Jimquisition: The Best Looking Game of This Generation

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Jimothy Sterling:
"... there is a defence to be made for the grey and gritty shooter, one I am happy to make ..."

Please do, because for the life of me, I cannot see it.

Where is Team Fortress 2?

Or did he mean by the term "this generation" he was narrowing his scope to only console gaming. Because that reflects pretty poorly on console gaming compared to PC (again), TF2 is a game that is entirely focused on the difference between Red and Blue, it has a distinct almost cel shaded artstyle yet to spite a console release (in a bundle) it hardly has any presence on console any more.

I wonder if he was bringing up Enslaved as an example of too much gritty darkness or an example of an exception to the trend.

Photorealism is over-rated. Deserves to exist and can work very well for the work you need it for, but over-rated. I keep saying this, yet shelves are still stocked with 'em. I'm more of a fan of fantasy than real life. You don't need to be complete batshit off the wall Suda 51 crazy, but even something like Mirror's Edge is a step in the right diretion. As much as I don't like the game, it does SO MUCH with vibrant colours on a clean white. And Ratchet and Clank: A Crack In Time looks freaking BEAUTIFUL. I can see every hair on Ratchet's furry little head, and everything is so bright and colourful. Even the canyon in ACIT (a rusty red-brown with a little bit of yellow grass and a river) is more visually stimulating than most games out there that boast stellar graphics. Sly, Okami, Wind Waker, etc, still look damn good. Hell, even the original Spyro games, Klonoa, or Conker's Bad Fur Day haven't aged THAT badly, especially compared to games like MGS1 and Goldeneye.

Hm... i go with Mirrors Edge. It worked with blinding whites and bright neon colours to get a, excuse me, fucking sexy visual design.

My thoughts precisely. Mirror's Edge really stood out as "something different", which gameplay-wise it was.

I'd also mention TF2, since it still looks staggering at maximum settings and the visuals completely serve the gameplay.

Jimothy Sterling:
Why do people think I am in some sort of arms race with Extra Credits?

If there is something important to say about gaming, chances are that many (if not most) of the gaming journalists will say it. I do recall Extra Credits saying something about this, as well as The Game Overthinker. I have also been arguing this point with people ever since the 360's second year on the market. Does that mean everyone is copying me? NO. It is just something that needs to be said because it is true and very relevant to the future of things, which is something we should be considering with a next gen right around the corner.
Also, on a more positive note, your show and Extra Credits are the only honest and impartial gaming shows left. I think that is where a lot of the comparing is coming from. After the ME3 drama (which was the biggest video game drama I have ever seen) you both showed that even if you might not entierly have the same stance as everyone else, you at least understood why people were mad. That proves to everyone that neither of you were on anyone's payroll or sycophants of the industry, even though that was pretty obvious from all your shows prior.

Well, yes and no.

On the one hand, yes, such bright and vivid colors do produce fantastic visuals that can especially shine in high definition. On the other hand, they often produce a very stylistic look that will repel people who aren't interested in those sort of visuals, just as photo-realism will. And the latter has more supporters in modern gaming than the former, which is generally seen as "cartoonish".

And I know because I've been there. I was quite honestly put off from playing Wind Waker as a kid because I had been brought up on Ocarina of Time, and Wind Waker didn't look like the same sort of Zelda. It looked childish to me and I wanted a game that felt more grown up, which is why Twilight Princess appealed to me and why my initial reaction to seeing Skyward Sword was "oh god, they've mixed TP and WW in a pot together, god help us all". But given time, I've come to appreciate SS's art and I actually do like it better than TP's now. And being a fan of bright flashy anime and of MLP has further helped me overcome my "fear" of "cartoony" graphics.

But many people never do, and developers will make whatever sells. Gritty grey shooters sell. Viva Pinata generally does not.

I can now respect the decision to use such a stylized approach, even if I don't always think it should be executed everywhere. Diablo 3 is one such case where suddenly going for a stylized "random blue glow on rocks" style does not fit and (for me) detracts from the game, but some Blizzard fans will still defend that choice to the death. It seems more to me like an attempt to look more like one's rival (Torchlight 1 and 2), which started out with that stylized look to begin with.

I can't remember who said this first or where I heard it, but many older games from the NES, SNES and N64 had to use bright and contrasting colours to account for memory issues. The developers had to create a contrast so that the player could see what the sprite was doing or what the sprite even looked like (eg. the only reason Mario has a mustache in Donkey Kong is so the player can see his nose). There was a limited amount of pixels available, so the character sprite had to look recognizable with less space. There are no such limitations today, and many people have forgotten that creativity comes from constraints. Vibrant colour schemes also helped every game differentiate itself from the competition.

