Did The Xbox 360 *Really* Usher In The Era Of HD Gaming?


It’s the end of the year, and that means many publications are rolling out their annual “best of” list. I don’t know if *we’re* doing anything along those lines, but I *do* have a bone to pick with 1UP. They’ve a delightful little list of 10 things the Xbox 360 did to change gaming forever. You already know most of the list before reading it: Achievement Points, Microsoft Points (1UP calls them “convenient” to use across Microsoft’s various services, as if dollars can’t be used in exchange for goods and services…), Kinect, and general entertainment use (things like Netflix streaming). But the one thing that has my dander up? That the Xbox 360 ushered in an era of HD gaming. Ha!

The phrasing of the entry is most troublesome:

In 2005, the prices of HD televisions were only beginning to reach reasonable levels. Well, that’s if you consider around $3,500 reasonable. Even with the cost barrier, Microsoft clearly believed that high-definition gaming was the future. HD televisions are now in 56% of homes, and many gamers have come to expect crystal clear graphics when playing big, triple-A titles. After all, what’s the point of teabagging your friend in Halo if it’s not presented in stunning, 1920×1080 resolution?

I’d like to know on what planet Halo runs at “stunning” 1920×1080. Is it Reach? It’s certainly not Planet Earth, that’s for sure.

A quick look at this list reveals the resolutions of the many Xbox 360 (and PS3) games that have been released over its five-year run. Halo 3 runs at 1152×640 (my three-year-old laptop has a higher resolution than that) and Halo: Reach runs at 1152×720. Note that Halo 3 has no anti-aliasing to speak of, while Reach adds 2x temporal AA.

Going through the list I found exactly four games that run at 1920×1080: Fifa Street 3, NBA Street Home Court (the demo!), Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, and Virtua Fighter 3.

Hardly what I’d consider the “HD era” of gaming.

Look at this screenshot of Dragon Age II and try to tell me we’re living in the “HD era” of gaming (here’s the full-res version):

I rest my case.