Call of Duty 3
Call of Duty 3 is one of those games that could - and should - have been an absolute classic, but instead leaves you a little disappointed due to some poor AI, by-the-numbers game design and some unforgivable bugs. Things radically improve in the online mode, with up to 24 players online at once, vast amounts of game types and additional maps to download. Despite a few teething problems, the Internet experience is superb fun, and arguably the core reason for buying the game.
On PS3, it's effectively business as usual when it comes to the single-player mode. Yes, token Sixaxis support has been added to the tacked-on hand-to-hand battling sections and we can confirm the reports that the game runs at a slower frame rate and lags more often. But everything meaningful about the Xbox 360 version's single-player experience is present and correct and there's no doubt at all that it's a spectacular-looking game whichever machine you run it on.
One thing we were keen to check out was why exactly the PS3 version runs slower than the Xbox game. As the tech-obsessed have debated already, Treyarch's 360 code does some very cunning things behind the scenes - rendering a 1040x620 framebuffer as opposed to the usual 1280x720, thus relying on the 360's ANA chip to make up the difference with a spot of bilinear scaling. As far as we know, the PS3's SDK isn't quite so flexible with resolutions - so in theory it should be running at native 720p, offering almost 30% more detail than the Xbox 360 game. The screenshot comparisons put paid to this theory - it seems that both games start off at the reduced resolution before being scaled upwards (witness the trees on the left in the second comparison shot). Yes, that 30% loss of resolution seems terrible on paper but the game looks wonderful in motion, and I'd take the faster refresh over the fine detail in a heartbeat.
Onto online performance then, and while the lag on a packed server is barely noticeable, the lack of voice comms drastically impacts the PS3 version, especially due to the team-based nature of most of the game variations on offer. The additional downloadable goodies available for the 360 version have also yet to appear on the PlayStation Store, which is somewhat strange and, again, very disappointing. Call of Duty 3 is one of the premiere console online games; it would seem logical for Sony and Activision to ensure that PS3 owners are getting the same level of performance as 360 players.
In short, Call of Duty 3 is a solid enough game on PlayStation 3, but it's obvious that the Xbox 360 version was (and is) the lead platform for development and the Sony console is getting sloppy seconds. In this respect, it's simply not good enough.
Somewhat overlooked on console where the 3D visuals didn't quite match the original GPU-annihilating PC version's, FEAR is something of a gem on the Xbox 360 - a first-person shooter that genuinely advances the genre and provides a consistently thrilling, suspenseful experience. There's little from a gameplay perspective that diminishes that viewpoint with the PlayStation 3 rendition, as aside from the odd glitch and bug it seems to play just like its older brother on 360.
However, from a technical perspective, PS3 FEAR is very poor compared to the Xbox 360 version. The screenshot galleries give the game away - on PS3 the graphics are heavily blurred compared to the 360 code, with aliasing on edges far more pronounced. The blur is so blatant that I initially thought that the game's opening cinematics had moved to video sequences as opposed to using the 3D engine, but the fuzzy haze remains as the player takes control. I then had to double-check the capture equipment to make sure that the game really was visually handicapped to this extent, but on closer inspection, FEAR's HUD display was as crystal clear as you would expect from a lossless HDMI grab. The PS3 genuinely was producing this lacklustre picture.
Graphically then, FEAR is clearly a disappointment compared to the Microsoft version and the news does not improve when taking into account the game's loading times - FEAR takes longer to ingest its disc-based data on PS3 than it does on 360.
Despite the game's video shortcomings, it's still a quality title and the gameplay excels in a genre that has become pedestrian and predictable. It's just a shame that a title synonymous with graphical excellence looks quite poor on the Sony console and perhaps even more lamentable that such a cool game will be seized upon by some for the sole purpose of poking fun at the PS3.