Try our new beta!Click here
Submitted by Nineball2112 1008d ago | opinion piece

The Most Jaw-Dropping Game Graphics of the Last 20 Years

Wired: There's more to videogames than just graphics, of course. But there's no denying the power of a well-turned polygon. Often before we ever play a videogame, our first experience with it is purely visual: through screenshots or, more often these days, a trailer.

Over the last 20 years, game graphics have made astonishing leaps in fidelity, and the range of visual expression adopted by designers has broadened considerably. There's not a year that's gone by without us being impressed, startled, or shocked by a game that even at first glance looks like nothing we've ever seen before. (Culture, Journey, L.A. Noire, Limbo, PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

StraightPath  +   1008d ago
Recently been playing Far Cry 3 on Xbox 360 and it looks amazing! Yes the PC version looks better but they pushed it on consoles looks really good.
KrystofKage  +   1008d ago
Really? I thought it looked terrible. The AA and shadows for characters were ugly. Granted the distancing was impressive, but GTA4 managed to do the same years ago. Just Cause 2 did it better than any game.
WeAreLegion  +   1008d ago
I do agree that Just Cause 2 did it best. (AFTER the patch...)

However, I think FarCry 3 on consoles looks absolutely incredible.
Autodidactdystopia  +   1008d ago
I am here because *graphics whore*

:) I am not disappoint.

Ps did anyone finish la noir I don't know why but I couldn't get into it so It just faded into the back of my collection.

can someone tell me if its worth reinstalling and playing allthewaythrough?
A2X_  +   1008d ago

L.A Noire was incredible. It's definitely not for everyone but I suggest you give it another shot.
f789790  +   1008d ago
Just Cause 2 was able to do it the best though because they weren't texture obsessed at close range.

Once you start being detailed at close range, you have to kill long range graphics which just ruins open world games. I enjoyed Infamous but damn those were some polluted cities.
abzdine  +   1008d ago
Good list but imo they forgot Abe's Odyssey, WipEout HD, Jak & Daxter and God of War 1.
Kennytaur  +   1008d ago
@Autodidactdystopia,the last part, or desk, of LA Noire is clearly the best. It's got a good ending worth sticking with the game for.
Mariusmssj  +   1008d ago
From what I heard there is only handlfull of time where you can get 30fps most of the time the max you get is 26
CapsLocke  +   1008d ago
Lol. Far-Cry 3. Jaw dropping graphics. On a console. Lol.
#1.3 (Edited 1008d ago ) | Agree(12) | Disagree(20) | Report | Reply
GUYwhoPLAYSvideoGAME  +   1008d ago
agree, i only play console and i didn't think the graphics were very good for consoles
A2X_  +   1008d ago
I don't understand the disagrees. It was a brilliant game but the technical side was disapointing.
ps3_pwns  +   1008d ago
lol hes an xbox only gamer the only thing they praise is multiplats because thats the only games they get and its sad that multiplat games look better then there exclusives like crackdown and halo 3. its pretty sad they call themselves games. xbox gamers get rid of the xbox get a gaming pc for multiplats and then get a playstation for the superior exclusives and best graphics on consoles.

dont even know why you guys have hd tvs and dont even have a blueray player. what a waste. cant even watch ironman on blueray or dark knight rises you filthy chumps.
AngryEnglish  +   1008d ago
Lol let's see a PC with 512mb of memory and a 10mb ATI card run far cry 3..... Tool

You have to look at it in context, far cry 3 is one of the best looking games on the 360, quite remarkable they can do that with such shitty specs.

@ps3_pwns ...... Yeah because you can't buy a bluray player without a ps3....... I swear, its kids like you that make GAMERS look like complete dickheads
#1.3.4 (Edited 1008d ago ) | Agree(7) | Disagree(8) | Report
faizanali  +   1007d ago

That is not a very compelling argument sir.
Your churlish actions and replies reek of an insolent ignoramus.

But to refute you, You won't find a 10MB VRAM Dedicated Video Card, not even in 2005.
JasonXS12  +   1008d ago
I though Far Cry 3 looked amazing the first time I played it but after a while I got sick of seeing green and blue all the time. It's graphically pretty impressive but the colour palette was limited. The art direction wasn't great.
I honestly think the original Crysis 1 did better with the jungle beach environment than Far Cry did and also Just Cause 3 not only looked amazing, but ran amazingly even on my old computer.
Arnon  +   1008d ago
Ah, Flower. One of my favorite games of last gen.
ijust2good  +   1008d ago
The character models on console version of FC3 looked really good but the in game world looked bad...very low textures and so many jaggies, i really thought it was bad.

