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Xbox 360 vs. PS3 Face-Off: Round 23

Dragon Age, Beatles, Guitar Hero 5, FIFA 10, PES 2010.


EA Sports' results with cross-platform development have been somewhat mixed in the past, with a firm focus on Xbox 360 as the lead system. However, over the years the standard of its FIFA games has remained high regardless of the console you might happen to own, with just the odd jerky moment and lack of anti-aliasing to contend with (which in this case incurs practically zero impact to overall image quality).

Bearing in mind the amount of effort EA Sports has put into FIFA 10, it is perhaps not surprising that the developers have managed to refine their art to its zenith across all platforms.

FIFA 10 is equally magnificent on both PS3 and Xbox 360, to the point where this part of the feature is essentially almost redundant. We're talking about a comparison where the subjects really are the same in all but a couple of miniscule regards, as this video demonstrates:

Aside from a softer look to the PS3 version, this is the closest cross-platform iteration we've seen from EA Sports to date.

There are still inconsistencies in frame-rate in cinematics (pfft, big deal) and there is a softer look to the PS3 code thanks to the quincunx anti-aliasing, but the average FIFA game isn't exactly big on intricate graphical details, so it's not as if you're really losing much. And hey, anti-aliasing is included on PS3 where previously its implementation has been lacking. It all suggests that the EA Sports team is focused on delivering the full experience, complete with the minor technical trimmings, no matter the console.

With the technical analysis out of the way, here's the really important bit: the game passes muster with the hardcore football crowd at Eurogamer's offices on both platforms, with all parties describing the core gameplay as being identical.

However, with both consoles and both versions of the game readily on-tap, it appears to be the 360 version that gets the most playtime. It's nothing to do with the actual code; it's more about the control system. FIFA is analogue-heavy, with 360-degree control on the left stick and dinks on the right, so the preference goes to 360 simply because people generally prefer those sticks - and the right trigger - to their DualShock equivalents.

Over and above that, it's time to play the friends list card. The online aspects of FIFA 10 are crucially important. If you own both platforms and you're wondering which to buy, it all comes down to where the bulk of your online gameplay takes place, and who you want to play the game with.

PES 2010: Pro Evolution Soccer 2010

Konami's initial forays into cross-format development for its premier sports franchise were pretty grim, to the point where the company issued a patch that completely removed anti-aliasing from the PS3 build of PES 2008 in order to claw back some performance for its jerky replays.

Thankfully times have moved on, and Pro Evolution Soccer 2010's quality as a multi-platform release suggests that Konami's processes have matured: no longer are forums the world over alive with pleading for lag-fixing patches.

Taking a quick look at the comparison video, the games are essentially like-for-like, certainly in every way that actually matters to the core gameplay.

Gameplay comparison of PES 2010. A very decent conversion effort from Konami with barely noticeable compromises on PS3.

It is interesting to note that while FIFA 10 demonstrates that the beautiful game truly is platform-agnostic (um, PC version aside) in just about every single way, Konami's PS3 coding skill isn't quite up to the same level.

Xbox 360 operates at native 720p with a uniform 2x multi-sampling edge smoothing system in place. On the PS3 version of the game, the implementation of the AA is variable. It seems to be the case that on the cinematic-style scenes with close-ups on the players, AA is disabled in order to handle the additional load being asked of the engine. It's also fair to say that the Konami has tweaked texture definition in places, with some of the ad hoardings seemingly using less defined, lower-resolution assets.

All of which is only slightly interesting even to the more technically inclined, as in terms of basic gameplay there are the same, both running at 60 frames per second, both offering equal levels of response. What is apparent from canvassing the Eurogamer footie veterans is a preference for the PS3 d-pad over the Xbox 360 controller - somewhat in contrast to the same situation with FIFA. While FIFA's 360-degree control system seems to favour the Microsoft pad, the 16-direction "on rails" system in PES seems to find a more natural home on the PlayStation 3's DualShock 3.

Over and above that, the most crucial element in deciding which version to buy has very little to do with the technical side of things and similar to FIFA, comes down to whether you want to play online and, if so, whether the majority of your friends are located on Xbox Live or PSN.

It'll be interesting to see where Konami goes next with PES, bearing in mind the sheer majesty of this year's FIFA outing. PES isn't a bad-looking game. The player models look good, the lighting is nice, it all moves very smoothly and the gameplay is fine. It's just that there's a very real sense that the beauty it has truly is skin-deep, and that the engine lurking underneath is outdated.

In terms of both gameplay and graphics technology, Konami has its work cut-out in matching FIFA, let alone coming up with something special enough to surpass it.

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About the Author

Richard Leadbetter avatar

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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