* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoBIOi00sEI&NR=1 Elite]]. That's right, those are honest-to-God 3D vector graphics ''on an NES''.
* Blizzard is well known for their excellent cinematic work, but VideoGame/DiabloIII sets a high water mark not just for video games but for motion picture animation as well!
** Replace VideoGame/DiabloIII with the latest Blizzard product.
* ''VideoGame/{{Journey}}''. Just look at a screenshot or video of it, you'll see what we mean.
* While it seems dated now, the second level in ''VideoGame/{{Unreal}}'' was, for the time, nothing short of ''mindblowing''. The first level was a rather standard, if well-done indoors level, which would not look out-of-place in ''VideoGame/{{Quake}}''. Then, the second level, you step out of the ship into a massive, outdoors world, with no clipping or fog to be seen. The sheer difference is amazing, even now. Back then, when even the best graphics designers in the game industry where still playing with shades of brown and green and talking about "polygon counts", here comes a lush, fully 3D jungle environment in believable color. For anyone that was into PC gaming at the time, no other game graphics triumph has ever come close, mere logical progressions to Unreal's quantum leap.
** ''VideoGame/UnrealTournament''. [[SceneryPorn Facing Worlds.]]
** While we're looking back: ''VideoGame/Wolfenstein3D''. Real-time, texture-mapped 3D rendering on a 286 PC with stock VGA graphics -- something that didn't even have a ''blitter'', much less any sort of PolygonalGraphics hardware. Back in 1992, ''that'' was mindblowing, especially considering how weak a 286 was even then.
* ''{{Gradius}} Gaiden'', stage 7. A seemingly ordinary [[NostalgiaLevel volcano stage]] getting sucked into a black hole, rock by rock, along with enemies, their projectiles, and your own missiles. And with very little slowdown too, [[NoBackwardsCompatibilityInTheFuture unless you're playing on a PlayStation 2]].
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'''s space scenes were good, but less than mind-blowing: the technical "graphics" of the game had been toned down to fin the massive amount of content. ''Mass Effect 2'', however, spanned 15 GB on the PC and 2 disks for the 360. The graphics, particularly those that apply to people speaking, were stunning.
** What stood out was the planet from the Normandy Crash Pack DLC. It's a beautiful ice planet, with the low sunlight creating areas of both light and dark, the stars visible in the sky, and some aurorae just for good measure.
** Used in the Overlord DLC, in which the Firewalker's VI prompts you to look out at the scenery when "Sensors indicate that an aesthetically pleasing view" is nearby.
** Really, almost every environment and location in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' looks excellent. [[SceneryPorn Illium and Omega in particular are breathtaking and also have an awesome sci-fi feel to them.]] [[LampshadeHanging You get to discuss the view on Illium with something like half your teammates]]. Some of the downloadable content also has some outstanding environments. [[spoiler:The Shadow Broker's ship in Lair of the Shadow Broker and seeing the Mass Relay get closer and closer in The Arrival.]]
** The entire '[[DoomedHometown Escape from Earth]]' scene in ''Mass Effect 3''. As the Normandy lifts off, you see Anderson running back to the soldiers from earlier. The camera pans across the wreckage of Vancouver, and you see shuttles being loaded with survivors (including Vent Boy). As the shuttles life off, a Reaper destroyer shoots them down with its main gun. As the Normandy flies away, you can see more Reapers landing on Vancouver, and the wreckage of the Fourth Fleet falling from the sky and burning up in the atmosphere. It's gorgeously rendered, and a brilliant TearJerker, set to a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGHA9oO1Ybg hauntingly sad]] LonelyPianoPiece.
*** Menae is utterly ''breathtaking''. As you make your way across the moon, you can see Reaper capital ships stomping across the surface off in the distance, and watch as husks attack the smaller turian outposts. And off in the distance, you can see the world of Palaven burning.
*** Then there's Thessia which manages to be both SceneryPorn and SceneryGorn at the same time. The architecture and skyline through the mission is utterly gorgeous with an almost Roman/Greek look but with a futuristic feeling, and combined with total destructions as the Reapers lay waste to democratic center of the galaxy.
*** The bits of Rannoch that aren't covered with geth. No wonder the quarians were so gung-ho to get it back.
* In ''Tokyo Xtreme Racer 3'' / ''Shutokou Battle 01'', one racer, when challenged in the rain, causes the rain to ''turn into [[RainOfBlood blood]]''. Another racer, when battled, results in a dramatic shift of the screen's tones and the ''Saint Elmo's Fire'' effect to appear when going up to higher speeds.
* ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaSymphonyOfTheNight'' brings us Alucard, who at the time of the game's release captivated gamers with his sprite animations. ''Especially'' his cape.
** Go to Spriters Resource or such and look at his sprite sheet. There are about 30 frames for his running animation.
* ''VideoGame/{{Crysis}}'' is a game that lives and breathes this.
