Though the technical elements of a game's graphics are extremely important, the artistic quality of the game's visual design is what finally leaves a lasting impression on the player. Game graphics technology continues to improve drastically every year, thus lending artists an increasingly effective medium for realizing their artistic concepts in their games. The following five nominees featured the most striking visual design this year.
Electronic Arts' adaptation of the classic children's novel by Lewis Carroll uses the Quake III engine to bring to life a number of surreal environments. Absurd doorframes, exaggerated architecture, and psychedelic environmental effects depict a twisted world - a product of the main character's insanity.
Giants centers on a pitched battle between three very different opponents - the Meccaryns, a bumbling brigade of high-tech goons; the Sea Reapers, an enigmatic aquatic race; and Kabuto, an incredible and enormous monster. These characters, and the rich, tropical-looking setting of the game, are highly imaginative and really help bring the action to life.
Probably one of the most eye-catching PC games to date, Sacrifice boasts bizarre units, vast rolling terrain, and spectacular special effects. The game's artwork is sometimes disturbing and sometimes gorgeous but always impressive. Using the latest version of Shiny's RT-DAT technology, Sacrifice also has the ability to render numerous objects at any distance with no loss in performance.
The Longest Journey takes place in two distinct worlds that the protagonist must explore. While the 3D-modeled characters are fairly standard, the prerendered 2D backgrounds are depicted with a great amount of detail and creativity. Each scene is completely unique, and the game spans many locales as typical as a coffee shop all the way to exotic areas like coastal sea cliffs and craggy mountains.
Vampire's impressive 3D graphics are easily the best of any role-playing game on the PC. Both the 3D characters and the surrounding environments are rendered in a manner that's both realistic and distinctly stylized. While unique to each other, all of the game's settings - which take place both in the past and in the present - retain a high level of visual quality thanks to beautiful textures and the use of moody and subtle lighting.
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