PS3 graphics comparison over the ages

graphics comparison ps3

With the announcement that the PlayStation 4 is on its way before the end of the year, its hard not to get a rose-tinted nostalgia about the PS3, despite it still being many gamers’ beloved current-gen machine.

The PS3 still has a lot of life in it, we know this, but let’s compare how the graphics and visuals have evolved since the early launch title, to that of the latest upcoming games.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (2007) vs The Last of Us (2013)

When the PS3 launched, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was one of the best looking games on any platform, and a feather in the PS3’s cap. The series has maintained its pedigree in the visuals department, and Naughty Dog’s latest game, The Last of Us, looks to be one of the visual stand-outs in the PS3’s twilight period.

When looking at the two games, it’s easy to see the detail and visual authenticity in which the studio has excelled.

Uncharted Drakes Fortune bigger

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (2007)

The Last of Us bigger

The Last of Us

Call of Duty 3 (2006) vs Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012)

With both games being made by Treyarch, it’s fair to compare the visual evolution that the COD studio has gone through.

In the PS3’s launch period, Call of Duty 3 was highly regarded due to its visuals and large scale battles. Fast forward 6 years and Black Ops 2 has an obvious shimmer and shine to it, with much greater detail in the environmental design.

Call of Duty 3 bigger

Call of Duty 3 (2006)

Black Ops 2 bigger

Black Ops 2 (2012)

Ridge Racer 7 (2006) vs Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012)

While being developed by different studios, comparing the launch day racing title and one of the best looking titles from 2012 is a good way to see the racing genre’s visual evolution.

Criterion has always been praised for their gorgeous visuals in racing games, and they lived up to their name with 2012’s reboot of Most Wanted. The game has sublime lighting and motion blur, which makes the high-speed racing that much more appealing. Ridge Racer 7 was great for its day, but its low-detail environments are now evident 7 years down the line.

Ridge Racer 7 Platinum Edition

Ridge Racer 7 (2006)

Need for Speed Most Wanted screenshot

Need for Speed Most Wanted (2012)

NBA 2K7 (2006) vs. NBA 2K13 (2012)

Sports games don’t initially appear to evolve much throughout the year, but the NBA 2K series has always stood out visually on the PS3.

A quick glance at NBA 2K7 and 2K13 doesn’t immediately appear all that different, but the greater lighting and detail (particularly to the face, tattoos, etc) on 2K13 becomes apparent when a closer look is taken.

NBA 2K bigger

NBA 2K7 (2006)

NBA 2K13 bigger

NBA 2K13 (2012)

Heavenly Sword (2007) vs. DmC (2013)

Heavenly Sword was a gorgeous game when it released in 2007, and still holds up today.

Developer Ninja Theory went on to make Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and have now released DmC, and the Western developer is known for its attention to detail and style.

The visual leap to DmC is evident as the game features a much brighter and vivid colour palette and greater character detail thanks to the evolution of tech.

Heavenly Sword bigger

Heavenly Sword (2007)

DmC screenshot

DmC (2013)

What do you think when looking at these screenshots? Any big differences you’ve noticed between PS3 launch games and the most recent titles?

More Playstation news:

Driveclub announced for PS4

Knack, new character-driven physics action-platformer for PS4

Destiny confirmed for PlayStation 4

Killzone Shadow Fall revealed for PS4

Watch Dogs heads to PS4, new gameplay video

Diablo III coming to PS4, PS3

Forum discussion

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  • Uberutang

    You do realize that Forza is not on PS3 right?

  • JC aka Gennath

    I had no idea Forza Horizon was available on PS3 *grin*

  • JC aka Gennath

    Snap! lol

  • Uberutang

    Great minds and all that.

  • Ninja-J

    I can barely differentiate the differences on such small cropped images. Maybe you should have included larger resolution images…..?

  • Ninja-J


  • James Etherington-Smith

    Ermagerd! Jeremy! >.<

    He meant Most Wanted… We talking about it the other day :S

  • Uberutang

    Personally I would only have compared first party titles.
    Resistance 1 vs 3, Uncharted 1 vs 3 (or last of us), etc etc

  • Jeremy Proome

    Haha, sorry about that! Fixed! I was saving so many screenshots (also for an Xbox comparison), and decided on using the PS3 version of Most Wanted for the comparison. Somehow my brain managed to trick me into adding Forza in here! Curse you, grey squishy thing in my head :O

  • Jeremy Proome

    Will swap out the images for the original high-res ones, so you can enlarge and do your own analysis :)

  • Daniel Zoeller

    This isnt really a good comparison. Try scour the polycount forums and find out if the ps3 has actually had some scientificly proven improvments (i.e. texture size increases, more polygons on lead characters etc)

  • Glordit

    Dev’s simply just got better tools to make games look better as the years went by. The PS3 had only so much it could do, it just took skilled people to find it’s limits.

  • Jeremy Proome

    It definitely comes down to how the design process itself evolved :)

  • SpYkz

    Why is there no Killzone or resistance

  • brad coetzee

    the PS2 has still got the craziest grfx jump I’ve ever seen over its lifespan.

  • Gerard Matthews

    Wow, the last of us looks terrible. Low resolution textures, poor level of detail, not many elements in the scene and aliasing all over the place. The foliage is a joke.

    Oh I see serious jpeg compression going on here. Must look better in the flesh (so to speak)

  • Adnan Kashwani

    I don’t see much of a difference. It’s still a console with fixed hardware configuration. If you want to see a difference compare PC

  • Nicola Dee

    Yeah PC will definitely give you the biggest difference. The NBA looks the same to me lol. But you can see the graphic difference when you look at things like fire in Dragon Age and stuff like that.

  • Windreaver

    THat’s pretty much the purpose of this article: How developers can/should get more out of the same hardware configuration over time.

  • Joe John

    these differences are pretty good, but here is the diff between PS3 and PS4