Evolution of Graphics in Video Games- 1991-2011

GR - "Graphics have come a long way since the early days of gaming. Here we take a trip down memory lane to see how graphics have evolved over the past 20 years."

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NukaCola2762d ago (Edited 2762d ago )

Allow me to present Oddworld. A game that came out in 1997 and is still to this day one of the most impressive game I have ever seen visually, among other things. This was on PS One and I still to this day, can't find a game that can compete with it to me. I am excited too because Lorne Lanning is remaking this game, still in 2.5D, but in full HD remade with a brand new engine.

piroh2762d ago

PS One got plenty of ground-breaking revolutionary graphic games
anyone remember Gran Turismo 1,2? or Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy 7, Tekken 3, Spyro 2,3, Driver, AceCombat 3, Silent Hill... ages

pcz2762d ago (Edited 2762d ago )


nice graphics yes, but boring game

Ranshak2762d ago (Edited 2762d ago )

Shogun 2 and witcher 2 are the best looking games of 2011 so far.

However from a timeline of 1991 - 2011 the best looking games go like this:

Quake 2 1997
Unreal 1998
Quake 3 1999
Doom 3 2004
Farcy 2004
Half life 2 2004
Crysis 2007
Metro 2033 2010
Shogun 2 2011
Witcher 2 2011

Each of these games has represented the epitome of graphics in their respective times.

sobekflakmonkey2762d ago (Edited 2762d ago )


How could you leave out Half-Life the original?
that game was ground breaking when it came out, which begs the question, how come Half-Life 1 & 2 weren't on that list, dont get me wrong the list was interesting but missing quite a bit..

ProjectVulcan2762d ago (Edited 2762d ago )

Doom 3 is a good pick for 2004, but Far Cry has had more impact visually on games from a technical perspective. Not least of all because after a patch it was one of the first games with proper dev supported HDR and AA.

This also has to count more for me because without said game, Crytek may not have been around to make Crysis how they did which has been and arguably still is the benchmark.

Ranshak2762d ago


Half life 2 is on the list. The reason why Half life 1 isnt on the list is because it was using the quake 2 engine, hence while it was a good looking game it didnt really jump the level of graphics.

Half life 2 on the other hand was the end all be all of graphics when it was released since it released with a completely new engine.

HolyOrangeCows2762d ago

You're obviously thinking art direction...

Sheeeeesh; all that advancement in 20 years. I used to say "It CAN'T get better than this" but then it did, many times. I can only imagine the next 20.

DrVosknocker2762d ago

Far Cry takes the Cake for 2004
and Donkey Kong Country 1994

Zydake2762d ago

IDK but I believe they need to stick GoW 3 in there

MaxXAttaxX2762d ago (Edited 2762d ago )

As a PC fan, I assume you must push PC games in our faces.

Unfortunately, having a PC doesn't automatically give you better graphics.

So I believe there should be a BIG asterisk(*) next to those games saying:
*With up to date hardware.

mikeslemonade2761d ago (Edited 2761d ago )

Back then I thought Star Fox looked like shit. 3D just didn't look good at all to me back then. And putting LA noire ahead of MGS4, Uncharted 2, and Heavy Rain is just funny. LA Noire looks a tad bit better than GTA4 a 2007 game.

BluePumpkin72761d ago

do you work for that game's company or something?

darthv722761d ago

is the artistic creativity and technical abilities of the developers to go beyond the hardware limitations. Take for example the older systems like the Genesis (my personal fav) and SNES etc... Each one built around a set of hardware that (for its time) had limits.

You look at the games released when the systems released and then compare them with the games released at or near its end and you can see there had been many interesting techniques to improve the outcome over that period of time. Its the same hardware from beginning to end, its just that people got smarter with working the limitations into almost limitless potential.

I do think that new hardware and the learning curve associated tends to give the impression that devs can be lazy at first. Letting the hardware do the work instead of applying artistic creativity like you generally see later on. But then again, that comes in time and experience with the hardware.

Have we seen the 360 maxed out or possibly the ps3? Not likely so long as there are developers willing to take a risk on a new technique to get the hardware to reflect something that we didnt think possible.

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JLeVRT2762d ago

Imagine what they will be like in about 30 years O_O

Zydake2762d ago

That's what I'm scared of.

and then I said oh sh!t I hope Kinect isn't the future.

ATiElite2762d ago

Wow that was a cool flash back as I played 99% of those games. Sonic still is a gorgeous game even after all these years especially on an emulator with AA applied.

