Red Faction: Battlegrounds
|Xbox 360||PlayStation 3|
|Surround Support||Dolby Digital||Dolby Digital, 5.1LPCM, DTS|
Red Faction: Battlegrounds takes the environments, the physics, the destruction and the futuristic vehicles from its core franchise and transplants them into a multiplayer-focused shooting/racing title that is a visual treat and initially spades of fun to play. However, the game's impressive aura diminishes radically once you have worked your way through the meagre single-player content, with multiplayer proving to be rather empty and frustrating for all the reasons pointed out by Kristan Reed in yesterday's download roundup.
In terms of the quality of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, there is a small range of differences to flag up, but nothing really remarkable: they're both really attractive games.
Both versions operate at the standard 720p, with 2x MSAA on Xbox 360 and quincunx anti-aliasing on PS3, adding a noticeable blur to the often intricate visuals. Aside from a transparent platform on one stage of the 360 version that is quite solid on PS3, other differences are thin on the ground. We do see a different, thicker fog implementation on the Sony platform, but otherwise the games are basically the same.
A traditional head-to-head performance video isn't really going to cut it for Red Faction: Battlegrounds. The action spreads out across the entire screen, and by robbing you of half of the image, it's really difficult to put any kind of context on the relationship between the frame-rate and on-screen action. Instead, we'll run equivalent videos one after the other, kicking off with the Xbox 360 version of the game.
The developers have opted to run Battlegrounds with an uncapped frame-rate and with no form of v-sync enabled. It's an odd decision: screen-tear is a constant on-screen companion and advantages in terms of pad response from the higher frame-rate don't seem to be translated into much of a gain from a gameplay perspective, especially bearing in mind just how inconsistent the update is. An option to lock at 30FPS with no tearing would have made a really positive contribution to the look of the game, which is excellent otherwise.
Turning our gaze over to the PlayStation 3 version and we see much the same style of setup in terms of how the game processes its visuals. However, there is one immediately noticeable difference.
There is a general sensation that the PS3 game offers the smoother experience during gameplay and it is borne out by the analysis: frame-rates appear to be somewhat higher and despite the still-high levels of screen-tear, the overall affect on the image quality isn't quite as bad as it is on the Xbox 360.
However, all things being equal, it's the Sony platform the edges it. Despite the blurring of the quincunx anti-aliasing, there are a number of factors that make the PS3 SKU the preferable choice, aside from the smoother performance. For starters, if you're a 3DTV owner, the PS3 game is the one to have as it features stereoscopic support absent from the Xbox 360 version (something we'll be taking a look at in our forthcoming 3D article). It's also currently free if you subscribe to PSN, and it has to be said that the current 15 months for 12 offer is rather tempting.