Grand Theft Auto 5: does it really look best on PlayStation 4?

GTA V

Grand Theft Auto V has been finally been launched on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and fans have so far been thrilled with the visually overhauled version of 2013’s smash hit.

Initial responses remarked on the parity between the consoles, with both machines benefiting from a generous visual overhaul. Increased texture detail, greater lighting intricacy, updated anti-aliasing (a method of smoothing out jagged edges in computer graphics) – it’s all there on screen.

But now it seems, differences are emerging. Gamers on the NeoGaf forum have been sharing comparative screenshots, apparently showing that the PlayStation 4 version has much more detailed foliage.

Performance videos are also appearing, telling a similar story: that the visuals are mostly comparable, until you get into rural landscapes.

Some reports have attempted to suggest that there are major differences in draw distance – a term that describes how far into the distance a game renders graphical objects. Apparently, the PS4 provides much more detail toward the outer edges of the viewable environment – although it’s pretty hard to tell on the screens being produced.

Digital Foundry, the performance analysis specialists that work with games site Eurogamer, have now started to pick up on the differences in floral performance - if that’s now a thing. The team originally found a few lighting differences, with the PS4 version adding an extra lens flare effect, but one wander in the countryside later:

From its report:

Moving on again into the Paleto Forest - an area where we would expect to see a rich array of greenery, our sample clips show that the compromise is limited to plants and grass. More imposing environmental detail, like tree density for example, seems to be untouched on Xbox One. The PS4 advantage here is much more subtle - a few bonus plants and small grassy areas. Overall, this is the kind of effect where the PS4’s larger GPU and higher fill-rate come to the fore...

So, should this affect your buying decision? Well, not unless you’re an incredibly enthusiastic botanist who has yet to commit to a new console and is dead-set on making that decision based on which version of GTA V is better for accurate grasses and shrubs. But it’s interesting to watch a graphics debate play out over GTA’s rural areas.

Once upon a time, this series caused controversy over its depictions of sleazy sex and bludgeoning violence. Now we’re flicking between video feeds of flowers and trees. It’s progress of sorts.

So what does this say about the graphics war between PS4 and Xbox One? While several major multiformat titles like Call of Duty: Ghosts and Tomb Raider, have run in higher HD resolutions on Sony’s machine, the differences appear to be narrowing.

“In many ways, the two consoles are closer than ever – mostly because Microsoft’s biggest differentiator, the Kinect motion sensor, is no longer in the box.,” says Digital Foundry’s Rich Leadbetter. “I’d venture to say that from a gaming perspective, that’s pretty much dead in the water. At their core, the two consoles are remarkably similar: the same CPU architecture, the same graphics tech. There are far more similarities than there are differences. Xbox One has less graphics processing power and is considered more challenging to develop for, but things seem to be changing there.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Keith Stuart, for theguardian.com on Thursday 20th November 2014 16.11 Europe/London

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