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Editors' Choice

So which games made us stop and think "Wow, this looks great" in 2008? We have one game with an amazing art style, one with a realistic world, and a portable title with a unique look. Come take a look for yourself.

Best Graphics
Valkyria Chronicles

From the moment you turn it on through the ending credits, the graphics in Valkyria Chronicles dazzle and amaze. While the combination of cell shading and 3-D graphics has been used in a number of RPGs in the past, none compare to the unparalleled beauty of this game. For example, each of the several dozen available characters has a ton of unique details in their uniform, face, and even their expressions. The backgrounds are rendered so well, that even simple things, like rocks, are interesting to look at. Shadows look like an artist used cross-hatch shading. Each screen shot of Valkyria Chronicles looks like a brightly colored water painting.

Gazing upon gorgeous screen shots is one thing, but witnessing the beauty of the game's graphics in motion is something else. Utilizing the computing prowess of Sony's PlayStation 3, Valkyria Chronicles runs constantly at a silky smooth frame rate. Extra visual effects such as animated dust clouds from tank movements and gun fire add even more pizzazz to this feast for the eyes. Furthermore, comic style wording pops up when weapons are fired. While this might look campy in some settings, it fits in extremely well here. Boosting a magnificent artistic styling and a wondrous 3-D cell shading engine to back it up, Valkyria Chronicles is the game most RPGamers will use to showcase the prowess of their PS3 for some time to come.

Second Place - Fallout 3

Following in the vein of Oblivion, Bethesda's latest masterpiece provides jaw dropping visuals. Whether it's the beautiful desolation of the wastelands, the gore-strewn interiors of a raider hideout, or the up close and personal view of a feral ghoul that just unexpectedly attacked from behind, the art style is consistently morbid and post-apocalyptic, and the graphics are always detailed and impressive. Even Fallout 3's battle system highlights the visuals, merrily displaying the bloody carnage you unleash with slow motion and cinematographic camera angles. The huge game world is contiguous with minimal load times, and immense structures are realistically rendered in the distance to the extent that they can be used to gather one's bearings. Wisely toning down the current-gen shine that seems to grace all Xbox 360 titles, the developers covered the world in dirt and grit in a visually believable way that rivals non-RPG competitors on the system, much less other RPGs.

Third Place - The World Ends With You

The World Ends With You has some of the most vibrant graphics ever to be seen in an RPG on the DS. Colour, character designs, and the detailed environments draw players into an apocalyptic game that keeps gamers guessing as the story get darker. Not only does TWEWY draw the player into its world with its graphics, but it also makes use of a comic book style to display cut scenes. With its obnoxiously colourful environments and character designs, players of the game will actually feel like they are roughing their way through the busy streets of Shibuya.

by Phillip Willis, Glenn Wilson, Sam Marchello, Michael Cunningham

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