Rare knew this 12 years ago, which is one of the reasons why I believe that today Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie are both better games than Goldeneye 64 and Perfect Dark. This is also because I like platformers more than shooters in general (I'd also say that DKC is better, but they're not really comparable).

I'd say one of the best looking games this generation would be Prince of Persia from 2008 or around that time. I didn't like the game as much as others, but it was visually dynamic at least when you healed the land. I'd also say Assassin's Creed 2 for Venice alone (which is why I'll continue to like it more than either Brotherhood or Revelations), Bastion (which loses most for almost being too loud with not enough contrast, but the soundtrack helps) and Braid (where the soundtrack also helps.

Slightly off topic: films made in the 70s had similar budget constraints, so the directors had to be very creative to make the film look good on slim budgets. If you are looking for a visually gorgeous modern film, seek out The Fall (2006). The story's a little bit of a mess, but the film is stunning to look at.


I wonder if he was bringing up Enslaved as an example of too much gritty darkness or an example of an exception to the trend.

An exception to the trend i hope as i rememeber enjoying that game and it being pretty colourful, hey the ending sucked but hey atleast they tried to write something different.

Well, I do have to admit, Viva Pinata DOES look freaking fantastic. Gotta love them bright colors.

YEAH! Killer7 shout out!

I know it's so obvious that it's the reason why it's automatically disqualified, but Crysis was the only game in the last 5 years to make me do the "woah!"

It's 5 years old now, and it still looks better than most games being released today.
And still I am totally in love with that water.

I could agree, however there are some exceptions to the cause of how things look.

Metroid Prime is by far one of the best games that still looks good. I played it for a bit last night and while the ground is very blocky at a distance. The animations and beams look fucking Solid. Even Samus's face looks convincing by today's standards. Besides that, color is all over the place, one minute your in haunted ruins full of browns, oranges, and darkness, the next you are in a jungle with cool greens and blues. The Sequels are much the same

Rayman: Origins is a game that traded 3D visuals for something someone would have done with an Art Tablet, because of this, it will age solidly. When I played it, it flowed great and looks terrific and colorful.

Halo: Reach is a game that will definitley age well. Textures may look typical at times but underneath that, there is one of the most colorful "serious" shooters out there. You'd have to be on meth to not see the amount of well done effort that was put forth into colors and explosions alone. Gun fire from Alien and human weapons seems other worldly and then we have Forge World

While Fallout 3 isn't exactly perfect in graphics (I'd give it like a 7/10 in terms of that) there is one thing that Bethesda really honed in on:


No its not dark gritty realism. Its the use of atmosphere to drive up ones graphics, this method was seen quite well in the following game which NO-ONE would expect a horror game to have. A fine mixture of Glowing Blues that go with Oranges or Yellows.


And BEFORE you type in "Oh Dead Space wasn't a horror game! It wasn't scary like Amnesia! Which you should totally play because it's an Indie game!" Did you even pay attention to the hallway at all?

One the second chapter there is a hallway which has a flat escalator and on the wall is a moving billboard which keeps flashing white and red fast as hell. Well if you walk by it, some of the add begins to shine on both Isaac and the Floor behind him, showing his shadow.

I agree with Jim that Viva Pinata does look good, but one must not ignore other titles with great graphics decisions.

Team Fortress 2 is a nice-looking game that I think will look nice for quite some time. And it's a western FPS, the genre that seems to be leading the grimdark graphics style.

Just finished replaying Jade Empire and was genuinely surprised to find that it still looks absolutely gorgeous. Way better than Mass effect 1 and Dragon age: origins, and simply for the reason that it's so brightly coloured and, well, pretty. The backdrops (trees covered in cherry blossom, floating palaces, flying machines painted like iridescent insects) are beautiful.

Oh, COME ON Jim. You may not be the sharpest knife in the draw, but normally you aren't beaten to what you're saying by extra credits by *this* much. http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/graphics-vs.-aesthetics

See that? Season 2, episode 16. Over 50 weeks ago. 50 weeks! Almost a year. Ab-surd. *sigh* Oh well. Guess the actual content wasn't bad though. Even if extra credits did do it better.

EDIT: look at this! Yahtzee managed this in 2009 http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/extra-punctuation/6372-The-Conduit

Not saying Jim's point isn't relevant, but this really is leaving it late.

I dunno, I like seeing different people covering the same topic. It shows different styles of journalism. Kind of like watching the Bollywood version of a western culture film. It shows the same thing through a lens of some one else.

