From Software's debut Xbox 360 title is something of a rarity for Microsoft's console platform, being as it is a full-on Japanese role-playing game. Aside from some of the most excruciating voice-over work ever seen (well, heard), it's not a bad adventure - plagued with irritations and frustrations (all of which are detailed in the 360 review) and yet still quite worthwhile and entertaining.
The core adventure remains the same on the PlayStation 3, with a few notable changes. In the plus column we have an additional 30 golems (creatures you can add to your party that have individual special abilities) along with a crazy Sixaxis implementation that sees you shaking the controller to increase the potency of key special attacks, in addition to snaffling bonus EX attack points. Sixaxis also plays a role in Enchanted Arms' mini-games too, so for example, main character Atsuma is able to scoff down pizza as fast as you can by vigorously wobbling the controller. It's all very odd and call me a gaming Luddite, but I think I'll be sticking with pressing buttons to achieve the same effect.
Unfortunately, the PS3 version of Enchanted Arms has a number of significant subtractions when put head-to-head against the Xbox 360 version. The most apparent of all is the lack of online gameplay - this was a relatively minor part of the original version (essentially the facility to take your party online and battle against other Enchanted Arms ensembles) but it's still good fun and missed from the new version. Also clearly evident is a lower frame rate on PS3, fewer visual effects and a distinct paring down of detail - both in graphical effects and geometry. An additional grain effect included in the PS3 version can't disguise the graphical shortcomings. In many areas, the game simply doesn't look as though it's running in HD - to the point where Enchanted Arms compares unfavourably with many PS2 games of a similar ilk.
It's difficult to recommend Enchanted Arms on PS3. While it was somewhat unique on the Xbox 360, in theory backwards compatibility opens up a colossal range of brilliant Japanese adventures from the PS2 library for owners of the new Sony console. Just about any Square-Enix offering looks better than this (even running under emulation) and offers a more substantial experience than this game.
Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
Kristan put the jackboot into the Xbox 360 conversion of Ubisoft's WWII dogfighting effort well over a year ago, citing some awful level design, general blandness, poor camera work and terrible voice-acting for its disappointing 5/10 score.
While every gaming bone in my body knows he's right, I just can't ignore the fact that there is something in this game I rather enjoy. I'm sure it's because of the 12 years playing relentless Ace Combat updates where dogfighting essentially comes down to sending a guided missile in the general direction of a small dot in the distance. In Blazing Angels, air-to-air combat is close-quarters and action-packed, with a button-press target cam that adjusts the perspective to put you and your opponent on-screen no matter what your respective locations are. It's not only very useful for those of us with Khan-esque two-dimensional thinking, but also produces graphically superb action scenes as good as any replay mode while keeping you at the heart of the battle.
Not much has changed graphically since the launch of the Xbox 360 version. Some minor visual tinkering sees differences in the lighting effects, more concussive-looking explosions (as opposed to the orange puffs seen in the 360 game) and Ubisoft has made a ham-fisted attempt at suppressing the god-awful v-sync tearing that ruined the look of the 360 game. That it's still there at all in the PlayStation 3 code is unforgivable, but curiously the effect is somewhat lessened compared to its ubiquity in the Xbox rendition. This is offset by some awful lag - essentially the scenes that slowed down the 360 game can sometimes be reduced to a slideshow on PS3 (multiple explosions bizarrely being the worst offenders).
A couple of additional missions, more planes to control, and an extra multiplayer mode have been added to the PS3 game. This new game variation is called 'Adversarial' and sees players set with the task of bombing the hell out of the opposing team's base while defending their own from enemy attack. Hardly original concept-wise to FPS gamers, but within the confines of the WWII dogfighting gameplay, it works well online.
As is becoming the norm for PS3 ports, there's also a spot of Sixaxis representation. In this case you can tilt the controller to bank your kite accordingly - and if you hadn't guessed by now, it's another novelty motion sensor implantation that you'll most likely turn off after a couple of minutes of unsatisfying play. There's a reason why planes are generally controlled with a joystick and a few seconds with Blazing Angels under Sixaxis control tells you why.
Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII remains something of a curiosity and revisiting it a year on makes me think that it would be a nice game to pick up ultra-cheaply on 360 after a casual sortie on eBay or the pre-owned bins. But as a full-price PS3 effort, it's still some way off the sort of quality required to make it worthwhile.
For more multiformat comparisons, check back with part one of our ongoing series, featuring Ridge Racer 6/7, Def Jam: Icon, Fight Night Round 3, Virtua Tennis 3, NBA Homecourt and Need for Speed Carbon.
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