Woah. It's hard to believe that it's been almost five months since we posted Face-Off Round 27, the most recent of our multi-game comparison features. Here, in an effort to make up for the deficit, is a compilation of the most interesting games to come our way, with the promise of further roundup coverage next month.
While none of the releases covered in this feature are absolute must-buys, it's equally fair to say that each and every one of them has its own unique charms, and in a market where games just a couple of months old are savagely discounted, even a Eurogamer 6/10 rated title can provide plenty of value when the price is right.
Here's a quick rundown of the titles we're covering this time:
As is the case with our more detailed, expansive single-game Face-Offs, we've supplied screenshot comparison galleries, head-to-head movies and performance analyses for each game. In the case of TRON: Evolution, there's even some nice PS3 2D vs. 3D performance metrics to get your teeth into as well.
We're closing in on Christmas and Digital Foundry shuts down for a short respite next week before the insanity recommences in the New Year. However, before we go, we'll be looking at the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the eagerly awaited Dead Space 2 demo that's set for release on December 21, before moving onto the hugely anticipated PS3 sampler for Mass Effect 2 the very next day...
|Xbox 360||PlayStation 3|
|Surround Support||Dolby Digital||Dolby Digital, 5.1LPCM, DTS|
In an era where mainstream console games are so expensive to develop, it's rare that a publisher has the guts to dip into its decades-old arcade catalogue and resurrect an aged franchise for a brand new, full-price release. Capcom gave it a shot with the highly entertaining, if commercially unsuccessful Bionic Commando, and now it's Namco Bandai's turn with a blood-soaked reboot of its infamous 20-year-old beat-'em-up, Splatterhouse.
A Eurogamer 6/10 review score points towards an enjoyable if somewhat limited gameplay experience, but it's fair to say that Splatterhouse cannot really be criticised from a platform comparison perspective, because the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 releases of the game are effectively identical. This head-to-head Face-Off movie demonstrates just how close these two games are.
From a technical perspective Splatterhouse isn't hugely impressive, but the visual make-up of the game - in particular its cel-shaded style - help to cover up some of the deficiencies. First up there's the resolution. It's definitely sub-HD on both platforms - we reckon 1024x576. Anti-aliasing also appears to be present on both systems in the form of 2x multi-sampling, which seems to be blitzed in most cases by post-processing effects carried out later in the rendering process. On the plus side, the game is v-synced on both systems, ensuring that the visual consistency of the game is not impacted by screen-tear.
Splatterhouse aspires to hit 30 frames per second, but it's clear that the engine has real trouble sustaining the target frame-rate on both systems:
We have very little in the way of cut-scenes that genuinely test engine performance so the opportunity to test the game's rendering in like-for-like situations is rather limited. Instead, we can only look at how the two versions cope within the same levels during gameplay. In this case, it is clear to see that both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 struggle to cope with the demands put upon the tech. We see frame-rates typically fluctuate quite wildly between 20FPS and 30FPS on both platforms.
Across the series of clips it's accurate to say that neither version commands any kind of tangible, sustainable advantage over the other, and certainly from a visual perspective the games are entirely like for like with just the usual gamma difference between the two consoles providing any kind of immediately apparent difference.
Splatterhouse is a game with a very niche appeal: a release that provides simplistic, repetitive, old-skool beat-'em-up thrills and extremely bloody spills. It pays effective homage to its coin-operated origins in concept, doing just enough to be a credible release in the HD console era - and while it has many shortcomings, at least the game itself is effectively identical on both platforms.