Compared: October 24, 2002
Defender is the latest retro-remake to come from the house of Midway. This legendary 2D scrolling shooter has now been given the royal 3D treatment and released on all three major platforms. While the core game is essential the same there are some noteable variances that create a perfect opportunity for a VERSUS review.
Round 1: Control
The GameCube bring up the rear in this category, partly because of the awkward C-Stick and partly because of the awkward button layout. Even using my beloved MadCatz Cubicon, I simply didn't get that same level of precise control I was able to achieve on the PS2 and Xbox.
The PS2 comes in a close second place with a much more comfortable grip and control layout for extended gameplay, but the Xbox manages to sneak ahead for a first-place finish due to a much smoother framerate that actually improves the handling of the ships and the responsiveness of the controls.
Round 2: Visuals
The Xbox comes in a blazing first-place with some of the best overall visuals, draw distance, and framerate of all three versions. Even though the game isn't terribly impressive when compared to other current Xbox titles it does managed to maintain a link to the original game with some subtle designs and an innovative artwork.
The PS2 comes in second place with graphics that are nearly as good as the Xbox but with a slight dip in the framerate and a shorter draw distance that creates some pop-up or fade-in for objects on the horizon. It's not terrible but it is noticeable.
The GameCube version features graphics that strive to be as good as the Xbox but are often a bit too bright and washed out. The framerate also takes a serious dip when the screen is littered with aliens, debris, and fireworks. This would have been a much better game if it had been tweaked and optimized for the power of the GameCube.
Round 3: Music & Sound
The audio presentation for all three formats are virtually identical. With no Dolby Pro Logic II on the Cube and no Dolby Digital on the Xbox there is nothing that is hardware specific to make any version surpass the other. This round is a draw.
Round 4: Other Deciding Factors
When the format battle is this close you really have to start digging into each version and in the case of Defender the Xbox clearly has some faster load times, which alway help to improve the overall gameplay experience.
You really can't go wrong with any version and I highly recommend that everyone play Defender and enjoy one of the best retro-remakes since BattleZone or SpyHunter. All three version of Defender are quite good but the Xbox beats out the other two with faster graphics that improve the controls and gameplay. The PS2 and GameCube versions are nearly a tie for second place but the GameCube does slip into third with some less-than-stunning visuals and awkward controls.