This is probably the smallest current-generation console game I've yet to look at, in terms of its actual use of disc space. Dumping Battle Fantasia to my debug 360's hard disk reveals that the game occupies a mere 1.25GB of space, while the PS3 game uses up a whole 1.4GB of the 25GB single-layer Blu-ray disc it occupies. You can't help but feel that it would've been a perfect candidate for digital delivery as opposed to the traditional physical disc.
While limited in terms of assets, it's clear that Battle Fantasia is a whole lot of fun if you're into your fighting games, and while it's likely to be completely ignored in favour of the lovely Street Fighter IV, there's still much to like here, especially if you're into your Japanica. Wacky, far-out, crazy but attractive and enjoyable, the bright 'n' cheerful visuals are in stark contrast to the technical adept, mature fighting game action.
Technically speaking, there's little here to challenge either console. Both run at full 720p, and maintain a solid 60fps refresh rate. The only immediate difference concerns a blur filter that is on by default on 360, and off on PS3. Sort out that tweakable (as we have in the screenshot gallery) and aside from a small difference in the colour balance, the games are completely interchangeable. If there's any kind of style that would gain something from a blur it's the anime look, but even here I thought it looked a bit rough and rather unnecessary. Aside from that, the only noticeable difference I could locate was a background music selector for Versus Mode on PS3, which is curiously absent in the 360 version.
50 Cent: Blood on the Sand
It was difficult to see how the 'franchise' could come back in the wake of the absurd 50 Cent: Bulletproof, but Blood on the Sand is a bloody good effort, adapting elements of Gears of War 2 and The Club into an unspectacular, but solid shooter, complete with unintentional hilarity via the OTT profanity of Fiddy's motherf***in' voice acting. It's also another example of how the cross-format development game has moved on, and how nature of these face-off outcomes is becoming increasingly more difficult to predict.
The most obvious difference here is the inclusion of v-lock. We're seeing a small number of cross-platform games these days where it is in evidence on the PS3 version, but turned off on 360, and this is the most striking example since Resident Evil 5. While Capcom's game wasn't unduly impacted by the screen tear during gameplay, its inclusion here is blatant and seriously bad news for the overall image quality. Meanwhile, the PS3 game is v-locked and rock solid, albeit at the cost of slightly less responsive controls.
The only other difference here concerns the introduction of a blur filter, which appears to be a recurring theme in this face-off. Just like Tom Clancy's HAWX, it has been added to the PS3 code, muddying picture quality in comparison to the blur-free 360 game. Now usually, the introduction of blur serves to compensate for a lack of anti-aliasing (as seen in the case of HAWX). But not here, where the Vaseline-free 360 game also omits AA and clearly resolves more detail, particularly on the background. So, curiously, for some reason we can't fathom, the developers decided to waste CPU cycles by effectively making the PS3 game look worse.
Other than that, we're looking at platform parity, aside from some incidental and relatively minor lighting differences, along with a mandatory PS3 installation of around 2GB. Blood in the Sand remains a strong release, and while it's definitely not a must-buy, it's a worthy enough 7/10 which might prove irresistible once the price drops. For owners of both consoles considering which to buy, it really comes down to where you're likely to pick up a co-op partner: PSN or Live? Failing that: blur or tearing, it's your choice.
While Unreal Engine tends to earn its keep via first- or third-person shooters, there have been some interesting attempts at using the technology within other genres. Unfortunately, in most cases, when his happens, a mediocre game and/or a technical disappointment is the result - check out Undertow or Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe for a couple of examples. However, to the best of my knowledge, Wheelman is the first out-and-out racing game to make use of UE3 and the engine acquits itself fairly well.
As you would expect with middleware as accomplished as Unreal Engine 3, Wheelman does a pretty job of extracting like-for-like performance from the respective consoles. The usual racing game gotchas (blatant changes in LODs, pop-in) aren't really an issue, and any difference between the outputs of the two consoles comes down to the more predictable issues of screen-tear and anti-aliasing. The Xbox 360 version is clearly the more refined, better-looking game - edges are smoothed off with 2x multi-sampling AA, which is completely omitted on PS3, resulting in a jaggier picture with more shimmering on the textures.
Both games run at 30fps, but neither version is v-synced, resulting in some pretty ugly tearing. By looking at the like-for-like clips, we can see that the PS3 version of the game tears much more often, impacting its visual consistency more than the 360 release. However, in truth, the game's visual deficiencies aren't wholly the fault of the engine - the art direction here simply isn't that fantastic. The video tells its own story about the quality of the cityscape (never any better than 'OK') but check out the cut-scenes in particular - the 3D work on the characters gave me nightmarish reminders of the Core Design Lara Croft era (specifically the horrific 'Young Lara' episode) and bearing in mind that Tigon Studios presumably has intimate access to the head of Vin Diesel, he looks like a poor-quality waxwork facsimile in comparison to Starbreeze Studios' model, as seen in The Chronicles of Riddick.
Combining this lack of artistic merit with all the gameplay issues Tom experienced in his original review, it's really difficult to recommend this as anything other than a rental or as a heavily discounted bargain bucket special, regardless of the console you might happen to own. Just be prepared for a 15-minute 4.7GB installation when you first boot the PS3 game.