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Top 5 Most Visually Appealing Video Games of 2012

Posted on the 16 November 2012 by Nrjperera @nrjperera

The recent trailer for Crysis 3, unveiled at E3 2012, set a new benchmark for graphics on both PC and console for this generation. Crytek went all-out developing the new CryEngine 3 that the game runs on, and the end result is spectacular. Featuring DirectX 11 support and ‘Cascaded Light Propagation Volumes for Real Time Indirect Illumination’ (try saying that after a few pints), the game is a remarkable achievement, technically speaking. But the way a game looks is not all about processing power and advanced light textures. It’s how the developer uses these tools that is the mark of a truly beautiful game. The games on this list of the top 5 most visually appealing video games of 2012 are the ones which have a visually pleasing aesthetic, or a distinctive art style, or some other aspect which makes you go ‘wow’ just looking at them.

5- Forza Horizon (Xbox 360)

Forza Horizon

For this spin-off in the Forza series, development was handed to British developer Playground Games. The game runs on the previous Forza Motorsport 4 engine, but various tweaks and customisations were added for this entry. The car models all look sleeker and shinier this time round thanks to various post-processing anti-aliasing techniques. The environments are spectacular as well, with Colorado providing a scenic backdrop to the racing action. These achievements are all the more impressive considering that Horizon is an open-world game, and the inclusion of a day-night cycle really creates some nice effects at certain times of day. The ability to cruise down a deserted highway while admiring the beautiful Colorado sunset earns this game a place in the top 5.

4- Far Cry 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, Windows)


The Far Cry series has always impressed with its visuals, and the latest offering is no exception. This installment uses the latest version of the Dunia 2 engine, which was used in FC2, and features updated facial expressions and a realistic weather system that has to be seen to be believed. It’s not out yet, but the gameplay demos and trailers that have been released have all looked fantastic. The island on which the game takes place provides the perfect setting to show off all these innovations, and the result is a sprawling tropical environment that never ceases to amaze for a moment.

3- Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)


This old-school adventure game is living proof that you don’t need a top-end graphics engine to create an amazing-looking game, just a modest budget and bags of artistic flair. Originally for iPhone and iPad, this game was released this year as a PC and Mac port as part of an indie multipack distributed on Steam. The retro 8-bit visual style has been done before, but it is used here to create epic vistas of muted color which complement the game’s surreal (and at times unnerving) atmosphere. Point-and-click games have never looked so good.

2- Assassin’s Creed 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, Windows)

Top 5 Most Visually Appealing Video Games of 2012

The people behind the new Assassin’s Creed game claim that the goal behind the development of the AnvilNext engine – on which the game runs – was to ‘look next-gen on current-gen’. Next-gen may be a little way off yet, but there is no denying the sheer visual splendour of AC3, one of the best new games of the year. Another open-world title, the developers claim the game can handle over 1000 characters on screen at once. Expect to be reliving some epic battles from the Revolutionary War in all their chaotic, dynamic glory.

1- Rayman Origins (PSVita, 3DS)


Released for handheld gaming devices this year, Rayman Origins may not feature photo-realistic lighting textures or the ability to render thousands of characters at once – but none of that matters, because it simply looks like a cartoon in motion. The UBIart Framework, which was used to build the game, means that ‘all the animator has to do is design the animation poses, and the tool takes care of the image deformation’, according to the UBIart blog. In short, it allows the artists to create beautiful-looking character models and environments, while cutting down the tedious parts of the animation process. As a result, the screenshots – pretty as they are – don’t do the game justice. It really has to be played to fully appreciate the fluidity of the animations. But it’s not the visual style alone which makes Rayman Origins stand out: it earns the top spot because of the way the cartoonish graphics perfectly complement the sense of anarchic fun which permeates the entire game.

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