The differences in PS3 and Xbox 360 hardware capabilities have been debated since the dawn of next-gen, but has the Xbox 360 finally revealed its Achilles heel?
John Carmack of id Software states that the PS3 version of the upcoming cross-platform first person shooter RAGE will look better than the Xbox 360 version of the game. Carmack was quick to add that the reason for the inferior look of the Xbox 360 is a storage problem and not associated with a lack of hardware power.
Despite the obvious oversight of the Xbox 360's DVD drive being a hardware component that is lacking in power (when compared to the Blu-ray drive of the PS3), RAGE's humbling of the consoles hardware abilities raises some doubts for Microsoft's next-gen console. Although at least a year from release, RAGE is not alone in its need for more than a single disc on the Xbox 360. Games such as Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey have already utilised multiple DVD's, with the upcoming Final Fantasy XIII following suit.
Up until now, there has been no trade-off between multiple discs and the graphical power of the Xbox 360, but RAGE demands attention in this area. Carmack claims that id Software will have to use a "different type of compression" for the Xbox 360 version of the game in order to fit it onto two discs. This he puts down to the high royalty cost of including a third disc as the reason to dull down the Xbox 360 graphics for a two disc version of RAGE.
The advantage of the Xbox 360's superior DVD data transfer rate has been a genuine counterpoint to PS3's slower Blu-ray data transfer rate. In this light, the argument will now have to shift to whether the faster loading time of the Xbox 360 is enough of a pro to be pit up against the superior graphics that the slower loading Blu-ray allows PS3 owners.
With graphical power and data transfer rates aside, Xbox 360 does have one potential advantage on the RAGE front: multiplayer. With the games cross-platform release, Microsoft could gain a competitive edge by offering PC/Xbox 360 play through its Games for Windows Live feature. The ability for Xbox 360 and PC gamers to battle with or against each other would create a multiplayer community size that Sony simply could not match. In this regard, the dated Xbox 360's DVD drive has a valid response to the potentially lonely, but visually blinged out multiplayer world of PS3.
So the question remains as to which is the lesser of two evils when it comes to RAGE. Can the slower transfer rate but prettier graphics of the PS3 gain a competitive edge over the duller graphics, but potentially bigger multiplayer community of the Xbox 360?
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