After a joyous yuletide spent playing Naughty Dog's supreme Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, it's back to the frontlines of the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 console war for this reporter, with the latest battery of cross-platform confrontations. You know the score by now: impartial criticism on each multi-format release is the name of the game, the aim being to supplement the original Eurogamer reviews with additional commentary relevant to each version of the game, with gameplay the primary concern.
As is the norm with our face-off comparison features, each game feature is supplemented with a range of ultra-clean screengrabs losslessly extracted from the HDMI ports of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 Elite. A Digital Foundry HD capture station is used to acquire every last pixel output by the consoles at full 24-bit precision, with the unit calibrated to full-range RGB and both systems set up likewise. As 1080p performance is so variable on PlayStation 3, we've included screenshots of this video mode in action where applicable and how the results compare to the Xbox 360's in-built GPU scaler on the same titles.
So... the games then. A colossal array of wares to get through in what is the biggest face-off feature yet; 12 titles that between them rate a 'not bad at all' 7.5/10 when their Eurogamer review scores are taken as an average.
Blazing Angels 2 and Toy Home are the two demos posted on the US PlayStation 3 Store this week, giving you a chance to finally fix that pesky old World War II's little red wagon, and then drive little red wagons around for a bit.
Ubisoft has moved the release date for Dark Messiah of Might & Magic: Elements, moving it back a few weeks to 7th December.
Do you, by any chance, recall LucasArts' excellent (and often criminally underrated) Xbox title, Secret Weapons Over Normandy?
We do. We recall it rather fondly, in fact - and that, in a nutshell, is the problem with Blazing Angels. It's not so much that this game doesn't hold a candle to Secret Weapons, whose style and concept it shamelessly apes; rather, it's that it's late on a weekday evening, all the candle shops are closed, and it doesn't have any matches to light a candle with even if it could fashion one out of earwax and string.
It would be disingenuous, however, to suggest that the only problem with Blazing Angels' second outing is that it can't live up to previous titles in this genre. Instead, we would submit that the real problem with Secret Missions of WWII is that it's a perfect example of taking a 5/10 game, slapping on a dash of next-gen graphical paint, and hoping nobody will notice that you haven't fixed any of the underlying problems that turned it into a 5/10 in the first place.
Ubisoft has dropped a whole payload of information for Blazing Angels: Secret Missions this morning, including new details of exclusive PS3 features.
What-ho! It's up to the skies once more, as Ubisoft announces a fresh new adventure for Xbox 360 and PC: Blazing Angels Secret Missions (cat's out of the bag now). It's due out in spring this year.