Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3: Round 31 • Page 2

Brink, Mortal Kombat, WWE All-Stars, MX vs. ATV Alive, Virtua Tennis 4.

In terms of the speed of texture streaming, each version of the game appears to be capable of out-performing the other at any given point, but overall the PS3 release appears to have fewer issues. Perhaps it's our old 360 drive that's the problem here, because installing to hard drive definitely improves matters - but it's one of the few games we've ever come across where actual in-game performance (away from basic loading times) is noticeably boosted by the HDD install - the other notable one being another game with texture issues: the original Mass Effect.

Advantages with the PlayStation 3 version of Brink extend beyond resolution and image quality - it is undoubtedly a smoother game on the Sony platform, as the performance analysis clearly demonstrates, whether you're comparing like-for-like cut-scenes or gameplay sections from throughout the game.

Both games target 30 frames per second, but it is the PlayStation 3 version that is the far more consistent performer, with the Xbox 360 game dropping a lot more frames when the engine is really under stress. Unfortunately, as the engine is usually under the most pressure when there are lot of characters on-screen - and thus when you really need as much visual feedback as possible - this isn't just about one game running jerkier than the other, it's just as much about the quality of the gameplay experience itself.

You'll also note that Brink on PlayStation 3 operates with v-sync enabled, meaning no screen-tear. Xbox 360 doesn't have this luxury, though tearing does seem to be confined to the top third of the screen. As a consequence, there is a clear sense that the Xbox 360 game is not as solid and consistent as it is on PS3, but thankfully the tearing isn't anywhere near as much a part of the game's visual make-up as it is in, say, Homefront or even Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

The combination of a higher sustained frame-rate and no tearing gives an undoubted advantage to the PlayStation 3 version of Brink.

In just about every other respect these two games are mostly like-for-like, and this does mean that some of the most controversial aspects about any potential purchase are just as relevant on both platforms. For example, Brink's single-player game really feels like little more than cut-scenes and AI bolted on to the existing multiplayer action - a team-based experience where you can't coordinate with your colleagues just doesn't work particularly well, engendering a sense of powerlessness in the player.

If you're not waiting for the AI to catch up with you to storm an objective, you're waiting for them to revive you. Rather than duck out on a pointless firefight, AI seems to get distracted very easily to the point where I've seen the CPU players doggedly hold on to the bioweapon objective and fight it out rather than leg it to the end of the level, leaving team-mates to do the shooting. Even with mere seconds left on the clock, they'll still stick to their restricted behaviours and go off and do their class-specific objectives, which is infuriating when you really need help with the main task at hand.

There's a feeling that single-player Brink is all about switching classes and doing all the heavy lifting yourself, hoping that the AI at least clear the path to the next objective, and doing a lot of waiting about to be revived if they don't. It's difficult to avoid the feeling that the AI is better at defending objectives than attacking them.

Secondly, for a game competing against some of the most technologically advanced games in the market, there's a real sense that Brink feels a touch... Old. Forget the image quality and texture issues for a moment: in motion Brink often seems to be very much a product of the past rather than a state-of-the-art console shooter when you factor in unconvincing character animation and somewhat wooden physics. SMART interaction with the levels works nicely, but the lack of environmental damage (beyond the objectives), and the relatively low number of dynamic objects makes for an often sterile and static world in which you play.

That Brink succeeds and has found an audience all comes down to that basic gameplay we couldn't get enough of way back in 2003 - the Enemy Territory formula still possesses so much raw potential. In its scaled up incarnation in Brink, a good multiplayer game can be really something special, but it's equally important to point out that single-player Brink just isn't at the races.

Weighing up the respective merits of the two consoles SKUs, it's self-evident that the return of PSN is well-timed indeed. Clearer, smoother, cleaner and more pleasing to the eye, if you want to play Brink on console, in our view the PlayStation 3 version is the superior choice.

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