Conflict Denied Ops – Xbox 360 versus PlayStation 3 versus PC comparison

The Conflict series hits the five game milestone by following up Desert Storm, Desert Storm II, Vietnam and Global Storm with Conflict: Denied Ops.

A demo has been released for the three target platforms: PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. How do they compare and which will be the one to buy?

Things start badly for the PC. It took a ridiculously long time to install, nearly ten minutes. Then, for some reason, they have managed to use a video format that probably won’t work on your XP PC. Helpfully they supply a Windows Media 11 patch to fix this. It doesn’t. Thanks.

Anyway, an iffy video codec won’t affect the gameplay, will it? Well, it might stop you even bothering to get to the gameplay. You have to skip the treacle-slow movie by hammering the Escape key until the planets align and the key-press is recognised. If you can’t be bothered, you’ll never even see the game. Brilliantly, the outro video doesn’t allow you to skip but the demo is fully Windows-friendly and behaves itself if you press Ctrl-Alt-Del for bring up Task Manager and that handy End Process option.

Once I got into the game itself I was a little perturbed to see that my system simply couldn’t handle it. My PC can play Bioshock smoothly with just a single option turned off. Disappointed, I went into the graphics options are starting turning things off to get a usable frame rate. After a couple of different items made little discernible difference in frame rate, I decided to turn everything off. While marginally better, it was still virtually unplayable. The engine used here clearly has no innate performance (that fact will be borne out by the badly compromised PS3 version). On top of that, it looked horrible even with everything turned on.

Perhaps the consoles will be better.

The PS3 at least runs at a consistent frame rate. Nice, smooth and eminently playable. I had an enjoyable time playing the mission supplied in split-screen Co-op. However, it looks horrid and doesn’t feel like it is running in a true HD resolution (it’s feels almost as ugly as the PS3 version of Fear). Perhaps the low resolution, jaggies and blurry textures would be eliminated in single player. Nope, the PS3 version of this demo is staggeringly ugly.

Now on 360 we get something unique. Uniquely rubbish, unfortunately. The developers are so inept and / or careless that the demo isn’t actually called “Conflict: Denied Ops Demo”, oh no. It’s called “Single Player and 2 player Co-op Demo.”

However, once you’ve found the demo, this is easily the best looking of the bunch as it runs smoothly and looks okay. The explosion where the wall gets dropped on the tank at the beginning is smaller than on the PC but the remainder of the combustible landscape looks cool. The textures are sharp though aliased and the games runs very smoothly.

Slimm Says

Xbox 360, no question. What’s more disappointing about the technical and design shortcomings and overall carelessness is that there is definitely reasonably entertaining gameplay. The gameplay does shine through on the ugly PS3 version if you can keep your eyes open long enough while the PC version is virtually unplayable. The 360 version looks and plays fine.

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Devil May Cry 4 – Xbox 360 versus PlayStation 3 comparison

 

Capcom’s hack ‘n’ slash series leaps, guns blazing and sword-waving, onto Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 with sparkly demos. The great news is that both versions are essentially identical. Both versions look, sound and play superbly.

The PS3 has a weensy edge in graphics thanks to some noticeable texture tizzing on the 360.

The 360 benefits from controller vibration (we don’t have DualShock 3 in the UK yet) and, disagreeably, a significantly lower price tag. As of 9 Feburary 2008, Games Tracker listed the 360 version at £28.99 and the PS3 at £34.99. (The price links in the previous sentence will take you to the current best UK price for Devil May Cry 4.)

Slimm Says

Difficult to call. For some intangible reason the PS3 version feels better but, at this time, it is £6 more expensive. I’m going to ignore the price and go with my gut (and when you’ve got a gut the size of mine, you listen to it) and say that, while there’s essentially nothing in it, the PS3 version is better.

Turok – Xbox 360 versus PlayStation 3 comparison

This is one where you’d only see the difference if you played one right after the other but you’d always be dissatisfied with the audio on one. This is a comparison of the two Turok demos recently released on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Which comes out best?

The first thing that strikes you about this demo is that it is much better than the preview and developer walk-through videos made it appear. It plays very nicely and feels like significant thought and polish have gone into the product. There was never a moment in the demo where I thought the game cheated me and frequently appreciated the little touches that guide you through. (For example, if you walk in the wrong direction for a few seconds, a normally-absent objective marker discreetly appears on the screen.)

In content and gameplay, the two demos are identical.

In graphics, well, the 360 comes out on top though it doesn’t get off to a good start. The logos on the 360 version look worse than the logos on the PlayStation 3. Unfortunately for the PS3, that’s the only time it triumphs.

