Graphics is not a Dirty Word

I come today to talk about graphics.

I’m not here to ruffle feathers, I had enough of that after making my feelings towards retro gaming public knowledge, I simply want to try to understand the reason someone’s opinion on video games is often deemed less valid if they admit to having a taste for the sparkling when it comes to visuals?

In the rapid evolution of our video games I can happily admit to constantly craving the next chapter. The next innovative manoeuvre by the developers, the next all enveloping storyline, the next hardware leap, and of course, the next graphical advancement. I love to be spellbound by some visual beauty in my gaming, and in a perfect world it comes married to the sweetest of gameplay, not to the detriment of it.

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But there appears to be a backlash every time we stride boldy into a new generation, where developers are often accused of being all style over substance.

Having aired my, widely derided, opinions on retro gaming and how a trip down memory lane can often be laced with disappointment, the response was interesting to say the least. Many offered reasoned arguments as to why I was wrong on this issue and I enjoyed hearing a differing viewpoint, it was, after all, what I had set out to achieve. But some jumped to conclusions that I found interesting.

Let me explain in the form of some comments that appeared in the wake of that article.

“The majority of games today are superficial and flashy with little substance.

 “Sounds like a kid fixated on graphics.”

“Yeah, that article writer might be a pretty young gamer who cares mostly about the graphics.
In other words..the current average joe gamer bro. =/”

“Then again it makes sense why I see so many ignorant comments throughout the internet and why graphics have become the be-all/tell-all of judging games.”

“100% his opinion is based off graphics. It is the only thing that changes throughout the years. If you don’t play games for gameplay and/or story…why play games?”

Graphics, graphics and more graphics. The strange reasoning that if you would rather play in the now, then you must hold the visual experience above all else. And whilst that isn’t entirely true, I will always embrace fun and the experience first, I do hold my hands up and proudly state, I love great graphics!

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Don’t come to me and try to tell me that the original Tomb Raider is an infinitely better experience than the latest two, because, as it was put, “it’s actually a Tomb Raider game.”  What! The original Tomb Raider deserves praise as a ground breaking game, an enjoyable blast and a unit shifter for Sony’s Playstation, but it pales into insignificance when placed side by side with the revamped game as an experience, I couldn’t give a shit that the new take wasn’t unfolding permanently within a tomb! The new Tomb Raider plays like a dream, and importantly, looks like one too.

Based on the ‘tomb’ logic if they ever release a Super Mario game where he spends the day working as a plumber it’ll be the best we’ve ever played.

But I’m moving off point. I believe we as gamers should be embracing every graphical leap with both hands. As someone who played through every twist and turn since the Vic 20, I’ve longed for the day we can enjoy a graphical prowess that so closely mirrors real life. A game having stunning looks doesn’t automatically mean it has gone all style over substance on us. Gaming history is littered with wonderful examples of a perfect mesh between great looks and great gameplay, and it’s this I will consistently try to seek out. The graphics don’t make the game, that is true, but they can elevate it to incredible highs, and they can also make an average game more than the sum of its parts. If I’m struggling through a title with mediocrity splashed all over it, some tasty graphics can see me through, Ryse would be a case in point.

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When it comes to graphics, for me, bigger is better. I want life on the screen to replicate life outside the screen, I want beautiful lighting, depth to features, stunning environments and everything else the modern age can throw at us. I’ll always endeavor to seek out the games that deliver a great experience first, but if they can do that with a graphical swagger as well then I’m a very happy gamer.

I urge us all to embrace what we have today. Graphics do matter. They are a core part of the foundations that support our games and we should relish every visual treat the developers place before us and hope for constantly pushed boundaries as we go forward.

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5 thoughts on “Graphics is not a Dirty Word

  1. are you comparing the classic tomb raider with the modern dumbed down tomb raider?
    let me talk about Tomb Raider

    the First Tomb Raider has a Crappy graphic, but in term of gameplay that game still destroy the modern dumbed down tomb raider, so you’re proving me right

    the Classics TR games they didn’t handhold you, gameplay still a masterpiece
    Modern Tomb Raider has a Gameplay that is Dumbed down for Modern gamers

    so, for you graphic over gameplay mr.Gaemer?
    because you clearly don’t know the difference between the Classic and modern TR I can’t even consider you as a gamer

    1. So if I prefer the experience of playing the modern updated Tomb Raider over the classic (old) TR then I’m not a gamer. Guess I’m not a gamer then, and I’ll happily embrace that whilst playing through a game that in terms of delivering an incredible experience wipes the floor with the original TR.
      When did you last play the original TR by the way? I’m curious.
      Dumbed down? Most players I knew back in the day had to go to magazines and walk through’s to get past the original, not because it was well designed but because it was littered with seeming dead ends due to graphical limitations. Take the rose tinted glasses off once in a while and enjoy what we have today, you might even grow to like it.