Just Cause 2 definetly looked one of the best tropical open world setting on console but original Crysis set to ultra on PC looked the best and that game is like 6 years old.
#1.6 (Edited 1008d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(3) | Report | Reply
pain777pas  +   1008d ago
This list is terrible.
ToZanarkand86  +   1007d ago
For me, it was Shenmue.
That game quite literally blew my mind back when I was a boy.
Hasn't been a game like it since... or a console as cool as the Dreamcast.
Best game ever.
kB0  +   1008d ago
I like some of the choices, but it seems ( it might not be true) really obvious that a lot of games on that list seemed to be chosen merely because of a fan base or what ppl seems there were many more truths out there...

Like 2007...Crysis 1? That game was absolutely astounding in terms of graphics...adaptive to enviroment AI models...and just amazing effects which till this date still look amazing!

I did love some...but it seems like a lot was left Halo 1 (or even 2....although it wasn't that great...its graphics and art work was def nice!).

I also would've aded Metal gear 1 somewhere there:)
kB0  +   1008d ago
Also for the record in 2001, luigi's was an amazing looking game! Seriously looks better than even sunshine in terms of art and direction!
Diffraction_Fos  +   1008d ago
Most jaw-dropping game graphics? 2007? Crysis - "Honorable mention" only? Looks like somebody played Crysis on an outdated rig.
WeAreLegion  +   1008d ago
Even on the lowest settings, Crysis was the best looking game in 2007, by a LONG shot. Lol. I was playing it on medium when it came out. Such a gorgeous game. It's a shame people only remember it for the graphics. I love the gameplay and story.
JKelloggs  +   1008d ago
It's still better looking than some games in recent years..
Eyeco  +   1008d ago
If you noticed , in the list games like Limbo, Flower, Okami, Pikmin, Grim Fandango and Journey, DKC, SMW2 made the list, neither of those games were the best looking in their respective years, but the art style of those games have held up incredibly well.

I think Crysis looks amazing, but Bioshock looks beautiful it was unlike any game ever seen at the time and even to this day , the dark Art Deco art style is unique, i was more impressed with Bioshock's visuals than I was with Crysis, and yes i played Crysis in max settings.

Images don't have to look hyperrealistic to be considered beautiful.
#3.2 (Edited 1008d ago ) | Agree(5) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
deafdani  +   1008d ago
Now wait a second here. Donkey Kong Country was one of the best looking games on the SNES at the time, both from an artistic and, yes, technical side. Not only did it look pretty because of a solid art direction, it also pushed the SNES' power like very, very few games could.

I don't honestly remember any Genesis game that came even close to DKC graphically.
Eyeco  +   1008d ago
DKC as far as consoles go it was arguably the best looking game of 94 but the best looking game was easily System Shock 1 I think that was the first FPS to my knowledge with a fully 3d rendered gameworld that beats Pre-Rendering in my books, and this was a year after Doom nailed 2.5d

As for the Genesis that console did come close to DKC visuals in the form of Vector Man, people really don't give the Genesis much credit, I think the Comix Zone, Rista, Sonic & Knuckles look as good if not better than anything on the SNES, especially the Comix Zone
#3.2.2 (Edited 1008d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report
Baka-akaB  +   1008d ago
agreed crysis is forgettable and will be forgotten as soon as a successor in hyper realism , be it from crytek or other appears ... but the art direction from Bioshock and bioshock infinite wont be forgotten
Diffraction_Fos  +   1007d ago
Oh I'm sorry. I thought the title said - "The Most Jaw-Dropping Game Graphics", not "The Most Artistically Ingenious Visuals". Need glasses fast....
extermin8or  +   1008d ago
crysis 1 looked good then but not many people played it on it's highest settings, and its art style was pretty generic... and it hasn't aged too well.
JasonXS12  +   1008d ago
I still think Crysis is one of the best looking games today. I played a custom map and by god did the creator make the design of the map amazing, coupled with the amazing Cryengine.
NukaCola  +   1008d ago
Shout to the original two Oddworld games for psone. Still holds up today with some of the most amazing visuals in any game.
WeAreLegion  +   1008d ago
Agreed. The art style is a stand-out for the industry, as well. Gorgeous!
Erimgard  +   1008d ago
Stopped reading when Metroid Prime didn't even get an honorable mention for 2002.
RustedMan  +   1008d ago
was really annoyed at that as well.
That game...was damned good looking.
pandehz  +   1008d ago
On a best gfx article no Crysis=Fail.

