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I know what you're thinking, you predictable sods. You're going to ask how I can spend so much time slagging off The Conduit's graphics for being ugly and outdated, when I usually claim to overlook that in favor of gameplay and story mechanics. Well, shut up and listen to this.
Sometimes I wonder if the whole '3D' thing was a huge mistake on the games industry's part. I can see how it must have been very appealing, not having to stink up the place with so many 2D artists and animators, but I'm starting to wonder if 3D will pass the test of time.
Because with the possible exception of porn starlets, nothing ages faster than standards for full-3D graphics. I once said that I thought Super Mario Sunshine and Zelda Twilight Princess were better than Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time. This was because I'd missed out on the N64 era due to poverty, and had to catch up on the big titles some years later with emulators. But this was well into the late PS2 era, and at that point I just couldn't get past how hideous everything looked. Paper dolls running around unadorned boxes resembling the results of a 12-year-old's first day at architect school.
As graphics improve, our personal standards get higher and higher, whether we realize it or not. I remember being gobsmacked by my first glimpse of PS2 graphics back in November '00. Now they all look like ethereal shadowless realms populated by jaw-flapping balloon people. Even today's most advanced 3D has a way to go before it climbs out of the Uncanny Valley. Ten years from now I'll no doubt be saying "God, I just can't get into GTA4 anymore, it looks like total arse. How did we ever put up with characters that look like they're made out of sweaty modeling clay?" And no-one's yet found a way to make two 3D models interact realistically. You ever see game characters trying to kiss each other? I find myself listening for the clonk of wood on wood.
Conversely, really good 2D graphics still look really good, and probably always will. Think of Metal Slug, or the lovingly-painted backdrops of old adventure games like Beneath A Steel Sky (now available as freeware, retro fans). And the resolution might have been slightly lower than a fucking Lite Brite but it's the colorful 2D monsters from Doom that have remained pleasing and iconic far longer than their samey greyscale 3D equivalents from Doom 3.
This may seem like flipflopping all over the place but I can honestly support the idea of the Wii. For the first time since the first generation, a console has abandoned the race for the best graphics technology in order to concentrate on controller and gameplay innovations. It must have made sense to Nintendo, whose signature franchises traditionally embrace simplicity. The hardware isn't up to scratch, but at least they're trying to fix that with the Motion Plus, and maybe the whole idea of motion sensors is flawed, but let's face it, we could only have figured that out through practice.