The latest bloody skirmish begins here. Seven more cross-platform releases are appraised for your feverish attentions across the next few pages, backed - as usual - by the best range of comparison assets on the internet. That'll be full 720p and 1080p HDMI 24-bit RGB screengrabs, and h.264-powered 1:1 precision videos.
Before we begin proper, let's kick off with a bit of good news. 2K has just updated BioShock with a brand new patch for the disappointing PlayStation 3 conversion of the game. The numerous promised bug-fixes have all materialised, but better than that, the vastly annoying blur effect has been substantially reduced. What blur there is now appears to be down to the reduced sub-720p resolution and, alas, this combined with the wildly variable frame-rate remain. More details on the befores and afters at the author's blog.
Getting back to the present, there's an intriguing selection of seven games in the line-up, including one of my personal favourite games of the year: DICE's innovative Mirror's Edge.
The videos in this feature have come out pretty well, but if you feel the need to watch extended, downloadable versions running at the full 720p 60fps, check the Digital Foundry Blog in the next day or so.
Coming next: we're taking a return trip to Face-Off Bonus Round territory with an in-depth special on Ubisoft's Far Cry 2, featuring Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and of course, PC versions of the game. Expect a detail-rich critique of the engine itself, the gameplay and the map editor - hopefully this Friday. After that, we'll be taking a little break before returning in a few weeks with a roundup of the rest of the major Q4 releases.
- Round One (Ridge Racer 6/Ridge Racer 7, Def Jam: Icon, Fight Night Round 3, Virtua Tennis 3, NBA Homecourt, Need for Speed Carbon)
- Round Two (Call of Duty 3, F.E.A.R., Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2007, World Championship Snooker 2007, NBA 2K7, NHL 2K7, Enchanted Arms, Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII)
- Round Three (Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Sonic the Hedgehog, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Tony Hawk Project 8)
- Round Four (The Darkness, Spider-Man 3: The Game, The Godfather, Madden NFL '08, NHL '08)
- Round Five (Virtua Fighter 5, SKATE, Transformers: The Game, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Colin McRae: DiRT, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, SEGA Rally, FIFA 08)
- Round Six (Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, NBA Live 08, Need for Speed ProStreet, Stuntman Ignition, WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2008, The Simpsons Game, Conan, Assassin's Creed)
- Round Seven (Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, TimeShift, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, Tony Hawk's Proving Ground, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Blazing Angels: Secret Missions of WWII, Medal of Honor: Airborne, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam, Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Clive Barker's Jericho, John Woo Presents Stranglehold)
- Round Eight (Burnout Paradise, Cars Mater-National, The Golden Compass, Beowulf, Ratatouille)
- Round Nine (Devil May Cry 4, The Club, Pro Evolution Soccer 2008, FIFA Street 3, Juiced 2, Turok)
- Round Ten (Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2, Blacksite: Area 51, Army of Two, Conflict: Denied Ops, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, Dynasty Warriors 6, Lost: The Video Game)
- Round Eleven (NFL Tour, Dark Sector, Soldier of Fortune: Payback, SEGA Superstars Tennis, MX vs. ATV Untamed, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, Condemned 2: Bloodshot, Viking: Battle for Asgard)
- Round Twelve (Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Race Driver: GRID, LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, Overlord: Raising Hell, UEFA Euro 2008)
- Round Thirteen (Unreal Tournament 3, Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy, Top Spin 3, Iron Man, Battlefield: Bad Company)
- Round Fourteen (SoulCalibur IV, Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, Kung Fu Panda, Beijing 2008: The Official Videogame of the Olympic Games, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, FaceBreaker, The Incredible Hulk, Madden NFL 09, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09, NHL 09)
- Round Fifteen (BioShock, Dead Space, Pure, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed)
- Bonus Round: The Orange Box
- Bonus Round: Grand Theft Auto IV
- Bonus Round: Fallout 3
- Bonus Round: Call of Duty: World at War
Baja: Edge of Control
We did have plans to bring you a series of face-off roundups for this edition, one of which would've been aimed at taking a look at the state of cross-platform development at the low-rent end of the gaming market. Unfortunately, looming deadlines and the sheer amount of work involved meant that we'll have to save that for next month's potentially epic comparison clean-up. Baja: Edge of Control did manage to sneak into contention though, and it manages to be quite an extraordinary release: astonishing in that a game that is so fundamentally bereft of appeal manages to be even worse on the PlayStation 3.
Collapsing frame-rates (even on the vehicle-selection screen - that must have taken some work), zero anti-aliasing, pared-down lighting and missing environmental detail... were it not for the fact that Baja: Edge of Control does indeed run at 720p on PS3, we'd pretty much have the full house of cross-platform calamities. The solitary act of redemption is the inclusion of upscaled 1080i/1080p support.
The real problem both versions of the game have is that the competition is staggeringly superior compared to this lame effort. MotorStorm and its sequel effortlessly wipe the floor with it, while both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 owners can enjoy Black Rock's brilliant Pure. Neither game has the openworld environment that Edge of Control proffers, but who actually wants or needs sandbox gameplay when it's bereft of fun?
Will you support the Digital Foundry team?
Digital Foundry specialises in technical analysis of gaming hardware and software, using state-of-the-art capture systems and bespoke software to show you how well games and hardware run, visualising precisely what they're capable of. In order to show you what 4K gaming actually looks like we needed to build our own platform to supply high quality 4K video for offline viewing. So we did.
Our videos are multi-gigabyte files and we've chosen a high quality provider to ensure fast downloads. However, that bandwidth isn't free and so we charge a small monthly subscription fee of $5. We think it's a small price to pay for unlimited access to top-tier quality encodes of our content. Thank you.Support Digital Foundry