First impressions are often what gamers go on when they see games, and
few things are noticed before the graphics. They can either stab our eyes
with ugliness or make the choirs sing in their beauty. This year there were many
great games with great graphics, but only a few could be named the best.
Standing majestically on top of the mountain in RPGamer's 2004 Graphics
Awards is none other than Nintendo's latest entry into the Mario
ranchise, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. While The Thousand-Year
Door didn't offer up jaw-droppingly realistic visuals, it still pleased
the visual cortexes of many with its unique and innovative graphics.
While the game's graphics aren't, at a glance, blow away, they are
excellently atmospheric, adding wonderfully to the overall experience.
The game's graphical engine does a good job of suckering the player into
believing they are reading an old pop-up storybook. The way parts of the
terrain would act like paper, blowing or being ripped away, added
wonderfully to this effect. Paper Mario 2 demonstrates a definite
example of how excellent graphics usage can augment a game, and thus
stands dominant over all contenders in RPGamer's 2004 Graphics Awards.
While not exactly the crème de la crème of the Graphics Awards, Tales
of Symphonia's visuals are still impressive enough to merit the game the
runner-up spot. Similar to Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the
game's cel-shaded graphics do a splendid job of giving the world a
unique and distinctive atmosphere. Furthermore, in-game transitions are
implemented masterfully, and while the game's anime cut-scenes are few
and far between, one would be hard pressed to argue that they are less
than top-notch. With these reasons in mind, RPGamer has given this entry
into Namco's flagship RPG series a lock on the second place position.
Taking home the bronze is Namco's card battle RPG, Baten Kaitos: Eternal
Wings and the Lost Ocean. Baten Kaitos' visuals are a different breed
than those above, as a certain amount of realism was incorporated into
the pretty pictures on your screen. The computer graphics sequences are
so pretty, in fact, that the quality even rivals CG sequences comprised
by Square Enix, who are widely renowned as having some of the best CG
sequences in the business. Of course, the eye candy wasn't only limited
to cut-scenes, as the in-game graphics are quite colorful, as well as
just plain gorgeous. RPGamer cheerfully gives Baten Kaitos' graphics a
thumbs up, along with third place.
by Phillip Clayton