It is irksome to me whenever someone says that they prefer ‘realism’ over , let’s say, a ‘vibrant artistic style’. Granted it does have to do more with one’s background or personal preferences than anything else, but the idea that all games should look like a modern military FPS that’s run on ‘gods’ dream engine seems ridiculous to me. The fact that hyper-realistic graphics should be a requirement in all games, I mean wouldn’t it be badass if ‘Tetris‘ had super-rezzed graphics?!
“Those blocks have so much texture and lighting! GOTY right here!“
Sure it would be great if every game on the planet was running on 60 FPS and had an ‘id software stamp of approval’ (and that could be happening with next-gen). But there’s a difference between gorgeous visuals and a very creative/artistic theme. Let’s look at ‘Journey‘ for instance.
“80’s pop-rock joke #488“
‘Journey‘ is a Sony exclusive title developed by ‘thatgamecompany’. The game is about a mysterious cloaked character trying to reach a specific location, and that’s at the top of a large glowing mountain. Story aside the game is beautiful, but in the sense that it also has a distinct art style. Most of the backgrounds are reminiscent of very simplistic paintings, but are integrated naturally with the world the game has set-up. Sure the sand physics may seem a bit too extravagant in any other game, but in the context of ‘Journey‘ it works wonderfully.
As some people may have noticed though, it’s not exactly the most crisp in terms of utilizing it’s engine and graphics. However that boost of graphical improvement is in no way needed because of how strong the art direction is. Sure it would have improved it, but it wouldn’t have made an enormous impact on the experience.
Other games like ‘Legend of Zelda: Windwaker‘, ‘Okami’, and ‘Shadow of the Colossus‘ are the same way.
By implementing one’s own visual style onto the product, not only is it setting itself apart from the other constantly churned out products, but it’s also preventing itself from becoming visually expired anytime soon. Why do I bring this up? Because so many shooters, not just military, are going for straight-up realism in terms of fully detailed environments and 100% human-like characters. Not that I have a problem with developers going that route, but if that’s the case then it is very possibly that within 10 years or so that those “100% human-like characters” can become “100% pale and not-aged well”. Certain people keep going back to saying ‘Uncharted‘ did it well though, but not every studio making these type of games is Naughty Dog.
“Not everyone can be a bullet sponge!“
Plus as I said, time is an important factor in a lot of games. I mean you can’t just make ‘Duck Karaoke: The Videogame’ and expect to shell out a game with poor visuals and gameplay just so you can make easy cash!
“On the other hand, hmmm…“
But let it be known that I do endorse developers who want to make an authentic experience, just know that you can’t get away with relying on your fancy-schmancy engine to just MAKE a game for you. Thus was the mistake with ‘Medal of Honor: Warfighter‘ from what I gathered, sure you can keep making the same product if you want to earn a quick buck (or a couple million, in EA’s case). However in consideration of making a solid product, don’t just make a 5 hour engine demo, make an actual game! It’s like going to a strip club, except the experience was really short and sure the girl they had on stage was hot, but the problem was she was on cocaine the entire time.
“Do you want Medal of Honor: Warfighter to be stripping for you? Wait a minute.“
Take a look at ‘Deus Ex‘ (published by Eidos Interactive), a well versatile game and still to this day is a blast to play. However for a game that tries to be gritty and ‘real’, the character aesthetics look like cardboard cutouts and often look very silly. Granted I am not absolutely sure if Ion Storm wanted the game to look that way, but obviously it did not pay-off, visually that is.
Where as something like ‘Yoshi’s Island‘, a 2D platformer with a crayon-drawn aesthetic, still looks really good!
Ever since the leap to 3D, most games have had a very rough passage of time. Simply because a lot more effort has to be put in to 3D models, landscapes, controls, camera angles, and a lot more mechanics or else it’s gonna look terrible in due time. Where as with 2D games you’re going in a set path, not to say that it’s easy, but not much programming is required for a 2D title than a 3D one (especially these days). Which is why I believe ‘Yoshi’s Island’ succeeds more with it’s visual style than ‘Deus Ex’. It doesn’t mean that one game is better than the other, but it does mean that one has more appealing eye candy than the other.
Though to be fair, does that apply to this generation of games? No, instead I think that issue is replaced with this one: “Realism vs. Artistry”. Where do we draw the line when it comes to making an authentic experience to the point where a game is exactly like real life? Of course it’s silly to say that games that feature cel-shading or artistic themes aren’t going to exist, however it is possible that they could be dwindling (which is why I often pay attention to indie releases/developers).
It’s easy to blame ‘COD‘, ‘Battlefield‘, and ‘Medal of Honor‘ for sending out the message that ‘this is what a hardcore game should look like!’ However I believe that’s something I’ll save for another discussion. At the moment, am I worried that publishers and developers are going to be steering toward having an entirely realistic next-generation of games? No, does it worry me that gamers simply dismiss a game they haven’t even played based on the fact that it looks too ‘cartoon-ish’? Definitely, because believe it or not publishers pay attention to that so be careful what you wish for.
Anyway make sure to tell your friends, folks, and pets (they can type, I’m sure) to check out the Brut Lounge every week for updates and all kinds of mischief! Also a FB page should be up either today or sometime early this week, and let me know what you think about today’s article. Thanks for reading!