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.

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.

Bee Movie Game videogame preview

If there’s one thing young kids love about games it’s split-second button pressing and waiting for interminable unskippable cut-scenes to play every time you fail and need to retry. Adults love that even more. Every game designer knows this.

 

 

Things start badly with an endlessly pulsating Bee Movie Game logo. No “Press START button.” No “Press A Button.” Once you’ve finally twigged that the thing isn’t loading, you press a button to reveal a copyright screen. As there are no on-screen prompts you presume that this is, like most copyright screens, unskippable. Being a polite sort of chap, I waited. Guess what, a button press is required to move things along.

Once in the game you are presented with a Quick Time Event gameplay mechanic for flying down a street except your button presses seem to bear little relation to the on-screen action and you must press the button at the right moment. While acceptable and boring with the direction buttons, we come to a section where you need to press one of the four face buttons. Brilliantly, the button required changes every time you play it and you have just a split-second to react.

This is clearly a game aimed at very young children who learn through repetition and copying. The only thing they will learn from Bee Movie Game is how to make a dreadful, dreadful videogame.

It’s graphically and aurally competent (adequate is another word that sprang to mind but didn’t fit neatly into this sentence) and the art style is identical to the movie. Which is bad because the movie’s art style has no, well, style.

 

 

Slimm Says

One suspects that Bee Movie itself will be pretty awful judging by the trailers but no guesswork is needed for the game. A miserable demo is available on Xbox Live. The only way this could be worse is if it deletes all your game saves when you run it and then convinces George Bush to invade your home.

Sega Rally Xbox 360 preview / demo review

Sega Rally is the only of the incoming racers that boasts an entirely new feature: deformable terrain that makes a physical difference to the driving surface, therefore, your car handling. Today, Sega Racing Studios have released the 360 demo allowing us to see whether this is a gimmick or whether it will become a new standard feature for all racing games, especially off-road ones.

For me, I think Sega Racing Studios have managed to introduce what will become a standard feature on future off-road racing games. The terrain deformation is visually impressive and convincing and you can really feel the performance gains and losses as you stay in or bounce out of the ruts.

This is a racing game that really requires you to pay attention because the optimum line through a corner may shift from one lap to the next. This is especially true if you were leading on lap one and merrily taking your own lines. On lap two the five opponent cars will have created ruts that will likely mean a different line is required for best speed.

The game provides a genuinely thrilling experience with enough attention paid to realistic physics that you are never surprised by the behaviour of your car. While the controls are a teensy bit floaty, you soon get adjusted to this and you can start learning the technique of embedding your car in the ruts. You can also execute Scandinavian flicks. This is a car that will reward feel and practice.

There is not a terribly obvious difference between the off-road and road handling setups.

As an HD experience, the game is a mixed bag. The track deformation is superbly realised, the cars look good and the mud effects (on track and on the car) are as good as Evolution Studios’ Motorstorm. There is a splendid sense of speed (though the difference between 60 and 120 mph is not readily discernible). The driving views are all clear and easy to use.

The sound is generally excellent with decent music and boisterous engine noises. There are also environmental sound effects of crowds and animals and the like. They even supply a splendid vintage Game Over jingle. I would have liked to hear more jingles and announcements at new laps and other achievements.

However, the environments in the two demo tracks lack any kind of visual pizzazz. This does not have the visual feel or style of a Sega arcade game. The environments are not striking in any way. Especially when compared to the likes of Sega’s own Outrun 2 or Evolution Studios’ Motorstorm, Sega Rally’s visuals are instantly forgettable. It’s not a technical issue but a design one.

As a small note, the Pause menu doesn’t mute the sound which is just bad manners.

Back to the positive and we come to your opponents. They provide fair racing and allow for jostling and bumper-to-bumper action without the undue penalty that often is present in racing games. (Yes, Project Gotham, I’m looking at you.) They are also affected adversely by bumping into scenery and can be affected by your car. In all the races I had on the demo I never once had cause to complain about the opponents performing unfairly or unconvincingly. Also, every time I raced, the cars finished in a different order which is highly pleasing.

Slimm Says

This is a fun, thrilling and fresh racing experience that has enough inherit gameplay depth to counteract uninspired visuals and make it stand out from the raft of racing sequels that are due this season.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 PlayStation 3 preview / demo review

Electronic Arts forces another iteration of video games premier golfing franchise out and has supplied a demo on the United States’ PlayStation Store for people to take a look at the graphics and playability.

The 2008 series is not turning out to be a good year for EA games with their usual technical prowess nowhere to be seen. Fortunately, the basic mechanics of most of their games haven’t been changed and such is the case with Tiger Woods 08. The game plays fine, but looks rubbish.

