Top 5 Best Graphics 2015
This may seem a short list and that is because so many games had impressive visuals this year across platform a top 10 would have too many close ties, these games all exceeded the level either by sheer technical skill, artistic design, incredible animation or the combination of these and more. With such an expansive array of games to choice from the honorary mentions could have easily been number ones in previous years.
From the greatest and possibly final showing of the Fox-Engine with its intelligent mix of low triangle counts, normal maps, vast open landscape, dynamic weather and time cycle but ultimately its Jewel comes within its gamma corrected and accurate lighting workflow that impresses the most, with its entire presentation allowing all manor of natural lighting both direct and indirect to shine. All delivered within a near rock solid 60fps on both current machines and PC ( dependent on spec).
But even this is not the only shock for me to miss my compilation after much re-review and analyses, The beautiful Syndicate also misses out inclusion with its exquisite asset creation and lighting model. Halo 5 although not as impressive as it should or could have been does not stop it having some superb stages and real time cut scenes.
It's says how contested the list is when these and Mad Max, Need 4 Speed, Mortal Kombat X, Bloodborne, Dying Light, Black Ops III , The Witcher 3 among others all miss the top spot, so with that small exclusion just what has made it in. The list is in reverse order and as the title suggests is all about games that excel in presentation and visuals, leave the gameplay, story or other such areas for my full on Top 10 games list of 2015, and this is my opinion, and may contain nuts! so let the countdown begin.
Guerrilla Games kicked off the generation with its new engine and impressive Killzone Shadowfall. But it really slayed its audience in Until Dawn, that was an incredible demonstration of the engine and Supermassive games talent at using it. Yes the performance left a little to be desired but with its very slow pace and less hectic game style allowing it to not be greatly effected. But boy oh boy does it manage to convince you of its horny teen murder fest aims. The setting of an abandoned shack within a snowy mountain resort is used to perfection with all appropriate cliches thrown in. All complemented with its vivid use of volumetric lights, staggeringly high character models, impressive facial animation, great use of shadows and lights including area lights and Physically based shaders, temporally reprojected shadow maps along with character silhouettes with confidence improvement ( far from the only one ), motion blur, Confusion Zone DoF with Bokeh all packed into the games list of Post processed effects which include a temporal Anti aliasing solution delivering a near Pre-rendered look at times. It is a great demonstration of the technical prowess of Guerrilla and why they are some of the best technical minds in the game along with Supermassive having such a talented team to use this technology impeccably, just makes you even hungrier for its new game coming over the horizon....
It was much anticipated by the gaming community and after a near year delay it finally swooped onto machines this year, bringing Rocksteady's tale of the Bat to a fitting and dramatic close. Even though it used the very ageing Unreal 3 engine it looked like no game that had been running under it before. From its dark noir tones, drenched city scape, Gothic architecture, Neon lit alleys to hulking main character and enemies alike it broke free of its previous chapters limitation by being one of the first big AAA multi platform games to be now gen only. It was not a waste as time and time again as you played the visual impact was a hard as a Bruce Wayne delivered takedown.
With one of the most accomplished and well implemented Post effects suites in a game it delivers some of the best DoF, motion blur, bloom, lens flare in action. But goes further with such a core particle system that makes all the comic book action even more flamboyant. Debris, sparks, smoke, rain, fire and more all combine with a great physics and destruction system that is a must when sporting such a behemoth as the BatMobile. From its seamless and loadless world, intricate interiors, tight cinematic delivery, sumptuous real time story sequences and superb character design and animation it is near impossible to pick fault with a visual Arsenal that only the Dark Knight himself could deliver. I am keen to learn what the team will commence next with the even better Unreal 4 engine, one thing is for sure, what ever they decide on it will be a head turner.
Lara had a tough reintroduction in 2013, ship wrecked and left for dead she proved her credentials to endure, adapt and survive. Something Crystal have used to expand, improve and further cement the Tomb Raider franchise back into significance as much as their own marvellous engine.