      1. The original Tomb Raider was a different kind of game than the modern ones, which are much more action-oriented. They’re like Uncharted. The early ones were more puzzle and exploration-based. I don’t know that that has that much to do with the graphic quality, per se. Some of the puzzles, such as the difficulty (read: challenge) of finding the next ledge or where to jump to is tied up with the difficulty of SEEING the ledge to begin with, that is true, because of the simple, yucky textures blending in with the warping polygons on the Playstation 1. But I found that to be an enjoyable challenge at the time.

        It’s part of the game’s design. It makes sense that in a cavern or “tomb” you cannot see that well. It’s part of the exploration. It’s not really an action game that much. However the original Tomb Raider was also heralded as an amazing technical feat too and an advance forward in 3D graphics at the time. The Saturn port which came later did not have as good of shading or lighting effects in it and the magazines would compare them in screenshots, similar to how they do with PS4 and Xbox One games today in videos. So at the time it was also an example of “great graphics.”

        I do like good art in games, which usually means I don’t enjoy games that are very realistic, but more drawn or painted looking. There’s kind of a cutting off point in the amount of tech needed that seemed to end somewhere in the 32-bit era, if not 16-bit, when it comes to that kind of stuff (how many colors do you really need? and resolution? for good drawings? Some say it needs more, some say 16-bit era is quite satisfying).

        I like old games the best for their graphics. But a lot of times back then, like in the mid 90s, studios would do much better on the graphics than on the gameplay! And this would be really frustrating. You’d feel bamboozled. You’d keep sort of wanting to play because the character art or level art looked really good, and you’d think “these game developers amazing, look at that!” but then also are in your mind are “if they’re so amazing, why didn’t they make t his fun? can’t they tell this level design is annoying?? and that enemy is so cheap?!? Maybe artists aren’t really that bright but only good at drawing…. that’s why they became artists! They don’t know a thing about level design or how to do the controls! ugh! I’m glad I only rented this. I’m glad it’s not the year 2016 where I pay $60 for a copy digitally and can’t get a return!”

      2. the last time I played the classic tomb raider? almost 2 years ago
        and YES i still say it Modern Tomb Raider is dumbed down, WHy you may ask
        because they need to make games more accessible for the masses and non gamers that’s the truth
        you played the classic tomb raider with a magazine? really I feel sorry for you
        that’s why modern tomb raider is dumbed down and If you didn’t realize it you confirmed what I said making the game more accessible (Dumbing Down the Games)
        It is not Bad designed, If somebody sucks with something It is not the Game’s fault

        I beat Tomb Raider without magazine, so here we are the game didn’t have bad design it was you that had problem playing videogames before.
        Now Tomb Raider has Focus mode even to find Secrets keyword “FIND” and the game have a Marker that tells you where the secret is, keyword “FIND” see how Dumbed down today Tomb Raider is?

        You and most of people think Modern Tomb Raider are better, because back in the days you guys sucked playing videogames and now that these games are dumbed down filled with handholding all of sudden these games are Masterpiece

        1. Make absolutely no mistake, When it comes to video games I am generally pretty heavily lacking in skill. To be honest it’s not why I play. I play for the experience, the story, and the fun.
          I’ve no idea what your definition of a real gamer is, but I’m guessing it’s a long way removed from mine. I did use a magazine to get through sections of the original TR, I absolutely lacked the patience to overcome some of the more frustrating moments that game held. Pretty much everyone used walkthroughs for TR back in the day, that’s why the walkthroughs were so prominent in the magazines of the day I guess.
          I’d never personally categorise someone a non-gamer because of ability, people play games, enjoy them and continue to play, that’s a gamer. Unless of course you’re a tad elitist I suppose.

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