In a nice touch, when the demo loads a nicely judged voice-over talks you through all the enhancements that have been made to the game this year. It is clear that most of these are largely tweaks and the new online features (which should be available in the demo) seem to be broken. Broken seems a common word this years with regard to EA games. Reviews are stating that the 360 version is so broken, you cannot even complete the game.

Anyway this is the PS3 demo.

The golf game Tiger Woods offers has always been of the highest quality and that is something that they managed not to break. Using the analogue stick to pull your club back and then play the shot remains immensely satisfying. You can do fades and draws and hooks and slices and all sorts of spin. EA have added a nice throwback by allowing us to switch to a three-click swing at any time.

Also new this year is Putt Preview which allows you to see exactly where your current putt will go. You can use it once per shot and it neatly sidesteps the graphical problems of representing a 3D surface on a 2D screen which are the traditional bane of videogame golf putting.

Graphically, the game is a mixed bag. The player models look terrific and their faces are some of the best modeled in any videogame. That said Tiger has been shaped like Arnold Schwarzenegger with a huge chest (when viewed from the front).


Arnold would be proud.

The scenery is okay with nice trees and water. There are several 3D spectators and the occasional steward around but not enough to call a crowd. They applaud and shuffle their feet and hold up the quiet board and get hit on the head with golf balls. And sway in the wind in that funny way nearly all videogame characters do.

What is missing from the scenery is grass. And on a golf course, that’s rather important. Instead we still have blurry green flatness. There is about two feet of in focus textures between the camera and the player when taking a shot which looks better. But it still doesn’t look like grass. EA have had a few years with the Xbox 360 and PS3 hardware now and, with their resources, you would have thought that these consoles should be looking rather better than PC games of four or five years ago. This utter lack of attention to detail with regard to the grass is most critical on the putting green where it is impossible to tell from the graphics what contours the green has. In fact, in the demo on the third hole, the flyby tells you that the green is multi-tier. You’d never know unless he told you. Fortunately, the gameplay mechanic of the new Putt Preview neatly sidesteps this issue but the graphics remain firmly last-gen.


The grass does not look like this in the demo.

Something else that is missing from the scenery is style or artistic achievement. Everybody’s Golf 5 is much nicer to look at.

On top of that the frame rate is highly suspect during flybys and when the ball is in flight.

Another area lacking is the choice of animation, commentary and facial expressions. Tiger is fully grumpy and scowls at most shots. On television he has a great tendency to be a gracious player always treating the crowd with respect and gratitude. Here he seems intent on going to break his club every time you mess up even slightly, something I’ve seen him do only once in a decade of competition play. The commentary is likewise negative and keeps moaning at the player who is trying to get to grips with the game while hardly complimenting someone who has mastered it. This constant snarky criticism is, sadly, a common feature of commentary in American games.


You’re incredibly successful, world famous, got a great job and have a beautiful wife. CHEER UP!

Slimm Says

The demo shows that the golf in Tiger 08 remains as fun and satisfying as ever but that EA have stood still on the technical aspects, now for several years, and that is really beginning to hurt when you look at the £40 or $60 price tag.

NASCAR 08 PlayStation 3 preview / demo review

The demo for Electronic Arts annual serious racing franchise is now up on PlayStation 3’s United States PlayStation Store. Sadly, it appears that 2008 is going to be a very bad year for Electronic Arts annual game franchises and this iteration still doesn’t bring the feature set of the previous generation console games to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.


Cars look fine

While that is a critical point, the demo only provides you with a taste of the core racing action with an eight lap race around Daytona Speedway with ten other cars. This is a long way short of the forty car fields that should be in the full game.


You won’t see this in the demo

NASCAR 08’s graphics do the job. The important bits such as the car and the sense of speed are done very well. Your car looks nice and shows lots of damage while a smooth frame rate and well-chosen camera positions (I used this really cool roof camera which I hadn’t seen in any other game though I haven’t played an EA NASCAR game for a few years) supply the good sense of speed. As a bonus, the crashes have real impact with terrific sound effects, camera judder, smoke and convincing interaction between cars and trackside objects.


6.0  6.0  6.0  6.0

Sound effects, generally, are excellent. Your engine sounds inhumanly powerful and there are strong wind noises to aurally supply a terrific sense of speed. However, there are no crowd noises that I could discern and no other ambient noises. You also have a spotter but he is completely useless. He is either late, early or just plain wrong. I think he doesn’t really like you.

More moaning is caused by last-gen graphic features being wheeled out unnecessarily. This is most obvious with the crowds which are ugly 2d cutouts that do not move or animate (that I could see). PlayStation 3 has fully animated crowds that stand and cheer when you drive by in Formula 1 Championship Edition (and manages twenty-two very detailed cars on track). Xbox 360 has Project Gotham Racing 3 with fully animated crowds that flinch when you plough your shiny car into a railing in front of them. NASCAR 08 is pitiful by comparison.