Once into the game, the 360 is helped by it’s naturally brighter HDMI image and that makes navigating the dark and dingy caves a breeze. In fact, on 360, they’re not really dark at all. On the PS3 on the same TV and HDMI connection, you can hardly see where you are going and are navigating by the lights of fallen soldiers and previous cave visitors which is much more atmospheric. Once outside the caves you can get a better handle on the quality of the graphics and I felt that the 360 version was definitely more detailed. For instance, I looked at the grass as you come out of the cave and the 360 looked better. Same with cave walls, dinosaur skin and the various dudes.

A PS3 owner won’t feel that the graphics are bad, though. Both versions run nice and smoothly with no stuttering or frame-rate problems of any kind.

An area where the PS3 owner will feel distinctly underwhelmed is the audio. The guns and dinosaurs have absolutely no oomph on the PS3. My first thought was that perhaps the demo was only in stereo or ProLogic II but there were sound effects coming from all the surround speakers. It’s so poor that you can’t really hear if your shotgun has fired or not! The same sound effects on 360 made clear use of the subwoofer and, though the audio for the guns is still only average, they have much more punch and are nice and distinct.

Slimm Says

While both demos are better than expected, the Xbox 360 version clearly comes out on top.

MX vs ATV: Untamed – Xbox 360 versus PlayStation 3 comparison and preview

versus MX vs ATV: Untamed continues a nine-year heritage of offroad racing games from Rainbow Studios that started with Motocross Madness, continued into ATV Off-Road Fury and into MX Unleashed and MX vs ATV Unleashed. Now we have the next instalment MX vs ATV: Untamed.

Despite being very much a B-class franchise and never given the marketing push of the big racing titles, all the previous games made by Rainbow Studios have featured extremely responsive and consistent driving (or riding, as appropriate) controls, decent rider animation and plenty to do. They have also frequently featured fiddly-at-best stunt controls.

While MX vs ATV: Untamed will be released on Nintendo DS (NDS), Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Portable (PSP)  and PlayStation 2 (PS2), we have a playable demo for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 available for download.

Things start really, really well with a superb opening movie that is just the right length and sees our offroad vehicles emerging or being birthed from the ground that they will make their own in the game. The look of the video is highly reminiscent of playing PlayStation 3’s flagship off-road racer Motorstorm.

Half Empty

When you initiate one of the four demo events available, the game places you in a freestyle stadium with your selected vehicle so you can play around while you wait for the game to load. It is here that the absolute horror of the graphics strikes you. This is a Nintendo Wii or PlayStation 2 game that happens to run on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. On PlayStation 3 it doesn’t even appear to run at an HD resolution. Perhaps it’s just a low memory environment because, after all, it’s loading the real graphics now? No.

This is one of the ugliest games to be publicly released since F.E.A.R. on the PlayStation 3.

This is one of the ugliest games to be publicly released since F.E.A.R. on the PlayStation 3. I’m coming to this game while playing Colin McRae: Dirt (PS3). I’ve played and completed Motorstorm (PS3). You wouldn’t believe that this game is running on the same system. On Xbox 360 it looks bland, featureless and badly textured but it does appear to run in 720p. On PS3, it also appears to be running in a significantly lower resolution and without anti-aliasing, to boot. This is reflected in a download size that is 200MB smaller than the 360 demo despite identical gameplay content.


Yes, the thumbnail looks good but look at the full-size version and note the bland, lifeless textures and lack of grass, roadside objects or convincing shrubbery. This is the most scenery packed screenshot I could find. The game proves to be largely empty.

While I’m moaning, the PlayStation 3 demo doesn’t even feature multi-channel surround sound.

Half Full

However, both versions run smoothly (though not Gran Turismo 5 Prologue or Forza Motorsport 2 smooth) and quickly and there are some nice details. Both spectators will dodge out of the way if you drive toward them. Trees shower you with leaves if you smash into them. The water looks great (though your interaction with it is, as is the case in all racing videogames to date, completely unconvincing and the car simply throws up white translucent dust; haven’t any game developers ever seen a rally car go through a ford?). The vehicles are quite nicely modelled and look good in the pre-race flyby. The American Eagle and Serpent monster trucks look brilliant (from a design viewpoint, not graphically). The draw distance is forever. But then, it doesn’t appear to be drawing that many things.

may just rescue itself with game modes and controls

Fortunately, MX vs ATV: Untamed may just rescue itself with game modes and controls.The controls continue the tradition of being extremely responsive, accurate and consistent. However, they also continue the tradition of being highly awkward for executing stunts.

