What graphics most impressed you over the years?

Graphics are like drugs. To keep getting the same high you have to constantly up the dosage. Here are games that have made my head explode over the years:

– Pitfall (1982, Atari 2600): Wow, your guy actually looks like a person instead of a little splotch of pixels!

– Swordquest Earthworld (1983, Atari 2600): When I first saw that opening screen with the glowing sword, I couldn’t believe that had been done on an Atari 2600.

– B.C. Quest For Tires (1983, C64): Its bold cartoony graphics cured me of my jealousy toward Colecovision owners over “Smurf Adventure.”

– Faery Tale Adventures (1987, Amiga): This game sold at least one Amiga. By far the best graphics I’d ever seen in an RPG.

– Outrun (1987, arcade): I don’t think any arcade game has made my jaw drop the way Outrun did. I just couldn’t believe graphics could be that good.

– Times of Lore (1988, C64): I was astounded that the C64 could still compete graphically, but this was one sweet looking game. Especially some of those still shots in the opening sequence (i.e. the picture of the knight in chain-mail). I’d say this is the slickest-looking game ever made for the '64.

– Shadow of the Beast (1989, Amiga): Wow, 13 layers of parallax!

– Virus (1990?, Amiga): Who needs parallax? It’s all in 3D! The parallax happens automatically!!!

– Unreal (1998, PC): For two years after its release, this was still one of the best looking games around. The textures were so crisp, the colors so vibrant. Sadly, the poly counts now look painfully low.

– Unreal Tournament (1999, PC): The “Phobos” level in the demo sold this game for me.

– Imperium Galactica 3 demo (2002, PC): Best space graphics I’ve seen yet. It’s kinda fun to watch early CGI movies like “The Last Starfighter” and know that I now officially have videogames that look better…

I don’t have as many “notches” as you do, but I remember watching the Ultimas “grow up,” thinking how beautiful U6 looked. Then I was pretty impressed by Ultima 8, but Ascension blew me away. It still (in my memory, at least) rivals a lot of recent stuff.

Then came Neverwinter Nights, which, while maybe not as pretty in some respects as other titles released this year, just blows me away – especially the lighting and shadows.

Can you tell I’m an RPG junkie?

Wow you are really bringing back the memories. :D

I was always impressed with the graphics in the Magic Carpet series and also the original Independence War.

The first time I really notice graphics was when I got an Intellivision. They were so above what the Atari 2600 had to offer, it was pitiful. In computer gaming, halmark games for me were…

  • Kings Quest. It was a cartoon…that you played!
  • Artic Fox. Real, 3d polygons
  • Wing Commander
  • Doom
  • VQuake (3d acc version of quake from the Rendition v1000 based card)
  • Unreal
  • doom III alpha

I remember distinctly the first time I saw the first Shinobi for the Sega Genesis. I was in college and we were playing the usual NES Tecmo Bowl, Baseball Stars, Adventures of Bayou Billy stuff when I walked into a software store and saw Shinobi on the TV. Just incredible. I bought a Genesis and Shinobi on the spot. I then became the toast of the dorm as EA started to release sports games for it. I remember people coming over from other dorms just to check out Lakers vs. Celtics and being able to identify players just by the graphics.

After that, I remember the first time I saw anything accelerated. It was Quake 1 running on a Voodoo Righteous. I was at a LAN party and people were just crowding around this one guy’s machine. After I saw the rocket launcher and lava effects, I think I swooned and lost consciousness. Needless to say, the very next day…

The original Gran Turismo and recently Morrowind blew me away.

In the dark ages of gaming, for me it was more about the graphics tech than the actual games because the leap was so huge. No graphics green text -> amber monochrome -> 16 color CGA -> 64 color EGA -> VGA -> SVGA. I’m sure there were games that wowed me visually (thinking back Pirates! looked damn good to me) but I can’t separate that from finally seeing some real colors :)

I haven’t been in the game nor had as many experiences as some. I guess the single biggest intake of breath, graphics related, that I had was Wing Commander III. I’d just gone from an antique Mac to a PC and picked up The Kilrathi Saga collection. After playing greedily through I and II I finally hit the climax - with the live action video and decent 3D graphics. It just blew me away that a game could do all the stuff this one did and look so good doing it. I believe it had little things like actual video footage inside communications windows with the other characters.

The next game that made me take notice on graphics quality alone was Falcon 4.0. I bought it for the deep sim and dynamic gameplay but all that and looks too? Now it’s finally working it’s even better.

Many games have impressed me with graphic in many different ways. I really like the maps from Close Combat. The character animations and how they mesh with commands in Soul Calibur was breathtaking. Shogun and later Medieval drew a sharp gasp from me as the combination of streamlined, intuitive, interface and 3D/Sprite graphics felt, to me, like what tactical formation-heavy wargames should always have felt and played like. And I gotta give props to Morrowind for really making a world that felt real by virtue of graphical detail and quality while also (at least for a while) offering the illusion of freedom of movement and choice.

