Editorial: Do Graphics Really Matter?

I have never really been one to judge a game solely on graphics.  I, like many of my fine peers here, still play older games with graphical styles that are well out of date.  Good storytelling and character development are things I look for in a game.  For example, Red Dead Revolver is still one of my favorite games ever, and the graphics were considered out of date even when it was first released.  Recently I have noticed that a majority of gamers hold graphics to be the most important aspects of a game, especially when trying to decide on which platform to buy a multiplatf0rm game.  The newest argument of which is over the recently released Ghostbusters: the Video Game.

This is the best looking PS3 game since MGS4
This is the best looking PS3 game since MGS4

With the temporary death of my XBox 360, I have been forced to purchase more games on my PlayStation 3.  Not something I ever have a problem with, but there are some game genres I prefer to play on my 360 and vice-versa.  Third-person action games, like the recently released Ghostbusters, are ones I prefer on the 360’s controller.  Now, normally I would just wait to get my 360 back and buy the game them, but the Ghostbusters franchise is something I have loved since I was a little kid, I used to wear fake, red glasses and pretend I was Egon, so I needed the game on release day.  Ghostbusters is my drug of choice.  So, before I went to make my purchase, I researched a bit, aka Google searched, on which version of the game had the better graphics.  What I found were a bunch of Xbox 360 fanboys nitpicking minor details on the game.

Don't worry: Ray DOES make a S'more joke during this level...
Don't worry: Ray DOES make a S'more joke during this level...

One of the first things that came up in my extensive research was this post which showed how “dumbed down” the graphics are on the Playstation 3.  I do not know about you, dear readers, but to me the differences, if any, are minuscule at best.  The only article on the subject I have read that actually explained the differences was this one, linked to me by Lusipurr.  Even after reading these articles, I bought the PS3 version anyway; I just needed the game that much.  The game still looks stunning–a non-gaming friend actually thought I was watching one of the movies during a cutscene–but the writers at lensoftruth.com seem to enjoy focusing on small aspects of the game instead of focusing on the rest of the visuals.  In a game with facial features as visually outstanding as this, most will not walk by a piece of paper on a wall and thrown down the controller in frustration because the player cannot read what is written.

So, my questions to you, my dearest of doves, are: do graphics really matter when you play games?  For those of you with multiple consoles, do you research to see which version of the game has better visuals?  Finally, how much do you love Ghostbusters?

0 comments

  1. Of course it’s better on the 360, PS3’s are for stupid babies who don’t yhave tha balls to jump in to the XBox experience!!!!! Oh YEAH MOLYNEUX RULES!!!!!!!

  2. First of all if you’re interested in head to head comparrisons then you should only ever check out Eurogamer’s digital foundary, as they have a lot of tools to help them back up their assertions, rather than blind fanboy rhetoric. In contrast, many of the bigger sites like Lamespot don’t even bother to readjust their TV contrast when taking PS3 screen captures, all but assuring a more favourable 360 comparisson regardless of whether the difference exists or not.

    In answer to your question though, graphics matter up to a point. They aren’t make or break for me, but I don’t like to see a product that tells you they chose to half-arse the PS3 version, because that’s just lazy. I was recently quite shocked by how blurry and faded out Bioshock was on the PS3, I thought that was supposed to have been a good port.

    It is however possible to take graphics whoreishness way too far. Has anyone else seen all the wingeing and complaining in MGS:PW threads, complaining that the next MGS to feature Big Boss was going to be on the PSP rather than the PS3, seeing as PSP games are so ugly and all. I was actually relieved when I heard PW was going to be a PSP game, as I thought that MGS4’s labour intensive Hi-def graphics compromised its game design to the point where it became a dissapointingly dissjointed convoluted mess. I would much rather have shorter development cycles with ambitious game designs, than a dissapointing (albeit pretty) game that has been gimped down for the enjoyment of the lowest common denominator.

    Does anyone else feel that the quality of graphics has an inverse relationship to the scope of a game’s design?

