Compared: March 14, 2003
VEXX is the latest and greatest platform game to hit the current crop of next-gen gaming systems. Even though the game was simultaneously released on all three formats the designers were able to make sure the game was sufficiently tweaked to draw on the strengths of each system creating an ideal game for one of our VERSUS reviews. There are significant differences, advantages, and disadvantages to be considered when deciding on which version is right for you.
The only thing that all three versions share is the same seriously flawed camera system that adds plenty of additional frustration and unnecessary difficulty to an otherwise already challenging game. Camera control aside, Vexx breaks down into varied levels of quality based on the power of the system you are playing it on.
Round 1: Control
This is a tough category to rank as all three games share excellent control, camera issues not withstanding, so ultimately like so many other multi-format games, it all boils down to what controller you feel most comfortable with. Personally, I find the PS2's Dual Shock remains comfortable even after four or more continuous hours of gameplay, while the Xbox comes in a close second followed by the GameCube.
Of course, the framerate also lends itself to the accuracy and smoothness of the controls and in that case the Xbox version clearly moves ahead of the pack. In the end, it's all so close that it really doesn't factor into the overall ranking.
Round 2: Visuals
The Xbox shows its power with some stunning visuals, incredible draw distances, and loads of special effects, some subtle and some prominent, that make this version the clear winner. You'll find better textures, bump mapping and even the Grimkins will be running around with their heads on fire. There are some excellent water and transparency effects including water droplets that splash on your screen when you exit a body of water. Another nice touch is actually being able to see the entire level on the other side of a hub door or sundial portal.
The PS2 is the runner-up with excellent visuals minus the above-mentioned Xbox-exclusive effects - the Grimkins just aren't the same when they aren't running around with their heads on fire. The PS2 does suffer from some serious gamma issues and with no adjustments in the actual game you are left with no option other than to adjust the brightness and contrast on your TV. Those of you with high-end sets that have been carefully calibrated (like me) will be unwilling to tweak those settings and will suffer plenty of ill-fated missed jumps. Playing at night or in a pitch-black room will help a bit but there is something seriously wrong with the brightness in this game.
The GameCube follows in third place with slightly better brightness but some very poor water textures and framerates that often dip toward being unplayable. The draw distance is deceiving in that you can see to infinity, but monsters will literally pop into view and attack without warning. Considering the power inside the Cube, it is apparent that not much was done to optimize the graphics for this version.
Round 3: Music & Sound
This is another tough criteria and if you don't have a relatively high-end sound system supporting your gaming habit then there is very little difference between any of the versions. The Xbox ultimately does come in first with its superior Dolby Digital mix that just nudges out the Dolby Pro Logic II found on the Cube and PS2 versions.
The PS2 and GameCube versions nearly tie with identical soundtracks and no perceivable difference in audio quality. Sounds and music are heavily recycled although the music is a bit more subtle about it. Reviewer preference is the only factor that puts the PS2 sound slightly ahead of the GameCube.
Round 4: Other Deciding Factors
The Xbox wins this round with some ultra-fast load speeds, both at the intial start-up and while bouncing back and forth between the various worlds via the Rift Hub.
If money dictates your purchases then you might find it interesting that the GameCube version is priced $10 less than the competition with no discernable differences in content. Perhaps the designers knew in advance what our scores show here, that this is the lesser of the three versions and they priced it accordingly.
The scores pretty much tell the tale here. The Xbox is the clear winner with better graphics and a slightly better audio presentation. The smoother framerate helps to smooth out the controls despite all three versions being severely crippled by a less-than-friendly camera system.
You won't find a more challenging platform title on any gaming system, but in the case of Vexx, the Xbox is the system that really makes this game shine.