Mike Bonanni, Staff Writer
On a discussion of video game graphics, usually someone just talks about one game looking better than the other. Some argue “this game is more realistic looking like Elder Scrolls: Skyrim” or “Uncharted 3 is lovely to look at.” While these claims are true, this list will be about more than frame rates and polygon counts. It’s not about the graphics, but how they are used.
5. Katamari Damacy:
This game is literally a burst of rainbows and sunshine. The amount of bright, vivid colors of the environment is just magical to look at. Katamari Damacy is a Playstation 2 game about rolling everything up into a ball called a katamari and making it into stars in the sky. Once the katamaris are big enough to go outside, the joy will pour through the screen and into the room. There is almost always every color of the rainbow on screen at all times. Everytime the katamari increases in size it bursts with several rainbows. Not only that, but it’s possible to roll up rainbows once the katamari is big enough.
The graphics are rendered in a cell shading style, giving it a cartoony feel. For those who remember, it is very reminiscent of Samurai Jack in a way. While the gameplay’s in 3D, the cut scenes are done in a very bizarre 2D style. These choices in art style and colors magnify the best parts of this game. It is very funny, random and offers lots of fun rolling through city streets.
4. Parappar the Rapper 2:
Yet another colorful game on the Playstation 2. This one is different from most games not only because it’s about a rapping dog trying to win a sunflower lady over; it’s also the style where the characters are two-dimensional while the rest of the world is three-dimensional. Though Paper Mario may have done something similar, Parappar does it differently, allowing the character to move like a normal three-dimensional character. The world is like a comic, but the only way it is really explored in the game is through cut scenes. This is a rhythm game where the player hits the same buttons the computer does to rap the words.
The reason the second game trumps the first is purely because the developers improved everything from the first one. There is a fun level select screen that changes with the time of day on the Playstation’s clock and a two-player rap battle mode. There is more world to be seen in this game and there’s even a level where it takes on an old school 8-bit style.
It’s one of the first games to make parents truly hate video games and worry about raising violent kids. Yes, this is a classic game but it’s on this list due to its use of first person, three dimensional corridors and the daunting appearance of the enemies. The first person perspective immerses the player very well and makes the game intense. The sense of space from the three-dimensional effect of the graphics gives the player a feeling of exploration as they travel around the base on Mars’ moon Phobos.
The monsters look pretty freaky for a game made back in 1995. Doom also has lighting that is less of a gimmick like most video games at the time that used darkened rooms. It is more natural and used to add to the atmosphere of the monsters lying in wait. It isn’t totally cheap pitch blackness; there genuinely are really dim rooms that light up either from a sensor or a button getting pushed. It makes it really scary when the player can hear something in the darkness and can only vaguely make out an outline or two. Also, this game leaves the dead bodies of the enemies. This is good for both scenery and backtracking.
2. Shadows of the Damned:
This game is great in its use of darkness, but the darkness in this game is evil. So when it gets too dark, it turns blue and hurts the main character, demon hunter Garcia Hotspur. The contrast between the light and dark makes the world what it is. Anything bright or colorful such as demon propaganda signs or neon lights stands out beautifully. Excessive violence is often used as a graphical device, as blood is quite abundant from horrific rooms full of dead bodies to the excessive carnage that comes out of the enemies Hotspur kills. It makes sense since it’s the underworld and gives the game a sort of violent character to add to the play on light and dark. All of this twisted violence also adds some dark humor that is ever-present throughout the game.
A Shadow of the Damned also takes some creative risks. There is one mini-game section inspired by side-scrolling shooters that takes on the comical appearance of a paper puppet show. Some story elements are told through a story book.
Bioshock, another 360 game, does an amazing job of creating a tense and dark atmosphere. Not only that, but it does a great job of presenting the environment. The retro-futuristic underwater city of rapture is truly represented well. It does a great job at sucking the player in, making them want to truly explore this place. The dark corridors and cold steel interior along with the constant company of water team up to deliver a truly great environment. The people are not made realistically but more artistically and I think it helps set Bioshock apart from games like Fallout.
Though the presentation of atmosphere is nice, it doesn’t quite tell the whole story. In fact, it’s the details that help tell the story that make this game. The rooms the player go through tell the back story of what happened in the fallen utopia city of Rapture. Bioshock Infinite will be coming out in 2012 and it should be interesting to see what graphical elements they use as the story shifts to a new city up in the sky.