For as much as we’d all like to believe that the “games are art” conversation is an outdated debate, it still pops up from time to time when someone decides to try to be inflammatory. In 2005, many gamers genuinely believed that the recently released Shadow of the Colossus would end that debate forever.
Shadow of the Colossus combined advanced technical techniques, a unique artistic vision, and interwoven narrative concepts to create a game that stopped people in their tracks for reasons that we hadn’t quite seen before. Yes, the game was a pure looker, but the ways that Shadow of the Colossus used those stunning raw visuals to bring a complete artistic vision to life opened up a new avenue for discussing the true power of video game graphics. Even notorious “games are art” critic Roger Ebert was forced to concede that it was pretty impressive.
“Can it run Crysis?” may be one of the most effective and appropriate memes in the history of gaming. Then again, it’s also not really the joke it is sometimes presented as. To this day, some gamers still use Crysis to test the capabilities of their new gaming PCs.
At the time of its release, Crysis’ lighting, environmental details, and draw distance capabilities were so advanced that even the highest-end gaming PCs available at the time could struggle to convey its full potential. For that matter, future Crysis games had to dial back on some of this title’s more advanced features to ensure more PC gamers could play them. Some of the best-looking modern games can be traced back to Crysis in terms of both the specific techniques they use and how Crysis changed what many believe great modern gaming graphics should look like.
Infinity Blade (2010)
In their earliest days, mobile phone games were widely considered to be little more than novelties designed to occasionally kill time. Even more advanced mobile titles usually came and went without much notice. While many suspected the iPhone would help change that dynamic, it certainly didn’t do so right away. Years after the iPhone’s debut, Apple was still looking for that mainstream killer app game that would showcase the full potential of their hardware and the mobile medium
They found it in Epic Games and Chair Entertainment’s Infinity Blade. By utilizing a modified version of Unreal Engine 3, Infinity Blade’s developers were able to produce a game that looked nearly as good as some of the major console titles available at that time. While Infinity Blade was criticized for its relatively simple gameplay (a running theme among many of these titles), its impact was immediate and considerable. Infinity Blade helped usher in the era of mobile devices being viewed as primary gaming platforms.