While your car generally looks fine and it damages great, the lights that are reflected off it are fake. They reflect even when you aren’t driving under lights or when the lights are in a different place (for example, some lights are mounted on the trackside fence, some on the top of the grandstand). Pretty shoddy.

Finally the demo allows us a good feel of the default handling. Apparently the full game allows some fine tuning of the handling but the demo does not. With that caveat, I feel that the handling is challenging but learnable, consistent and fair. That said, I also feel that you will never feel complete mastery of your car. It’s quite solid but it’s very much on a knife edge. This is a game where you drive with your breath held. This might prove to be a serious problem with a 500-mile race…

Pack-racing also seems to require the holding of breath and is the area of the demo that reveals the most likely cause of frustration with the game. Real NASCAR is all about drafting and close pack racing and NASCAR 08 conveys this well. Unfortunately, it makes it a bit harder than it should be and also applies different rules to your car than to the AI cars.

Jostling, bumping and scraping affects the stability of your car quite badly but doesn’t affect your AI opponents at all. The effects of this are reduced with your experience in playing the game but even when you are fully tuned into the pack-racing experience, you still suffer significant stability issues that can, at any time, drop you several places down the field through loss of momentum or ping you into the wall or infield.

Official NASCAR 08 site (but don’t bother, half the stuff is broken)

Slimm Says

While patience and skill will clearly be rewarded, the demo suggests that a budget or second-hand purchase is the way to go for NASCAR 08. It is another poor 2008 next-gen effort from Electronic Arts that follows a poor 2007 season (for next-gen systems) and one wonders how long consumers will keep faith with the franchise before dumping it.

Colin McRae: DiRT Xbox 360 versus PC versus PlayStation 3 comparison and preview

Codemasters have released a PlayStation 3 demo for their off-road racing game DiRT.

The first thing that hits you is the size:

  • PC: 833MB
  • Xbox 360: 770MB
  • PlayStation 3: 555MB

Either Codies techies have recently learned how to zip files or the PS3 has significantly lower quality something somewhere. The question is: does it make any serious difference?

For me, the PS3 didn’t feel quite as sharp visually as either Xbox 360 or PC but it does feel much smoother and more consistent.

  • The PC demo played smoothly on the rally and special stage but had a nightmare with the CORR race when all the cars were on-screen.
  • The Xbox 360 demo played much the same on the three different race types and didn’t suffer the giant performance hit in the CORR race. However, it doesn’t feel consistently smooth.
  • The PS3 demo feels much smoother than both but seems to have a teensy bit more trouble with all the cars in the CORR race than the 360. This is largely noticeable on the replay and not so much in the gameplay.

Where this really factors in is in control. For me, the PC demo simply could not be setup satisfactorily with a gamepad. No matter what setup options I used, the gamepad was always far too sensitive.

Both the 360 and PS3 demos instantly feel fine. The 360 gets plus marks for rumble and terrific triggers but the PS3’s much lighter controller and no rumble makes for a far less fatiguing experience (this applies to all 360 / PS3 control comparisons). The general smoothness of the PS3 demo also means that you feel more in control and that minute adjustments can be consistently applied with effects that can be consistently anticipated.

The accuracy of the PS3 controls does highlight what is probably the biggest problem with DiRT as a game: the apparent simplicity of the driving model. DiRT is not as satisfying to drive around in as Forza Motorsport 2 on the 360 or Motorstorm or Gran Turismo HD Concept 2.0 on the PS3. Those games feel like you’re driving the vehicle depicted while DiRT feels a little more like you’re moving the camera. Well, that’s being a bit harsher than I meant. While it’s certainly not as satisfying a driving experience, it is consistent and eminently playable.

Slimm Says

For me, the PS3 demo just comes out on top thanks to its smoother feel and accurate and consistent controls.

On all the demos, I really miss Nicky Grist.

Lair mini preview and HD widescreen wallpapers

Dragons are cool, no question. So it remains a bit of a mystery why dragon-related screen entertainment in the form of movies and games tends toward disappointing at best.

Lair is a game that sounds technically impressive (1920×1080 resolution, 60 frames per second, 10,000 feet high to ground-level seamless gameplay area) but every time I see it in motion I always feel that the dragons have been poorly designed and I can’t tell what is going on. You cannot distinguish the dragon’s eyes and they are the principle means of identifying with characters. This reduces the potential for emotional involvement with your dragon. It should be your dragon but it looks like it will simple feel like a dragon. The controls also look like they will be a nightmare judging by the number of buttons and shaking prompts that keep popping up in the gameplay trailers. Let’s hope a Lair demo comes out and puts those fears to rest. The game is due to ship in North America on August 14th.

PlayStation.blog released a “screenshot” of the game. If this is an in-game in-engine screenshot then wow! This is a 1920×1080 original image but I have sharpened it slightly and added a PlayStation 3 three.

 With PS3 three.

  Clean.