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The Top 7... prettiest games of 2008

 

Critical darling and sales sloth LBP is a known quantity to anyone reading this article. You’ve heard about its comprehensive level editor and seen Sack Boy leaping and bounding around commercials for months now, but what the ads and screens can’t capture is how face-slappingly gorgeous this world really is. Forget the “if fun didn’t matter” campaign for a second and truly appreciate what Media Molecule did with the power of the PS3:


Above: A customizable set of heroes that span the spectrum 


Above: Textures and backgrounds that rival anything out there, all with a charm that should make Nintendo blush


Above: A vast array of environments that push soft, comforting colors most games don’t seem to know exist 


Above: As many random objects as you want in your path, all with their own trajectory. We could watch those blue orbs splatter across the level over and over again


Above: The ability to recreate classic NES levels almost verbatim thanks to the PlayStation Eye, which almost makes it game of the year in our eyes

Problem is that LBP’s aesthetic appeal isn’t immediately apparent. You need to spend some time with it, either by running through Molecule’s own genius levels or drowning in the sea of user-generated content before it sinks in. The colors don’t pop like Mirror’s Edge or other games on this list, they’re more subdued. When everything is pretty, it’s hard for anything to stand out, and that under-the-radar beauty is why LBP has to be recognized for its visual achievements even when every review out there already says “damn this game’s a looker.” We all know it’s pretty, but we should know it’s pretty.

 

 

… the hell? A Wii game? On a prettiest games feature? Believe it fanboys cuz World of Goo is just about the only third party Wii title to make us say “pretty” and “Wii game” in the same sentence without a conditional statement like “for a.” Its unique style (kinda mixing Tim Burton with Stewart Moskowitz) does a lot with very little, and for that we tip our hat to developer 2D Boy.

 

 

See that lime-green beauty up there? That’s a wholly redrawn sprite of Blanka from (deep breath) Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. If you ever doubted how breathtaking 2D games could be, one round of super-high-res spinning pile drivers and bone-scarring electrocutions will change your mind in a hurry. Everything from the original game, from the backgrounds to the music to the characters themselves, has been utterly redone to absolute perfection. This game… this is what all 2D games should look like from here on out. You listening, Castlevania?

Example:


Above: So crisp it’s almost burnt 

Capcom released this direct comparison earlier in ‘08. T.Hawk from the old game on the left, all jagged and spritey, and on the left is the actual model from the game, totally recreated by Udon Comics. If you weren’t around for SF’s heyday, maybe the profoundness of this update is lost on you, but for those who slapped quarters on cabinets and nearly got in their own street fights over cheap combos and throw spamming, this game is art in motion.


Above: Click here to see it full screen (it’s the lower right icon)

More comparisons:

 

 

 

We’re comparing HD Remix to the last home version most of us are probably most familiar with, the SNES Super Street Fighter II (sorry 3DO fans). The difference is staggering and, as with LBP, has to be seen in person to be believed. Unlike LBP though, the effect is instantaneous – it takes all of two seconds to squeeze out a breathy “holy shit” when the first round begins. Those colors, the animations, everything is effing magic.

Throw in a custom soundtrack from OverClocked ReMix and you’ve got a game that delivers visually and aurally, a package so powerful we awarded it a 10/10.

Developer The Behemoth undoubtedly appreciates the hard work Capcom and Udon put into HD Remix, as they’re purveyors of cutting edge 2D gaming as well. Castle Crashers throws colors around like a tickertape parade (sometimes literally) and if you need further proof of how far sprites with thick black lines can go, give it a look.

Topics

Top 7

48 comments

  • 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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