The leap Crysis took in terms of graphics has not happened since.

With other games everything was a small upgrade but Crysis started the entire conversation about next gen graphics.
#6 (Edited 1008d ago ) | Agree(5) | Disagree(2) | Report | Reply
hkgamer  +   1008d ago
I think not having MGS2 on the list is a bigger fail.
fsfsxii  +   1008d ago
MGS2 was way ahead of its time
EverydayGuy  +   1008d ago
If Crytek was ambitious as they were with the original crysis, they would make 4 Titans in Sli beg for mercy.
JohnnyAkiba  +   1008d ago
No Shenmue (1999) and many others. This list is a joke
#7 (Edited 1008d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(1) | Report | Reply
DigitalRaptor  +   1008d ago
Shenmue is on there.

It's listed under year 2000, as that's when it came westward.
#7.1 (Edited 1008d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
StreetsofRage  +   1008d ago
Jaw Dropping Graphics? No question it has to go to all those insane mods I see on some PC games like GTA4 or Crysis. And I'm a console gamer. But those mods are jaw dropping for me because it's extremely realistic looking. Their are many other games that look amazing but have a different art style. Best graphics on a console? Might have to be Far Cry 3. Pretty damn amazing they were able to put all that in a game. I'm not to keen on sweet graphics but linear gameplay like Uncharted.
isyourhouseonfire  +   1008d ago
No Black Ops 2 on the list?? The author just killed his own credibility.
Oh_Yeah  +   1008d ago
I'd have to say Skyrim on 360 takes the cake in terms of open world game visuals on consoles this gen....I mean damn and the game itself is only 3 and a half gbs.
ape007  +   1008d ago
a lot of fantatic looking games missing from the list

mario 64, zelda oot, goldeney, turok 2, gran turismo, mgs 1, sonic adventures mgs 2, mgs 3, burnout 3, resi 4, splinter cell, halo combat evolved, gears of war, kz2 and a lot more not in my head right now
#11 (Edited 1008d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
RustedMan  +   1008d ago
Gran Turismo getting an honorable mention in the graphics quality is just unbelievable.
NiteX  +   1008d ago
lol @ WoW.
OmniSlashPT  +   1008d ago
No Uncharted 2? I remember people claiming it was CGI and pre-rendered footage like the infamous Killzone 2 demo. Then ND showed the E3 demo and everyone jaw just dropped. Even today UC2 look amazing, and UC3 desert level remains one of the most visually spectacular levels in videogames.

Nice mentioning of Journey though, the colour palette of that game is fantastic.

I guess this article is more about artstyle...but games like MGS, Crysis, BF3 and such should atleast be mentioned.
Shawtymann  +   1008d ago
God of War 3 was not even an honorable mention for 2010. that game still looks better than most games today only behind Ascension and Uncharted 3 (consoles)
Tontus  +   1008d ago
It's ridiculous how that game was forgotten about.

I actually think when it comes to visuals (current PS3 exclusives only) it's: God of War: Ascension > God of War III > Uncharted 3 >/= Killzone 3 > Heavy Rain > Killzone 2 > Uncharted 2.

I went back playing through all of the above games and was most surprised by how dated UC2 looks now. I believe GoW3 is overall better looking than UC3, it has better lighting, less aliasing, higher framerate, better motion-blur & depth of field effects and it's almost all real-time (evidenced by your chosen costume staying on in most cut-scenes VS UC3 where they took that option away since UC2 so you can't prove it's not real-time even though it's obvious when it isn't).

When you consider GoW3 is SSM's 1st PS3 game and it is still easily on par or better than KZ3/UC3 and that GoW:A blows them away just imagine if SSM got to work on a third PS3 game. Scratch that, imagine their PS4 games! Wow.
Bob570  +   1008d ago
Crysis 1 was beaten by Bioshock!? Are you joking? No mention of Half-Life 2, Halo 2, or Halo 1?
Dms2012  +   1008d ago
I remember the first time I popped in Halo 1, for its time it was astonishingly beautiful.
StrawHatPatriot  +   1008d ago
No Angry Birds? Really?
mayberry  +   1008d ago
Killzone 2/3 are spectacular, imho.
Trago1337  +   1008d ago
Oh man, Flower's simplicity complemented the art SO well. I always get that "Disney magic" feeling when I look at that game.
ATi_Elite  +   1008d ago
The Most Jaw-Dropping Game Graphics of the Last 20 Years
At first I thought it was just a console List until I saw World Of warcraft, (LMFAO).

