The Importance of Graphics in Video Games

How important are graphics to you in a game? This question is constantly tossed around in the gaming community to every gamer out there. While old school gamers might tell you “That amazing graphics can't make a bad game good” or some might even go on to say that “Graphics aren't important at all as long as the game offers solid gameplay and a strong plot they would consider buying it, irrespective of the number of polygons or pixels on screen”

Most of the new generation or the younger lot of gamers would agree to the first point but a majority of them would strongly disagree to the fact that graphics aren't important at all as they've grown up comparing there favorite video games on the basis of the number polygons or shaders.

This could be down to the fact that at the beginning of every console generation, the likes of Sony and Microsoft tend to show off tech demos and pontificate the fact that the rival console is inferior in terms of the graphics and hence theirs offers a better more complete experience for hardcore gamers. Developers of exclusive titles for each console also often play on gamers minds by mention the fact that this would not have been possible on the rival console because of far fetched reasons.

Nintendo on the other hand took a U turn at E3 2006 when it unvieled the Wii which did not offer High Def graphics but was rather backed up by pure innovation(Wiimote) and a plethora of first party AAA Nintendo titles. Wii is mostly bashed by hardcore gamers for the lack of thirdy party titles, crappy graphics and being nothing but a gimmick. But is it just a gimmick? Does it not offer AAA titles like it's counterparts? Does it not have the games the provide the same fun as the ones on other consoles? New Super Mario Bros. And Maro Galaxy are definitely one of the best games of this generation and in terms of pure value or fun element would easily stack up against other console exclusives like Gears of War, Halo, Killzone 2 or Uncharted(1 & 2). I am not going to be stupid and say that Nintendo did the right thing by dumbing down the technology in Wii to the point third party multi-platform games look far inferior on it but just looking at the graphics or the power under the hood of a console should not be the premise on which gamers are pressurized while buying a console. Microsoft and Sony have themselves lauded Nintendo for expanding the video game market and have cheekily said that when the casual gamers are ready to mature to a real console they would look towards the ps3 and Xbox 360.

How can we leave out Crysis while discussing graphics? Crysis arguely has one of the best graphics in this generation even though it was released back in 2007, and is also used by nearly every PC enthusiast as a benchmark tool to test their new system. If you've bought a system in the last three years I am sure you've been asked the question "But can it run Crysis?" There are many people who would say that Crysis is only graphics and nothing else which I wouldn't whole heartedly agree to, although it's true you're not playing the same game at the lowest setting but when you Max out the graphics in Crysis the immersion level definitely takes it up 2 or 3 notches and that is when you really start enjoying the game. While the game seems really pale and hardly any fun at the lowest setting, once you play it at the highest setting the whole world just comes alive. Same can be said about Killzone 2 which probably wouldn't have been the same game without the amazing graphics.

Wii games on the other hand do not vie for realistic graphics but rather have cartoon style graphics which age better and that is the reason why gamers still enjoy playing their NES games. These games also generally stand out on the fun element(not trying to say that games on other consoles are not fun) that's what Nintendo is known for, they often don't boast about how great their games look but how well they play. Although I sometimes do wonder how games like Mario Galaxy or New Super Mario bros. would have looked in HD and the answer is even better.

I personally believe that graphics should not be used as a pedestal or foundationprovided the frame rate is steady) when marketing a game but rather as a tool to enhance the experience and immersion which only a few franchises have mastered most notably the Metal Gear Solid series, Halo(1, 2 & 3), Half-life(1 & 2), GTA 3 and even to some extent the Final Fantasy series. Doom 3, on the hand, is one of the best examples of a game which showed us jaw dropping tech demos at various events but just din't live up to it's billing in terms of gameplay and plot.

What do you think? If you share the same or a different opinion please enlighten me in the comments below.