Tuesday, January 23, 2018

SuperPhillip Central Best of 2017 Awards - Top Five Most Pleasing Visuals

"Beauty is within the eye of the beholder", as the old idiom goes. In this case, I'm taking the role of the beholder with the second category in the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2017 Awards, the Most Pleasing Visuals, as seen in top five countdown form. With more advanced consoles and more developers getting even more familiar with the hardware, devs can pump out some seriously impressive looking games. For this list, I've tried to bring a nice balance of realism and cartoon-like here. With that said, let's get on to this top five list!

5) Super Mario Odyssey (NSW)

We begin this top five countdown of the Most Pleasing Visuals with something bright, bouncy, and cheerful. It's Super Mario Odyssey, and it's one of Nintendo's most spectacular-looking games yet. The amount of details in the large environments, things like Mario having a shiny, wet sheen to him after he gets out of water that dissipates when he eventually dries off, the complex textures, the magnificent amount of work put into Mario -- making him his most detailed yet -- it's all so pleasant to look at. With the edition of a Photo Mode, Nintendo gave players the chance to truly marvel at the landscapes and characters within Super Mario Odyssey's delightfully charming and complex worlds.

4) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (NSW, Wii U)

Here's a game on the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2017 Awards that won't just be confined to the Most Pleasing Visuals category, that's for sure. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild features an enormous, ever-changing world that boasts an extraordinary draw distance to see vast patches of the land, mountains, rivers, and other geometry from faraway vistas. The soft art style is easy on the eyes, and brings with it an almost watercolor feel to it. It was always a joy to me to take screenshots of Link surveying the land, taking out Bokoblins and Moblins in battle, and later just admiring the scenery, whether during sunrise, sunset, a clear or cloudy day, a thunderstorm, or whatever else the weather might have brought. The fact that both the Switch and Wii U versions, despite being apart in graphical and technological possibilities, could run well and look so great is something that truly impresses.

3) Cuphead (XB1, PC)

How could there be a mention of Most Pleasing Visuals without a mention of the Xbox One's Cuphead? This tough-as-nails action-platformer is just insane in its presentation. Everything legitimately looks as if it were plucked out from old 1940s cartoons of that era. The animations are clean, crisp, and exude charm and personality; the filter over the game presents a lovely grainy quality just like those aforementioned early cartoons; and all of this runs as a smooth as silk frame-rate. Just looking at the game in YouTube form is amazing, but when you get to see it in front of your face on a huge TV screen while playing it on the Xbox One, it's simply astonishing. There is a reason the small team behind Cuphead took so long getting this game out, but it's without question that with a game of as high of a quality as Cuphead is and how gorgeous it is, the waiting was very much worth it.

2) Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4)

Let's head towards realism now, with our last two games on this list. However, don't believe the myth that a game has to have a realistic look to win a Most Pleasing Visuals award. That's just how it's coming out this year. Regardless, developer Naughty Dog is no slouch nor a new kid on the block when it comes to crafting gorgeous worlds, environments, and detailed characters. No game better exemplifies the studio's history than Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, one of Naughty Dog's greatest graphical works yet. Just in the example screenshot posted above alone, you can get a taste at how the Lost Legacy can routinely blow the player away with its jaw-dropping vistas and various environments. The characters, too, look alarmingly close to real human beings in the way they are animated and behave, even in the most basic and benign of actions. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a stellar-looking game, but it's not quite number one this year.

1) Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4)

Instead, that honor goes to Guerrilla Games' Horizon: Zero Dawn, a game that can give viewers an orgasm of the eyes. Is such a thing even possible? Who cares -- the game is phenomenal in its looks and an incredible, memorable sight to look at and gaze upon! From Aloy herself and all of her details (her hundreds of strands of hair, her animations in both body and face, etc.) to the world where the sun makes the leaves on trees and grass on the ground glisten in a holy-looking light, where the rivers and creeks sparkle like liquid crystal, and where the snow in the northernmost part of the map comes down hard, accurately portraying the harsh environment inside -- this is the world of Horizon: Zero Dawn, and it is absolutely an impressive monster. So many times while playing the game I would just stop and admire the scenery, try to take special keepsake photos instead of completing my current objective because Aloy's past and humanity's future can wait -- I'm taking photos of rabbits! All these reasons and more are why I give the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2017 Award for Most Pleasing Visuals to Horizon: Zero Dawn.

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