This week, we kicked off a series exploring the 50 best-looking games of all time. Here’s Birch with the first ten, as well as the criteria we held ’em to. And now it’s my turn, with 40-31, and surely not a controversial decision in the bunch!
40) DmC: Devil May Cry
Taking on a theme of crushing and destruction, this reboot had impeccably bizarre and otherworldly art direction. Floating debris, lurid creatures, and constant riffing on themes, it was both disturbing and beautiful.
39) Metal Gear Solid 3
Games at the end of a console life cycle tend to have the best graphics, and the Metal Gear series is no exception. Konami and Kojima got some of the best graphics out of the PS2 that we’d ever seen.
38) Zone of the Enders
Zone of the Enders pulled off a rare feat in that it felt like an animated episode you were controlling, not a bunch of polygons that looked vaguely cartoony. The robot design played to the strengths of the format, as well, and it looked good even before it got “remastered” for the PS3
37) BioShock Infinite
Painstaking historical research went into this game, and it shows. Imagining a city floating in the skies that manifests both how America saw itself, and the troubling dark side of American exceptionalism, was no easy feat, but this game evokes a time that never was and an attitude that was all too real at the same time.
36) Secret of Mana
Probably one of the most beautiful JRPGs of the SNES era, and a game that holds up surprisingly well even today, visually. There are still indie games being released that take design cues from this game.
A big, bold, loud version of how we saw the future at the turn of the century, yeah, Halo might be the gaming equivalent of van art. But it’s bold, beautiful, gorgeous van art.
34) Ratchet & Clank
Insomniac created a Disney-esque version of cyberpunk with Ratchet & Clank. It’s a fun, colorful game about using terrifying weapons on your enemies: Disney’s Death Wish.
33) Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge
Lucasfilm’s tendency towards careful design paid off with its adventure games, and nowhere is that more true than with this sequel. Even now, its sprite graphics have a timeless feel.
32) Earthworm Jim
Many games tried to be a cartoon in the 16-bit era, but only a handful truly succeeded. One of those was Shiny’s Earthworm Jim, a game that stands out not least for making the wacky concepts so common in kid’s shows at the time both fun to play and beautiful to look at. Don’t anger Peter Puppy!
31) Metroid Prime
One of the GameCube’s best games, on more than a few levels, and a marker of an achievement, in that Samus went successfully 3D where so many franchises failed.