Xbox 360 vs. PS3 Face-Off: Round Five • Page 2

Once more unto the breach, dear friends...

SKATE

There's much to enjoy about Skate over and above the elements expertly picked out by Luke Albiges in the original Eurogamer review. For a start, its unique visual - and audio - style is superb, its heavily post-processed video effects make it look unlike any other game, while its save-and-share online features work beautifully. I was also deeply impressed by the sheer amount of game content crammed onto the DVD.

That said, while the innovative controls are clearly a revolutionary leap for the genre, I couldn't get on with the 'life through a lens' camera angle which made lining up simple jumps and grinds far more difficult than it should have been; a basic issue that consigned Skate to the games rack far sooner than I would have liked.

But now it's back in play - along with its PS3 cousin - for the purposes of this feature, and with it a warning email from Kristan pointing out the existence of an online petition from outraged owners of Sony's console complaining about frame rate problems that allegedly make the game unplayable.

skate

In optimum conditions, both versions operate at 30fps, but while the 360 version is prone to losing the odd frame when things get difficult to render, the PS3 game judders terribly, falling down to less than 15fps in some cases. Matters are noticeably worse when the game is set to 1080p - yes there is support for the resolution, but the results look pretty poor, and frame rate takes yet another battering. In short, the online petitioners are right, Skate is fundamentally broken on PS3 and I simply can't recommend it.

Over and above the gargantuan technical shortcomings, PS3 does offer slightly shorter loading times, thanks no doubt to the whopper 2.5GB mandatory hard disk installation, plus there's also support for the Sixaxis. File that under 'token add-on, turned off by default' along with similar motion sensor modes in the likes of Warhawk, MotorStorm and many others.

Transformers: The Game

A particularly savage review from Kristan, but entirely warranted - Transformers: The Game is a bafflingly inept offering from the usually steady hands of UK developer Traveller's Tales. Despite featuring occasionally impressive levels of rampant destruction along with decently detailed 'warrior robots in disguise', the basic problem is that the game design itself is fundamentally lazy, predictable and very, very poor.

It's a description that applies equally to the stunted PlayStation 3 version of the game. Obviously ported across from the already unoptimised 360 codebase, the PS3 version appears to be running with a constant blur badly attempting to mask an apparent drop in resolution. Adding insult to injury is the even poorer frame rate that blights the conversion - v-lock screen tear is a frequently present companion during the PS3 'experience'.

trans

On the plus side, it does appear that Traveller's Tales has made the effort to support 1080i and 1080p TVs, and there's evidence that the game runs at 960x1080 - scaled horizontally to fill the screen (this does offer minimal detail increases over straight 720p upscaling, but looks terrible). However, as is becoming increasingly the norm with PS3 titles, the software scaling methods employed only serve to make the game look like a shimmering mess of jagginess. Once more, the Xbox 360's GPU manages to pull off a far better approximation of 1080p thanks to its hardware scaler and superior blur-free base image.

In short, Transformers: The Game is a massively disappointing title all-round regardless of which version you might haplessly stumble across. Bearing in mind the superb DNA the developers had to work with (ie the previously released Atari game, plus the surprisingly excellent Michael Bay movie), there's just no excuse for the game to be quite this bad. The fact that the PS3 version is another technical kick in the balls for the Sony console doesn't help matters much either.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End tries hard to lure you in with some admittedly beautiful graphics, but the impressive visual finery cannot disguise the fact that it is a fundamentally tedious game: a never-ending procession of stupidly easy sword fights, staggeringly inane 'puzzles' and depressingly predictable fetch-quests.

Unfortunately, the PlayStation 3 conversion of the game manages to diminish the only decent element of the 360 original - the graphics. The comparison shots do a pretty good job of showing the rougher resolution (what looks like 960x720, poorly resized to proper 720p) and complete lack of anti-aliasing but what you can't see is the horrendously variable frame rate which seems to impact as much on the responsiveness of the controls as it does on the visual feel of the game.

potc

Just like Transformers: The Game, at least there is support for 1080i and 1080p displays, but once again the PS3 game is using a really rough upscaling method (what looks like a blown-up 720x1080 - the fattest pixels ever seen on PS3!) and I'd be more inclined to leave the XMB at 720p and let the screen handle the resizing. The worst case scenario is that it'll look like as bad as the PS3's 1080p output any way, and at least the CPU isn't being burdened with having to resize the image when it's clearly having issues keeping up with the 360 version in terms of frame rate any way. By contrast, the 360's 1080p output here is - once again - handled by the internal scaler, and as it's dealing with much more detail-rich, refined, anti-aliased image, it looks noticeably better.

I almost forgot to mention the Sixaxis motion sensor support exclusive to the PS3 version. It pops up rarely in situations such as balancing Jack Sparrow as he walks across thin planks and it's pretty much entirely pointless.

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