Next-gen is here... it's now the new generation of hardcore console gaming (and some casual gaming, too, if you're into that sort of thing). While the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have seemingly stumbled out of the gate like a drunk and disorderly Amanda Bynes, the reality is that there is a remarkable difference in the graphical leap from seventh gen to eighth gen, even if some games don't seem like it.
Just recently we tossed up the article about Forza Motorsport 5 visually taking downgrades as it rendered its way to retail for the Xbox One, but even after taking those downgrades, you can see that it's still miles better than its previous-gen rival, Gran Turismo 6.
As you see in the video above, Gran Turismo 6, while looking passably decent for a late PS3 game, looks pretty horrid compared to the Xbox One and Forza 5. The funny thing is, is that despite Forza 5 having more static environments than Carrot Top playing footsie on a rug before touching an ungrounded circuit board, Gran Turismo 6's environments are even more static, stiff and non-functional beyond being a 3D cardboard cutout.
The video from DigiPost runs users through the Silverstone map, where we can measure road textures, geometry, lighting, shadows pixel density, aliasing and other tertiary effects (which are practically non-existent) in Gran Turismo 6.
Despite Forza 5 not living up to its own E3 build, failing harder at parity than Charlie Sheen sticking to a vow of celibacy while visiting a convent, the 1080p still shows through even on a YouTube video where the anti-aliasing is definitely cleaner than Gran Turismo 6 – as should be expected given the hardware spec bump of the Xbox One. You can clearly see that the edges and corners of the map and objects in Forza 5 have some MSAA going on, where things within the immediate view of the player are smoothed out to clean and pristine like the childhood career of Lindsay Lohan.
One of the other big differences is in the environmental detail. This here is so obvious that it's almost embarrassing. While Forza 5 is still miles behind the alpha builds of Project CARS, visually, it does surpass the PS3's Gran Turismo 6 with flying colors by having a greater density of on-screen objects within the environment, as well as a higher density of polygons in those objects as well.
Gran Turismo 6 also tries to avoid the pitfall of tanking in performance by removing some crowd members and any unnecessary track accoutrements to maintain a steady frame rate. Forza 5 rectifies the mistake of GT6 by having crowd members filling out the track-side stands, but they show about as much 3D depth as a Mario Kart stage from the SNES. Admirable, but mistaken.
In GT6 we also see the blotted spotlight moving across the track from time to time, which is supposed to be the sun reflecting on the track, but the limited light sources in the reflection just makes it look cheap when compared to the cloudy (but equally static) backgrounds in Forza 5. You'll also notice that there is no shadow casting or dynamic lights on the ground in Gran Turismo 6, it's basically all one light map.
Additionally, Forza 5 may have been hammered for having more pre-baked shadows than KB Toy Store's stock of Easy Bake Ovens from back in the 1980s, but Gran Turismo 6 doesn't even have that. Majority of the track and environment are cast in a static dark hue to represent a shadow overcast, except there's no actual shadows. It's pretty bad folks... it's Wii-bad.
Both games also suffer from a lack of real-time particle effects and track debris. Opposite of Project CARS, there are no small pebbles, strands of grass or other minor graphical effects in play in either game. It's funny because Project CARS makes up for barely a fraction of either game's budget but just runs absolute circles around both in terms of graphical immersion, effects and the quality of the visual presentation.
Nevertheless, Gran Turismo 6 is a seventh gen game and terri-bad graphics on near-decade old hardware is to be expected. Forza Motorsport 5, while looking like a Ford Fiesta in a drag race against a 1970 Mustang Boss when compared to Project CARS, still manages to hold its own against seventh gen and does, in fact, show a promise of new generation graphics and visual effects... for home console gaming.
I guess it's a good thing Sony might be rolling out Gran Turismo 7 soon, eh?