  3. Graphics obviously matter to a point, but we’ve gotten to the point where people are so obsessed with graphics that the gaming media and many of the more fanatical fans going over a game’s graphics with a fine-tooth comb (remember the whole Halo 3 640p rabble back in the day?). If you ask me, the PS3 and the 360 are where we need to be for the forseeable future, at least until game development returns to reasonalbe costs again. Also, western developers need to tone down the focus on realism. It’s OK if a game is stylized: the developers spend less time on texture art, less money is spent, and your game will actually look distinctive.

  4. Halo 3 was 640p of fucking awesome amiright!!!!!! C’MON HALO EVERYONE HHHHHHAAAAAAALLLLLLLOOOOOO!!!! IT’S AWESOME!!!!! BOOM!!!!

  5. I think much of the ZOMG 640p Halo was because M$’ flagship series wasn’t able to run at full resolution on its own hardware, much like if Killzone 2 had failed to run at full resolution, it would have been rightfully dragged through the mud.

    Graphics still aren’t the be all and end all for me though, as I still get the majority of multi-platform games for PS3 even if I’ve heard that they are inferior, simply because it’s a trustier piece of hardware.

  6. Who you gonna call ?
    Nate Liles !

    “So, my questions to you, my dearest of doves, are: do graphics really matter when you play games?”

    Hell no. Some of the best gaming concepts ever made
    now have outdated graphics and its still fun to pick
    them up and replay them occasionally.

    But I noticed that there is a general trend on the
    net to rate new games depending on their graphics
    before having ever played them.
    So apparently graphics DO sell games.

    “For those of you with multiple consoles, do you research to see which version of the game has better visuals?”

    Visuals are only a criteria that matters when it comes to women – dont you agree ?
    (my girlfriend is going to kill me)

    As long as its the same game in essence,
    minor differences in visuals couldnt be less important.
    In fact I would deem the control scheme on each console way more vital for that decision.

    “Finally, how much do you love Ghostbusters?”

    Not more than I love you, Nate.

  7. panda that is of buddy

    article is consumed, evaluation is imminent

    >>So, my questions to you, my dearest of doves, are: do graphics really matter when you play games?<_<}}}}

    graphic might no imparted within ;_;

    furthermore confusion initiates in talk of dove
    sole knowledge of that which is panda,
    dove is not understood

    creation of panda is made for you

    (o)(o) .======.
    ( °_°) | NATE |
    (P P '======'
    °O—O ||
    ''''''''''''''''''

    hope for pleasantry, panda buddy

    -Miyamoto

  8. happy little panda that is of buddy

    article is consumed, evaluation is imminent

    >>So, my questions to you, my dearest of doves, are: do graphics really matter when you play games?<_<}}}}

    graphic might no imparted within ;_;

    furthermore confusion initiates in talk of dove
    sole knowledge of that which is panda,
    dove is not understood

    creation of panda is made for you

    (o)(o) .======.
    ( °_°) | NATE |
    (P P '======'
    °O—O ||
    ''''''''''''''''''

    hope for pleasantry, panda buddy

    -Miyamoto

  9. creation of panda is made for you

    (o)(o) .======.
    ( °_°) | NATE |
    (P P ‘======’
    °O—O ||
    ”””””””””

    hope for pleasantry, panda buddy

    -Miyamoto

  10. Thank you for all the love, EmperorZorn.

    @MC: Yeah, these people are totally ignoring how freakishly amazing the character designs look on Ghostbusters. Instead they’re saying “Can’t see a little detail you run by quickly and won’t focus on?! FUCK you!”

  11. @Bup – Hell yeah, the game looks amazing! Personally, I’m more concerned about frame rate. I’d rather have blurry paper scraps than a fluctuating frame rate. I think the problem with the whole graphics thing is that the media, and to some extent fans, have grown cynical beyond even the slightest bit of logic. From Kotaku to Zero Punctuation, people are becoming obscenely famous by simply being unrealistically negative. Gaming’s GOOD nowadays, better than it’s ever been, but it seems gamers, led by a media which is more obsessed with scandal and sensationalism than Fox News, have become jaded.

