The Top 7... prettiest games of 2008

Ever since the Xbox 360 arrived three years ago, the so-called next-gen era of gaming has been depressingly devoid of beautiful games. We’re not talking graphics, mind, we’re talking colors. Take a look at Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty, Half Life, Gears of War or Tom Clancy’s anything and you’ll witness a robust collection of browns, grays and other earthen tones that, while potentially more realistic, hide just how capable our modern consoles really are.

In fact, the cutting edge of today is so dreary that even lively last-gen games like Dragon Quest VIII and ICO still stand out when directly compared; what they lack in polygon count they more than make up for with impeccable art direction and palette. Faced with this glut of dirt-brown games, we felt it necessary to call out the most beautiful-est games 2008 brought us, and if this year’s any indication, maybe the next-gen smog is about to be lifted forever.


One-on-one fighters tend to be the prettiest games on any given platform. With no open world to process, the console can spend most of its power crafting huge onscreen characters that represent the pinnacle of console technology. Gawking is commonplace for just about any new fighter (see Virtua Fighter 5) but this summer’s Soul Calibur IV upped the visual flair more than any other brawler to date, flinging electric sparks and luminous, multicolored bursts in every conceivable direction.

They happen in a matter of seconds though, so you have to be quick to catch ‘em:






It’s not just the searingly beautiful effects though; each fighter is drop-dead gorgeous and the arenas in which they battle are as varied as they come. Sun-soaked beaches, illuminated waterfalls and strobing throne rooms set a glorious stage for each and every battle. And if you don’t care for the roster, you can dive into the massively deep character creator and make your own.

Above: How many games let you make a color-coordinated Galactus?

There aren’t a whole lot of fighters for 360/PS3, and even fewer released in 2008, but even if Tekken 6, Street Fighter IV and the long-awaited Rise of the Robots ’09 Remix came out this year, SoulCal IV would still emerge as the most colorful scrapper in years.

For every attractive game there’s a slightly less alluring cousin that we still admire but can’t bring ourselves to choose over the far-prettier relative. In this case, brawler Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit wowed us with its teeth-rattling speed and burn-your-eyes-out visual punch, but offered little else. If it played as good as it looked, maybe we’d stick around to hear about its day after we’d ogled it for hours.


Top 7


  • TheWebSwinger - December 10, 2008 12:39 a.m.

    I agree with a lot of these. Where, though, is De Blob? Also, I just don't think Valkyria Chronicles is THAT good looking. P.S. I hate Anime, but that new Naruto game is gorgeous. Just sayin.
  • Smeggs - December 9, 2008 11:08 p.m.

    WTF? The girl in the new PoP looks like the main lady in Law and Order: SVU!
  • screath - December 9, 2008 10:35 p.m.

    I think that Banjo-Kazooie should have been more than just a runner up. It looks like a pixar film come to life. There are few games that even attempt to be this good-looking. It's the prettiest game on the Xbox 360 in my opinion. Maybe it doesn't deserve number one, but runner up? Come on now.
  • jar-head - December 9, 2008 9:27 p.m.

    second page last vid=KOTOR pod racing...ha
  • sixboxes - December 9, 2008 3:40 p.m.

    I like the discussion up here. I think that's why maybe GR's top 7 format is good, because there's no way in hell they can do a definitive list with just 7 slots, so that bumps the comment count. I also think this list proves that as this gen strives toward more realistic visuals, they move away from more appealing visuals. Almost every pick was a game with really stylized aesthetics.
  • TriLink - December 9, 2008 3:04 p.m.

    Where the hell is Okami?? I WANT OKAMI!
  • AyJay - December 9, 2008 10:50 a.m.

    i was gonna put a comment on about how u shoulda put brawl on, but then i read the last paragraph. ur right, all nintendo games are pretty
  • Ravenbom - December 9, 2008 9:48 a.m.

    I almost thought this article wasn't written by Elston, until I read the last sentence, that is.
  • Hurricrane - December 9, 2008 3:21 a.m.

    I'm so glad you guys mentioned Tales of Vesperia... GO AND BUT IT ITS A GREAT GAME!!!!!!!!!3!!!11
  • Corsair89 - December 9, 2008 2:28 a.m.

    preeeety! ^_^
  • WiLdFiRe567 - December 9, 2008 2:20 a.m.

    i really dont think this counts but Okami 4 Wii or did that come out last year? any ways remake so if u wanna call me on it go ahead i dont mind
  • superfunk - December 9, 2008 2:03 a.m.

    Look I don't want to be called a halo nerd but come on all of the different colors were there. Sure some of the levels were dark green and brown but some were exploding with color. A of the covenant weapons blasted blue and the spartan laser red but the choices were still pretty good.
  • FierceDeity - December 9, 2008 1:42 a.m.

    wow wipeout really is a lot slower than f-zero gx
  • Jacob816 - December 9, 2008 12:37 a.m.

    for fuck sake, please stop looking the rearview mirror in WipEout and crashing!
  • cart00n - December 9, 2008 12:28 a.m.

    Yeah, I'm with Jimmy, how DID Fable 2 not make the list? Gorgeous sunsets, brilliant lighting, fabulous color palette, what's not to like? I mean, seriously, I so totally expected to see this on the list, I thought there was another page to the article that hadn't been put up yet. Is it because it's a sequel? Because I notice Viva Pinata 2 didn't make it, either (perfectly aware that PoP and Banjo are sequels)...
  • Z-man427 - December 9, 2008 12:27 a.m.

    I would have crapped myself if PoP hadn't been on the list. lo and behold, it was #1. i love how the concept art look just like the actual game.
  • Dude - December 8, 2008 11:24 p.m.

    I thought Mirrors edge would have been #1 but, whetev
  • EdHas503 - December 8, 2008 11:13 p.m.

    "WipEout HD’s time trial track blasts you down a psychedelic kaleidoscope sure to send some unlucky gamer into a seizure so riotous you won’t be able to tell if he’s dancing to the game’s infectious beats or, you know, actually about to pass out." Epic LOLlypop
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - December 8, 2008 10:49 p.m.

    @ lewis42025: Ninja Storm was actually on the list for a while, but I opted to go for DBZ instead. Both great-looking games though. Also, TF2 and Oblivion came out last year.
  • RonnyLive19881 - December 8, 2008 10:31 p.m.

    Banjo and PoP are pretty but VC looks ugly to me. I beat it only cause the story was interesting and the game play was great but the grapghics were barly better then Wind Wakers, just with amazing particles. The character models were just creepy looking. Only if they went for the PoP look it would have been awesome!

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