** ''Crysis 2'' is excellently described by its producers as "catastrophically beautiful".
* ''{{Uncharted}}'' is one of the few past-gen shooters to avert RealIsBrown, and it looks ''[[SceneryPorn amazing]]''.
** Uncharted 3 has mind-blowingly gorgeous scenery, from a mansion burning to the ground around you to firefights in a sinking abandoned cruise ship, which as it starts to fill turns the entire environment sideways. In the special features, it was mentioned that waves were in fact rendered in real-time. You're fighting on a ship that is rocking on ''actual waves''. The desert scenery is similarly beautiful.
*** Special mention goes to the facial expressions. They could have used motion capture, since they already had the actors playing the scenes. But no, they animated the expressions from scratch, and the UncannyValley is mostly avoided with only a few major exceptions.
*** "NaughtyDog outdoing themselves with the third game"? Hm. [[Videogame/CrashBandicoot3Warped Sounds familiar.]][[note]] Without counting [[Videogame/CrashBandicoot1996 the first game]], of course. On the other hand, some levels in "CB 3: Warped" are, for lack of better words, ''gorgeous.''[[/note]]
* ''VideoGame/ShadowOfTheColossus''. The whole thing. Even moreso on the HD remaster.
* ''{{Okami}}''. One of the most beautiful art styles in gaming, ''ever''. It truly looks like a painting in motion, and easily holds a candle to more technologically impressive games like the above examples.
* Find a video of ''VideoGame/{{BioShock|1}}'''s intro on Youtube. Watch it. Would you kindly pick up your jaw from the floor?
** Naturally, the ''VideoGame/BioShock2'''s looks even better.
** Even more so is the trailer of ''VideoGame/BioShockInfinite'', you'd be amazed on how much detail they put in on it.
** ''Star Wars Roque Squadron 2: Rogue Leader'' boasts some incredible polygon counts and lighting effects in a game that was released in ''2001''. Its sequel, ''Rebel Strike'', has the highest polygon count of any game during the last generation (in the Battle of Hoth level.)
* ''Recca Summer Carnival '92'', an ''NES'' game released only in Japan, features extremely fast-paced space shooter action as well as trippy, almost polygonal background effects.
* ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty 4: ModernWarfare'' might have "cheated" by using RealIsBrown, but even now the graphics still look absolutely fantastic.
** C'mon, why else did they set the intro level on a cargo ship in the middle of a raging storm?
** If that didn't say something about the graphics, the invasion at the beginning of the Marine campaign certainly did.
** On the [[NightmareFuel darker side of this trope]], we have [[spoiler: the nuclear explosion.]]
** The Prypiat missions contain some of the most gorgeous usages of [[RealIsBrown gray filter]].
** ''ModernWarfare 2'' keeps up the amazing displays. The exterior of the Gulag and the Rio missions are wonderful displays of beauty, but [[spoiler: war-ravaged Washington D.C.]] is simply jaw-dropping, whether from amazement or sheer horror.
** And ''ModernWarfare 3'' keeps up the trend, with more war-torn cities like New York, Paris, London and Prague. The scene with [[spoiler:the Eiffel tower collapsing]] is absolutely jaw-dropping.
* The original ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty'' is one of the best-looking games that use the id Tech 3 engine. Not only the visuals are quite realistic for their time, they also [[SceneryPorn look beautiful]]. its expansion pack, ''United Offensive'', is even better looking.
** Perhaps the best example of this trope in the original is a level where you raid the German battleship ''[[CoolBoat Tirpitz]]''. In the sequel, the looks of the Sicily and Bastogne levels are simply fantastic.
* The way Middle-Earth is presented in ''VideoGame/TheLordOfTheRingsOnline'' is a lot of the time breathtaking, especially Moria. From entering through the Hollin Gate and all the way to the East Gate, you can really see why Moria was considered the grandest of the Dwarvish halls. One could only imagine what it would look like before it's fall.
** Honorable mention goes to Caras Galadhon (Lothlˇrien), especially by night, and the view when first entering Rivendell.
* VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII: It's just the little things, really. Like how they got the hair to look so nice in game, despite the fact that it's probably just a bunch of flat planes sticking out of their heads with a partly transparent texture mapped on.
** On a related note, by now we have to admit that SquareEnix has a "squeeze the console like a melon" policy that simply ''can't'' go unmentioned. There's ''a reason''[[note]] other than {{pride}}, [[WordOfGod as Square themselves confirmed in retrospect]][[/note]] they wanted [[PlayStation to use [=CDs=] instead of cartridges]] [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII as soon as possible]]. Since then, they managed to [[VideoGame/KingdomHearts pull off beautifully-looking FinalFantasy-ised portrayals of Disney characters as summons]], [[KingdomHeartsChainOfMemories stick Full-Motion-Videos into a Game Boy Advance]], [[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII create a mind-blowing town in eternal sunset]], [[VideoGame/KingdomHearts358DaysOver2 faithfully recreating said town in handheld format]]... and so on. Really, after the latest title of mind-boggingly good graphics, after leaving fans wondering how they could possibly ever top themselves off, they show people exactly how it's done. [[DissidiaFinalFantasy Two]] [[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep games]] even require data to be installed on the console in order to make load times faster - ''as the console's power gets squeezed that much.''