Boy do i remember upgrading to run Doom 3 day 1 then a year later for Battlefield 2 as that game was just brilliant then a complete PC upgrade for the almighty Crysis which took over a year and a half to finally be able to say "I can Max Crysis out".

those were some very very good times for Graphics and GPU technology advances. Then Metro 2033 comes out and crushes my PC to gravel but I'm back with a vengeance and ready for Battlefield 3 day 1 and Arma 3 as the evolution of graphics continues....yeh!

awi59512761d ago

Yeah i made a upgrade about that time also. Half life 2 epic fail launch, unreal 2004 was awesome, doom 3 didnt have a flash light on the gun that pissed people off, and the first call of duty was launching soon lol.

Kleptic2761d ago

the first call of duty came out in 2003...before Doom 3 or half life 2...CoD launched along side Max Payne 2 late that year...

the_best_player2761d ago

I play Half Life 2 Online it's great epic fun :D

Eyeco2762d ago

I thought God of War 3 was the best looking game of 2010 the game looked like a movie, the Cronos fight, to call that cinematic would be an undrstatment

Tony P2762d ago

I don't think anything has surpassed Crysis as an overall leap in gaming graphics.

Also, looking at Noire's facial animations, I feel almost regretful that Heavy Rain's aren't as good. A completely narrative focused title like HR could have really benefited from those emotive expressions.

lil Titan2762d ago

how are two people gonna disagree with "It's come a long way."? i swear some people on n4g are retards

50Terabytespersec2762d ago

Where is Sega in all this except for Sonic???
Sega was key in the development of 3d tech can you say?Virtua Fighter and Soul Calibur Dreamcast!
All in all GOD OF WAR3 says it all!!! DAMN!!!!!!
So does GT 5 Prologue 1080p and perhaps Uncharted 2 the Himalaya stage made my Jaw drop!
I hope Sega comes back on top someday!!

ATiElite2761d ago (Edited 2761d ago )

i don't think this article was really trying to point out the "exact innovators" of graphics but to just show random changes in graphics over time.

I say that cause they completely left out Neo Geo, the Atari era, Shenmue from the Dreamcast, the original Half Life and other games that significantly changed graphics forever.

but to be technical Star Fox SNES (February 1993) came out before Virtual Fighter Arcade (November 1993) with the first console version Virtual Fighter Saturn releasing in 1995.

Atari had an arcade game called I,Robot released back in 1983 that is considered the first 3D polygon game.

One of the earlier Home PC 3D Polygon games was Star Cruiser back in 1988.

frostypants2761d ago (Edited 2761d ago )

The author didn't know what he was trying to focus on. He shifts back and forth between console graphics (e.g. Starfox) to PC (e.g. Mechwarrior 2). PCs back then were many years ahead of consoles...the PC could have cranked out a game like Starfox in the 1980s. The problem was that PCs were stupidly expensive in those days.

Granted, today the difference between consoles and PCs is a lot more negligible than it was back then. Still, given that this is an article on history, he should probably separate consoles and PCs, at least up through the mid 2000s.

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MicrocutsX22762d ago

Starfox on SNES back in the day looked awesome...then came Starfox 64 and that game blew my mind.

frostypants2761d ago

The main reason Starfox was so great was it was the first console game to feature polygonal graphics. They actually had to put a special chip in the cartridge to pull it off. But you can mark Starfox as the point at which the divide between consoles and PCs first began to shrink.

Kleptic2761d ago (Edited 2761d ago )

at the time of Starfox on the SNES, and Virtua Racing on the Genesis (which was Sega's marketing match)...they were the first games to use polygonal rendering almost entirely...PC's were capable of it, but gaming in general simply wasn't that popular yet...

Even Doom and Doom II on PC...which were easily considered the 'best' looking games at the time...were not true 3D, didn't use polygons, and were released after both of these console wasn't until Quake hit in 1996 iirc that polygonal PC gaming started to become standard...and it wasn't until the PS1 showed up (which screamed at polygonal rendering when compared to the Saturn) that consoles started to regularly use the tech...

CaptainMarvelQ82762d ago (Edited 2762d ago )

yeah,especially nearing 2000

halocursed2762d ago

I'd replace MGS 4 with GTA 4, I think the open world environment and the characters in-game were animated better.

MaximusPrime2762d ago


seems MGS4 got better graphic.

DatNJDom812762d ago

Look at his name then u know why he's saying dumb stuff like that.

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likerussia2762d ago

I still think the character models in MGS4 look more realistic than the latest video games on the market. All the other games truly excel in backgrounds over character models.

Kleptic2761d ago

I just recently played MGS4 again in parts...and I totally agree...his suit and the weapons simply look unmatched...the suit is so similar to Crysis 2's nano-suit, yet still looks significantly more detailed...I couldn't believe how clear the serial numbers and stuff are on snake's gadgets too...