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X360 vs. PS3 Face-Off: Round Six

Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed and many more. Ding!

Eurogamer is back for its latest tour of duty at the frontline of the console war with this new instalment in our rolling series of PlayStation 3 vs Xbox 360 cross-platform face-offs.

You know the form by now. We take an impartial look at a range of games that appear on both consoles, providing additional comment to the reviews already published on the site. Technical differences are highlighted, with any impact on the basic gameplay being of primary concern.

As usual, backing up the analysis is a range of comparison screenshots of each game, losslessly extracted with full 24-bit RGB precision from the HDMI ports of the Xbox 360 Elite and PlayStation 3 courtesy of a Digital Foundry HD capture unit. 720p shots are provided as standard for all games, but where the PS3 version supports 1080p (either scaled or native), we supply additional 'True HD' screengrabs to compare the games' respective performance for those privileged enough to have access to top-end displays.

We've got an intriguing range of titles in the line-up this time around, including two of the biggest releases of recent times.

Hyperspace ultra links to save your precious fingers

Eight games, 105 comparison shots, and masses of discussion points. Let's do it.

Call Of Duty 4

Infinity Ward's return to the Call of Duty franchise is a landmark release, a brilliant example of developers at the very pinnacle of their game. The Xbox Live multiplayer beta was a tantalising teaser of what was to come, but the sheer magnificence of the final code is nothing short of a revelation. Effortlessly combining quality online gameplay with a single-player campaign that out-quaffs all competition, Call of Duty 4 is quite simply a staggeringly good game and right up there with Super Mario Galaxy as my personal pick of the year.

The great news is that both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners get to experience the same superb gameplay with no compromises, the two versions essentially being completely interchangeable. Sure, there are a few minor variations here and there, if you can stop playing long enough to sit down, put both versions side-by-side and compare them carefully. There's the occasional better-looking texture on 360, offset by some more accomplished effects (like the rain in the cargo ship mission) and less blocky shadows on the PlayStation 3 rendition of the game. Of slightly more consequence is that the loading times on the PS3 game are noticeably longer: anything from 10 to 15 seconds longer compared to the same data being streamed in on Xbox 360.

Both versions are also operating at a sub-HD resolution - 1024x600 to be precise - but the scaling up to both 720p and indeed 1080p looks decent enough thanks to anti-aliasing being present on the base image. Certainly, frame-rate is not an issue; both games run (for the most part) at a smooth 60fps, and I for one would take that arcade-like precision and crispness of response over a boost in resolution any day.

Miniscule differences aside, the point is that the core experience and all the things that make this game great are identical on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with only the lure of Achievements potentially offering further replay value for owners of the Microsoft console if you are that way inclined.

NBA Live '08

No Eurogamer review on record for this one, and taking a look at the game for the purposes of this feature it's not difficult to see why. NBA Live 08 feels like a product made to order, composed of the best-fit components of the other more accomplished EA Sports titles, featuring the requisite basketball trimmings that feel OK but wholly unremarkable. As a sim, it more than does the job, but it lacks that magical ingredient that turns a hardcore sports title into an all-inclusive game that's irresistible to pick up and play.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this is yet another in a long line of games to emanate from the EA Sports division that have clearly been designed to run at their maximum potential on the Xbox 360. Frame-rate is pretty much locked to 60fps - not crucial but certainly welcome in this type of game - with very detailed textures, and top-end 4x MSAA anti-aliasing effects. While the PS3 version of NBA Live 08 matches the Xbox version in terms of features and content, graphically it's clearly far inferior. It's not as smooth, with an inconsistent refresh rate, the textures are clearly far less detailed and there's no anti-aliasing in the visuals whatsoever. It does the job, but could easily have been so much better.

With EA Sports now on its second generation PS3 titles, it's rather disconcerting to see that its development efforts are still lagging behind the Xbox 360 versions, which are clearly improving year-on-year. Bearing in mind how crucial this range of games is to the US market in particular, it'll certainly be intriguing to see what happens next year with the next range of updates. If a mammoth juggernaut with the financial muscle of EA Sports can't treat PS3 development with the same respect afforded to the competition, you really do have to wonder what's going on behind the scenes. Let's hope for better things next year across the whole EA Sports portfolio.

Previously on

To catch up on the previous clashes check out rounds one to five below.