Best Visual Experience 2010 – Ethos

Final Fantasy XIII

Yes, we all know the game sucks.

I’m just more of a man than Riddles so I can give a deserving award to a game that doesn’t deserve any other positive award this week.

Final Fantasy XIII is beautiful. It has bustling cities filled with well-designed trains, robot dragonflies, pockets of mysterious green light, unbelievably tall buildings, yet beautiful beaches and lakes. It has rocky terrain that opens up into a small grassy haven looking over a vast ocean. It has Pulse that is filled to the brim with wild, untamed life: Massive stemmed flower giants, beautiful cavern waterways, animals chasing and eating each other, beasts the size of dinosaurs, sprawling fields with pockets of tiny paradises.

It’s almost more impressive how the game managed to drain all this beauty of any personality within the game, but from a pure visual standpoint, the graphics and art direction are top-notch. (Did I do a better job of describing art direction this time, Glenn?)

But forget the world, let’s move onto the annoying, one-dimensional, gimmicky characters. From that description, obviously I don’t care for their personalities, but FFXIII includes some of my favourite character design of the series. Snow and Hope I could do without, and Vanille is just Rikku or Selphie with a different skin, but Lightning, Sazh, and Fang are three designs that deserved fantastic personalities.

Despite the vapid story they would tell, I shouldn’t have to explain the majesty of Final Fantasy’s CGI cutscenes. The direction and detail are mind-boggling. Complete visual treats. The opening minutes of the game made me say “holy fuck” out loud. Of course, I didn’t know that the game would be so disappointing, but my response was based purely on the spectacle.

Oh, and Lightning’s cape NEVER clipping on her sword hilt as she ran? That’s a visual achievement I’ve never seen before.

Runner up: Darksiders

It was very difficult to choose between Darksiders and Super Mario Galaxy 2 for this one. Ultimately my HD-whore side won out.

Darksiders may not have the technical excellence of Uncharted 2, but it makes up for it in great use of colour, scale, and design. Darksiders takes the over-the-top nature of God of War, but inserts it into a colourful Zelda-like world and makes it all fit. Therefore, sticking a knife into a bleeding eyeball to open a door to solve the next boomerang puzzle just seems to work. War’s horse just has an epic feel, the bosses are grand and well-designed, and the world breathes personality and variety.

God of War III may have moments that are the best visually I have ever seen, but it is hardly consistent in this way. After the opening 45 minutes, nothing compares. Some moments in the game actually seem sub-par for this generation. Darksiders is visually consistent and always surprises and excites.

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2 Responses to “Best Visual Experience 2010 – Ethos”

  1. SiliconNooB says:

    God of War III is a much better looking game than FFXIII, though FFXIII is a very attractive game in its own right.

  2. Ethos says:

    God of War III is SOMETIMES a much better looking game that FFXIII. In either case, GoWIII can definitely look beautiful, and those opening 45 minutes are absolutely unbelievable, but I think many games can make a case for looking better overall. Although obviously many games can also make a case for being better looking than FFXIII. It’s just my favourite looking.

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