When will game developers realise that pressing both right (or left) shoulder buttons at the same time (on either 360 or PS3) is essentially impossible as we tend to use our ‘trigger’ finger for the lower button. Formula 1 Championship Edition also had the same design error where the same finger was used to both look back and accelerate. Now, if only we could grow a fifth finger between the thumb and ‘trigger’ finger! We could call it a bumper finger.

There is also a preview of a significant career mode that looks just like the ones in the brilliant Rallisport Challenge 2 (which, incidentally, looks better graphically than this). There are also the multiple vehicle types and race types inherent to the series. Four of them are available to play in the demo but there are several more.

It is impossible to say from the demo how well the AI will stack up as it provides no competition at all on the Easy setting that most of the events seem to be locked to.

Slimm Says

This is notably ugly, especially on PlayStation 3, but the game controls well, runs fast and smooth and offers plenty to do. I think the lack of competition is the problem here. THQ clearly don’t see (or, perhaps more accurately, want to pay for) this franchise as taking on the big boys of Colin McRae and Motorstorm and, with that unambitious and defeatist outlook, the series will never get the spit and polish and love that would take it to the premier league. It might sell well enough but it will never have a place in our hearts.

Need for Speed: ProStreet Xbox 360 vs PlayStation 3

Erk. No contest. Electronic Art’s incompetence with regard to PS3 coding seemingly knows no bounds. In a time where the Gran Turismo 5 Prologue demo, Ratchet and Clank Future and Call of Duty 4 full game prove that poor PS3 efforts are simply production shortcomings, EA demonstrate their desperate lunge for the bottom line once more. The game must be out for Christmas, stuff the quality for PS3 owners.

This is a shame as the game content appears to be highly agreeable for racing fans and appears to be identical across 360 and PS3.

Judging by the demos, the most obvious thing is that the Xbox 360 version runs nice and smoothly whereas the PlayStation 3 one doesn’t. It’s still playable but that’s hardly a compliment is it?

However, looking an HD side-by-side video (taken by GameTrailers), the full horror of the situation is revealed. When directly compared to the 360 version the PS3 version looks almost like an up-scaled PS2 game and still runs less smoothly.

EA are clearly in some financial trouble at this time but if they keep undermining PS3 consumer confidence in their products they will be harming themselves for the remainder of this console generation.

Slimm Says

If you have the choice, the 360 version is the only option. EA continue to provide 360 fanboys with ammunition. Fortunately, PS3 is fighting back with the likes of the games mentioned above. This generation’s console battle is not over yet, not by a long chalk.

Need for Speed: ProStreet Xbox 360 demo review

Another year, another Need for Speed, the eleventh. Is this reheated left-overs like NFS: Carbon or a fresh direction for the venerable franchise?

Fresh-ish

I’m pleased to report that developer EA Canada didn’t just serve up their Need for Speed: Underground tech in HD as they did in the lazy Need for Speed: Carbon. Of course this makes previews rather less interesting as, before, we could just moan about our favourite subject with a quick nod towards a “yeah, it’s like last year’s game” shoe-horned in here and there. Ooh, mixed metaphors. Nice.

The first thing that strikes you about the demo is that it is nice and bright and clear and happy. The second thing is that it runs nice and smoothly – something that neither NFS: Most Wanted nor NFS: Carbon could achieve on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. On top of that, the sound is excellent and, overall, the demo is without technical shortcomings.

The demo serves up two events both against seven opponents.

One is a Speed Challenge where you have to pass through multiple checkpoints at as high a speed as possible. The racer with the highest cumulative speed wins, that is, all the checkpoint speeds are added together and that determines the winner. This is a mode last seen by me in Eden Games’ excellent Test Drive Unlimited (they use the average speed through each speed trap but it’s the same difference) and it’s nice to see it here.

The other is a normal race, here termed a Grip Race. ProStreet has, erm, ‘borrowed’ Forza Motorsport‘s helpful dynamic racing line driving aid but, remarkably, hasn’t changed it one little bit. I’m sure the arrows are the exact same arrows as seen in Turn 10’s racing feast.

Both events feature a good sense of speed and predictable and convincing, if heavy, handling.

If I may whinge for a moment

probably designed for people without hands. Or eyes.

