Face-Off: Dead Rising 2 • Page 2

Undead reckoning.

Playing both versions of the game, it's obvious that Blue Castle Games had some real issues in getting the performance level up to snuff. It's clear that completely disabling v-sync was chosen in order to raise the average frame-rate: based on the performance there's no doubt that those juddering drops to 20FPS on 360 would be far more pronounced and more frequent in more places were v-sync applied to the PS3 game as well.

The overall look of the game remains close between both versions, however, though there are occasional discrepancies in image quality which again tend to favour the Xbox 360 game. It could well be a memory issue, but there are cases where texture quality appears to be have been dialled back on PS3. For example, in the above shot comparison we can see that the normal maps are missing a lot of detail on PS3.

It's hardly groundbreaking stuff, but again lends some evidence to the theory that Dead Rising 2 was primarily an Xbox 360-led title that needed more than a bit of technical man-handling before it could fit and run well enough on PlayStation 3. Another example can be seen in the top shot comparison, where the depth of field effect isn't as well-filtered as it is on the Xbox 360 game. On the bottom we see an area of the game where the player's shadow just disappears completely.

While the technical advantages become more numerous the longer you play the game, the reasons for favouring the Xbox 360 version of Dead Rising 2 over its PS3 sibling go beyond the pixels, textures and performance level: there's platform-exclusive bonus content too. The first piece of DLC, Case Zero, is a standalone adventure and pseudo-demo costing 400 MSP. In theory, multi-console owners could buy this on 360 then play the full game on PS3, but the fact that you can import your progress from Case Zero into the main release is probably too tempting to pass up.

The forthcoming Dead Rising 2: Case West does require purchase of the full game, and is again 360-exclusive. It also sounds rather cool and well worth waiting for. The star of the first Dead Rising, Frank West, is back, teaming up with Dead Rising 2's protagonist Chuck Greene for another round of undead massacre. The photography element of the first game also makes a welcome return for this bonus instalment.

If you happen to own both HD consoles, there's no doubt which version you should be aiming for: Dead Rising 2 on Xbox 360 is technically the much better game, and the exclusive DLC is another noteworthy factor in its favour. However, if you only own a PlayStation 3, the question is really whether the technical inadequacies have any real impact on the gameplay experience.

In a side-by-side comparison, the implementation of v-sync greatly adds to the overall visual consistency of the 360 title, but when viewed on its own merits, the tearing in the PS3 version of Dead Rising 2 is noticeable but not especially annoying. Mileage will vary as this is very much a perceptual issue, but tearing tends to be an issue in fast-moving games, and that doesn't especially apply to Dead Rising 2.

In terms of the resolution reduction, for the most part whatever software upscaling solution Blue Castle used works out pretty well. Put the game up against the 360 version running at full 720p and despite losing over 30 per cent of the pixels the overall look is still very close indeed.

On the one hand it is very difficult to avoid criticising the developer for not giving the PS3 version of Dead Rising 2 the same sort of love that the 360 game clearly received. Clearly and measurably we have a conversion with a big resolution hit and mildly toned down visuals that still can't match the Xbox 360 game in terms of basic performance. It's not often that we see a PS3 version so technically behind these days, but Dead Rising 2 is something of an unfortunate exception.

On the other hand, the technical compromises do at least mean that the PS3 version is in the same ballpark in terms of playability, and as mentioned earlier, there are occasional areas in-game where the 360's v-sync implementation can impact controller response - in these cases, the PS3 version can occasionally prove to be marginally faster to act from your joypad commands.

So the honours go to the 360 for this particular release, but Capcom has yet to play what could be its ace: the PC version of Dead Rising 2 launches on 1st October. In the next couple of days we'll be comparing the code to the PS3 and 360 releases and seeing just how much hardware is required to provide a console-beating experience.

Check out our Dead Rising 2 review elsewhere on the site for an in-depth gameplay appraisal.

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