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfVesperia'', full stop. It's nothing short of stunning sometimes.
** Also ''VideoGame/TalesOfXillia'' and it's sequel. Xillia starts off in Fenmont, a city that has an eternal night and is beautifully lit up by glowing trees. ''Starts''. The animated cutscenes done by none other than Ufotable deserve a mention too.
* The inevitable ''VideoGame/HeavyRain''. ''Wow''. If that's what this generation can do, then the next generation is already here.
** They actually topped themselves with ''VideoGame/BeyondTwoSouls''. You might be forgiven for mistaking the game for a PlayStation4 title rather than a PlayStation3 one.
* ''[[VideoGame/{{FEAR}} Project Origin]]''. The Origin facility crater is nothing short of ''mind-boggling.'' SceneryGorn at its ''finest''.
* Panau in ''[[VideoGame/JustCause Just Cause 2]]'' looks absolutely spectacular on its own, but try putting your destination on the opposite side of the map. A little marker saying "15 km" or something like that pops up... and you can ''see your destination''. That's right, this game renders stuff ''over 15 kilometers away'' (about 9.3 miles if you're American), still looks amazing, and it's all ''one seamless map''. Try to top ''that''.
* ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'' and its [[VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy2 sequel]] have some of the most utterly gorgeous levels in any game, a fantastic art style and color palette, and brilliantly creative areas.
** ''SuperMarioSunshine'' is still considered to have some of the best water effects in a video game, and it was released in ''2002''.
** ''VideoGame/SuperMario3DWorld'' brings the Mario franchise to high definition, and it looks gorgeous as a result. The later stages of the game really show how beautiful the game can look, and it's definitely one of the best-looking games on the {{Wii U}} console.
* One of the main draws to the original ''[[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog1 Sonic The Hedgehog]]'' on the SegaGenesis was that the graphics looked ''incredible'', with the genius use of parallax scrolling and vibrant colors really showing off the console. Indeed, the ''[[Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog Sonic]]'' franchise as a whole is generally known for having great graphics with a majority of their games, given that the series was made to look visually stunning from day one.
** All four (or three, counting ''VideoGame/Sonic3AndKnuckles'' as one game) of the main Sonic games on the Sega Genesis had ''astoundingly'' well-drawn sprites that look great ''even into the [[HighDefinition HD]] era''. Some even had a pseudo-3D effect to them, like the trees in the GreenHillZone or the indentations in the checkered soil. It was even more impressive that the Sega Genesis was able to draw these complex sprites very quickly, showing off the console's power. ''Sonic 3 & Knuckles'' shows the peak of the graphical capabilities of the Genesis-extraordinary pixel art, amazing parallax scrolling on the backgrounds, and loads of tiny cosmetic details to the graphics that [[DoingItForTheArt aren't even necessary for building the game.]] There's also ''VideoGame/SonicCD'' for the SegaCD, with dreamlike environments that range from bright, colorful, and cheery to dark, grim, and spoiled.
** ''VideoGame/Sonic3DBlast'' pushed the graphical capabilities of the Sega Genesis to their limit. It even features a FullMotionVideo opening, unheard of for cartridge titles of the time.
** ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'' and ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure2'' demonstrated what the Dreamcast was capable of, and the first game blew away the competition of 1998 and 1999. The graphics may not have aged well, but they were mind-blowing back then.
** ''VideoGame/SonicUnleashed'', ''especially'' the PlayStation3 / [[XboxThreeSixty Xbox 360]] versions. [[PlatformGame Day]] [[UnexpectedGameplayChange or]] [[BeatEmUp night]], the Hedgehog Engine has ''really'' done this game some justice, a huge improvement from the rather bland visuals of [[ShadowTheHedgehog the previous]] [[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006 main titles]]. Even ''[[ScrappyLevel Eggmanland]]'' looks amazing.
*** The [=Wii/PS2=] version's graphics aren't too shabby, either. The levels look pretty nice, but the Gaia Gates look ''beautiful''.
** ''Sonic Unleashed'' seemed to be a turning point in graphics when it came to Sonic games. Following ''Unleashed'' was ''VideoGame/SonicColors'', a ''Wii'' game which looks better than a lot of games look on the 360. Following ''Colors'' was ''VideoGame/SonicGenerations'', which used the same graphics engine as ''Unleashed'', and looks incredible as well (despite actually being ''scaled down'' in some areas). The re-imagining of the original GreenHillZone now includes huge backdrops full of amazing scenery; of particular note are the massive waterfalls and the underground river in Modern Sonic's level. The graphics become even more eye-popping on the PC version.
