Spider-Man: Web of Shadows
It's often the case that Xbox 360 versions of cross-platform games enjoy a clear technical advantage over the PlayStation 3 version, but it's not so often these days that the weaknesses in the PS3 code impact the gameplay experience to the point where it affects the purchasing decision. The odd extra 'jaggie' or dropped frame won't, and shouldn't, have that much impact on whether the game is worth the cash or not.
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is a completely different kettle of fish. It's a PS3 release where all the minor technical deficiencies combine to turn what is otherwise an enjoyable, competent if stupefyingly repetitive game into a release that is significantly compromised compared to its Xbox 360 sibling.
The PS3 game's litany of technical gaffes are many and varied. The 360 version is mostly v-locked and solid-looking - as you can't fail to ignore in the video, the Sony console suffers from virtually every other frame being torn. These aren't discrete-hidden-in-the-overscan issues either - they're whopping great tears often right in the middle of the screen. Xbox 360's smooth anti-aliased edges are all gone too, but something I found hard capturing in the videos is the variable draw distance and annoying pop-in. Web-slinging high above the New York skyline is very convincing on 360 (particularly in the first act's rooftop chase with the Black Cat), whereas the overall effect fails to impress whatsoever on PS3.
There's also a 2.6GB mandatory installation on PS3 too, incurring a five-minute delay before you can start playing the game.
The current generation of Spidey games have all been centred - quite rightly - on replicating the web-swinger's phenomenal agility and of course the freedom and exhilaration of swinging across the Manhattan skyline. While game content is of course like-for-like, the core attraction of the game takes a bit of a beating on PS3, and in that respect I'd give it a miss, while the 360 game is at least worth a rental despite the Eurogamer 5/10 rating and what must surely be the worst Peter Parker voice-acting ever heard in the world ever.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
From a release that's technically stunted on one platform to a game that's badly programmed on both. Perhaps if the levels weren't quite so repetitive, if the art direction was more coherent, and if Vader got more 'screen time', The Force Unleashed would've been a more worthwhile effort. As it is, what we have here is a game with a promising concept that's crying out for a more refined, technically competent engine and a bit more to do in-game.
A basic lack of spit and polish is the common factor between both versions of the game. Forget texture pop-in, with The Force Unleashed, switching views in cut-scenes actually sees geometry pop in - the 3D images building before your very eyes across several frames. Far more noticeable and annoying is some eye-wateringly poor (think "Blazing Angels bad") screen-tear; this is a game that while often very attractive, sees its image quality plummet at any given moment.
In most respects, both versions of the game are equally rough. The lack of v-sync plagues both releases, but bizarrely, in very different places. However, if one version was to get the nod ahead of the other, it would be Xbox 360, thanks to higher definition textures, particularly on the ground, but it's hardly the game's biggest issue.
If you're a Star Wars fan it's more than likely that you can forgive the game's many issues - both technical and gameplay-related - as it's the first LucasArts game that really puts the power of the Dark Side of the Force in your hands, even if full control of the mighty Vader himself is annoyingly brief. Combine this with the sheer level of destruction on offer, and The Force Unleashed is clearly a game that is not without its merits. Chances are there'll be a sequel, so fingers crossed that these programming and design issues can be resolved, but in the meantime, I'd say that owners of either console would be best off renting this particular effort as opposed to laying down serious cash for it.
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