Back when the PS3 first launched, multi-platform developers had to code on entirely new beast; the quality of multi-platform games often reflected the difficulties the developers faced. Coding for the PS3 was difficult at the beginning, and, as a result, most ports from the 360 were riddled with problems. If you had both consoles at that time, the choice for most multi-platform gaming was a no-brainer: the 360.
Since then, whenever a game has been released for both systems, most people have defaulted to the 360. Given the popularity of cross-game party chat, it still makes sense if said game has a popular multiplayer component; however, what about single-player games? Is it still automatic to choose the 360 version even though the PS3 has been around long enough for developers to get the hang of coding for it?
Within the last two years, I have made a shift from 360 to PS3 in terms of single-player games. Just looking at my shelf of PS3 games, I see Alice Madness Returns, Batman: Arkham City, L.A. Noire, Catherine and Shadows of the Damned — each chosen for different reasons. Alice had the original game as part of the PS3 version, whereas Arkham City was playable in 3D, and I had just gotten the PS3 3D display for my system. L.A. Noire had a single disc, which given the singe-player nature of the game, I liked not having to worry about multiple discs. Catherine and Shadows of the Damned probably had the least convincing argument, but I had also just purchased the PS3 surround sound headset and was excited to use them. Both were prime candidates for use of the headset.
I even bought some multiplayer games like Dark Souls, Portal 2 and Mortal Kombat on the PS3 because I preferred the options given to them. With Demon Souls being only on the PS3, I felt Dark Souls would have a stronger presence on that system. And considering From Software disabled the party chat for the 360 version anyways, it offered no advantage over the PS3 version. Portal 2 had probably the biggest reason to sway me: the inclusion of a free PC copy and Steam integration. Despite it coming out at the worst possible time with PSN being brought down days after, I was still happy with my decision because I got to enjoy the co-op with a PC-only friend. As for Mortal Kombat, I only wanted the PS3 version so I could use Kratos. While it also sports a 3D feature, my decision was made before I even thought about getting a 3D TV.
Beyond extra features the PS3 versions of various games had, I didn’t give serious thought to the performance differences until this past week when I decided to pick up FFXIII-2. Given that the Final Fantasy gained so many fans after jumping to the PlayStation family, I was going to purchase it for the PS3. Before I actually picked up the game, I figured I might as well weigh the differences between the two versions. I got exactly what I expected. There was practically no visual difference between the two. If you were playing one version at a time, you’d probably have no idea which one would be considered the superior version. Only side-by-side comparisons would bring to light subtle differences. However, those differences are mainly personal preference. The PS3 offers a softer, more polished look while the 360 had sharper colors, but the edges looked rougher. I was about to leave to pick up my PS3 version when I came across a video that compared the load times between the game. This blew my mind. I had not even taken this into consideration. After watching said video, I couldn’t choose the PS3 version anymore, which had a 67% increase in load times.
In the end, I went with the 360 version since I could install it to the sytem’s HDD. Yes, DVD vs Blu-ray will have comparable load times, but a complete install to a HDD will beat out any disc-based gameplay every time. Unfortunately, there was no optional install for the PS3 version.
My point: while it isn’t as black and white as it was years ago, it’s still a good idea to research your multi-platform game before you make the purchase. You can go into it ignorant, and you’d be none the wiser that your version is inferior; however, it’s always good to be smart about your purchases and pick the version that gives you the best experience*.
*Experience may vary by person.