** As bad as the game was, ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006'''s CG cutscenes are beautiful.
* VideoGame/CommandAndConquer Red Alert 3 stays true to its 2.5D predecessor, and offers next to the comic style the famous long-time CG scenes of the series, realistic particle effects, very advanced shading and literally brilliant water.
** It also features FMV cutscenes of the actual in-game units, all beautifully rendered -- it's one thing to see, say, submarines that can turn into aircraft or floating tanks or four-story mecha in gameplay, but it's quite another to see them [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvJVjAIVwxU in live action]].
* The ''Myst'' series has a few. You might consider pre-rendering to be "cheating", but some of the pre-rendered graphics are incredible.
** Serenia in Myst IV, full stop. It's like some Tolkien-esque fantasy world, only you get to run around in it. Haven and Spire were good, but Serenia was breathtaking.
** Riven in, well, Riven. A vast world that is far removed from the emptiness of Myst.
** ''All'' of the coming-in-for-a-landing clips that play when you use a linking book should rate a mention, as do the various roller-coaster animations that mark the completion of Ages in ''Exile'' or ''Revelation''. Whoa...
* ''AlanWake'' looks fairly good on its own, and then you get the flares and [[FlareGun flare guns]]. Dramatic, awesomely flickering red light? Check. Amazing-looking smoke? Check. BulletTime if you pull one out while surrounded by mooks? Check. And, above all, safety (because LightIsGood and DarkIsEvil are literal)? Check.
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'' in 3D. Even if you don't play in 3D, it is absolutely jaw-dropping. The moment when you walk out of Link's house into Kokiri Forest is truly jaw-dropping and magical. The Water Temple is so beautiful, it's hard to hate it. The pan-over of the Temple of Time when you first enter it must be seen to be believed. And then you put it into 3D....
** Heck, the 3DS as a whole. Did anyone really think Nintendo would pull it off when it was announced? The augmented reality games are especially incredible.
** The original Nintendo 64 version of ''Ocarina of Time'' is no less impressive. There's a reason why the game runs at just 20 FPS on stock hardware - the polygon counts are quite large for a Nintendo 64 game, and areas like Hyrule Field were so hardware-intensive that Nintendo thought it could never get the game to run at all. There are also some subtle but impressive effects. For instance, the fishing rod has real-time physics applied to it, and the mirrors in the [[spoiler: Spirit Temple]] exhibit ''real-time shadowing'' (not the cheap cones of light that Link has as shadows).
* The two Nintendo 64 ''Zeldas'' have their moments of this, but ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'' AND ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' are just works of art in comparison. The credits sequence of ''Twilight Princess'' edges into SceneryPorn.
** The graphics for ''TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'' were inspired by Post-Impressionist artist [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_C%C3%A9zanne Paul CÚzanne]]. It really shows, especially if you look at something at a distance - it all looks like something from a water-colour painting. ''Skyward Sword'' took the best parts of the styles previous two games, blending into the best-looking game possible on the {{Wii}}'s outdated hardware with a hugely colorful, detailed world reminiscent of those paintings.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'' had gorgeous anime-styled CelShaded art that really pushed the {{Gamecube}} to its limits, with its dazzling water, fire, particle, and distortion effects, as well as its impressive rope bridge and cloth physics engine. One cutscene features a gigantic tower rising from the ocean, complete with drying patches of water. And it's all rendered in real-time. The scene is especially impressive at sunrise or sunset.
*** ''Wind Waker HD'' has been announced for the Wii U. Imagine all that plus ten years of improvement and 1080p resolution.
*** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkVt1s_ZFbw&t=01m02s Now with more real-time shadowing!]]
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' looked equally awesome, going with a more "[[RealIsBrown realistic]]" look with a huge emphasis on scale (Hyrule Castle is visible from most any point in the field).
* In the VideoGame/MetroidPrime games, there are two that immediately come to mind:
** When a flash of bright light occurs, be it from an explosive blast or regular Scan Visor use in Corruption, you can see Samus's eyes. It's especially impressive in Corruption, since you can also see how far she's been corrupted in her eyes and the other facial features.
** In Prime 1 and 3, when you use the X-Ray visor, you can see the bones inside of her hands. Prime 1 also has her hand change positions for each beam she uses, which is a very nice easter egg.
* One of the most amazingly impressive effects ever achieved on the Game Boy Advance was the Catastrophe summon from [[VideoGame/GoldenSun Golden Sun: The Lost Age]]. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DatHLd1uO2g Watch it here.]]
** Everything in both VideoGame/GoldenSun games was awesome. The psuedo 3D for battle scenes pushed the GBA. Nearly all of the higher level summons were multi-sprited.
** And now we have VideoGame/GoldenSunDarkDawn, which manages to exceed the originals in graphical quality. Say what you will about the [[ItsEasySoItSucks game]][[ItsTheSameNowItSucks play]], this game really pushes the DS.