    It’s a fucking shame.

  12. @Noob – Killzone 2 DIDN’T run at the PS3’s full potential (1080p). The developers chose to bump the resolution down to 720p in order to maintain a solid frame rate. In short, Guerrilla made a graphical concession in order to keep the game running smoothly, the same way Bungie did.

  13. Only extremely limited games like tennis, baseball and racing titles can run at native 1080p on either console, so no surprises there. IMO shooters do not have the potential to hit 1080p on either console. The fact remains Killzone 2 was able to produce high definition visuals, which was something Halo 3 was unable to do (something likely to be repeated in ODST according to Digital Foundary).

    “Gaming’s GOOD nowadays, better than it’s ever been”

    Is it? Really? If by better than it’s ever been, you mean to say that the graphics are better then in previous generations, well then yeah sure they are. If on the other hand you mean to say that the games themselves are better, I would have to seriously have to dissagree. Games are shorter now and less creative, there are still some real gems like Uncharted, but there are also a lot of dissapointments like MGS4, RE5, DMC4.

    Oh and about the Ghostbusters controversy, it sounds like it had more to do with the game’s PR, which claimed that the PS3 version was the lead platform and that they were doing amazing things on the hardware, and then delivered an inferior sub-hd version in contrast to a nice crisp looking 360 version.

  14. For myself, all that really matters is if a game has an immersive experience, seeing how I am an escapist at heart.
    Old games such as FF6, Chrono Trigger, Super Metroid and Castlevania 4 are still some of my all time favorite games despite their dated graphics. Perhaps its that they sculpted their own atmosphere and lore. Don’t get me wrong- there are still a lot of games that are graphically awesome, but most of the time they fail to give me that same feeling I had back in the day. I suppose with age, it gets harder to suspend your disbelief.

    @Lusipurr Did you ever finish your playthrough of Suikoden 5? I just started playing the game for the first time, and it seems to try to be more like the first 2.

  15. Graphics matter, but man those comparisons of PS3 and 360 versions are retarded, and watching 360 fanboys gloating is never pretty… not that I think gloating is particularly bad or something, I just think it can be done with more class.

    I also think gaming is not the best it’s ever been. Obviously graphics are the best ever, but gameplay, game plots, characters and overrall creativity is way down. After all, “why make something great when good sells better?”.

  16. Why make something generic when you can make a super awesome dog to follow you around and open up treasure chests and stuff. Neato!

  17. @Epyon – Take out the “360” and you have a truth.

    “…watching fanboys gloating is never pretty.”

    It really gets annoying after a while. I don’t hide my preference of the 360, but I’ll give it hell if I have to (see my post about their repair service). I never really understood the “war” concept. Isn’t this about making money first and foremost?

    @Noob – I don’t know. Your definition of “shorter” might be prejudiced by comparisons to the NES and SNES era, where games were made longer through endless monotony and poor level design. Nowadays, game design is quite the bit tighter, and challenge feels more organic than contrived. Also, some genres don’t really lend themselves to really long games. WHo wants to play a 40 hour FPS? That’s right, no one.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but I’d rather have a short but re-playable game than a long game I’ll never look at again.

    Also, the open world concept has grown substantially, from the narrow limits that GTA3 had in practical terms to crazy ass exploration of intricate cities in Crackdown, Assassin’s Creed and InFAMOUS.

    Most people fail to remember that the “good old days” had games that had paper-thin plots and rote gameplay most of the time. Really, I can count the truly amazing games on the NES, SNES or Genesis with my fingers and toes.

    But hey, maybe I need those rose tinted glasses you guys all have.

  18. Games have become way shorter, and gimped from a game design standpoint. This isn’t a claim I’m making in comparrison to the classic era, but in relation to the Ps2 era. The current generation is a paradise for online fps fans, and noone else.

