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Next Gen Graphics, Part 3: Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

The final entry in our look into the graphical leaps between console generations.

By Mike Williams. Published 5 months ago

Every time there's a new generation of consoles, there's a certain amount of skepticism as to whether game graphics can get any better or if the console is worth the upgrade. It's a pretty subjective measure and nostalgia can muddy up the waters a bit - who doesn't remember the first console they really wanted for Christmas? - but graphics do improve with every generation. Developers become more adept with each console and begin to learn the tricks and shortcuts to make amazing things happen.

This series, Next Gen Graphics, is about the jumps each generation makes when it comes to graphics. We'll look at the early games of each major console for each generation and contrast them with similar games on that console when the next generation launched.

Part 1: NES, Master System, Genesis, and Super NES

Part 2: PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, and More

We're finishing this part of the series with the seventh generation of home consoles, which includes the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360, and the Sony PlayStation 3. Being that this is USgamer, we'll also be focusing on the North American lineups and release dates. Click on images to enlarge, where applicable.

Generation 7

Nintendo Wii

The dark horse winner of this console generation is Nintendo's scrappy Wii. The Wii was technically weaker than its competition, but motion-controlled gaming via the Wii remote struck a chord with masses when the system launched on November 19, 2006. Even with 21 launch titles, the system's only big Nintendo staple at launch was the GameCube port The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. With Wii Sports as a pack-in, most consumers didn't care. Nintendo finally decided to move on six years later, releasing the Wii U on November 18, 2012.

Wii Cross-Generation

Here are just a few titles that were released on the Wii and the Wii U when the latter system launched in 2012.

Microsoft Xbox 360

If the first Xbox got Microsoft's foot in the door, the Xbox 360 showed they were serious about being the leader when it came to video gaming. The 360 was the first generation seven system, launching on November 22, 2005, almost a year before the Wii or PS3. It launched with 18 titles, many of them being third-party games, an area in which the original Xbox was lacking. The Xbox 360's successor was released today (November 22, 2013), giving the 360 a lengthy eight year lifespan.

Xbox 360 Cross-Generation

Here are a couple of titles that are just coming out on the Xbox 360, in addition to launching on the Xbox One.

Sony PlayStation 3

Coming off the absolute dominance that was the PlayStation 2, Sony got a bit arrogant and the PlayStation 3's launch suffered as a result. The system had only 14 launch titles with no real stand-out and $599 was too expensive for many consumers. Sony learned from its mistakes and caught up to Microsoft this generation, but it remains to be seen how the PS3's performance will carry over into the next-generation. The PlayStation 4 was released last week on November 15, 2013, bringing the PS3's time as Son'y primary console to a total of seven years.

PlayStation 3 Cross-Generation

Here are few games that have released on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in 2013.

And with that, we've finished this first round of Next Gen Graphics! Following features will look at the graphical evolution of certain series or genres, like Final Fantasy or football games. If there's something you want to see, let us know!

Images sourced from IGN, GameFAQS, TeamXbox, WiiUDaily, Videogamer, Engadget, and GameSpot. Apologies for any sourced image that I did not credit.

The best community comments so far 12 comments

  • FuzzyDuck 4 months ago

    @jimdove76

    Why oh why does every article about console tech have to have a bleating PC evangelist telling everyone who plays console games that "they're doing it wrong"?

    Did it ever occur to you that there's a myriad of reasons why people play consoles over PCs, such as what friends are playing, being invested into the ecosystem, preferring the simplicity (I know building a PC isn't difficult, but there's a hell of a lot of "tech illiterate" that it would be just too difficult for), preferring the exclusives, preferring to make a one off payment for a fixed platform every 6 years or so and let the developers squeeze the performance out of it? And some people just prefer to physically own their games in physical format and not have DRM riddled libraries.

    The diversity is only better on PC if you want to play those games, same can be said of consoles. You might be able to run, say, Borderlands 2 at a much higher quality than I can on console, but I'd rather be playing Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, so it becomes a moot point. You go to the platform that has the most content you want.

    Games don't have to be insanely expensive either. You're quoting $60 as a price for console games. Yes, that's the price of big budget titles when they release. PC games of a comparable status have a comparable price tag. Sales happen on consoles too, you know. Ask any subscriber to PS+ (well, in Europe at least) have they got value for money out of their sub and you'll be hard pressed to find someone who says "no".

    The PS4/X1 will never approach a cutting edge PC in terms of graphics, but for a lot of people they're of a high enough fidelity. It's not like after playing on a PC that those consoles will suddenly look like an Atari 2600.

    At the end of the day though, it all comes down to having a choice. I don't care for PC gaming, but I'm not going to wail on others that do. Stop counting pixels and try to enjoy the actual games.

  • Toplinkar 4 months ago

    Terrific articles folks. Keep it up. If you guys are going to make similar features focused on franchies, then may I suggest Tekken and Soul Calibur?

    I've played every major tekken game and I'm impressed at how far we've come from Tekken to Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

  • Scimarad 5 months ago

    Holy crap, those 360 comparison shots!

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