RPGamer Awards 2003 2003 Results  

   Fun Value
   Battle System



For many years, the state of RPG graphics was proud to call itself cutting edge with 16 color sprites. As a next generation of gaming hit the shelves across the world, those sprites soon became nothing more than undesirable shells of the former standard and graphics went from subdued to fantastical representations of realism. Not every game still chooses to employ the power of the latest console, as some opt instead to stand out as unique ventures into style and others just try too hard. Not every game surpasses the boundaries, and not every game creates a new standard for graphics. After all, they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the same can be said for video games and their graphics: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and our readers have a full range of tastes when it comes to their graphics.

Final Fantasy X-2

With a new Playstation came a new era of gaming and an entire new conception of just what graphics are. With new boundaries, a game is likely to push the envelope and that game was Final Fantasy X. Having redefined just what realism is, Square Enix hopped into the boat again with Final Fantasy X-2. When Square Enix announced a return to the lavish world of Spira, some of our readers seemed to jump for joy while others groaned in displeasure and demanded their favorite games get a sequel. Bringing back the much-loved graphics of the first in the series, Final Fantasy X-2 managed to not only make RPGamer readers happy, but it also managed to bring a first place vote from readers for graphics. With the beauty of the land, it's hard not to stand up and applaud the world of Spira, no matter if it's in one game or if it is in two.

Xenosaga Episode I

Continuing with the theme of sequels, a game that's really a prequel but that'll be just between us. After having a previous installment on the Playstation 1, Xenosaga Episode 1: Dur Willie zur Mach had much hype to live up to, especially when it comes to improving the graphics of it's predecessor Xenogears. RPGamer readers seem to think they did this feat and reward a job well done with a second place nod. With anime style faces, colorful designs, and in-depth backgrounds Xenosaga earned the name of a cinematic RPG experience. With all these elements, readers will be glad to know these are all done smoothly and beautifully. With the promise of many more sagas to come, readers hope for nothing but the best in the future.

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

On the opposite side of the realism spectrum comes a game with as many fans as a nudist colony full of models. With a fun, almost cartoon-like graphic approach the latest game in the Zelda series to reach the "best of…" status is probably not that much of a surprise. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker quickly managed to win over fans with its cel-shading, a form of graphical style rarely seen in the next generation of gaming, much less in an age of realism, and even less likely outside of your favorite cartoons. However, RPGamer fans believe that this game offers a refreshing change from the bloated graphics seen in many other newer games and simply they send the message that you don't have to have realistic textures and a million polygons to make a stylish, fun, and beautiful video game.

Final Fantasy XI

Consoles are no strangers to the idea of awesome, breathtaking graphics but often the PC finds itself more often hindered by making a game universally usable that still is unique, attractive, and graphically superior. Constricted to what the user has in their personal computer, the PC rarely is able to shine in the field of graphics but this year that changed with a little ditty from Square Enix (you remember them, right?) called Final Fantasy XI. The first multiplayer game to grace the world stage from Square, XI set itself out to wow the PC world, and according to RPGamer readers they did just that. With realistic textures and landscapes, RPGamers are treated to realistic dirt, realistic trees, and even realistic skies. Although it doesn't quite rank higher on the list, it is no small feat when a PC game manages to trump even the most optically appealing games on the market today.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Rounding out the Best Graphics of 2003 is a name that is synonymous with amazing graphics around the world. With hit movies under their belt Lucasarts set out to create an epic expansion to the Star Wars franchise and in the opinion of RPGamer readers they managed to do that to perfect in the Xbox and PC game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. With a realistic amount of detail in the surroundings of the game, classic costume design for your jedi and the other characters wandering the world, and even a few familiar hangouts, Knights wins over the hearts of RPGamer readers, and the final spot as one of the best graphics for the year 2003.

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