Xbox 360 vs PS3 Face-Off: Round 14 • Page 5

SoulCalibur IV, Mercs 2, Kung Fu Panda, Beijing, GH Aerosmith, FaceBreaker, Hulk, EA Sports roundup.

The Incredible Hulk

Sometimes the minimalist approach really pays off. The Incredible Hulk on Xbox 360 is a good example of a game where visual effects have been over-used to the detriment of the final product. As is increasingly the case with the majority of our cross-platform comparisons, the core game itself is fundamentally identical - textures, geometry, frame rate, gameplay - it's all the same. So the question is, why does the Xbox 360 version look tangibly worse than the equivalent PS3 code?

In many recent games, we've seen an additional level of graphical sheen present in the 360 game - depth-of-field blurring effects being the latest fad. The coders of The Incredible Hulk clearly like this effect very much as it's used with gay abandon throughout the entire game, sometimes in the most bizarre places. The cut-scenes are a case in point. Even character close-ups are subject to outrageous levels of blur. Compare and contrast with the PS3 game, which is bereft of the additional visual processing, but looks a hell of a lot better in comparison.

In every other sense, The Incredible Hulk is barely worthy of comment. The PS3 code has a 1080i/1080p mode (scaled 960x1080) so even old-skool HDTV owners can appreciate the game's textbook definition of mediocrity in high definition. If you're HD Ready, make sure 720p is ticked on your XMB for the better quality image.

FaceBreaker

FaceBreaker may be a staggeringly average fighting game, but at the very least it proves EA's development tools and development ability are maturing nicely. The core gameplay is exactly the same on both consoles and the graphical differences are superficial at best, though the Xbox 360 version is a touch more refined. .

FaceBreaker Face-off

Both games run at an impressive full frame 720p at 60 frames per second, with only that perennial favourite - anti-aliasing - being the point of differentiation. Xbox 360 uses the best method it has available (4x multi-sampling) whereas PlayStation 3 uses a different technique (2x quincunx if you're really interested) that is less impressive. Quincunx tends to blur detail, exemplified by Assassin's Creed on PS3, but in a cartoon style game like this, it's a good alternative to the method employed in the Xbox 360 code and the difference is hardly noticeable.

The only other differences I could discern were insignificant dithering effects on background items, along with the occasional extra lighting effect - both on Xbox 360. The latter takes the form of subtle reflection effects - the gleam in a character's eyes, an additional light map on a boxing glove. Insignificant, but a curious omission from the PS3 code regardless.

Any tangible gap in visual quality only really becomes apparent should you choose to run the game in 1080i or 1080p mode. Xbox 360's built-in scaler works wonderfully with well anti-aliased images like this, whereas the PS3 alternative - working at 960x1080 then blowing up the image - doesn't look quite so good. This compromised image only kicks in if you have 720p unticked on your XMB by the way, so the developers would really rather let your screen do the scaling instead and the chances are it'll do a better job. However, at least the vocal minority with their 1080i-only HDTVs are well taken care of.

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