Performance & Available Games
We used to think Sony's PlayStation 3, with its cell processor, was going to be a gaming powerhouse with 1.8 TFLOPS floating point performance in its GPU. But, at launch time the collection of games for PS3 includes nothing that will overwhelm the system.
We tested only a few available titles, including Ridge Racer 7, Resistance: Fall of Man and Call of Duty 3. Activision's WWII shooter clearly displayed the best graphics and happened to be available for Xbox 360 for comparison. The results are a dead heat. Quite simply, both consoles provided equally flawless performance. Call of Duty 3 itself features only a slight jump in graphics from Call of Duty 2.In addition, general animations were executed on both systems without a hiccup.
Level load times on Call of Duty 3 were as low as five seconds and as high as ten seconds (but this was generally equal on both PS3 and Xbox 360). It's possible in the future we might see designers make use of the extra HDD space on the PS3 by wasting more of it on cache. This could help load times within sophisticated environments, but right now none of the PS3 games looked as impressive as a few available for the Xbox 360.
Microsoft's strategy was to build a first-class machine and have it available to the public a full year ahead of the competition. It's worth making a note of the games available for each at this time.
While the PS3's big launch title, Resistance: Fall of Man, features somewhat drab environments and uninspired enemies…
Although few things in life are as interpretive as the ratings for video games, by all established standards Resistance: Fall of Man is the game Sony hopes will act as a launch killer app for its console. That's because Resistance is one of just a few titles available exclusively for the PS3 before Christmas, placing great pressure on developer Insomniac Games (previously only known for their work on the kiddy platform titles Ratchet and Clank and Spyro the Dragon).
When we put some time into Resistance, it was clear the game showcased impressive qualities. Heck, it even tries a few exciting graphical effects, such as destructible environments (and some very cool exploding orbs, that bounce around bringing pain with them).
But, there isn't anything particularly new here. Visually, its colors are drab and uninteresting, and most resemble Call of Duty 2, which was released a full year ago (and, interestingly enough, was considered one of the Xbox 360's launch killer apps). In addition, the enemies – although featuring above-average artificial intelligence – are neither exciting nor frightening. The multiplayer promises to lengthen and broaden the horizon for Resistance: Fall of Man, but that's simply not going to be a solid feature until more people get online.
In the last year, Microsoft's Xbox 360 has rolled out some huge titles. None have had a bigger impact than the freshly squeezed Gears of War, which recently passed Halo 2 as the most-played Xbox Live title. Gears of War defeats Resistance in every category, from graphics (the two are so far apart they're almost not worth comparing) to sound, to presentation, to general immersion. Resistance's enemies – the Chimera – are a bore. Gears of War's Locust will leave you sleepless.
The Xbox 360's Gears of War includes expansive backdrops and creatures that are the stuff of nightmares.
With both systems now available for purchase this holiday season, it's hard not to award at least one point to Microsoft for making better titles available this Christmas. The list includes notables like Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, The Elder Scroll IV: Oblivion (coming to PS3, but not until next year), and the earlier released Project Gotham Racing 3. After all, it isn't power-on-paper that sells consoles – it's the games.