Head2Head

Epic Fantasy Reborn…

System Breakdown Xbox 360 Stats PlayStation 3 Stats
Resolutions: Up to 1080p Up to 1080p
# of Discs: single single
HD Install: Optional/3.8 GB Mandatory/5.5 GB
Metacritic:
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Welcome back for another exciting Head2Head! This week we take on the biggest, and we mean biggest, game of the year — Betheada’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the PS3 and Xbox 360. With a few insane TES fans on our staff, this is one H2H we personally couldn’t wait to complete. Our screenshot comparison told one side of the story, and now this legendary tale can come to an end. FUS RO DAH!

Some things to note: After a long and serious talk with all of our staff members, we have concluded that we will be dropping the scoring system at the end of our Head2Head articles.  This is due to the fact that we have all agreed that while we will still be covering the same categories and following the same general method in our comparisons, we will no longer be coming to a conclusion based on a score of two out of three.  Instead we will now give you the pros and cons of each version to give you a more accurate conclusion based on everything as a whole.  We will still give our own personal picks and thoughts at the end of each analysis however, which has no bearing on the final result. Now, lets get to the matter at hand — Skyrim.

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Graphics: This category gave us some rather noticeable differences to point out between versions, and one version did indeed fair better overall than the other. The first thing you will notice is that the PS3 version seems to be a bit blurry in comparison to its 360 counterpart. When we see this it is usually one of two things that cause such a disadvantage to the visual aspect of the game, which would be either a different resolution or a specific method of Anti Aliasing. Seeing how the native resolution of both games is full 720p, we can rule this possibility out. This leaves us to believe that the Anti Aliasing method used on the PS3 version is a post processing method that, while eliminates 99% of jaggies, tends to blur the overall image on the entire screen. The 360 on the other hand uses a more traditional method of Anti Aliasing that might leave a few jaggies left to be seen, but doesn’t botch the sharpness of the image in the process. This raises the age old question that every gamer has to ask when faced with this kind of situation. Is the hit to visual sharpness really worth a few less jaggies?

One issue that the 360 does seem to have in image quality would be texture streaming, which is something that is present on both the PS3 and PC as well. The difference with the 360 version is that this problem only happens while the game is installed for some reason and remains similar to the other two versions when run off of the disk. Seeing how the install was not recommended by the developer, this will have no bearing on the results even though it was worth mentioning. Regardless, anyone who does buy the 360 version will have a very important question to ask themselves when they fire up the game for the first time. Do they want to deal with these streaming issues, or would they risk the possibility of painfully long load times by running it off of the disk (which we will cover later on).

Unfortunately, even though the PS3 version doesn’t have as serious a glitch with streaming, a certain type of pop in is also exclusive to Sony’s platform in this case. This has to do with draw distance. While both version’s fair pretty well in this area, the 360 version will pick up on things much further in the distance than the PS3 will. These items and details are indeed still present in the game, but you will have to travel a bit closer for them to appear. This will of course cause something called a “fade in” where an object will suddenly or slowly appear on your screen once you are in range for it to happen. Even though everything is there, there is little doubt that a further draw distance is preferable rather than having more items popping into your visual field as you go. When it is all said and done, while the PS3 version does have a few minor perks, when you weigh everything out it will be the 360 version that claims the visual category.

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Performance: The performance aspect of Skyrim was also handled a little differently on both consoles.  While both versions of Skyrim were targeted at about thirty frames per second, the 360 version was the only one that was capped.  This of course resulted in some places jumping an extra frame or two above the target on the PS3 version, but hardly anything major.  On the other hand the PS3 version was the only one of the two to use V-Sync to eliminate screen tearing.  This would result in some serious frame drops on Sony’s side when the action got really heavy.  In some places it would even drop into the teens, which can also affect how responsive a player’s controls are.  For the most part though, the game was still playable and can’t really be considered crippling as a whole.  The 360 took a totally different approach when it came to stress however.  For starters the frame rate was very smooth and didn’t drop much, if at all, during our capture.  However when things started to heat up a bit, there was some pretty noticeable screen tearing present.  So with this aspect the gamer can pick their poison, but bear in mind that one is a bit more noticeable than the other.  With the 360 offering smooth game play with a some tearing being the price to pay, there isn’t much of a hit in terms of how fluid the game’s controls are.  If you hate screen tearing, you can always go with the PS3 instead.  Bear in mind though that the choppy game play in some spots will have a bigger impact than a few tears here or there.

