Before we say anything else, let us say this: we expect both Gears of War 2 and Resistance 2 to be superb games - graphical showcases that will push the Xbox 360 and PS3 respectively to their limits. We will, fingers crossed, love them both to bits. With that out of the way, let us say this: both games are going head to head this November as the next-gen consoles' exclusive flagship titles for the Christmas period. This fact is indisputable. While one is a third-person shooter and the other is a first-person shooter, comparisons are inevitable. And thus, this special edition of VideoGamer.com's Versus series is inevitable. Read on for our head to head comparison of the console war's two biggest weapons in 2008.
Resistance 2 - It would be fair to say that the original Resistance: Fall of Man, a PS3 launch title, didn't blow us away visually. It looked good, but just not mind blowing. Because of that, there's a ton of interest in how R2's looks are shaping up. Up until Sony's recent PlayStation Day in London, all we had to go on Insomniac's shooter was this teaser trailer and a whole bunch of glorious looking screenshots. But, at the event, we managed to get our eyeballs on the game's multiplayer to see for ourselves how the graphics are shaping up. The answer? Lovely indeed.
While not as immediately impressive as the PlayStation Day single-player Killzone 2 hands-on demo being shown only about 20 feet away, it was clear that Resistance 2, at least from a multiplayer point of view, will present an impressive aesthetic. We saw a map set in the Californian Redwoods, a forest area filled with lush greens and brown trees. The level of environmental detail, from huge saw mills to metal control points with beams of light shooting skywards was encouraging, and the weapons look extremely detailed. The best thing? It all looked super smooth.
It's not all multiplayer though. Insomniac has released screenshots which provide a glimpse of one of the game's single-player levels, Chicago. While not representative of a view from the HUD, we can see one of the game's new enemies, the Grim, a kind of Gollum-esque slithering monster, and some impressive lighting. We can also get a sense of the devastation that has befallen Insomniac's alternative 50s Chicago. Barbed-wire, splintered wooden fences and torn down street signs give us a sense of the impact the invasion has had on US soil. The screens have had somewhat of a mixed reaction online - some fans have complained at the soldier models - but one thing's for sure, we're looking at a considerable step up from the first game.
Right now, if we exclude screenshots and teaser trailers, all we have to go on in the R2 graphics front is a multiplayer battle set in Californian forest. While the graphics looked impressive, we weren't blown away. But then we weren't expecting the earth from a 60-player multiplayer battle half a year before release. There's plenty of time for improvements, for sure, so no need to run for the hills just yet.
Gears of War 2 - The first Gears of War blew us away. Its graphics were unlike anything we had ever seen. Played in high definition on a big TV, Gears of War was, in our minds, the first game to truly show off what the so-called next-generation of gaming could really do.
With the sequel, however, we're not expecting to be blown away in quite the same way. And the recently released gameplay trailer, showing a short two-minute snippet of the game's second level, confirms that while we will see considerable graphical improvements, GoW2 on the graphical front is a refinement of what's gone before.
We know that the game will use a heavily upgraded version of the Unreal Engine 3. At the 2008 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, Epic showed off the various improvements to the engine that we can expect in the sequel. In-game lighting is improved, there are dynamic shadows and the character and environment models are considerably more detailed.
We've also seen some nice water effects, including ripples when Marcus dips his toes in and splashes from his assault rifle fire. But what we're most enthused by is the prospect of destructible environments, something we haven't seen in the gameplay video but have seen in the tech demo. With any luck, the sequel to the best cover-based game ever seen will usurp its predecessor.