Graphics alone have never sold me on a game or been a major consideration. I do gotta admit they can make or ruin a game that might tilt the other way on gameplay alone. I might have had some doubts until I tried to play Red Baron 3D in software resolution mode after enjoying the 3D Voodoo/player mod graphics. The point was driven home again for me with GTA3. Identical, almost, gameplay to the original titles. But the graphics and 1st person perspective, no matter how many techno-anal quibbles we might get about nuances or gliches, just catapulted the game into a completely new orbit.

In no particular order…

Prince of Persia. Out of this World (the animation, actually). Flashback. Fade to Black. Wing Commander. Strike Commander. Doom. Wolfenstein 3D. Quake 2. Doom 3. FreeSpace 2. F-117A Nighthawk. Total Annihilation. Aces over the Pacific. Battle of Britain: Their Finest Hour. TIE Fighter (goraud shading!) MechWarrior 2. Herzog Zwei. Shadow of the Beast. Daggerfall (the scope of that game!)

Tomb Raider.

My only recollection of being “blown away” was when Cinemaware began cranking their games out. I think the first was Defender of the Crown, but their memorable games for me were Rocket Ranger, The Three Stooges, and It Came From the Desert.

But Defender of the Crown was the first and it was jaw-dropping. This was back when screen shots in magazines ruled the day, and the fact that Cinemaware had these amazing * in game * graphics shot… wow.

By the way, Defender of the Crown wasn’t much of a game even then. But their later titles had decent gameplay… Rocket Ranger was fun.

Off the top of my head, without too much thought…

The original Command and Conquer: I’m still blown away by the amount of detail and character they were able to squeeze into figure that were 10 pixels tall. They were able to make them smoke, clean their weapons, and do pushups.

Duke Nukem 3d: Not the graphics, so much as it was the first game that had levels that actually looked like something, instead of just the random grey mazes of Doom. Movie theatres, movie sets, city streets. NOLF does this really well too.

Quake 2 on a 3d card: first time I had seen color lighting and such. I guess that’s more technology than art.

Bf1942/GTA3: The hugeness of their realistic and beautiful worlds that you could quickly traverse.

Powerstone2: great 2d-looking 3d characters, interesting enviroments.

I was going to bring up the Cinemaware stuff, but RForger beat me to it…

Also, Raid on Bungeling Bay – the game looked good and it was so smooth. (Funny how the memory upgrades these games, though… I put it on a C64 emulator and was amazed that I’d been so hooked on the game way back when.)

Back in the apple 2 days, each new iteration of the Bard’s Tale series floored me. The animated enemy portraits were astounding at the time.

I’ll never forget the CGW issue that gave a first look at Ultima7 (It had the guardian’s face on the cover). Lush VGA images with completely interface free gameplay. Mr. Jaw, meet Mr. Floor.

Uh… Pong?

Actually, the thing that first blew me away was Dogfight for the SGI. At college, there was a guy in one of my dorms who transformed SGI’s original flight simulator demo into a combat game with networking and weapons and so on. I remember the VLSI lab which had a bunch of SGIs was used primarily for Dogfight, and almost not at all for chip design…

Then let’s see… I was very impressed by the Atari ST, with that uber 68000 CPU. Even the start-up screen for the OS was cool.

Next… Myst. That was cool, even if it was just a slideshow. I started playing around with 3D modeling myself after that, and still do from time to time.

I was never very impressed by Doom’s graphics. I think the first Unreal impressed me with its graphics, though I wasn’t really interested in the game.

Lately, what? Dunno.

Some details in recent games like nice water reflections and real-time particle and specular effects look pretty, but I haven’t really been blown away by anything lately. I guess there have been many improvements in detail and realism, but nothing which is so artfully designed to integrate the basic graphics features that it seems to be a huge step forward. A lot has to do with the artistic abilities of the designers; a hyper-realistic crate in the corner of some standard sewer level with more polygons and better textures doesn’t really impress me for some reason.

Jet Grind Radio

The “graphics” for Dragon’s Lair (arcade and 3do and whatever) always looked damn fine to me.

Congo Bongo.

Man that game rocked on the Atari 2600.

Mech Warrior 2, the day I installed my first Voodoo card and played the enhanced version. I feel like I sold my soul to the god of video cards that day. :evil:

Guys, no graphics can ever beat the images in my head while playing Infocom games!

But seriously, I remember being really impressed with Infiltrator on my Apple IIe. I should have been impressed by Arctic Fox and Deep Space, if I’d had any clue about the technical aspects of 3d rendering. Wing Commander 1 and 2 on my first PC were impressive (although the music was even better). And, of course, Pirates Gold! in that super-high-resolution-but-completely-static way.

I’m sure I’m forgetting plenty of inspiring moments just because so many of those old games quickly became run-of-mill.