The I realized No Far Cry 1, No Half Life 2, No Metro 2033, No Arma 2, No STALKER, NO Crysis, NO battlefield 3.....but FRIGGIN World of Warcraft (AGAIN LMFAO)

Even if it was Console Only No ICO, NO Sonic The HEdgeHog, No Street Fighter 2, No Uncharted 2, NO RDR, No Starfox but World of warcraft is on this list (Once more LMFAO)

I think those Casio Calculator Watches from back in the day can run World Of Warcraft....On Ultra!
INMATEofARKHAM  +   1008d ago
I fairly good list... I didn't agree with all of them but I didn't think the selections where horrible with the except of two choices.

2007: Bioshock over Crysis? Crysis was the standard for graphics for years to come....

2009: Flower over Uncharted 2? It might come down to the author's preference in art design but when you can argue* that a title from 2009 is still the best looking game on an active console you likely got it wrong... (* All around UC2 is better looking than UC3.)
taquito  +   1008d ago
all the BEST graphics in the last 20 years have been on pc, it will stay that way for the next 20

consoles always start out a full gen behind
Killustrious  +   1008d ago
No Killzone 2 or Uncharted 2??? Fail
tristanwerbe  +   1008d ago
some of these games don't deserve to even be mentioned the 8 bit and 16 bit ideas can look nice but Journey is literally barley even powered by the system its such a low end game why don't you guys do some real research for example God of War 3 was a true testament of what the PS3 could do and Halo 4 showed everyone that the Xbox 360 actually had some amazing hardware potential.
TheKayle1  +   1008d ago
this games jaw dropping REALLY!?!?!...what drugs this guy take?
#24 (Edited 1008d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(1) | Report | Reply
josephayal  +   1008d ago
Killzone 2 is still the best looking game this gen
kaozgamer  +   1008d ago
author is confused between art style and graphics
UnHoly_One  +   1008d ago
2009 - Flower, with Rock Band as a runner up.

What the Hell is this guy smoking??

Somebody please take his keyboard away and make him go to rehab before you give it back.

Jesus Christ what a joke.
#27 (Edited 1008d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
Picnic  +   1007d ago
The original Bioshock really was quite spectacular when it was released because I'd probably never seen that amount of intense, fast, action on screen before.
#28 (Edited 1007d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
Picnic  +   1007d ago
deafdani, the thing about the Genesis/Megadrive is that it may not have had Donkey Kong Country's 3D model prowess but it was kind of made up by the range of Disney games - Castle and World of Illusion, Quackshot, Aladdin. The SNES did have Disney games but they were mostly made by Capcom therefore samey and not as darkly atmospheric (although some may prefer Capcom's pastelly graphics)as the Megadrive ones. Donkey Kong Country's mine karting is beautiful.
#29 (Edited 1007d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply

Add comment

You need to be registered to add comments. Register here or login
New stories

Amazon launches new, free, high-quality game engine: Lumberyard

11m ago - Today Amazon has both announced and released a new, free game engine, Lumberyard, which offers de... | PC

Review: Dying Light: The Following - Enhanced Edition | Destructoid

11m ago - DTOID: "Dying Light surprised the heck out of me last year. While I mostly agree with Chris ab... | PC

Be the first to know the Release Date for PlayStation VR

Now - All N4G members who track PlayStation VR through will get 10% off on all PSVR launch titles! | Promoted post

That Time A Horse Became Empress Of Rome

17m ago - Only in Crusader Kings II could a horse rise to power and, after decades of war and conquest, res... | PC

Guild Wars 2 Cosplay Includes 9-Foot-Tall Golem

17m ago - Guild Wars fan Enayla has outdone herself here. Not only has she gone and made a fantastic Asura... | Culture

Dying Light: The Following: The Kotaku Review

17m ago - Kotaku: "I am pleased to report that in Dying Light: The Following, you can still dropkick a z... | PC