Early adopters of lens flare were so keen, they didn't even stop at
in-game scenes. It even made it onto the cover of Tomb Raider. Would
Lara Croft have become such a household name if it wasn't for a lens
flare on the cover of her finest hour? I think not.
Above: Even though the Saturn couldn't really do lens flares, it still featured on the case
Ah, but Saturn could do lens flares, if you were clever enough to program it properly. Lens flare with true transparencies.
This sort of thing used to get Saturn owners all excited. A bit like
the glimpse of a lady's ankle in the olden days, or a caveman's awe when
the first alien visitors started a fire using a couple of sticks.
CG art (left) and the real thing (right). Making Sega fans exclaim
things like "Freakin' translucent lens flare effects on a Saturn?
OHMYGOD!" before exploding
The 128-bit era
the 32-bit era, lens flare effects got better and better. How can you
not love Dreamcast when it gives you lens flare like this:
Above: And to think Tails thought the sun shone out of Sonic's ass
who could forget Gran Turismo 3 in 2001 with its 'sunlight through the
trees' effect? It was beautifully understated... unlike the Cote D'azure
track you can unlock later on.
Above: (Left) Oh, how pretty! (Right) Three billion human lives ended on August 29th...
Think that's bad? You ain't seen nothing yet! Let's move on to:
The modern era
when you thought it was safe to come out and that lens flare effects
had been exposed as the ludicrous fallacies they so clearly are, along
comes Battlefield 3 with two incredible examples. Firstly, there's this:
Turns out the sun is nothing but a lens flare effect, to the extent
that looking through a night vision scope makes the sun disappear
altogether. Sure, I know there's no sun at night, but JUST STOP AND
THINK ABOUT IT FOR A MOMENT.
the sun isn't the only source of light. Why not have other light
sources create lens flare as well? No, better than that, why not have
hand-held tactical flashlights that can completely blind the player even
at distance and in daylight? They'll be so dazzled by lens flare's
awesomeness, they won't even realise they can't see for toffee.
Above: Overkill? Apparently so - a patch reduces the effect outdoors at range. Good!
One game that does have some rather beautiful lens
flare is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D on 3DS. Perhaps it's
the extra depth afforded by the 3D screen that makes it feel more like
there's a lens there (THERE ISN'T), or the fact that it's one of the
best games of all time. But we quite like this.
Above: That's right, in Master Quest, you don't even need the sun on-screen! /sarcasm
just when it's getting good, it looks like the effect's days may be
numbered. Why? because there's a new sunlight trick that's even better
than lens flare. Why? Because it doesn't imply there's a camera lens at
all. It implies you're actually there, looking at rays of light. HDR
(High Dynamic Range) lighting is the new lens flare...
Above: Uncharted 2, Soulcalibur V, Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 and Infinity Blade II
...which makes us a bit sad, really. After all, everybody loves lens flare. Right?
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