eGamer Awards 2012: Best Graphics (Realistic)
This year we saw some graphical powerhouses to stand in awe of, and to avoid the conflict of last year, we’ll be doing something so logical we should have done it ages ago. Yes, this year we’ll be separating realistic and artistic games, and be looking at both equally, because that’s how it should be done. Let’s see which game had the best graphics out of all of them. But first, 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.
Hitman: Absolution at its best wowed us for a great many things. Its real-time rendering of masses of people on-screen at once with no slowdown at all was a sight to behold to believe, and its rain effects and lighting in particular were pretty damn amazing. Its cinematic cutscenes don’t have nearly the same level of quality and it’s very notable, but then again this has always been an issue with the series. Still, the actual game itself was gorgeous, and on a technical level it really was quite astounding. Hitman: Absolution really was a surprise this year, and visually one of the best games to emerge.
Max Payne 3
Max Payne 3 was many things, but no one can deny that it was a beautiful-looking game. With incredible cinematic action and environmental destruction, Max Payne 3 was often a marvel to see in motion, and the action felt wonderfully visceral. The game was vibrant, dynamic and exciting visually, and its use of visual effects during bullet time and gun fights really made it awesome to experience. Certainly some of Rockstar’s best work when it came to graphics, this game was a stunner, and the technical work that went into the set pieces and physics really stood out. Pity that the in-game cinematic, gorgeous as they looked, featured those nauseating and overly distracting word flashes and screen distortions, but if we put those aside then we were definitely impressed by how the game transitioned smoothly from cutscene to gameplay with barely any effort. It was just amazing.
Halo 4′s incredible art direction played a massive part in its visual success, and its astounding detail, visuals and lighting pushed the Xbox 360′s capabilities to a point that few, if not any, games managed to do on the console. The scale and scope of Halo 4′s sprawling world was constantly impressive, and we’d even go as far as to say that Halo 4 in many ways made Halo 3 look like a game from last-gen. The graphics were just amazing overall, and were incredibly polished, making Halo 4 stand at the top.
Far Cry 3
Just look at that screenshot. Seriously just look. Far Cry 3 was an absolute stunner, and one of the most gorgeous games we’ve laid eyes on this generation. The game featured incredibly vast landscapes that you were completely free to explore by land, sea or air, with absolutely no loading times whatsoever between them, which was amazing, especially given the fact that there was just so much going on in the game world, from its natural wildlife to enemies and allies facing off or just going about their business to the day and night cycles taking their course. The lighting, water effects, greenery, shadows, people and visual effects were all highlights, and when the game transitioned to a cinematic scene, the motion capture and camera work and heightened detail really sent our jaws to the floor. No one was, or is, over-hyping Far Cry 3′s graphics. It really is that amazing.
Assassin’s Creed III
Assassin’s Creed III raised the stakes over its predecessors in an incredible way, delivering one of the most graphically impressive games of this current generation. The amazing landscapes, absolutely incredible animation and changes in season and weather really made our jaws drop to the ground on too many occasions to count. It’s a pity about all those bugs, which detracted from the experience, but an enormous amount of them got fixed up in due time. Furthermore, those naval battles were especially brilliant, with gorgeous water and destructibility and magnificent attention to detail. There are so many talking points regarding this game’s graphics that it’s hard to put it to words, and that says it all.
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 we all know which game that is already.
Far Cry 3 took this one in the end, and the debate didn’t go on for too long. Assassin’s Creed III probably came closest, but when PC was brought into the picture, it was obvious that Far Cry 3 is superior to any other game released this year. A few of us were privileged to play it on Ultra settings on our PCs, and truly it’s just mesmerizing. The visuals are so damn incredible that we found ourselves cursing when daylight faded in the game because the sunlight would no longer stream beautifully over the landscape, water and our guns, but then within moments we were all googly-eyed at the moonlight. Far Cry 3 on PC ends the debate of which game had the best graphics this year, if there even was one, and there really are no second thoughts in handing this one out. Its gorgeous, massive, vibrant and absolutely stunning with wonderful attention to detail, and is just one of the most beautiful games we’ve ever played. This makes Far Cry 3 the clear winner of the best graphics award of 2012.