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 fans groaned and many staff members dismissed the game without playing it, but when they did they were certainly surprised. Bringing back the much-loved graphics of the first in the series, Final Fantasy X-2 managed to not only make us happy, but it managed to make staff members part wih a hotly contested first. After all, Final Fantasy X was considered great, and it's only logical that the game using the same graphics is just as great.

Xenosaga Episode I

Continuing with the theme of sequels is the often eye-popping sci-fi series of games. After having a previous installment on the PlayStation 1, Xenosaga Episode 1: Der Willie zur Macht had much hype to live up to, especially when it came to improving the graphics of the much-loved Xenogears. With anime style faces, colorful designs, and in-depth backgrounds Xenosaga earned the name of a cinematic RPG experience, and that is exactly what it was for RPGamer readers and staff members, agreeing fully. With the promise of many more sagas to come, readers and staff alike hope for nothing but the best in the future.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

On the opposite side of the console spectrum comes a game with a huge fan following, despite its drastic graphical change. With a fun cel-shading style the latest game in the Zelda series to reach the "best of..." status is more than deserving for the staff nod. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker quickly managed to win us over as fans with its blossoming style that just seems to grow on you, that it's less and less likely outside of your favorite television cartoons as consoles begin to grow in power and scope. It's no wonder why RPGamer staff found themselves enjoying this game despite many reader's cries of disappointment. In a world where realism is crowned king for the most part, it's still a refreshing sight when a game sticks out not only for it's great play, but it's ability to stand tall and try something different when it comes to graphics.

Final Fantasy XI

Sliding precariously into fourth place is yet another game that RPGamer readers and our RPGamer staff members could easily agree upon. Being constricted to what the user has in their personal computer, the PC is rarely able to truly shine on its graphics but this year that changed with a little ditty from Square Enix called Final Fantasy XI. The first multiplayer game to grace the world stage from the Final Fantasy brand, XI set itself out to wow the PC world and our addicted staff members think they did just that. With realistic and sprawling cities, over to realistic trees, and even realistic skies there's just too much beauty in the land of Vana'diel to not make it one of the top votes. Although it isn't higher on the list, it is no small feat when a PC game manages to trump even the most appealing games on a console market.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

Finishing up the Best Graphics category for 2003 is probably the last game many people would consider for the vote, but in the minds of RPGamer staff sprites can still be exceptionally appealing to the eye. When the GameBoy Advance was released, many games were already ignored when it came to the age of realism in console graphics, but when the much-awaited blockbuster Final Fantasy Tactics series was annouced for the Advance things suddenly got very interesting. Living up to it's predecessor's example, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance sports a sweet little sprite system of graphics with a 3-D flare as the images have multiple sides. Add in those clear, crisp sprites along with beautiful landscapes full of vivid and vibrant colors and you have yourself a winning formula for approval from RPGamer staff members.

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