Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
An absolutely joyous little game that appeals to children of all ages with its combination of slick, enjoyable action, sharp sense of humour and excellent co-op gameplay. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game basically mirror the existing Original and Prequel titles, compiling them into a single release and offering a range of exclusive bonus extras including an array of never-seen-before Lego characters and new game modes.
Both versions of the Lego Star Wars do their best to run at full 720p resolution at 60 frames-per-second (albeit with v-lock tear), with the Xbox 360 featuring softer anti-aliased edges that are not present on the Sony version of the game. The PS3 game does however benefit from a 1080p mode. Just like Traveller's Tales awful Transformers game this is actually running at 960x1080 with hardware bilinear scaling expanding the image to full 1080p. However, while there is actually more pixel information in the image, the Xbox 360's hardware scaling of the anti-aliased 720p framebuffer looks just as good, if not a touch better in motion.
The PlayStation 3 version of the game also offers up SixAxis motion sensor support for controlling the vehicles, but is as usually the case with such add-on modes, it's best ignored. Certainly, the innovative controls found in the Wii version of the same game aren't replicated here.
In conclusion though, it's great to see a decent UK developer like Traveller's Tales handing in quality wares on all platforms. Both versions are extremely enjoyable and well worth a punt, especially if you can find them in the New Year bargain bins.
Clive Barker's Jericho
Clive Barker's Jericho never quite made it as a serious contender in the ultra-competitive FPS market and returning to the game for this face-off feature, it's not so difficult to see why. While it has plenty of positives in the form of suitably horrific graphics, masses of variety and decent characterisation, it just feels as though the development team's imagination dried up when it came to designing suitably exciting gameplay and levels to capitalise on all the good stuff. I just couldn't help but feel that I should be more engrossed, enthralled and on the edge of my seat playing this than I actually was.
As you would expect, content-wise the PS3 game is identical to the Xbox 360 version, but there are big differences graphically. Just like The Darkness, the Sony console plays host to a much blurrier version of the game, mostly down to the significantly reduced resolution (996x560 or thereabouts) which is then blown up via software scaling to 'normal' 720p. To mitigate the lack of detail, the PS3 does feature one or two little bonuses, the first of which is some well-placed anti-aliasing which does lessen the dramatic loss of resolution a touch, but even so the game does struggle to match the smoothness of the 360 game which itself is prone to slowdown when the action gets frenetic.
Jericho on PS3 is also one of the few games I played for this face-off feature that does support 1080p rather than leaving it to your screen to do the scaling, but to be honest, the implementation is lacklustre. There are no appreciable resolution gains over the '720p' mode so it does look more than a little rough, and once again the chances are that with many displays, disabling 1080p on the XMB results in a better picture and a marginally smoother refresh rate. It's also one of the rare occasions where the same advice applies to Xbox 360 owners. The ATI scaler isn't particularly good at handling aliased visuals, and Jericho is a case in point.
John Woo Presents Stranglehold
I played this game through to completion on Xbox 360 and have often returned to it for the odd blast when I've had a few moments to spare. Mastering the combo system is what brings me back (I've still not cracked that 50-star style Achievement yet) but overall, it's a curious game that I manage to both like and dislike in almost equal measure. Sometimes I adore its over-the-top ultra-violence, superbly detailed backgrounds, and of course the ability to shoot men in the balls with ultra-precision.
On the other hand, the undoubted fun factor of Stranglehold is severely put to the test by the hugely repetitive gameplay. The lack of consistency in the quality of the levels in terms of design, graphics and basic enjoyment is somewhat puzzling. It's as though two or three different teams of varying experience and ability were assigned the various levels willy-nilly, so there's no sense of consistent graphical quality and very little in the way of progressive gameplay. Tequila bombs aside, the whole game has its stall set out in level one, and there's very little else you actually learn during the game that is necessary to beat it.
Clearly though, Stranglehold is indeed another triumph for the Unreal Engine that powers it, because the game's performance on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is uniformly excellent. Just like Rainbow Six: Vegas, another title based on the Epic middleware, any graphical changes are essentially irrelevant, and there's basically zero difference in the gameplay between the two versions. Textures are streamed in while you play, so the difference in memory architecture between the two consoles is not an issue. As is seemingly the norm with Unreal Engine titles, the PlayStation 3 version has no anti-aliasing, but it seems to make little difference in this case.
Strain your eyes all you want at the comparison screenshots, but as far as I'm concerned, no console owner is going to feel short-changed in terms of technical performance unless miniscule changes in lighting and slightly smoother edges define your gaming world.
Incidentally, we were going to cover this one a lot sooner, but the demo promises 1080i/1080p compatibility for PS3 owners, but none of the code we had exhibited this - and lo and behold - even the final retail game (once we eventually got our hands on it) is indeed 720p only - perhaps for the best based on some of the attempts at 1080p compatibility we've witnessed in recent times.
Table of contents
- Kane and Lynch: Dead Men
- Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2
- Tony Hawk's Proving Ground
- Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
- Blazing Angels: Secret Missions of WWII
- Medal of Honor: Airborne
- Dynasty Warriors: Gundam
- Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War
- Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
- Clive Barker's Jericho
- John Woo Presents Stranglehold