HAWX, Fiddy, Wheelman, Wanted, Red Alert 3, Godfather II, Battle Fantasia.
While our most recent Chronicles of Riddick face-off once again saw Xbox 360 emerge victorious in our ongoing comparison features, this more comprehensive roundup of recent releases suggests that maybe, just maybe, the balance of quality is starting to shift three years into the lifespan of the current-generation consoles. Taken as a whole, neither machine can claim victory over the other in this collection of games, probably the first time this has happened since our coverage began over two years ago. A sign of things to come, or just a factor of the specific games chosen? Only time will tell.
As is the norm, for the more interesting games you'll find embedded comparison videos. The combination of insane-level h264 encoding combined with slowing the video down to 50 per cent speed all but eliminates macroblocking, making for streaming vids that do actually show the difference. Couple that with our usual 24-bit RGB screenshot comparison galleries and you're all set with the very best possible assets to back up the critical comment.
Onto the line-up then, a seven-strong collection featuring the best of the most recent cross-platform releases.
Why does it always take ages for the UK to get the latest 2D fighters? The Japanese have been enjoying Street Fighter IV in their arcades for nearly half a year, America got a console port of Arcana Heart with Europe once again overlooked, and as far as I'm aware there's only one BlazBlue arcade cabinet in the country at the Casino in London - not very helpful if you live in Cornwall. But after many months of waiting the UK is at least getting a console port of Battle Fantasia for the Xbox 360 and PS3.
Like the sublime Street Fighter IV, Battle Fantasia opts for a 2.5D fighter styling - 2D fighter mechanics on a 2D plane with full 3D graphics - and comes across as a fantasy-themed anime set in a steampunk universe. Everything exudes Japanese manga quirkiness, with bouts between "jetski-chainsaw" wielding warriors and giant dwarves with steam-powered backpacks a common occurrence in amongst the rabbit wizards and cat-girl waitresses.
Although Battle Fantasia has light/heavy punches and kicks, doing away with mediums in the same way as King of Fighters, it plays more like Street Fighter than you'd expect from the developer of Guilty Gear. Indeed, without the added complication of Burst Gauges, Roman Cancelling and Instant Kills, Battle Fantasia is noticeably more accessible than Arc System Works' flagship fighter. If you played Street Fighter Alpha back in the day then you'll already be able to pick up and play Battle Fantasia to a competent level - Alpha 3 players won't even have to worry about picking an Ism.
Peculiar bedfellows, perhaps? There was always going to be a clash somewhere in this year's Coming Attractions as we sorted our way through 12 categories, but you could argue there's more that unites fighting and strategy than divides them. Both are about trying to take maximum of advantage of your opposition's weaknesses, both reward patience, concentration and consideration, and as of Red Alert 3 both have a thing for impractical women's clothing.