* Captain Falcon's [[MegatonPunch Falcon Punch]] was just straight awesome in ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros'': after [[CallingYourAttacks shouting the name]], he unleashed a fiery punch complete with a 2D image of his emblem. Then along comes Melee and he keeps the punch, ''only now the flames morph into a falcon spreading its wings.''
* You can use an Action Replay MAX to ramp up the frame rate and visual quality in XGRA and it looks brilliant.
* ''[[VideoGame/GodOfWar GOD OF WAR]]''.
* ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion'', and by the same company, ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}''. In both games, the moment you first come out of the starting dungeon/vault and see the open world can take your breath away.
** That's not even being fair to the sheer awesomeness factor of both games. In oblivion, each area has its own feel to it, and has really good graphical effects to it, and the colors look downright beautiful. Fallout 3 starts out when you exit your vault and see natural light for the first time in your life. After the screen stops glowing you get to see [[http://oyster.ignimgs.com/ve3d/images/03/57/35708_normal.jpg this]]. Words fail to describe the awesome, and kinda sad.
* The animated sequences in the ProfessorLayton games. Fluid, beautiful animation on the Nintendo DS, a system not known for its graphics capabilities, and they only get better in the newer games. The game itself has some beautifully done background areas.
** The destruction of [[spoiler:Anton's Mansion]] from ProfessorLaytonAndTheDiabolicalBox, the [[spoiler:[[CrazyAwesome Mobile Fortress]]]] from ProfessorLaytonAndTheUnwoundFuture, and the titular [[ProfessorLaytonAndTheLastSpecter Last Spectre]].
* ''VideoGame/OdinSphere''. The entire game.
** And you can't mention OdinSphere without mentioning it's SpiritualSuccessor, MuramasaTheDemonBlade.
* VideoGame/{{Homeworld}}. Never before have such limited techniques and technology been put to such utterly beautiful use. Despite being ''11'' years old.
* Blizzard's games, such as ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' and ''VideoGame/{{Starcraft|I}}'' are not known for this...but the cinematics very, very much are. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wq4Y7ztznKc&feature=player_embedded See the new Cataclysm trailer]].
** ''VideoGame/{{StarCraft II}}'' actually ''has'' outstandingly cinematic graphics, and most of its cutscenes are rendered is the same engine.
* It may not be the shiniest game, but Sins of a Solar Empire is impressive in that you can zoom in to see a single fighter craft in battle, or zoom out to see several star systems, and every single level in between that. All of them quite detailed and able to manipulate the camera in a 360-degree sphere.
* ''CityOfHeroes''' Ultra Mode was added to allow players with higher-end graphics cards to take advantage of their processing power. When it's turned on, detail goes through the roof, including real-time shadows and reflections in glass and water. The new areas in [[MirrorUniverse Praetoria]] were designed to take advantage of Ultra Mode, and they look ''amazing''.
* ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars'' seems to outdo itself with each major release, both in recreating the feel of existing characters as well as doing their own thing with their OriginalGeneration. Sure, it's made entirely out of anime visual cliches, some of which were originally "shortcuts" to begin with, but it's pulled off so well that by the time of ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsZ'' you could be forgiven for forgetting that this is basically [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-4u2dR8TTg#t=2m35s a sprite-based game with Super Deformed characters]]. Heck, even the DS games are [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mzIXgpyE_c&feature=related absolutely amazing]].
* Say what you want about ''VideoGame/FableIII'', you can't deny that the graphics are beautiful.
* Butter Building's numerous rotating towers in ''VideoGame/KirbysAdventure'', an ''NES game''.
** And VideoGame/KirbysEpicYarn. People argue it looks better than God of War 3! Other games, like [[VideoGame/KirbySuperStar Super Star Ultra]], have beautiful looking sprites, and games like Canvas Curse have cool looking backgrounds. Kirby games are always beautiful, graphically.
** ''VideoGame/KirbySqueakSquad''. The final world. The space-y background looks like a gosh-darn '''''painting.'''''
** The Super Copy Abilities and the backgrounds in Kirby's Return to Dream Land.
*** And the level in [[spoiler:Dangerous Dinner]] where Kirby is dodging '''miniature stars'''.
* Battletoads used a lot of cool tricks in several levels that you wouldn't believe would be possible on the NES.
* Any MetalSlug game. The sprites are all extremely fluid and detailed, and the backgrounds have a metric ton of touches put into them. How fluid are the animations? [[http://www.spriters-resource.com/arcade/ms/sheet/11225 This is the spritesheet for Marco.]]
* The Franchise/{{Halo}} series has some of the most beautiful skyboxes you will ever see (and not just in the campaign - the multiplayer maps, especially Reach's Anchor 9, can look wonderful, though there are some throughout the series which are more subtle and possibly even more beautiful because of it). The art style of the 4 different factions you encounter is also wonderfully contrasting - and each is beautiful/cool in its own way. Take the Forerunner designs, particularly the sentinels.
