eGamer Awards 2013: Best Artistic Graphics
This year we saw some graphical powerhouses to stand in awe of, and as we did last year we’ve split the award for best graphics into two subcategories because it’s crazy to compare an artistic visual style to realistic visuals. 2013 was filled with some truly gorgeous games with great art direction. Let’s take a look at which made the best argument for games as art (visually that is) but first, the rundown.
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A great many gamers think that graphics in gaming is purely visual, but in the end it doesn’t matter how many polygons a game can push out or whether it has enough bloom to burn brighter than the sun. What we look for in this award is an experience that is either visually absorbing or artistically brilliant, but technically excellent. The graphics should be seen as incredible because they portray what they intended to and capture the game’s vision. Whether the game in question opts for an artistic style, realistic simulation, a cinematic experience or lush, open and brightly coloured worlds, it comes down to how well the game managed to achieve the design it tried to, and of course how damn good it looks while doing so. The graphics of a game can also play an important role in immersion, and as such we look for vibrant, memorable visual experiences that are dynamic and exciting to look at. All in all, this award will be given to the game that achieved its vision and impressed us the most with its graphics.
DmC: Devil May Cry
If there’s one thing Ninja Theory does brilliantly, it’s lovely artistic directions with their games. Say what you will about DmC but it was a pretty game to look at. A colourful palette on top of an intriguingly captivating city design made the game pop. Some sections were bombastic pieces of LSD-infused technicolour madness and there was rarely a dull moment on-screen. The game looked especially good in Devil Trigger mode when the only real colour was suddenly Dante’s red coat and became a black and white work of art.
During your playthrough of BioShock Infinite, how many times did you stop to just stare at the beauty of Columbia and the sky surrounding it? The answer is probably a lot. The game is absolutely stunning at all times with its bright visual style and attention to detail. It’s character and level design are second perhaps only to the original BioShock and things only look better when you have vigors flying everywhere, blood gushing from an enemy’s face and dark rain cloud overhead.
The Wolf Among Us
Not only does The Wolf Among Us display some great cel-shaded visuals but in this case the visual style is a huge enhancement to the game because it makes it feel as if the Fables comics (upon which the game is based) have been brought to life. It’s rich neon-infused world is brimming with detail despite a visual style that keeps things simple and uncluttered on-screen. In this case, the visual style is an essential part of what makes the game so good.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
How many games look like an anime but also play as smoothly as an episode of anime? The number is actually irrelevant because Ni no Kuni is perhaps the best at it. The visual style make it feel like you really are playing through an anime with vibrant and colourful visuals and clean, simple designs to everything. This game presented something distinctly different to what we’re sued to seeing and presented it with a darn pretty bow on top.
It would be criminal to not include 2013’s Rayman title in this category. The game is far from complex in its visual design and yet it is so colourful and vibrant in every single frame. The best way to describe it when in motion and there’s really a lot happening on-screen is “juicy.” It’s a succulent visual assault that you just have to drink in. With quirky character design, lovely animations and appreciable little details playing Rayman Legends quite literally puts a smile on your face just by looking at it.
This one was actually easy. As amazed as we were by all the other nominees, there was one that clearly stood above all of them, and really wowed us practically every single moment we spent with it.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that BioShock Infinite was the easy winner of 2013. It boasted exquisite character and level design with a world that just took your breath away. In motion it becomes a splendid blur as detailed environments rush past while you fly by on a Skyhook. Some would even argue the game could be praised for its visual imagery, remember that term from high school? If Infinite looked great on consoles, it looked absolutely mind-blowing on PC with the world of Columbia assaulting your senses. The game came especially alive when you were throwing vigors around on-screen or when there was so much action that you could barely keep up. Of course, Infinite never struggled to keep up, running silky smooth and sanguine no matter how chaotic things got. Ultimately, this was just a gorgeous game with an amazing setting and we’d have awarded this award to BioShock Infinite for the design of Songbird alone. We kid, but seriously Songbird is an incredible piece of design.