Some video games age like fine wine, while others don’t stand the test of time. Sometimes the blame is in the game, but often the graphics are criticized for not holding up compared to the dazzling new games. Then there are certain games that continue to look like a gem even decades after their initial release.
These are the games that keep players loyal and committed to it and keep them pulling back for any given game. As these 10 games easily prove, the world’s most advanced graphics engines aren’t necessary to make a visual impact, just waiting for players to give them another chance.
Half-Life may have taken the FPS world by storm, but it was the sequel that really cemented its reputation as the godfather shooter. The sequel was a significant improvement on the original, thanks to Valve’s use of the Source 2 engine, which greatly enhanced the game’s graphics, textures, and environments.
Although graphics technologies have made a splash a few times since its release, Half-Life 2 still raises and greets players when its name is mentioned. With its gorgeous lighting, texture, and environmental features, the game manages to look fresher than the 2004 release date suggests.
God of War
The original God of War is showing signs of aging in the texture department, especially when it comes to resolution. That doesn’t mean the game is suffering so much in a post-4K world. In fact, God of War still has a lot to offer when it comes to visuals, thanks in large part to how they’re implemented.
Of course the textures look a bit muddy here, but framerates are still solid, which is important for massive boss battles that take up the entire screen. Part of the charm of this game is that it constantly reinvents itself with each new area. God of War won’t throw in the towel since then, even though many players have made it to the newest episode.
The original Crysis was once used as a theoretical benchmark for every PC made after 2008, and it’s a testament to its graphics quality. Since then, it has become clear that the game isn’t as optimized as it should have been, a fact evident with the re-release of Crysis Remastered, which sticks to the original’s focus on single-core CPU performance.
Fast forward two games and it’s easy not to get overwhelmed in Crysis 3. It’s a great-looking world, a mix of modern cityscapes overflowing with nature trying to reclaim its land. It’s one of the most visually stunning games ever made, and not bad for a game that came out in 2013.
Even without the advantage of today’s high resolution, Soulcalibur’s Dreamcast port is still a homage to graphic phenomenon. In some ways, this port was even better than the arcade version, taking full advantage of the Dreamcast’s superior rendering capabilities to surprise gamers unaccustomed to such high-quality visuals.
Soulcalibur’s character models and backgrounds are still excellent, but it’s the addition of extra content like individual character kata demonstrations that really adds a nice red bow to this pack. As for how old the game is, Soulcalibur still sticks to its legacy.
The original Homeworld may be a fan favorite, but it’s showing its age in the texture and pattern department. The recently released Remastered package did justice to the game as well as boosting the sequel for a new audience. How about the original Homeworld 2?
It’s hard to accurately convey what a huge visual jump there is between that and the original. Even outside of its remastered form, Homeworld 2 is one of the most amazing and beautiful space strategy games ever made.
Grand Theft Auto V
It’s hard to believe, but Grand Theft Auto V is now eight years old, but the game is showing no signs of slowing down. Gamers are still actively participating in the community and the modding scene continues to produce great new content like GTA V Remastered. In short, there is still a full tank of gas.
Visually, GTA V has the ability to give newer PCs a run for their money, which is a testament to its engine. The character models, environments and of course the cars are beautifully rendered and look just as good as the day they were released. This is no easy feat.
Far Cry 2
The second of all Far Cry games is the game that players still look back on with good memories. It’s hard to imagine why, as Far Cry 2 is by far the most forgiving and punishing of the entire series. Any game that forces the player to contract malaria and continue to seek medicine is a harsh proposition.
On the graphics front, Far Cry 2 is absolutely brilliant. This is a master class in world building design, and the feeling of really being there is still present. Sure, newcomers to the series may be using advanced new engines, but for some reason, Far Cry 2 continues to give them a chance to get their money’s worth.
Contra III: The Alien Wars
This takes us back to the 16-Bit era when the Super Nintendo battled Sega Genesis for dominance. One of the most important games in its arsenal was the 16-bit sequel to the hit Contra series, which debuted with three games on the NES. He was also one of the craziest and adrenaline-pumping shooters ever made.
Contra III looks amazing even today, thanks to a mix of crazy explosions, psychedelic effects, massive boss fights and fast-paced progression. The entire game is one long bout of tachycardia crammed into a cartridge, and despite being almost 30 years old, it still stands in the looks department.
Killzone 2 is most famous for a controversial E3 trailer that doesn’t actually work on the game’s final engine. This caused some fuss, but was soon forgotten when the final game dropped. Killzone 2 looked great and still does. Although the PlayStation 3 was scrapped a long time ago, this FPS game proudly carries its lines.
The humid, moody atmosphere, prominent lighting effects and industrial world textures are still top-notch, as is the bone-crunching gameplay. There is some discussion to be had for porting the game to other platforms in the same way that Horizon Zero Dawn was ported to PC last year. We hope someone is listening.
Sega Genesis was limited to 64 color palettes. However, the 16-Bit gaming machine has managed to hold its own, largely thanks to developers who can leverage the hardware to make great games like Alien Soldier.
Yes, many Genesis games seem to have taken part in this, but Alien Soldier was something else entirely. Huge animated characters, silky smooth gameplay and big explosions are just some of the highlights. For an old 16-Bit game running on a limited set of colors, it really manages to stand out after more than 25 years.