* ''VideoGame/{{Half-Life 2}}''. The Source Engine has aged brilliantly (and ''VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}'' is proof of this). The facial animation is great, and the water effects are flat-out amazing. Oh, and so are the fire effects, while we're at it.
** Speaking of Source facial animations, Valve has taken to giving non-human characters facial animations as well, and it's ''stunning''. Just look at Atlas and P-body from ''VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}''.
** Portal 2 also features an absolutely stunning opening sequence where a room is destroyed and falls apart around the player character.
** Some more specific examples... despite coming out in 2004, Half-Life 2 still has quite impressive graphics, and the later games (in particular, Episode 2, which was the first to use the updated version of the Source Engine used in Portal) only go even farther. Some moments that stick out in particular from the Half-Life series are the bridge from Half-Life 2 (it's... just stunning), the moment when you step out of the underground in Episode One and see the ruined city and the Citadel rising above everything, and the moment when Alyx and Gordon overlook City 17 in Episode Two after the train crash--the energy seething around the Citadel over City 17 is as gorgeous as it is dangerous.
** ''Meet the Medic'' from VideoGame/TeamFortress2 also counts. Yeah, it's cartoonish, but who says it has to be realistic to be awesome?
*** Why not the whole of VideoGame/TeamFortress2? Valve set out to create a game with the visual flair midcentury illustration and boy did they get it right. The stylization works in the game's favor and makes sure it's not going to age poorly.
** Also, the GameMod VideoGame/BlackMesa is just... incredible in its visuals. Examples include Surface Tension and (what little we've seen of) Xen.
* ''VideoGame/RaymanOrigins'' was hands-down one of the best looking games of it's generation, all thanks to the UbiArt Framework engine that allowed artists and designers to produce the game's art without having to worry about it technical issues. [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgpCGqYf2lQ It really, really, shows]]. The sequel ''VideoGame/RaymanLegends'' took it [[UpToEleven even further]] by using dynamic lighting and 3D models in addition to altering the artstyle to [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erHbuInWnuw&noredirect=1 something out of an oil-painting]].
** Actually it seems a lot of Valve games seem to fall under this, due their source engine having a distinct visual flair.
* LANoire looks phenomenal, using advanced motion capturing techniques to create the most realistic faces video games have ever seen. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aL9wsEFohTw Truly has to be seen to be believed.]]
** Barring that, the fact that late 1940's LA is recreated with a great of accuracy is nothing short of impressive. Not to mention other details like store signs, window displays, cars and period accurate clothing. It's really hard to deny that this is a very, very pretty game.
** Another Rockstar effort, RedDeadRedemption, also stands out as visually stunning. The western desert setting generally justifies the RealIsBrown approach... and when the game isn't brown and gritty, like in the snowy, mountainous forest area of Tall Trees, it's colorful, bright, and beautiful. The deserts manage to be gorgeous, too, especially when the player is riding into the sunset, and the city of Blackwater is absolutely lovely to look at. Go onto the ferry dock and watch the sun rise over Blackwater some time in the game. It's absolutely stunning.
* The ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry'' trilogy. The original game was one of the first console games (it had already been done in arcades) to feature pre-rendered graphics: something that even Nintendo thought was impossible on the Super NES. In-game graphics have ultimately improved over the years, but when it first came out it was something most people hadn't seen before in a console game.
** [[VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountryReturns Fast-forward by fifteen-or-so years.]] How do you replicate that "oh-this-game-has-the-best-graphics-ever"-esque feeling, considering that by now there's a well-established rivalry in this medium[[note]] Have you read the other examples above, in this folder, right?[[/note]]? How about taking an already beautifully-looking third game in [[VideoGame/MetroidPrime a trilogy]] and using ''[[UpToEleven three times as many polygons?]]''
* If you really want Visual Effects of Awesome, look no further than Stargate (the sequel to ''VideoGame/{{Defender}}''; no relation to the movie), specifically when you use the level warp trick (by flying through a stargate with a certain number of rescued Earthlings). It's truly a sight to behold (and this was 1981; one year after the original came out).
* Midway released an arcade game called "Kozmik Krooz'r" in the early 1980's. It featured a realistic looking, rotating "flying saucer" that actually wasn't part of the game itself. It was just a prop that was reflected in a mirror. Nonetheless it was considered groudbreaking for the time.
* Laserdisc games are considered to be a subversion, since they're more like interactive movies than true games (e.g., ''VideoGame/DragonsLair'', etc). On the other hand, other games tried to invoke this trope by giving more interactivity (e.g., CobraCommand). However, this usually meant creating actual game graphics to overlay onto the video.