The demo is stupendously easy and is probably designed for people without hands. Or eyes. I’m being serious (-ish), if you are a disabled or one-handed gamer, this is the racing game for you.

giant blobs

However, I can spot what may turn out to be a frustrating area of continuum in the Need for Speed series. The opponent cars are simply giant blobs with no physical properties whatsoever. Despite the showy crashes in the game’s trailer and preview videos, the opponent cars do not react to stimuli from your actions. Smashing into an opponent car at full speed has almost no effect on their momentum or attitude. Opponent cars behave exactly as they have done in previous Need for Speed games. They shalt not move. With easier opponents (such as in the demo) this is no problem as they will be so far behind as to be irrelevant but when it comes to a difficulty level more commensurate with your own, these opponents will provide a racing experience burdened with frequent frustration. Almost all the racing competition this year, does not have this issue and, while it is hidden in the demo thanks to it’s ludicrous easiness, it is the principle area where NFS: ProStreet remains very much last-gen. Given that this is the series’ third outing on seventh-generation hardware, it is a real shame.

Slimm Says

Fortunately, NFS: ProStreet is up against Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights. Juiced 2 is fairly ugly, has funny handling and doesn’t run anything like smoothly enough. NFS: ProStreet looks nice, handles well and predictably and runs smoothly. It was always going to be more popular thanks to the strength of the franchise but we really need the competition to push EA to excel. NFS: ProStreet does see EA trying to push themselves into a new direction but they are still very much in a comfort zone.

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue demo review

For a limited time from the 20th October 2007 until 11th November 2007 a PlayStation 3 demo of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is available for download on the Japanese PlayStation Store.

Dummy

First up, this means that if you are a European or American PS3 owner you will need to set up a dummy Japanese PlayStation Network ID. If you haven’t already done so, you can search on Google for a translation of the various screens or you can use this excellent guide.

Enough English

The demo gives you access to Suzuka and, initially, four cars. Enough of the demo is in English or the default button is the one used to progress so that you can navigate successfully without being able to read Kanji script.

To play you select a car and colour from the Showroom (second icon from the left) then select Race (first icon on the left). You can then set some options on your car for driving with automatic or manual gears, adjusting the traction control (that’s the one with the number, default is 5), turning Active Stability Management on or off and choosing your front and rear tyres. The default options will be fine so you select the default button which is the bottom right one.

Impressions: Vrooom

Instantly, one thing strikes you about the demo. The genuine feeling of gripping the tarmac with your car. Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec and Gran Turismo 4 were both very slippy-slidey-skiddy in their feeling of grip. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue demo instantly feels much more like the car you drive every day and convincingly gives you a feeling of weight and grip that is instantly, remarkably, much more satisfying and fun to drive than the PlayStation 2 games. It also encourages you to start exploring the limits of the car whereas the PlayStation 2 games left the limits of the car in the domain of only the most brilliant players.

There is no question that Gran Turismo 5 will reclaim it’s position from Forza Motorsport 2 as “the drive of your life.”

It is clear that Polyphony Digital has not sat on its laurels with regard to the handling. Graphics? Well, this is something where the Gran Turismo series has traditionally shone but here we get the much-modeled Suzuka circuit and not one a Gran Turismo original circuit. Suzuka is modeled well and feels accurate but familiarity breeds contempt and no effort has been made to provide the atmosphere of a circuit. This is not a specific Gran Turismo problem as only Melbourne House’s excellent Grand Prix Challenge has successfully achieved this in recent times and only Geoff Crammond’s legendary Grand Prix series has ever bothered in times past.

An area where the PD boys have come up trumps is with the overall rendering quality which provides an outstanding overall visual package. The default car is a masked Nissan GT-R and the masking looks just like real masking. The metal looks like real metal. This rendering quality continues inside the car with the cars that have the interior available (the Nissan GT-R Blackmask is initially not one of them). The driver’s gloves look like they should and the interiors are simply breathtaking.

The in-car view is the best in-car driving view in any racing game ever.

PD have also generously supplied sixteen Artificial Intelligence opponents and, unlike, all previous Gran Turismo games, I am pleased to report that the AI has never driven into me or attempted to drive through me once. Wheel-to-wheel action is fine though because the demo is on the easy side the AI generally don’t put up any resistance. Even when racing side by side through the Suzuka esses, for example, the AI cars never bumped into me or felt unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged. It appears to be another area of significant improvement.

AI is significantly improved over all previous Gran Turismo games.

The game runs super-smooth even with all sixteen cars, according to the blurb: 16 cars at 60 frames per second and 1080p. That bests Forza Motorsport 2‘s 8 cars at 60 frames per second and 720p by some considerable margin. Like FM2, performance is different during the replay and GT5 Prologue drops its frame-rate target to 30 but, unlike FM2, there is no stuttering at all during replays.

Slimm Says

Gran Turismo 5 is the reason I bought a PlayStation 3 and both this demo and the previous GTHD Concept are providing genuine reasons for glee. Let’s hope that GT5 Prologue sees an European (and American) release and that we don’t have to wait until next October for the full GT5 goodness.