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Why graphics matter...

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  1. Totally -- good graphics are imperative to the gaming experience!

    SaGa Frontier 2

    However, art direction is way more important in my opinion. Most games have good graphics, and by graphics I mean the use of technology and technical artistry to push the limits of pixels, sprites, polygons, colors, and textures. Most games don't have good art direction, meaning the vision of an artist that affects character designs, character models, sets/environments, etc. (Xavi might have a more apt description of this). The aforementioned SaGa Frontier 2 had brilliant art direction, executed expertly into a very nice graphical experience.

    There are a few games that come to mind that didn't have good art direction, and suffered as a result. I though Shadow Hearts: Covenant had one of the best storylines of any RPG I've played, but, even though the graphics were good, I thought the character models were dumb and the environments pretty forgetful. I never finished the game, which I kind of regret.

    Besides suffering from the same fate as Shadow Hearts, Jeanne d'Arc had an uninspired, rehashed T-RPG quality to it that I quickly grew bored with. On the other hand, around the same time I was immersed in Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, which I had already played before, but it had beautiful stages and character designs courtesy of Akihiko Yoshida. (It should also be mentioned that FFT puts Jeanne d'Arc to shame in the story department.)

    Recently I wrote about how much I hate Prof. Layton and Level-5, and my gripes were mostly with the art direction of the game, which I found retarded.

    So yes, graphics matter, but so does art direction. As such I think art direction can be put to the same equations described above, but I would add a third rule:

    1. Bad art direction takes down good games with it.


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  3. @Matt Yes, I suppose I wasn't quite as clear as I should have been. Without a strong sense of direction for a game to move/occupy artistically, simply pumping up the graphical detail is pointless.

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  5. I'm sorry, but I must disagree with you guys on this. Alas Nels, I am afraid that I am one of those people that feel that graphics don't really matter. That is not to say that I feel that graphics are totally worthless, I'm just saying that a game doesn't have to solely rely on graphics/art direction to be truely great. I've always felt that what makes a good game great is two things: good game controls and a good plot. Look at it like this: If a game has shitty controls, to where it is pratically unplayable, then it doesn't really matter how "revolutionizing" the graphics are, does it? A good plot is just good because it'll make the player want to continue to see what happens next, but I don't feel it is as important as good gameplay.

    How many game consoles have come out promoting how good their graphics are only to turn out to be total bombs. Oh sure the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStaion were exceptions, but I feel thats mainly because they had a lot of games with good contols and wonderful storylines; I always felt that the graphics were just meant to be seen as a bonus.

    But what about other consoles that came out that mostly relayed on their "great" graphics as the driving factor to promote the product? Remeber SNK's NeoGeo? Or how about Sega CD? With the NeoGeo, SNK was trying to create acrade-perfect games on a home console, which sounded good in theory, but after all was said and done and after the fuckload of ROM that had to be put inside each cartridge, the games came with about a $200 to $300 retail price a piece. That's a lot to ask when most of the early titles where either shooters or beat'em-ups. Oh sure they looked great, but if the appeal wore off after only 45 minutes or so, what was the point? Hell, even the hardware itself was around $650, thats more than $1,000 in 2010 money! Not even the newer models of the PS3 or 360 go for that much! Thats a lot of money to shell out just for good graphics.

    Now appearently the NeoGeo holds the record of being the longest-lived console in gaming history (with the first game coming out in 1990 and the last in 2004), but I find that pretty hard to believe. In my lifetime I have only meet one person that ever owned one and even he had only 2 or 3 games. Of course he also was the only person I knew that owned an Atari Jaguar, I don't know maybe he just liked playing "underground" consoles; who knows?

    As for Sega CD, it basically had the same flaw; not the pricey games but that it relied to much on graphics as its main selling point. As far I remember, it was the first console to use CDs rather than cartridges, which was also a major promotion gimmick, but that usually was used just to explain how good their graphics were anyways. The fact is that many of the Sega CD games just down-right suck; be it shitty controls or horrible plots, they were just terrible. Many just turned out to be stupid choose-your-adventure games; the most famous being Night Trap, but thats only cause the actress, Dana Plato, who protrayed the main heroine killed herself shortly the game was released. Many other games had long cutscences that featured real-life actors (whoopity-fucking doo), but these had horribly lag time and the picture would, more often than not, come in gritty and just looked horrible, as if the system couldn't contain all those "wonderful" graphics. In fact, after all these years, the only game worth remembering is Sonic CD; which many Sonic fans testify as the last great Sonic game and has yet to be surpassed in terms of great gameplay.

    Ok I'll stop now. Sorry about the rant. Hound and berate me if you want guys, but I stand firm on my view that a game is not good simply because it has awesome graphics. With so many other more important/crucial factors that go into making games great, the last thing to be concerned about are the damn graphics.

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  7. @Son_Gara I agree good graphics are neither sufficient nor necessary to have a good game. My argument is that just about every game can be improved by good graphics, provided they are based upon strong art direction.

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    • Tue October 26, 2021
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