eGamer Awards 2013: Best Realistic Graphics
This year we saw some graphical powerhouses to stand in awe of, and to avoid conflict we’ve once again split the award for best graphics into two subcategories because it’s crazy to compare an artistic visual style to realistic visuals. 2013 had a good few games which were so good looking we found ourselves looking outside the window to compare with what was on-screen. First off, the rundown.
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.
Battlefield 3 ran on Frostbite 2, Battlefield 4 runs on Frostbite 3 and easily surpassed its predecessor which was already a visually spectacular game. The game featured an all-new level of detail with even the grass having its own physics to move as you moved through it. Every little detail was improved from muzzle flashes to dust clouds and character models. The game managed to maintain the same level of visual fidelity online too. Where the game really shows itself off is in Levolution. Watching an entire building collapse in fine detail is magnificent.
Need for Speed: Rivals
Hey, another game running on Frostbite 3 except with cars and less guns. Just a few less guns. Rivals made racing looks incredible with amazingly detailed environments that looked good enough to crash into. The cars themselves are works of art. Exquisitely detailed and with lighting effects that, in the spirit of hyperbole, make the cars look better than real life. Let’s not forget how much better it all looks when wet and after a spectacular crash.
Metro: Last Light
Who would’ve thought it was possible to make the apocalypse look beautiful and in Russia no less? Metro: Last Light managed to do that and then some. The game was wonderfully detailed, has incredible lighting effects with the abundance of shadows found a way to make shadows have real depth to them. The attention to detail under the surface in the Metro was startling.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us managed to push the PS3′s hardware to its limit. It was another game that made the end of the world look lovely. With a rich and detailed world that was begging to be explored, taking a look around sometimes made one forget just how somber the game’s narrative was. Watching the game cycle through the seasons, especially during winter, was simply beautiful. Even walking through the carpet of autumn leaves was memorable. Perhaps the game’s strongest point was its character models and the minute facial details the motion capture managed to recreate.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Ubisoft’s Anvil Next engine has great potential and we got to see what its capable of with Black Flag. Forget about the character models, those were adequate. What really took your breath away was the game’s world. The majesty of the open seas, the way it moved and especially just how gorgeous it looked beneath the surface when diving. The only things that came close were the islands with their lush vegetation. Worth noting is certainly Edward’s fighting animations which made combat visceral and splendid to behold.
Beyond: Two Souls
Beyond: Two Souls may have been a narrative disappointment but it sure was a game that made you feel like you were watching a feature film starring Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. Funnily enough, that’s basically what the game boils down to if you put the controller down and pick up some popcorn. Jokes aside, the game was a masterclass in character design with huge bounds in motion capture resulting in an incredible level of facial detail. Even the world looked good, especially when it happened to be on fire or under some snow.
Going through the reasons why each nominee didn’t win requires a certain technical understanding that’s a bit beyond us. Just kidding, but seriously. There really is only one way to decide the winner, and that’s the absolute best game visually overall. And while it was tight, very close competition indeed, there was one game which stood out.
Metro: Last Light was up against tough competition but just edged it as the best looking game of this year. It was certainly designed to be that so failing to meet that would be a bit of a disappointment. Sure, it had some issues on consoles but play the game on PC and it was an absolute stunner. One that none could touch. Below the surface it was a well detailed and dark environment with shadows that actually had some depth. Up top on the surface there was a beguiling beauty that was deceiving of the true danger that awaited players up there. Whereever you happened to be, Metro: Last Light always looked incredible.