Best Graphics

The choice for best graphics this year was a no-brainer. Both the readers and staff agreed that Final Fantasy X was the clear winner in this category. Square is known for their outstanding graphics, but they went all out for the latest incarnation of their beautiful Final Fantasy series. Through the outstanding PlayStation 2 hardware, characters were more lifelike, environments were more fully-realized, and monsters were more jaw-dropping than ever before. Both battle and non-battle graphics were equally amazing, sporting details and special effects not possible on previous systems. One thing is for certain: Square has set a high water mark that few will be able to meet, let alone top, for some time to come.

Coming in second on both the reader and staff list was Golden Sun, which seems like an unusual choice. Picking a Game Boy Advance game over, well, any console system doesn’t make much sense until one actually plays the game. Sporting the graphical brilliance of the best-looking of the 16-bit era RPGs, Golden Sun is simply lush. A bright color palette and an amazing amount of detail give life and personality to the game. Where the game really glows, though, is in the battles. Djinn and magic effects are eye-popping, and easily the best ever seen on a handheld system. The fact that this game looks as good as it does this early in the Game Boy Advance’s life only spells good things for the future.

Where the readers and staff differ in opinion is with the third-place winners, though both chose games from now-dead systems. The readers preferred the smooth, fantastical graphics of Phantasy Star Online. Graphics just look better when you are online with a group of friends, teaming up to complete quests. The staff, on the other hand, went with the deceptively simple style of Paper Mario. The multitude of primary colors combined with a unique paper cut-out design created a very endearing visual style.

In the video game industry, one thing holds constant: the graphics will keep getting better. With the introduction of the GameCube and Xbox into the market, this constant is truer now than ever before.

Best Graphics
Final Fantasy X Reader
Final Fantasy X
Staff Runner-Ups
Golden Sun Paper Mario Reader Runner-Ups
Golden Sun Phantasy Star Online

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