticeable difference between the two games. One judgment we can make is that the Xbox 360 version has sharper textures. You can see it in the netting and in the Dunlop logo on the box to the right of the net in the third image set. The Xbox 360 players also seem to cast softer shadows on the court, while the PlayStation 3 has hard shadows.

Mouse over the default Xbox 360 image to see the PlayStation 3 comparison shot.


Bethesda delayed Oblivion for the PS3 from Q4 2006 to March 2007, but it looks like the developers made good use of that extra time to improve graphics for the PS3. The PS3's textures have more detail and stay sharp farther into the distance. We actually preferred how the 360's low-res ground outside the stables looked compared to the PS3's sharper yet bland-looking ground, but it could just be an artwork issue since the PS3 has better looking stonework in our city shot where both systems share similar base textures. Character models definitely look better on the PS3. The armor on the standing guard shows more intricate detailing on the PS3. Bethesda has indicated that it plans on upgrading the 360 version's graphics up to PS3 levels, but last week's 360 patch didn't seem to include any of the PS3's graphical improvements.

Mouse over the default Xbox 360 image to see the PlayStation 3 comparison shot.

Spider-Man 3

If there's one game that we expected would look better on the PS3, it was Spider-Man 3, but developer Treyarch didn't do Sony any special favors in the PS3 game based on the Sony Pictures movie. (Well, unless you're really into big trees.) Spider-Man's costume is much cleaner on the 360 compared to his PS3 outfit. However, the PS3 suit's softer lines do make Spidey's movements smoother. Several building details are missing on the PS3 in the first image set and in the ground view of the city. We're not sure what's happening with the traffic lines and crosswalk pattern on the PS3, but it could be a filtering issue similar to what we saw on the 360 in Armored Core 4.

Mouse over the default Xbox 360 image to see the PlayStation 3 comparison shot.

Major League Baseball 2K7

The system graphics are remarkably close in MLB 2K7, but GameSpot editor Aaron Thomas wanted us to mention that MLB 2K7's "frame rate on the PS3 was terrible compared to the 360." Looking beyond frame rate issues, we really had to nitpick to come up with graphical differences, such as the sharper grass textures and more detailed dirt around home plate in the 360 version. The outfield "405" distance marker is also sharper on the Xbox 360. Shirt logos on the fans, though blurry on both systems, are slightly more detailed on the 360.

Mouse over the default Xbox 360 image to see the PlayStation 3 comparison shot.


Our quick seven-game tour has shown that the PlayStation 3's game graphics are getting closer to the Xbox 360's. The Xbox 360 had an edge in texture quality and antialiasing in many of the games, but we didn't see any nasty lighting deficiencies like the ones we found in Fight Night Round 3 in the original comparison feature. Additionally, in what may be a hint of things to come, Bethesda's Oblivion proved that there can be a PS3 game port with better textures than the Xbox 360 version. The PS3's graphics win in Oblivion gives us hope that game developers will be able to produce competitive graphics if given enough time to work with the hardware. We can't wait to see how the games compare this holiday season!

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