Need For Speed ProStreet
Perhaps the ultimate example of cross-platform development, historically the Need for Speed games roll-out onto every piece of gaming hardware currently available, a crucial factor in guaranteeing its inevitable position at the top of the Christmas sales charts.
Unfortunately, this wide-ranging support for all platforms hasn't done the PlayStation 3 version of ProStreet any favours this time around. It's supremely obvious that the game has been developed with the Xbox 360 in mind, with the port for the Sony machine being markedly substandard in comparison.
The disadvantages apparent in the PS3 code read almost like a checklist of the worst in cross-platform development. The game's blurrier with an inconsistent frame rate, and if it's not running at a lower resolution than the 360 game it certainly looks like it. On top of that, some of the cool depth of field effects in the Xbox 360 game that add a subtle blur to faraway objects are all but gone too.
The gameplay and content is of course essentially identical between the two versions and in this respect, it basically means that Xbox 360 owners are not really that much better off than their PS3-owning brethren. While their game may be shinier, prettier and smoother, the basic fact of the matter is that Need for Speed ProStreet is simply a disappointing release regardless of the console you run it on. While there's a huge amount of content, plenty of cars and some excellent customisation features, ProStreet is basically a driving game with naff handling - and that serves to diminish its appeal right from the first race.
Far more worthy of your cash would be the forthcoming Burnout Paradise - designed with PS3 as the lead development platform by a team dedicated to getting the most out of the hardware, it's a clear generational leap over this disappointing offering.
Stuntman Ignition reviewed favourably here at Eurogamer and quite rightly so. Conceptually, it's frankly superb; the raw potential of the original Reflections design skillfully melded into an accessible, hugely enjoyable release with stack-loads of replay value - in many ways, it's exactly the game the original should have been.
However, for all its apparent excellence, the engine running the show came up a little short, with a frame-rate that dipped dramatically when the screen was at its busiest - exactly when you need a smooth response. Just one small step away from being a truly unmissable game, the belated PlayStation 3 version therefore is a chance to improve upon the original until such time as a sequel appears - and hopefully it will.
Unfortunately, the PS3 rendition of Stuntman exhibits all the classic hallmarks of a lazy, cack-handed conversion. In terms of actual game content, everything from the Xbox 360 version of the game is in there (with perhaps some small changes here and there in terms of effects and lighting) but the frame-rate issues of the original version are amplified substantially in the new code, and the v-sync screen tear is off-puttingly bad.
What was a golden opportunity to refine the existing, excellent game into even better one has been squandered, and that's a real shame in the case of a release that really could have benefitted from the additional TLC.
WWE SmackDown vs RAW 2008
This latest iteration of the mega-selling wrestling series is perhaps the ultimate victim of cross-platform development, being, as it is, a game designed from the ground up for the PlayStation 2. To be fair, this is where it's going to find the lion's share of its audience but for owners of the latest in console hardware, WWE SmackDown vs Raw feels outdated and basic, worlds apart from the increased realism and more advanced physics we've come to expect from PS3 and Xbox 360 gaming.
Sure, the graphics have been improved, and this does its part in helping to obscure the archaic gameplay mechanics. The wrestler models, intro sequences and special effects all look suitably impressive, even if Yukes' interpretations of some of the female wrestlers are distressingly ugly in a Core Design era Lara Croft kind of way. But behind the graphical upgrades, it doesn't matter whether you're playing the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 renditions of the code; there's simply no escaping the fact that you're playing a PS2 game that looks a touch more appealing.
Technical differences are all but irrelevant really; however, for the record neither version looks especially fantastic once the impressive intro sequences have wound down and the gameplay has begun. The Xbox 360 version runs at full 720p, albeit with a slight blur effect taking the place of proper anti-aliasing. The PS3 version runs at a lower base resolution, but seems to be using a trick similar to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, whereby the two images used to generate an anti-aliased framebuffer are combined. It's difficult to measure in this situation but whereas Potter was rendered from two base 720p images (giving a notional 2560x720 resolution which is then scaled down), WWE seems to be adopting the bare minimum by combining two 640x720 frames. The result is essentially the same as the 360 game, albeit with perceivably increased jagginess on the edges.
Regardless, it's the gameplay that counts and WWE is acceptable only in that there is no competition out there that provides anything better. The series is in desperate need of a major overhaul and THQ/Yukes need to take a serious look at the quality of this game and consider a new direction for next year's inevitable offering.
Hyperspace ultra links to save your precious fingers
Previously on Eurogamer.net...
To catch up on the previous clashes check out rounds one to five below.