Xbox 360 vs. PS3: Multiformat Face-off • Page 4

We compare and contrast the PS3's 360 ports.

Virtua Tennis 3

Although the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Virtua Tennis 3 are being released simultaneously in Europe and the US, it's no secret that SEGA's elite AM3 Hitmaker division handled the Sony game in Japan, while the Microsoft rendition was handled in the UK by long-term collaborator Sumo Digital. Both versions of Tennis used exactly the same core assets and game logic, and the result is that the two games are - unsurprisingly - almost exactly the same from a technical perspective.

Both games can run at full-fat 1080p resolution, with the main gameplay running flawlessly at 60fps. Between-point close-ups on the players see this framerate drop down to 30fps, although there are varying amounts of further slowdown between the two versions in these short interludes. In terms of other differences, we struggled to find anything amiss. The odd bit of additional HDR in the PS3 version perhaps, slightly longer intro-pans as the court comes into view, slightly different fontography. There's absolutely nothing of relevance from a visual standpoint that should make you choose one version over the other. Any difference in colouration you see in the comparison shots are almost certainly a result of us capturing an analogue video out from 360 (VGA) while with PS3 we had the luxury of a totally lossless digital transfer.

Of course, there is one hugely significant difference between the two games, as Kristan makes perfectly clear in his review of the 360 version. Sumo has integrated Xbox Live online gameplay into its work, and this adds a whole new dimension of playability and longevity that is shockingly absent from the PlayStation 3 code. For this reason - and this reason alone - the Xbox version is the one to own. Anyone wondering what the Sixaxis controls are like in the PS3 version should be aware that it's a rather pointless novelty that you'll quickly dispense with.

NBA Street Homecourt

The latest EA Sports BIG! release hasn't yet had the full Eurogamer review treatment (coming early next week), but those who enjoyed the previous Street offerings should find much to enjoy. In terms of gameplay, it feels very much like a next-gen NBA Jam, eschewing the ultra-realism of the more sim-based basketballing titles and opting instead for a cartoon-like, over-the-top approach to shooting hoops.

It's also notable in that the Xbox 360 version of the game is one of the rare 1080p native titles to be released on the console - along with Sumo Digital's Virtua Tennis 3. The PlayStation 3 code follows suit technically, instantly switching into 1080p mode so long as your Display Settings on the XMB are similarly configured. And therein lies the problem.

When running at 720p on either console, NBA Street Homecourt is a fast and slick arcade-style game, running at 60fps. A consistent framerate makes any game feel more fluid, more responsive, more lifelike. In a game like NBA Street Homecourt, where the animations are so detailed, a full framerate makes a huge amount of difference. In drawing over twice the amount of pixels in 1080p mode, the game's framerate is savagely slashed to 30fps, altering the feel, making it feel less slick, less arcade-like. The problem is seemingly a little more pronounced on the PS3, where even 30fps seems to be too much to ask for, with the action marred by random frame-outs that cause wholly unnecessary in-game stuttering. What is all the more annoying is that there's no option within the menu system to avoid this visual calamity on either version.

For PC gamers, the ability to tweak the graphics settings and effectively choose between resolution over framerate is standard fare. I'm not sure I want to see this in console gaming - especially in an arcade game like this where the speed and fluidity are so important to the essential experience. As it stands, both versions of the game are pretty much identical running at 720p, but perhaps surprisingly it's the Xbox 360 that runs NBA Street Homecourt a touch better at 1080p. Not that this should have much effect on any purchasing decision - 720p/60 is the only way either rendition of the game should be played.

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About the author

Richard Leadbetter

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.


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