We first picked up on the fact that the PS3 version of Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption was visually inferior in terms of resolution yesterday, reporting on information from the Beyond3D forums. Since then, other sites (presumably with access to both versions) have listed some more of the differences.
It’s worth re-iterating that Rockstar sent TheSixthAxis the Xbox 360 version of the game to review, which we scored 10/10, but it’s also worth noting that this in itself isn’t unusual; with multi-format releases we normally get the Xbox version, sometimes with a handy, informative review guide that highlights any differences between the two versions.
So, what are those differences?
Firstly, as we said yesterday, the PS3 version of Red Dead Redemption runs at a significantly lower resolution than the Xbox 360 version. 640 by 1152 pixels, in fact, compared to the Xbox 360′s 720 by 1280, which is 184,000 pixels missing, or about 20%. What does this mean? Well, you’ll actually see less on the PS3 version, with a lower resolution display blown up to fill the same physical space on your TV screen, as can be seen in these comparison shots.
The Xbox 360 version of RDR looks super sharp, but with nicely smoothed edges where the edges should be, due to the 360′s 2x multi-sampling anti-aliasing which specifically targets the edges of polygons. The PS3 version, however, uses an ‘all over’ quincunx effect which simply blurs the overall image just before you see it. Coupled with the lower resolution, this quincunx effect actually serves to make the image even more blurry, which is a shame.
The PS3 version, in spite of simpler visual post-processing effects as mentioned above, still manages to actually have missing objects throughout the game. Indeed, areas of grass are more patchy, shadows are simpler (and sometimes missing) and the overall effect is a less densely populated landscape, which is particularly noticable when compared with the Xbox 360 version in the same areas. The trees in particular look blocky and simplified on the PlayStation 3 version. Does this affect the game? No, but it’s frustrating to see.
Textures appear more basic and low resolution, there’s some missing self-shadowing, the level of detail pop-ins are more obvious, and there are missing characters on signs in the PS3 version. Naturally, the polygonal models are the same where really important (the main protagonists) but again, in terms of what’s out there in the backgrounds and the scenery, it’s a little more basic than we’d have liked.
And yet, despite all this, the PS3 version doesn’t manage to hold up the same framerate as the silky smooth Xbox 360 version. It’s hardly bad (and there’s some argument as to whether it’s even better than the one in Grand Theft Auto IV) but, according to reports, not nearly a constant frame rate which is actually suprising given the graphical chops and changes presumably made to actually assist the frame rate. This is the only key area which affects gameplay – how much is probably down to the individual gamer.
So, there you have it. A 10/10 game with some glaring visual differences. We still have no reservation in recommending the game, because it’s utterly brilliant, but if you’ve got a choice between the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions (and have equal number of mates playing either) then we’d probably have to suggest you plump for the Xbox version. Here’s hoping Rockstar manage to patch out some of the above issues for Sony-only owners, though.