PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 Graphics Gap Will Start To Widen
We really have to look at history if we wish to become educated on...well, on anything. Granted, business can be fickle and Sony and Microsoft have switched roles in more ways than one in this new generation, but we can only go by what we've learned in the past. And if we examine the previous generation, one should compare the graphical leap shown on the systems.
Now, if you compare PS2 launch titles to later games like Final Fantasy XII, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Gran Turismo 4, and God of War II, it's like you're comparing titles on two completely different platforms. The reason for this, as everyone already knows, is because developers had a terrible time getting accustomed to the new architecture. They complained bitterly at the launch of the system, so it's no surprise that it took five or six years for the PS2 to start pumping out the truly brilliant-looking games. Now, these same developers complained in much the same fashion when the PS3 launched, but this time around, Sony appears to have offered much more in the way of help to third-party developers, and first-party developers are really excelling.
In direct comparison, we can't say the visuals in late-gen Xbox games looked that much different than Halo, and again, the reasons are obvious: developers loved how accessible the system was, and many claimed to be able to access much of the system's capability from the start. Again, that same thing happened with the 360, which is why we really haven't seen anything too massive in the way of visual leaps. Sure, Gears of War 2 looks amazing, but not significantly more amazing than the original. And some studios are even claiming they've already maxed out the 360, which you can choose to believe or not (we won't comment; we're not developers). On the flip side, Killzone 2 is absolutely the best-looking game of the generation (just trust us on this), and Guerilla has said they have not gone as far as they can with the PS3. Combine this with David Jaffe's comments concerning what he has seen of God of War III, and what we can probably expect in terms of visuals from other exclusives (Gran Turismo 5, Heavy Rain, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, etc.)...and well, it seems quite clear.
From here on out, you will see the visual gap between the PS3 and 360 widen. It's basically inevitable, as Sony and more importantly, developers, have been saying since the start of the generation. Multiplatform titles will probably continue to look mostly the same across both consoles, but it's becoming clearer that if you let devs off the chain and dive into the PS3 without having to worry about the 360, they can really create something dazzling. Last generation, when the Xbox launched, its launch software put most PS2 games to shame (graphically). But by the time the generation was over, the aforementioned PS2 titles competed quite favorably with the best the Xbox has to offer. This time around, I think we're seeing an earlier-than-expected acceleration of the PS3's power, and the future exclusives will prove that Sony absolutely has the visual edge this time around. The only question is, how far will they push the gap...?
1/28/2009 Ben Dutka