Playstation 35Xbox 360 4

You can see by the score that Sony wins by a nose. This is simply because Sony has taken a brute force approach to the console war by building a superior system at a greater loss.

The Winner: PS3

So, why is it such a triumph for Sony? In some ways, the wait has clearly paid off. From the number of I/O inputs to the inclusion of HDMI, the Playstation 3 – according to its hardware, at least – is a more advanced machine.

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You'll also find a hard drive that's three times the size of that accompanying the Xbox 360, offering developers on future projects more freedom with creating detailed and expansive environments.

With that said, there isn't a single determining factor in any console war, and if there is, it certainly is not hardware. Graphically, the original Xbox was leagues ahead of the PS2 - unlike the current minute differences between the 360 and PS3 – and Sony's console still dominated the competition. Such a result came from a recipe for success that was one part initiative (early launch) and two parts software (more developers, more games). Even though some Xbox titles could, arguably, make similar releases on the Playstation 2 look like mud on a monitor, the PS2 simply had a wider appeal and was marketed accordingly. Obviously, we've yet to take a close look at all the high-end games unreleased for the PS3, but so far there is no reason to expect the graphics from Sony are going to be anything head-and-shoulders above those already seen on the Xbox 360.

As we've hinted at, the differences in this "next gen" of gaming are hardly so noticeable. Our play testing sessions with Call of Duty 3 showed no graphical difference between the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360. The latter, on the other hand, has proven itself via some key titles, including The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion , and, more importantly, the much-hyped and critically acclaimed Gears of War . Clearly, as it was in 2001 with the tardy launch of the original Xbox, a head-start has done some good for that hardware first out of the gate.

When all is said and done, the real performance test in gaming is still inconclusive. Although a year head-start was clearly a wise choice by Microsoft (who have already rolled out a few phenomenal titles), the real trials will commence in 2007, when a tidal wave of Playstation 3 games make their way into electronics stores.