For those that have enjoyed the XboxOne release already know it has pretty much all areas covered and well in the presentation stakes. The physics combined animation system, Skeletal rigs and pivot points delivers some of the most natural, striking and fluid motion this gen. Allowing Lara and its cast to appear more natural, terrified or vicious than ever before.Motion vector Per object motion blur allows each moment and sequence to look and feel silky smooth in play. But the lighting system, animation and realtime cut scenes are its true Ace in the pack, allowing it to deliver such a compelling, foreboding, visually splendid affair. So many sections of the game and its vast expanse of locations and tombs really succeed in its big budget adventure movie aim. Tress Fx has been seen in other games and more to come, with hair still being more of a miss than hit, but Lara has the best in the business along with the muscle, skin deformation system presenting visuals both in game or story but all realtime that will leave you gobsmacked. PC owners will get a chance to enjoy all of this themselves in January with the PS4 release this time next year, and I assure you no-one will be disappointed including me as I will revisit it all over again come release.
The top 2 are so close it really could be either way, but in the end battlefront is just pipped by a hair to the top spot. But what it delivers across all formats is simply beyond compare with its near locked 60 rate clearly demonstrating how proficient both Dice and its Frostbite engine are. Leaving resolution aside we can all agree that it never fails to impress on all fronts in action.
Using the teams new shift into a full physically based render along with their own photogrammetry techniques has delivered without doubt the single most accurate, complete and impressive depiction of the Star Wars universe. From its IBL system delivering accurate direct and indirect light, particle system, Froxels, motion blur, interactive worlds and foliage, dynamic destruction, vehicles along with its near CGI presentation, animation and sprocket systems raided sound catalogue it is a truly mesmerising display in action. The asset quality is sky high from Sullests lava pools, to Darth Vadars helmet they all look totally authentic and the team delivered all they promised and more from its initial teaser. The single player Star Wars game next year from Visceral and the mind behind Nathan Drake Amy Hennig with this engine after they had a practise run with Hardline is enough to excite any gamer, Star Wars fan or not right now for Cross platform engines Frostbite is a star in that field and EA's future titles.
And it comes down to the pièce de résistance from Ready At Dawn studios to take my number 1 slot. Nearly 12 months after its release and at the teams very first attempt on both the platform, engine and big budget games as a whole they not only nailed it, they drove a stake right through its heart, OK, OK silver bullet then. With it being out for so long I feel safe to show some of the games vast collection of simply eye watering style, Beauty and horror so if you still intend to play this game you may want to turn off now.
The fact that they achieved so much and pushed the bar so high is astounding enough, but equally as impressive is after such stiff competition they have kept the crown. The list of what it does well is more like an Index of How To with the aim of delivering a truly Big Budget Summer Blockbuster with all the best CGI tricks in the business. From start to finish it truly never ceases to amaze, astound and impress in equal measure, from asset quality, animation, sound design, physics, lighting which is still the pinnacle of realtime PBR based rendering in games as it has some of the most accurate lighting reactions outside of a Pixar or Dreamworks movie. But all of these would be let down where it not for the other key area of the team with its Anti Aliasing techniques. Combining a multi sampled edge and colour algorithm alongside a bespoke filter and temporal solution even under close scrutiny you struggle to find fault or any interference within its display, it's stands proud as an example of Matt Pettineo and the teams hard work in using customs resolves/multiple solutions. Even the Post Processed averse can now chose to disable the Film Grain and other post effects still leaving a near faultless display and the games magnificent materials and shader work to revel in.I have edited together a short trailer to show off some of the games sky high points, cinematic flair and remember everything you see is either gameplay or realtime cutscenes that shift into and out of with no delay or load present. The engine is a true shining star this generation and will deliver amazing experiences across platform, but it is the talent with the team for chief tech officer Andrea passion, graphics programmer and genius Matt pessino or other guy and the animation team from Daniel Sipes,Rob Kim, Neil Hillier to Adam Byrne, Jason Shum and many more that have harnessed this technology and delivered such compelling work that no matter how many times you play it you still come away impressed.
The only thing more exciting is the fact the team are hard at work on a new VR game and another console release with this engine in the future, and one may even be a sequel....fingers crossed.