One of the distinctions of a new generation of video games is improved graphics. As we move into the next generation, let’s take a look back the best visual experiences of the last generation. Games will be rated based on graphical quality, art direction, and aesthetics. This top 10 countdown are my picks for the best video game graphics.
At the end of the countdown, let me know what you think. What games were too high? What games were too low? What games were not included but should have been?
Without further ado, let’s begin the breakdown. The elder scrolls 5 skyrim receives honorable mention in the competition. The reason for its honorable mention instead of full inclusion is that it is only able to look as good as it does with a plethora of mods installed.
But once these mods are installed, the textures, antialisaing, overall graphical fidelity improves to the extent that vanilla skyrim and modded skyrim look like they are games in different generations. Detailed characters models, towns, landscapes, and dungeons lift Skyrim from graphical mediocrity to being able to rival any game in impressive visuals. Starting the countdown is Tomb Raider, a much needed reboot to the, no pun intended, archaic series. The game brings the story back to the adventurer origins of Lara Croft. Along with modern gameplay improvements, Tomb Raider has impressive visuals. A large portion of the game’s success depended on how well Lara’s physical and inner struggle was portrayed, and the game delivers in this aspect.
Animations are fluid and believable. Lara’s movements were motion-captured off Camilla Luddington, who is also the voice actor and body model. On PC, there is even a graphical option solely dedicated to hair physics. The tombs and exotic locations Lara visits in the game are a real pleasure to take in.
Ensuring a future for our strong female protagonist, Tomb Raider sails into 10th place on the countdown. Another Square Enix published game, Sleeping Dogs presents an intricately designed world for you to roam around. Wei Shen is an undercover cop tasked with infiltrating the triads. The setting, modern Hong Kong, is unique to the gaming world, and the sights and sounds of the bustling city are well-portrayed through the gameplay.
It is exhilarating just to stop from time to time to take it all in. A high resolution textures pack that comes with the PC version adds polish to everything in sight, and lighting, shadows, and effects are consistently high quality through and through. Hand to hand combat sequences flow like choreography.
For those experiencing the “I want GTA 5 NOW!” syndrome, Sleeping Dogs will more than fill that void. Just be sure to remember to drive on the left side of the road. With everything from thrilling motorcycle chases to action movie fist fights, Sleeping Dogs pummels its way into 9th place on the countdown.
Hitman: Absolution rounds out the first three games on our countdown with yet another Square Enix published game. The game itself was well-received by critics, but lesser known among mainstream audiences. Agent 47 make a triumphant return to the gaming scene, his assassination missions have been updated with modern gameplay mechanics. The Glacier 2 engine is very underrated, and is capable of rendering realistic, dense crowds. The environments are gorgeous to look at, and you are sure to take all of it in as you play the game stealthily.
But subtly sometimes falls through, and you are more than welcome to run and gun. Slow-motion kill cams show high levels of visceral detail. Hitman Absolution sneaks into 8th place on the countdown.
I feel like I can just copy and paste a large portion of what I wrote about Hitman Absolution into my my synopsis of Max Payne 3. The game received high scores from critics, but not many played it although it was a spectacular modern release. Max Payne, the titular character, is once again in a cycle of getting drunk and pissing metal. The PC version is replete with modern graphical features such as tessellation and ambient occlusion. Gameplay is fast, but the trademark bullet time allows to see detailing on each individual bullet. Advanced physics are well implemented, as enemies react and fall dynamically to where they are playing online pokies nz.
Bullet wounds are viscerally rendered. Max Payne 3 dives into 7th place on the countdown. Although there are too many modern military shooters released every year to count, still none of them have been able to unseat Battlefield 3 as the go-to game of choice for graphical fidelity.
Released in 2011, the game is still a benchmark that modern systems target. Realism-inspired gameplay accompanying photo-realistic visuals creates a very immersive experience. The feeling of being in a war zone is enhanced when the destructible environments of the Frostbite 2 engine cause the world to literally crumble around you. Releasing in late 2013, Battlefield 4 and Arma 3 will compete for the best graphics in a modern military shooter, but for now, Battlefield 3 shoots its way into 6th place on the countdown. Far Cry 3 drops you into the lair of pirates, slavers, and dangerous animals, as your vacation goes wrong in the worst possible way. The one stroke of luck you do have is that the islands of Far Cry 3 are beautiful, expansive, and completely open to exploration.
