First of all, i m nothing of a graphic expert - i dont even know to use photoshop properly.
Also, there has been much talk about which is better, SE or Tales, Tales or Escape, are Monkey 1 and 2 better drawn and so on.
Its hard to compare different styles, but no, Tales of MI is not looking worse then SE speaking in some general graphic issues, and actually Tales of MI Guybrush is better looking then SE one, which wasnt a hard thing to do
and pretty good on the spot with its design. however, and without arguing on 3d aspect, graphics could certanly use some details, in therms of variety for example. i dont wanna go into financial or budget issues as i understand it, but in therms of some more simple decisions, details, choice of colours, patterns and so on. many 3d games tend to look a little straightforward in terms of colours, like its a set and stage at the theater that u watch for couple of hours with the same background props for the scenes. thats the problem i find also with similiar games, counting there also Sam & Max and Wallace and Grommit.
Of course, i m bothered with this because i think Tales of MI shure is actually not bad looking, even if now we are talking about 3d with keyboard controls, but i ll leave that aside for now.
So, where i m pointing. If we turn attention onto the water, you could really sense some little variety while looking at the scenes and screenshots, and somehow the whole scene looks bland. i tried to break the monotony with some different or agressive choice of colour, to look somehow more natural, and at the same time, more cartoonish as well.
the second scene has also redesigned water, but this time with some different patterns and couple of variations, where i just added some more waves, but still the whole scene feels a little different. Also, if we add variety for the clouds as well, i think the scene is a growing somehow, with a sense of wide area, like area where we would sail later on.
As for the third example, i simply changed the sand which is down right where Guybrush is standing, trying to make a little twist to design and colour scheme without changing too much of original design, to make it look maybe more detailed or rich.