Golden Axe: Beast Rider

Xbox 360 vs. PS3 Face-Off: Round 17

Digital FoundryXbox 360 vs. PS3 Face-Off: Round 17

LOTR Conquest, Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia, Saints Row 2 and loads more.

It's the first face-off of the New Year and with it, the opportunity to bring the cold, hard, iron first of order to the games cupboard by rounding up the games we really should have covered by now, but didn't for reasons too numerous and too tedious to get into. It's also the chance to take a look at how the first high profile release of 2009 - EA's Lord of the Rings: Conquest - measures up under Eurogamer's unyielding scrutiny.

As we've got a lot of software to get through, we've bumped up the interesting games to the front of the feature, then grouped together the rest in the form of smaller, round-up featurettes at the end. However, as per the norm, all games get the full screenshot gallery treatment - captures losslessly derived from the HDMI ports of both consoles at full range 24-bit RGB precision. Where PS3 outputs a 1080p signal on any given game, additional galleries are provided, along with their 360 counterparts.

For the headline games there's also the customary video coverage. Set your Flash Player to 'high quality' to appreciate the full might of h264 encoding, or check out the author's blog if you want to download bandwidth-saturating full-HD versions running in real time, optimised for playback on PS3, Xbox 360 and dual-core PCs.

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Golden Axe: Beast Rider

Over the last year or so, it seems as if many publishers have finally got a handle on the retro revival. Namco gave us Pac-Man Championship Edition and Galaga Legions, both classic in style yet undeniably modern in construction. Capcom brought back a slew of their 1980s classics, with Commando, 1942, Bionic Commando and Mega Man all receiving good to great retro-styled modern sequels. And here comes SEGA - having got it so right with After Burner on the PSP - once again flailing around and looking hopelessly out of touch.

Golden Axe: Beast Rider is the sort of lazy, depressing remake that used to be the norm. It takes its name from a classic arcade game but everything else is generic and bland, a bargain basement facsimile of, for some reason, Heavenly Sword.

As in Sony's decent but forgettable romp, our heroine is a buxom flame-haired warrior, set loose in a button-mashing hackandslash environment to carve her way through hordes of enemies with a fabled magical weapon. You can summon up magical attacks, which are a pain to aim. You can throw the Golden Axe to hit switches and other items, but it's slow to aim. You can ride on a variety of beasts, but they're sluggish to control. In fact, it's hard to find a single aspect of the gameplay that hasn't been grossly mishandled in some vital way. Nothing here feels intuitive, inviting or even fun.

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SEGA: Sonic Unleashed out in November

But Aliens and Total War fall into 2009.

SEGA has whipped out its calendar and put dates alongside its upcoming titles, including Sonic Unleashed, which will be out this November. However, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Empire: Total War both fall into 2009.