  19. @SN: How do you mean “gimped from a game design standpoint” for current-gen games? Not trying to sound condescending or anything, just looking for some clarrification. I’d definitely agree that innovation’s kind of quickly ground to a halt (bit of a hyperbole, but you get the idea) recently and game companies are relying more and more on the “tried and true” philosophy of game design, but I don’t think things have gone backwards since the PS2 era. Do you mean that new, groundbreaking games are less frequent this generation, or are you actually saying that game design has gone backwards since last gen?

    In either case, I’d disagree that it’s only online FPS fans that have benefited this generation. While online consoles have definitely come into their own since the 360 game out, there’s have been plenty of good, solid, memorable offline experiences as well (Lost Odyssey, Uncharted, Mass Effect, and Bioshock jump to mind).

    Maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t seem like the games I’ve been playing are getting shorter, either. I think every game I’ve played in the past 2+ year has at least 25 hours of playtime on it. Like MasterChief mentioned, though, sometimes that’s from multiple playthroughs, so maybe it’s not entirely accurate.

    @MC: I agree, fanboys are ugly, ugly things to watch.

  20. I pretty much mean that since games have become more expensive to make, many developers have begun stripping any unnecesary elements out of their design and also that they have become much shorter in duration. This is a pretty big sticking point for me, as it is often these optional game design elements that make a game a memorable experience for me, i.e. optional non-essential cutscenes, easter eggs, non-core gameplay mechanics thrown into the mix to diversify gameplay(you know stuff like the three minute ladder climb in MGS3, which was a transcendental experience for me). Duration of course depends on genre, I’m talking mainly from my experience of action titles, which seem to be growing less substantial by the day. I would definitely say that game design has gone backwards since the PS2 era, and it was all I could do to prevent myself from standing up and applauding when I heard that new entries in the MGS and RE franchizes were being developed for PSP.

    Of course though, as you mention, not everything has been dissapointing this generation. Uncharted, Bioshock and Gears of War 1 were all fantastic. Mass Effect was also a lot of fun, though a step backwards when viewed against Jade Empire and Kotor. I must say however, that I hold high hopes for Dragon Age, since it’s been in production for Ages (pardon the pun) and doesn’t seem to have gone overboard with the graphics.

    I like good graphics, but not when they come at the expense of game design.

  21. Incidently, new IP’s this generation seem to be fareing far better than pre-existing franchises. I really wasn’t expecting to prefer Dead Space to RE5, but the you go.

  22. Graphics can certainly help with submersion. If an art style is consistent or effects are more believable, I’ll be less likely to be taken out of the experience. Broken graphics like terrible draw distance can potentially affect the gameplay as well.
    I think the graphics should work and be consistent, but no, they don’t have to be the greatest ever for me to care about a game, and my eyes don’t hurt when I revisit old games with gameplay that still holds up today.

  23. For me the most important aspect of the graphics, is art direction.

  24. Yeah, great art direction can make all the difference in the world. I think one of the reasons so many people are focused on graphics is that they’re usually the first impression people have of a game, be it through screenshots or videos or box art. Usually, we see a game long before anybody’s able to play it, so for a while the graphics are all people have to go on. From a game development standpoint, something has to make a certain game stand out, and initially it’s usually graphics or name recognition (whether it’s the name of the series or the name of the studio). One inadvertent side-effect of the Wii being completely underpowered is it’s forcing developers to rely more on the art style than strict realism, since on that front there’s no way they’d be able to compete with 360/PS3 games.

  25. IMO the wii isn’t pushing many boundaries on the art front either (with the exception of no more heroes and mad world).

  26. Yeah, I was specifically thinking about Mad World when I made my post. I also think Mario Galaxy, while I didn’t really enjoy it as a game, did have a good, if a bit “classic”, look and feel to it.

  27. Muramasa for the Wii was nominee for “best graphics” on the E3,
    because of its beautiful 2D-art.

    I think the crappy hardware of the Wii motivates
    some developers to go 2D, which might not be a bad thing.
    As anyone can see, it is possible to create truly
    stunning 2D graphics aswell – 3D is not the pinnacle
    of graphical perfection as many assume.