10 games with graphics ahead of its time

 A classic for aesthetes


Graphics in games is not the main thing, but we all strive for beauty. And don't say anything - a beautiful picture attracts the eye and makes the heart beat faster. Even if that's all the game has. Over the past three decades, the industry has periodically produced real graphic masterpieces that are still pleasing to the eye. We selected 10 such games and arranged them in reverse chronological order – it’s even more interesting that way.


Top 10 Classic Video Games That Lef...
Top 10 Classic Video Games That Left Their Mark On History

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (2021)

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (2021)

Ratchet & Clank is one of the oldest PlayStation exclusive franchises. The first part was released on PS2 in 2002 and told about a distant galaxy inhabited by humanoid animals, in which the mad scientist Dr. Nefarius was going to seize power. Up until the 2016 relaunch, sequels and spinoffs were released almost every year. Rift Apart continues the story of the updated universe, when the main characters go in pursuit of Nefarius through the portals between the planets.

The power of the PlayStation 5 made it possible not only to move seamlessly between worlds (thanks to the ultra-fast SSD), but also to create a picture of the level of cartoons from Pixar. According to Digital Foundry, who made a technical analysis of the game, the graphics in Rift Apart are sometimes superior in quality to the animated film adaptation of 2016: the detailing of even the smallest objects (like cartridge cases) is at a high level, the characters' hair looks even more natural than in the cartoon, and in the eyes, Thanks to ray tracing, the world around is reflected.

Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)

Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)

In 2018, Red Dead Redemption 2 took full advantage of all the possibilities of consoles, and a year later it made its way to PC, overturning even the most powerful configurations. Unstable FPS on some GeForce RTX 2080 is not the result of “bad optimization”, but overly fancy graphics. We've even compiled a custom guide to curb the game's appetites without appreciably damaging the visuals.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is best played on a large 4K screen. The picture here is assembled from trifles tied to the imitation of real physical laws. Perhaps there is no other game where every surface looks so natural. Where more technology is used for lighting alone than in other games for all graphics (and even without ray tracing, the result is amazing). In addition, RDR 2 has the most believable animation of everything from snow and mud to the work of muscles in horses.

Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015)

Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015)

The 2013 Tomb Raider relaunch was a disappointment to many, including graphically. Even the rival Uncharted 3 looked much better, even if it came out two years earlier. Therefore, from the sequel in 2015, no one expected anything. However, the result is one of the most beautiful and interesting adventure action games of the decade.

In Rise of the Tomb Raider, the taupe palette is finally replaced by diversity. The game pleases the eye with the rays of the sun shimmering on the surface of translucent glaciers, the most detailed shading in the relief of rocks, updated technology for drawing hair and fur, as well as deep snow with honest footprint physics.

The Witcher 2 (2011)

The Witcher 2 (2011)

In 2011, two iconic action RPGs were released - The Witcher 2 and Skyrim. Although the latter is still more commonly heard, graphically it is very outdated, while The Witcher 2, already forgotten, is still capable of seriously loading a powerful PC.

Until the release of the third part in 2015, the second remained the most beautiful action role-playing game. The faces of the characters and the environment models are worked out in detail here, the scenes on the engine have an excellent staging with competent frame construction, and high-quality anti-aliasing made the picture incredibly soft.

Unfortunately, the use of the outdated DirectX 9 API on a fancy in-house engine has led to unstable frame rates - it is still difficult to get more than 45 FPS in the game at high settings on any video card.

Grand Theft Auto 4 (2008)

Grand Theft Auto 4 (2008)

In fact, GTA 4 was less technologically advanced than Crysis, released a year earlier (more on that later). There was no such amazing lighting work here, and the detail or textures can't even be compared. However, the fourth part was in many ways a big step for the franchise, including in the graphical sense.

This is the first game in the series where an entire metropolis is recreated in detail, and not a district based on motives. This is one of the first games to use Euphoria technology. In it, the characters have worked out not only the skeleton, but also the muscles, and all animation and behavior is based on the instinct of self-preservation. Thanks to the latter, the enemies naturally interact with the environment: they take cover behind anything in firefights and try to grab at least something (including neighbors) when they fall - this didn’t happen even in the fifth part!

And after the release of the first Watch Dogs in 2014, its graphics were compared with GTA 4 in 2008, and in many respects, the latter won.

Crisis (2007)

Crisis (2007)

DirectX 10 never became a mainstream API, and the first Crysis in 2007 was practically the only game to demonstrate all of its capabilities. Moreover, at that time almost no one had video cards with support for DirectX 10. A couple of years later, the 11th arrived. The photo textures in Crysis were ultra-high resolution and used a huge amount of breakthrough technologies: complex water shaders, volumetric fog, light shafts (penetrating the branches of sunlight), diffuse shading, and much more.

First of all, the game captivated not even with the extreme detail of everything or fancy special effects, but with a fully interactive environment. It was possible to pick up any small object and break any fragile surface. The thin trunks of palm trees squinted under a jet of machine-gun fire no worse than grass (of which there was some incredible amount here), the huts of the Koreans folded under the wheels of an armored car, and the fighters themselves flew off from the gloves of the nanosuit.

Half Life 2 (2004)

Half Life 2 (2004)

Half -Life 2 has not yet had such an abundance of breakthrough technologies as in Crysis, but visually this game still somehow does not become outdated. Maybe it's high-quality photo textures, maybe detailed characters with smooth and lively facial animation, maybe a simple but spectacular physical model, or maybe we just fell in love with her too much. After all, Half-Life 2 is a truly unforgettable adventure in a dystopian world inspired by Orwell and Wells.

Before diving into Half-Life: Alyx, Valve itself recommends replaying at least the second part. The former is still a great game, but its fan-made remake of Black Mesa turned out to be even more beautiful than Half-Life 2.

The Neverhood (1996)

The Neverhood (1996)

Neverhood used a forbidden technique - plasticine graphics. With hand-crafted levels and characters, and then freeze-framed scenes, Clayman's hilarious adventures of the clay man are still impressive. Can you imagine how it looked in 1996?

It is a pity that the game never got a full remaster. Instead, in 2015, for some reason, they released an under- remake with a completely different plot and monotonous gameplay.

Myst (1993)

Myst (1993)

Myst is worth remembering, if only because it was the very first 3D adventure game with a first-person perspective. The protagonist travels through different worlds with gigantic architecture and solves many surreal puzzles. And in 1993, the complete edition was surprised by the number of discs and system requirements. However, Myst is considered by many to be the prettiest game of the MS-DOS era.

In the original version, moving around locations occurs by switching between screens. Then came realMyst in 2000, a remake with a fully interactive 3D environment.

Hard Driving (1989)

Hard Driving (1989)

Hard Drivin' is the first realistic driving simulator developed by the legendary Atari. Already in 1989, there was not only detailed physics but also breakthrough graphics with real (albeit primitive) 3D.

At first, it was useless to release the game for home PCs, which were then more advanced typewriters. Therefore, the version for slot machines was the first to be released. Such an automatic machine looked like a cabin and was equipped with pedals, a steering wheel, and a seat. But in the 90s, the game was nevertheless transferred to the MS-DOS platform, even if the atmosphere at the keyboard at home was no longer the same.

This collection includes only games with three-dimensional graphics. Two-dimensional already in the 90s reached the peak of its development. Therefore, mixing 2D and 3D games would be strange. However, we will be glad to any additions in the comments to this text.

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