Yeah I think in under a decade from now most people are going to look back at this generation and think of it the same way many do the 90s. Where it took a very long time for people to realize all the sad attempts at being "dark and edgey" for dark and edgeys sake was absurdly misplaced.

Gears of War was a fun series but I will never want to play those games in the distant future like I do my classic PS2 titles or PC games because the visual art direction was awful from start to finish.

No Crysis? Really? Colour. Colour everywhere.


Jimothy Sterling:
The Best Looking Game of This Generation

The Jimquisition takes a break from discussing consumer shenanigans to focus a little on the games themselves.

Watch Video

Nice video!

But why, WHY did you have to end the credits with TWW's Sailing song.
Now I wanna sail the seas of Hyrule again, but I don't have the time!

Curse you, CURSE YOU, I say.

No love for 'The Madness Returns'?

I do completely agree though, I love cell shading, for that exact reason. It's an expression of an artstyle, not a replication of reality. My personal pick, purely from the Beta would be Torchlight II. It's a gorgeous triumph of low poly and rich painterly colour. Also Bastion.

Although it has to be said Killzone isn't replicating reality and actually has a very strong art style.

Daystar Clarion:
No love for Okami in your last gen section?


Stylised graphics will always age better than titles going for photo-realism.

That's why Journey will still look awesome in 10 year, and MGS 4 won't

Okami was one of the best looking games I have ever played.

No Crysis? Really? Colour. Colour everywhere.


Ya, I loved Crysis for its awesome colourful visuals. It wasn't until Crysis 2 when they eventually fucked it up.

Daystar Clarion:
No love for Okami in your last gen section?


Stylised graphics will always age better than titles going for photo-realism.

That's why Journey will still look awesome in 10 year, and MGS 4 won't

I agree, Okami is the best looking game of the past 10 years in my opinion.

suprised mario hasn't come up really, i would have argued mario galaxy 2 truly showed that a game can look jaw droppingly stunning while running on pretty much last gen tech.

Jimothy Sterling:
Why do people think I am in some sort of arms race with Extra Credits?

We cover similar topics. Overlap is inevitable, and I don't really watch their show regularly so I don't know what they cover. In any case, just because one series may have touched on a topic that doesn't automatically disqualify every other series in the world from covering it too.

Seriously, this whole, "oh mah gawd Extra Credits did this" thing is just ... weird.

It's not you. Extra Credits was a favorite of some people even if my opinion was mixed at best, and it's departure and the contreversy about it left a bad taste in people's mouth that gets more intense when they see something similar, and nostolgia turns to a bit of rage they have to vent somehow.

That said your correct, and when it comes to big issues (and this is a fairly big thing within the arena of gaming, and the perception of games) they need to be covered more than once if they are not to be forgotten. This basic message wasn't even knew when Extra Credits did it, it's something that gets covered periodically, and truthfully is something I think should be covered far more.

That said, while irrelevent to your point, I'm not a huge fan of things that are overly cartoony. I enjoyed a lot of the fairly serious cell shaded works, but am less of a fan of things like say Kirby or whatever. Honestly I think what we need to see is something like a western, or universal, version of anime. A serious style of art, meant to convey serious material, whithout it being quite so stylized in terms of facial features and so on, something that would age better. I saw people aiming for this kind of approach years ago, but I see it less and less now, and really the only thing that comes close to carrying that torch is Borderlands (which you mentioned), but Borderlands kind of suffers from just being a little too silly in its overall presentation, and the very limited bestiary and number of models, while easy to overlook in the midst of gameplay, really means it's hard to say if that aestetic is versatile enough for them to do more with it. I mean you can only shoot a skag or some bandit wearing a goalie mask (which comes in varying degrees of size) so many times. I frequently wondered if the limitations were because the designers just couldn't come up with much else that worked.

Jimothy Sterling:
Why do people think I am in some sort of arms race with Extra Credits?

Do you deny you are stockpiling alien(s) products of mass destruction?

Do you deny you have a show like them?

Do you deny this show could be called competition?

Are you a yellow bellied pinko commie red?

That's all the proof the internet needs.

Fun show by the way.

I wonder how you would look as an alien princess peach...

I find it kind of funny that people often use the Halo series as their "poster child" to represent the "brown shooter." (Moviebob as the Game Overthinker does this constantly.) When it is actually one of the more brighter and colorful shooter out there.

No, it's not a vibrant as XIII, Killer 7, or any of the colorful games Jim mentioned but it's not pure brown and gritty. The second level of the first Halo shows just how vibrant it can be. Hell, look at the city level in Halo: Reach.

