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Reader Results > Staff Results

First impressions are often what gamers go on when they see games, and few things are noticed before the graphics. They can either stab our eyes with ugliness or make the choirs sing in their beauty. This year there were many great games with great graphics, but only a few could be named the best.

Best Graphics 2004 Winner
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Standing majestically on top of the mountain in RPGamer's 2004 Graphics Awards is none other than Nintendo's latest entry into the Mario ranchise, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. While The Thousand-Year Door didn't offer up jaw-droppingly realistic visuals, it still pleased the visual cortexes of many with its unique and innovative graphics.

While the game's graphics aren't, at a glance, blow away, they are excellently atmospheric, adding wonderfully to the overall experience. The game's graphical engine does a good job of suckering the player into believing they are reading an old pop-up storybook. The way parts of the terrain would act like paper, blowing or being ripped away, added wonderfully to this effect. Paper Mario 2 demonstrates a definite example of how excellent graphics usage can augment a game, and thus stands dominant over all contenders in RPGamer's 2004 Graphics Awards.

Second Place - Tales of Symphonia

While not exactly the crème de la crème of the Graphics Awards, Tales of Symphonia's visuals are still impressive enough to merit the game the runner-up spot. Similar to Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the game's cel-shaded graphics do a splendid job of giving the world a unique and distinctive atmosphere. Furthermore, in-game transitions are implemented masterfully, and while the game's anime cut-scenes are few and far between, one would be hard pressed to argue that they are less than top-notch. With these reasons in mind, RPGamer has given this entry into Namco's flagship RPG series a lock on the second place position.

Third Place - Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean

Taking home the bronze is Namco's card battle RPG, Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean. Baten Kaitos' visuals are a different breed than those above, as a certain amount of realism was incorporated into the pretty pictures on your screen. The computer graphics sequences are so pretty, in fact, that the quality even rivals CG sequences comprised by Square Enix, who are widely renowned as having some of the best CG sequences in the business. Of course, the eye candy wasn't only limited to cut-scenes, as the in-game graphics are quite colorful, as well as just plain gorgeous. RPGamer cheerfully gives Baten Kaitos' graphics a thumbs up, along with third place.

by Phillip Clayton

Honorable Mention - World of Warcraft

Honorable Mention - Shadow Hearts: Covenant

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