There’s a lot to take in as you fly over the islands with a wingsuit or hang glider. The terrain and vegetation are developed and lush. Hunting rare animals takes you to a variety of locales. Wandering aimlessly through the forest or driving along the coast offer hours of radiant vistas and entertainment just by themselves. With gameplay just as rewarding as its graphics, Far Cry 3 skydives into 5th place.
Developers CD Projekt Red shows that when you develop from the ground up with high end PC systems in mind, you create graphical masterpieces such as the Witcher 2. You play as Geralt of Rivia, a fabled monster hunter, known as a Witcher. The oldest game on the countdown, the Witcher 2 is over 2 years old as the time of this writing. The game is clearly designed for the ages, as the graphical requirements to play at the highest settings are still very intense. There’s no easy place to begin describing the amount of graphical fidelity in the Witcher 2. The textures, environmental detail, lighting, and world design are all deserving of praise.
No graphical element is lacking, and each feature is well implemented. The Witcher 2 is the best looking high fantasy game available, and the Witcher 3 will raise the bar again for visual quality. The storyline is just as compelling as the graphics. With its immersive landscape, the Witcher 2 hacks and slashes to 4th place on the countdown.
This will surprise many for its inclusion in the countdown, much more so for its high position, but Bioshock Infinite very much deserves a position among the most visually impressive games of the generation. Booker DeWitt seeks to wipe away his debt by saving Elizabeth from captivity, but there is a deep secret to her origins that makes the mission transcend explainable phenomena. It is clear that the game isn’t striving for realism in its graphical design, but rather, it reaches new gaming benchmarks for art direction and aesthetic appeal. The game is much more than a good story told through a first person shooter- it is artwork.
Symbolism is abundant. The game’s setting, the floating city of Columbia, has imagery rife with architecture and persona representative of the early 20th century, but has intrinsic design that distinguishes it as existing in an alternate universe. There is a steampunk feel to the world, coupled with the comfortable vertigo of being among the clouds. Elizabeth’s animations are mesmerizing to look at.
Each aspect of world design contributes to the inherently artistic origins of BioShock Infinite. Even those most critical and skeptical of video games will agree that Bioshock Infinite solidifies video games as a legitimate art form. With a meticulous amount of detail and intricacy placed into creating a memorable and unique world, BioShock infinite tears its way into 3rd place on the countdown. We are down to the 2 best looking games of the generation. It was extremely difficult to decide which of these two games would take the top place on the countdown, because they both present a strong case for the best quality graphics.
It was hard to put this game second to anything, but the runner up for the best gaming graphics is Metro: Last Light. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where humanity is reduced to live in metro tunnels. Your goal is to find any and all means to keep stay alive. It is shocking how believable the decimated environment looks. Powerfully vivid graphics are important to what the game seeks to accomplish in creating an immersive and tense atmosphere. Shadow and light are life and death, and the gameplay uses how impressive these effects are to making edgy stealth segments.
The physics engine utilizes PhysX to create dynamic destruction, fabric, explosion, and spark effects. The game presents and puts together all of the best modern graphical features to create one of the most visually immersive experiences. Metro: Last Light shines its way into second place on the countdown. The Crysis series has a legacy in requiring powerful hardware to be able to play at any setting. The latest in the series, Crysis 3, continues its tradition of melting PCs.
You play as Prophet, a soldier with superhuman abilities made possible by the series’ definitive Nanosuit. The powerful CryEngine 3 is on full display, as Crysis 3 incorporates graphically intensive features such as displacement mapping, particle and volumetric fog shadows, improved dynamic cloth and vegetation, dynamic caustics, improved area lighting and diffuse shadows. All of these graphical innovations, high quality textures, and other advanced features create a science fiction visual experience that other games are a far cry away from reproducing.
Each Crysis game takes graphics to levels previously unimaginable, especially as games approach real-life fidelity. This makes it all the more impressive that the team at Crytek pushes the boundaries of video game graphical intensity. As the best looking video game of the generation, Crysis 3 powers its way to the top of our countdown. So there you have it. These are my picks for the best video game graphics of last generation. Remember to leave a comment on what gamers you think were too high, too low, or should have been included but weren’t.