Xbox 360 Frame Analysis PlayStation 3 Frame Analysis
Clip 1 info:
Length of clip: 5079 frames
Average FPS of clip: 29.63
Percent of torn frames: 15.96
Clip 1 info:
Length of clip: 5079 frames
Average FPS of clip: 25.52
Percent of torn frames: 0.00
Clip 2 info:
Length of clip: 7553 frames
Average FPS of clip: 29.72
Percent of torn frames: 1.45
Clip 2 info:
Length of clip: 7553 frames
Average FPS of clip: 27.03
Percent of torn frames: 0.00
Clip 3 info:
Length of clip: 4509 frames
Average FPS of clip: 29.79
Percent of torn frames: 1.86
Clip 3 info:
Length of clip: 4509 frames
Average FPS of clip: 28.58
Percent of torn frames: 0.00
Clip 4 info:
Length of clip: 3451 frames
Average FPS of clip: 29.37
Percent of torn frames: 2.63
Clip 4 info:
Length of clip: 3451 frames
Average FPS of clip: 27.19
Percent of torn frames: 0.00
Clip 5 info:
Length of clip: 4929 frames
Average FPS of clip: 29.88
Percent of torn frames: 0.35
Clip 5 info:
Length of clip: 4929 frames
Average FPS of clip: 26.99
Percent of torn frames: 0.00
Global percent of torn frames: 7.66
Global average FPS: 29.70
Global percent of torn frames: 0.00
Global average FPS: 27.02

 

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Loading: When we look at the loading times for each version, there is a clear cut winner here.  In just about every instance the PS3 version managed to load at least fifteen to almost thirty seconds faster than its 360 counterpart.  One can only help but feel that the PS3 mandatory install played a huge roll in this, as these times are made with the 360 running off of the disk.  Sure you could install the game on your 360 to remedy the insane loading times, but by doing so you compromise the visual advantage of the 360 due to the streaming glitch that is still present on Microsoft’s console when run off of the HDD.  When you look at all of these factors based on how the game CURRENTLY runs, there is little doubt that the PS3 commands a large advantage here.

PlayStation 3 Load Times Xbox 360 Load Times
Sample 1: 33 Seconds Sample 1: 59 Seconds
Sample 2: 38 Seconds Sample 2: 48 Seconds
Sample 3: 30 Seconds Sample 3: 45 Seconds
Sample 4: 34 Seconds Sample 4: 52 Seconds
Sample 5: 29 Seconds Sample 5: 50 Seconds
Sample Average: 32.8 Seconds Sample Average: 50.8 Seconds


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More Roll Overs, Conclusion, Video and Staff Choice on Page 2>>>

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*To ensure color accuracy from the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U output, the PlayStation 3 has RGB Full Range set to "Full" and Super White "On", and the Xbox 360 has Reference Level set to "Expanded" and HDMI Color Space set to "RGB". Our capture card we have captured segments from the AVS HD 709 . Blu-ray, HD DVD, & MP4 Calibration suite.

As you will see, each system matches each other at the SOURCE LEVEL. No contrast or gamma settings are manipulated before or after capturing our images/videos. We strongly believe that these types of corrections are done on a individuals preference and should not be adjusted by us. Finally, washed out looking images that are due to contrast or gamma differences will not have any influence on our final verdicts. Please Read through our F.A.Q page if you have any questions or concerns.*