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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.

Article by Mike Williams, .

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.

This article may contain links to online retail stores. If you click on one and buy the product we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

Comments 12

  • Avatar for Bla1ne #1 Bla1ne 4 years ago
    What about Resistance 1 vs Resistance 3 for PS3? And it would've been interesting to sneak The Last of Us somewhere in there, since the graphics Naughty Dog was able to squeeze out of the PS3 in its seventh year are mind boggling.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #2 MHWilliams 4 years ago
    @Bla1ne Resistance is on the very edge of what I could work with, since it launched in Nov 2006, and R3 came out in 2011, two years before the PS4 hit.

    I wanted to do Last of Us or Uncharted, but Tomb Raider Legend was the only major adventure game and Tomb Raider 2013 was a better fit with that title.

    Trust me, there's a lot of games I would add if I was just showing improvements in series or companies. This was trying to get games around launch windows.Edited November 2013 by MHWilliams
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  • Avatar for Scimarad #3 Scimarad 4 years ago
    Holy crap, those 360 comparison shots!
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #4 Funny_Colour_Blue 3 years ago
    I like the less detailed look of prior generations. It seems more charming and...I dunno, more "video gamey"?:

    Like, I understand the virtual world I see before me isn't real, but that somehow makes me want to relish in it even more - because it's a charming imitation of real life.

    The less real it is, the more charming and enthusiastic this interpretation becomes?

    ...I dunno.Edited 7 times. Last edited November 2013 by Funny_Colour_Blue
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  • Avatar for jimdove76 #5 jimdove76 3 years ago
    What this entire comparison article shows is that the generation leap in terms of sheer power and performance has got smaller each time round with this last one PS3-PS4 being the smallest, as in its more of a PS3 with bells and whistles. Might be a sign of the times were big corps are not willing to risk putting cutting edge tech into consoles and charging high prices in the current climate, which lead to the pretty poor quality in tech from ps4 and xbone in comparison to what they couldve been for the same price as the ps3 at launch. Thank the gods PC gaming is so cheap, Console gaming is for the rich and the naive. You spend 60quid on a console game, you buy just 10 in the first year, and you couldve built a gaming PC with than money or spent FAR LESS if you already have a reasonable one) multiply that by all the games u will buy for a ps4/xbone and you get to a lot of money. PC games are much cheaper (Stupidly cheap on steam/gmg/humble bundle sales) then of course you can buy the cd keys from places for a fraction of retail if you want new releases batman origins is a tenner for a legit cd key atm. Add to all of that what you can do to your games, you have backward compatibility, you will play far FAR more games, more diverse games, as a pc gamer, play better versions of the games due to the power you have compared to the console and you will spend FAR less. Its time people start to wake up, you can build a mid range gaming PC for the price of a ps4 +5 games and reap the benefits for that for the next TEN YEARS. thats starting from scratch too.Edited November 2013 by jimdove76
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  • Avatar for ob1 #6 ob1 3 years ago
    The evolution of Xbox impressed me. The programmable shaders helped a lot.
    The PS3 a lot less : the Cell revealed itself as an untamed beast.
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  • Avatar for FuzzyDuck #7 FuzzyDuck 3 years 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.
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  • Avatar for Roofpigeon #8 Roofpigeon 3 years ago
    Truthfully I think that with the coming of the hybrid steambox the whole consolemarket will disappear largely after this generation of XBOX 1 and PS4
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  • Avatar for Toplinkar #9 Toplinkar 3 years 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.
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #10 Funny_Colour_Blue 3 years ago
    @davekoekebacker40 After trying to get my PS3 repaired again for the fourth time only for it to break down again 2 weeks later... I think so too :'(

    I really want something that's going to last a lifetime, and not just the better part of a decade.

    If there's one reason to move away from consoles, this would be it.
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  • Avatar for Roofpigeon #11 Roofpigeon 3 years ago
    @Funny_Colour_Blue I know how you feel man. owning one of the first PS3's still, I purchased GTA-V digitally, and I couldn't even download it without a bigger HDD. No option to upgrade it without cutting the case apart. Mehh .

    Same with my Xbox 360, purchased one on the release date. 0,5 years later, boom, red ring of death. got it repaired. 2 years later, another one. Nothing I could do but purchase a new one because it was out of warranty.

    Of course it's technology and it can be defective at times, but with a console you're 99% of the time reliant on the manufacturers, while with an open source system you can just drive to the nearest hardware store and buy yourself a new cooler or whatever and be gaming again that same evening.

    Now I'm an impatient dude, so if the release of SteamBox is taking longer than february 2014, I will just purchase a new high-end computer and connect it to my TV with Steam installed. Basically the same :P

    I wont spend money on a console anymore.
    - Games are more expensive (ffxiv, pc: 35 euros, ps3: 50 euros)
    - Graphics are lower (new generation 920p not even 60FPS?!)
    - Serious lack of voice chat. (I'd like to see functions to install your own apps like TeamSpeak/Ventrilo instead of being forced to use the horrendous voice communicating system of i.e. PlayStation)
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  • Avatar for rocksteady13 #12 rocksteady13 3 years ago
    @Funny_Colour_Blue It's economics. If companies built electronics that lasted a lifetime they would go out of business. The same goes for cars. It is all about finding a balance between reliability and profitability.
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