** ''VideoGame/BrainDead13'' actually defies the whole laserdisc genre with the end of this game, combined with SceneryPorn: The confrontation scene [[spoiler:with Neurosis]] has only small lights lined up in a row that light up the total blackness in the room, and it's all in ConspicuousCG (except for the characters, of course). Add a bit of the GratuitousDiscoSequence with MoreDakka [[spoiler:from Fritz]] that lights up the scenery, and the whole thing is just awesome indeed. Whoever thought up a final confrontation to be a whole disco that takes place ''entirely in the dark'' should be very proud of themselves, like something that only Creator/QuentinTarantino would think up.
*** Also, most of the resurrection scenes, such as floor panel lights that make Lance reappear if he dies during the dark disco sequence; the lightning bolts that bring him back if he dies during Moose's sequence; and the "flames of rebirth" that reform Lance's body if he dies in haunted rooms. These are just awesome indeed.
* ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedBrotherhood''. The [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaSos9508bk&feature=related in-game graphic]] was rather nice but [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzNs4-kRLaE&feature=related the story trailer]] really takes the cake.
* {{F-Zero X}} and {{F-Zero GX}}: X isn't very detailed, but it never drops the framerate. GX looks wonderful, and also never drops the framerate. Why is that awesome? Because the games move at a really damn fast pace.
* ''{{Conduit 2}}''. The first level takes place on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. If you look down, you can see waves. Not still water with vague ripples on them, ''actual waves''. Most PS3 and 360 games don't even have that, and the developers pulled it off on a Wii.
* ''Witcher 2''. [[PunctuatedForEmphasis THE]].[[SceneryPorn WHOLE]]. [[SceneryGorn DAMN]]. [[MadeOfWin THING]]. If you don't agree, then you haven't [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-RTpRsD4zI&feature=related seen it]], or just plain out lying.
* Many of the things in ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBrosBrawl''. Next time you play, go look at the trophies for the playable characters or the assist trophies and look at how detailed the skin, clothes, etc are-[[SuperMarioBros Peach's]] dress has several layers to it that make it seem like something from the real world, [[VideoGame/EarthBound Ness']] backpack, hat and t-shirt have real visible seams in them, denim jeans and overalls has seams, buttons, etc. to look like real articles of clothing, the IceClimbers hoods have very well-rendered fur, Dedede, who normally just has a weird sash underneath his coat, was given a kimono, and Link's, well, everything. Character designs aside, many of the final smashes-particularly Triforce Slash, Great Aether, [[VideoGame/EarthBound PK Starstorm,]] and Lucario's Aura Laser-look REALLY great. Some people will only turn Smash Balls on to see those final smashes.
** Also, the cutscenes from "The Subspace Emissary," especially [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome "The Great Invasion."]] The Subspace Gunship is pretty darn detailed.
** The Subspace Gunship is so detailed, that the game actually lags when you zoom in on the trophy of it!
* So maybe the ''VideoGame/DeadOrAlive'' Xtreme subseries is just a [[ExcusePlot blatant excuse]] to show [[ActionGirl the girls of DOA]] in [[{{Stripperiffic}} the skimpiest bikinis known to man]], but all [[ADateWithRosiePalms "playing with one hand"]] jokes aside, it features some pretty amazing visual effects... Yes, other than [[{{Gainaxing}} the physics-defying breasts]]. Just consider that whatever girl you chose is rendered in real time in whatever ridiculous outfit you chose, plus the [[JigglePhysics jiggling]] of her hair, clothes and... [[MaleGaze Other aspects]].
* ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Fire Emblem: Path Of Radiance]]'' brought us the cel-shaded cutscenes. They have this cool anime-style appearance that at times almost look hand-drawn.
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=2g02vd83yqU&NR=1 The series continues awesome-looking-cutscene trend]] with ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening''. The visuals look like the game is for the Vita.
* ''BatenKaitos''. Good lord. The stunning pink and purple clouds of Diadem, the vibrant trees and lush jungles of Anuenue, the hallucinatory beauty of Mira and the Trail of Souls...everything in that game is gorgeous.
** Then ''[[EvenBetterSequel Origins]]'' came out two years later and topped it. The scenery mostly looks the same, but the character models are infinitely better, ''especially'' the battle animations. Pull off something like The Apotheosis or Crimson Skytooth and tell me it doesn't look amazing.
** How about the spiritual predecessor, ''VideoGame/ChronoCross''? Sure, the PS1 graphics haven't aged that well, but it still looked fantastic back in the day.
* ''VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom3''. Just '''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8awHhI1ZRKU look]]''' at [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlPVxh-zPd8 these]] videos and try to deny that your jaw didn't drop to the floor!
* ''VideoGame/DJMAXTechnika''. An arcade game running at 720p, it has some of the most stunning [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMmlDbN_v2U&hd=1 music]] [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-vAQx-yc5M&hd=1 videos]] to grace the RhythmGame genre. All while the gameplay runs at 60 frames per second, no less.
