Games always feel like they're developing at a faster rate than we can keep up with. The jump from 2D to 3D astounded audiences. And from then on, both formats have only grown better with time. As technology rapidly improves, as do video games with it.
For this week's Community Question, we ask this: Was there ever a game that impressed you so much with its graphics and visual finesse that you felt it could never be topped? A game that looked so good, that you felt nothing could ever compete with it, or best it? Let us know in the comments! And you can find some of the USgamer team's answers below.
At the time? I thought Vagrant Story was the the business. Way back in 2000, Square Enix released this odd, interesting action-adventure title. It was directed and produced by Yasumi Matsuno and the rest of the team behind Final Fantasy Tactics. Tactics remains one of my favorite games of all time, and at the time, Matsuno's name was enough to get me onboard another game.
The city of Lea Monde was a dark and brooding place. Our hero Ashley Riot wandered through the city's alleys and catacombs alone, shadows playing across decaying walls and water-logged stone. You really felt like you were trapped in a city lost to the oceans of time. Looking back, it was actually a precursor to the same feeling I had in Bloodborne's Yharnam.
Back in the day, I thought it was the peak. I figured graphics would never get good enough to surpass that art direction. I was wrong and naive of course, but hey, that's youth for you.
Shadow of the Colossus floored me when it was released. It wasn't just purely because of its "graphics" either; it was how its graphics helped create its immense sense of scale. The colossi, or bosses, in it are all memorable. The world itself is too, with vast open spaces with nothing in-between, just room for quiet contemplation.
Shadow of the Colossus was emblematic of everything that made the PlayStation 2, in my opinion, the best console ever. It was an experimental sort of game that wasn't afraid to take things slow. It was well past when "graphics" were first evolving beyond the low-poly style, but it wasn't letting the bumpy road hinder its art direction. It was "epic" in the actual sense of the word, watching giant beasts arise out of rubble. It's the type of game that still visually holds up, even today.
I don't think I've ever been more moved or blindsided by a game than I was with Shadow of the Colossus. Playing it initially was the first time I felt like games had honest potential to be profound in ways like literature or other art is. At the time, I felt like games really couldn't get better than Colossus, that this was as good as it really gets. I later was proven wrong by other games I also love from the PS2 library—such as Okami, Persona 3 FES—but Colossus' looming visuals still astound me to this day. I worry about its impending remake, about it losing the rougher edges, the film-like grain that coats it. I'll play it nonetheless though. I'm always looking for an excuse to return to that world.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but when I first saw Uncharted: Golden Abyss on the PlayStation Vita I believed for a moment that we reached one of the highest points of portable gaming graphics. Obviously with the Nintendo Switch out that's no longer the case.
I think Golden Abyss on the Vita still holds up pretty well visually and was an excellent showcase for the Vita's graphical prowess. It's just a shame that later Vita titles couldn't quite live up to the Vita's potential with the system, instead falling back to hosting mostly visual novels and games with stylized art direction. I can't really blame developers eschewing pouring money into pushing the Vita to its graphical heights when it was probably more economical to develop smaller games for the underperforming portable system.