Don't get me wrong. Halo does have it's "brown and gritty" moments. For example, the friggin' Library levels! Also, yes the human ships and tech are very brown with a bit of dull green, but that's our military for you. However, look at the Covenant tech and weapons.

It's a friggin' purple tank! Make it out of Papier-mâché and it would blend right in with the world of Viva Pinata, if you ask me.

With that said, I agree with what Jim says about the more vibrant games having the better chance of being remembered, and withstanding the test of time.

Let me show you what I thought was the best looking game of last generation.

All I heard in this episode was you not simply saying El Shaddai and the video then ending. All other arguements are invalid ;)

I kid, I kid (not about El Shaddai being the best looking game of the generation, but about the not hearing the rest of the episode). I myself have always been one for artstyle over graphics; I don't care that I can see the individual fucking hairs on that random soldiers head, I want that graphical technology paired with good art styles. El Shaddai, Asura's Wrath, Muramasa, The Last Remnant (proof that Square Enix can make great games that, yes, have good art direction), hell, even Nier had a certain charm to it, and that game was not by any definition a graphically advanced game. Instead, though, the design was great, and the effects (the way all energy seems to be words bound in form, how things seem to flow) gave the game a powerful visual aspect that would have been missed otherwise.

Couldn't agree more Jim I think its a shame that the viva pinata games were never that successful

THE two best games on the 360.

I've never had an urge to get anything else, game fly'd some stuff and nothing came close :(.

I agree with Mirror's Edge, Borderlands, Sonic Generations all looking bloody amazing. Never played Viva Pinata so I can't really judge it, but it certainly was bright and colourful in the video. Metroid Prime still looks good, Okami is one of the most beautiful games I've ever played (though, since it was made for the PS2 first I guess it counts as a previous-gen game), Mario's never hurt my eyes (except maybe with SM64), Sonic Team's never had much of a problem with environments that look good (especially considering that theirs have to look good as you rocket past them)...

There are a lot of games this generation that look awesome without being brown and grey. Which actually isn't that realistic - the world's colour palette is not actually as washed-out as Infinity Ward makes it out to be.

Jimothy Sterling:
Why do people think I am in some sort of arms race with Extra Credits?

We cover similar topics. Overlap is inevitable, and I don't really watch their show regularly so I don't know what they cover. In any case, just because one series may have touched on a topic that doesn't automatically disqualify every other series in the world from covering it too.

Seriously, this whole, "oh mah gawd Extra Credits did this" thing is just ... weird.

Because the internet is full of whiny twats that will complain about just about anything. They will complain about the game industry being stale and unoriginal and they will still buy those games and ignore titles that look unconventional.

OT: I agree with the fact that cell shading gives a lot prettier games that stand the test of time better. Viva Piñata is a great game even not considering how it looks and it doesn't need anything more. The new Rayman game also looks fantastic in HD.

One of my favourite looking games this year has been Kirby's Epic Yarn, and while it may be an SD game, I'm still surprised Jim didn't mention it given how much of a Kirby fan he is. It's got a unique and vibrant aesthetic that really fits the game world.

I think that's part of the story, but only part.

Certain games of every generation do a much better job of making the limitations of their hardware into part of the aesthetic style. Certainly color can be part of that. But I think if games like Borderlands or Jet Set Radio are still remembered for their graphics later, it isn't necessarily going to be so much about color or cel-shading as about the fact that the designers set their sights on a certain kind of visual style or tone and achieved it, rather than just aiming for what Jim notes is the ever-rising bar of "photo realism".

I think if we look back on the grim-and-gray shooters' graphics with disdain later, it's going to be less about lack of color and more about highly detailed faces on bodies with only slightly more complexity and articulation than stick figures (unless they're female, in which case they will also have jiggle-physics-endowed boobs.)

Jimothy Sterling:

It's not like I entered into some Phineas Fogg style wager with Extra Credits

That would be fun to watch. Ignoring the you vs them thing for a moment I've never compared you to Extra Credits myself, you remind me a lot more of MovieBob when he does Game Overthinker.

What a fabulous manicure you have.

I'd also like to submit LittleBIGPlanet for the 'games that look fantastic with more than 3 colours' group. Admittedly part of what makes it so good is the fantastic texturing job, which might need to be updated as the years go by, but it's still an absolutely gorgeous game.

And Viva Piñata is just about the only XBox exclusive I'd buy if I wanted to get one.

I have to agree. Also, hell yes for the wind waker music in the background.

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