This opinion piece, due to length, will consist of several parts. Each part will be published on the following Monday, at 12pm EST until the series concludes.
Are realistic graphics something we should want? Part 1
Are realistic graphics something we should want? Part 3
Widely considered one of the best First Person Shooters of modern gaming, Halo 2 was released back in 2004. The game itself is terrible to look at unless playing the anniversary edition, which takes the cut scenes from choppy blocks into some of the most realistic looking cut scenes found in games.
Although the argument stands that perhaps they were not going for realism all the way back in 2004, why would they update the cut scenes in anniversary editions to look as realistic as possible? There are two possibilities.
Bungie was pressured into doing a realistic style to conform to the todays gaming standards, which in turn pressured 343 Industries into following the already established realistic style from Halo 3 and beyond.
Or they were simply going for a realistic style when it wasn’t even possible. Games have always been about one thing: shooting for the moon. The industry is so young, and filled with such talent, that as it continues to develop those working on the games push the limits. And, those advances, at the time, was realistic graphics.
The fact stands: although unique styling when it comes to setting, aliens, and weapons, the older Halo games look pretty disgusting compared to today’s standards.
Then we have games like The Wind Waker. Although the game wasn’t at its full potential in 2002 with a non-HD version, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is still something you could go back to play and not cringe when you look at the game. Using cel shading techniques, Wind Waker’s unique style in the Zelda franchise distracted from the fact that we weren’t quite ready to jump into 3D graphics in 2002, or even 2004.
Rather then abandoning this style once realistic graphics started to look tolerable even when outdated, Nintendo has done several installments of the Zelda franchise using cel shading. Their most recent game using cel shading, and perhaps most beautiful game in the entire franchise, was Skyward Sword.
Yet we still aren’t at the point that the in game graphics, not including (top of the line) cut scenes, won’t become outdated within the next few years.
Taking a look at The Witcher 3’s graphics, specifically the console graphics, its enough to make you question why we even upgraded to the new consoles at the time that we did. The only way to feel the real impact of how different the graphics are is to take a look at Gearnukes slider.
Although the graphics were forced down for both the Xbox One and Playstation 4, the PC remains as beautiful as you would expect to see on either one of the new consoles. Part of this is a problem with both the developers and publishers.
PC gamers remain a very large market, as do console gamers. Unfortunately, having to create a game to tailor to console specifications takes time, money, and effort, just as it does with the PC. While designing for multiple platforms, the developers decide that creating a realistic game is only worth while on the PC(or so it would seem). But publishers still want to reach out to all target gamers, not just PC ‘master race’ players.
This, additionally, brings into the problem that we face with multiple consoles and moving forward in the graphics department. While each console has semi-unique features, we don’t necessarily have the need for both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 anymore. The only big differences are the controller and console exclusives, which, up until E3 2015, was few and far between. And even then, most Playstation exclusives will be available for the PC.
We’ve noted a cel shaded game and a realistic styled game, comparing games released around the same time frame. We even gave the realistic game the edge on time, being a more recent release. What about 2D games? Games that never received the 3D treatment, even when it was possible? What about the games released when 3D wasn’t possible?
Or should we even be comparing them to todays games with the fact that they didn’t even have voice actors yet? The closest thing you got was a noise that sounded like morse code. The story lines were good, but not as in depth as what we would experience now, and they certainly were not the main reason for the game. Games at one point were not a be all and end all story telling device – despite having great games like Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. They were about a good experience with friends.