* When ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIII'' first came out, many reviews insulted the sprite graphics; 3D models were becoming the norm. Indeed, a still shot of the game looks pretty mediocre by today's standards with the limited technology making it very pixelated. However, a still image misses the most important thing about Street Fighter III's graphics: The movement. Most sprite-based fighting games have very choppy movement because easy individual frame requires a ton of work, so only the ending post and start-up are given frames. Street Fighter III has ''tons'' of sprites for each character, more than any other fighting game at the time. This made all the movements and actions of the game, including ones as simple as ''breathing'', incredibly smooth and complete looking, to the point that some retroactively consider its spritework the best in any fighting game. The sheer effort put into making all those sprites deserves a round of applause alone.
* The scene from ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite'' when [[spoiler: N's castle rises out of the ground]].
** How about the Skyarrow Bridge? At first, the game's just been typical Pokemon fare and settings - small towns, forests, rivers, etc. Then, you go across this ''huge'' bridge, with trucks and boats and other things going underneath it, and the camera swooping around to show it all off, and finally you see Castelia City looming on the far side.
** It seems to have become a new tradition in the Pokemon series, from Black and White onwards, to give each Legendary mascot of the game a breathtaking 3D intro. Special mention goes to when you summon Reshiram/Zekrom for the first time and are given an awesome display of their power on the environment, and in HG/SS when Lugia or Ho-Oh swoops out of the sky to face you. Even more incredible at night.
* The Man-At-Legs in Pikmin 2. Similar to the Subspace Gunship example from above, in the Piklopedia the game will LAG if you get it moving. And the Piklopedia won't even show the thing firing its gun, which must be seen. It's incredible and yet grotesque at the same time.
* Pick a CyberConnect2 game from the PlaystationTwo era onwards: Any of them will qualify, especially after CyberConnect2 formed the studio Sensible Art Innovation, which they used not only for movie making, but utilizing it as part of their current console generation cutscene maker. With the power of the unreal Engine, ''AsurasWrath'' by CyberConnect2 takes the engine to it's limits to get really awesome visuals. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRF9kXwkaHQ Here's an example]].
* When you really look at it, YoshisIsland really is a ''beautiful'' game. There's typically several layers of foreground and background, all of them hand drawn. Not to mention the fact that it really stretched the SNES's capabilities, often using Mode 7 in many different ways.
** The Super FX chip certainly helped. While Yoshi's Island did have some Super FX-powered polygon graphics (the pause and game over screens, a paper effect for when [[SquashedFlat the characters get flattened]], and the occasional spinning platform come to mind), the chip was used mostly for rotating and scaling sprites.
* ''VideoGame/{{Xenoblade}}'' pulls off huge environments with plenty of wildlife with dizzying attention to detail, with fantastic draw distance near unprecedented for all but the largest sandbox games.
** Then you get stuff like the colored mist in the swamp at night, the golden light from the crystals on the snowy peaks, and whenever there is a thunderstorm in a area.
* No love for the [[VideoGame/{{X}} X-Universe]] series? As an example: This game is a spaceflight game that models everything from miniscule scout ships to monstrous destroyers and stations, each of which is meticulously modeled to the last panel. And you can look at all of it. From any angle. While floating about equally beautiful planets, ranging from earth-like Argon Prime, to the ocean world of Nishala, the Boron home planet.
* The graphics may not be the best (though this was done on purpose), but stand on top of a mountain in Minecraft, look out at the landscape, and tell me it isn't absolutely gorgeous.
* ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChronicles'' looks and feels likes a WorldWarII-inspired anime saga with very beautiful sketchbook-style flare...until you realize that ''everything'' you see is entirely rendered in-game and that you're actually ''playing'' it.
* The DawnOfWar games are some of the best looking PC Strategy games around, especially the sequel and its expansions. Down to the amazing detail on the unit models themselves, crafted to closely resemble their tabletop model counterparts to an exquisite degree and the incredibly good looking particle effects and SceneryGorn. And let's not forget those beautiful cutscenes like the [[ApocalyseWoW Exterminatus of Typhon Primaris]] and the Opening cutscene to both the original and the sequel.
* ''VideoGame/{{Wipeout}}'' is not only racing, but also this trope pushed UpToEleven. Even in the first two games, there were some EPIC visual effects for that era: in the first Wipeout, the visual effects of every weapon were incredible, and it was a 1994 GAME. ''2097'', with the racetracks Gare D'Europa and Spilskinanke which have sudden and blinding flashes which can distract you, and the Quake weapon which makes the road up ahead shaking like crazy, this is an high quality Fifth Gen videogame visual effect porn.
** ''HD'' and ''2048'' push this trope even further than 2097 did with the Zone mode, in which the track and scenery become very simple with one shade of a certain or multiple colors, and the billboards and the road become also music equalizers! How cool is that?!?
*** Also, ALL OF THE INTRO CLIPS OF EVERY GAME fall into this trope. Just watch for example the intro for ''Pulse''. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD.
* If we weren't so busy being scared out of our wits, we'd appreciate the foggy beauty of the SilentHill series. The first three games pushed the graphical limits of whatever console they were. Special mention goes to SilentHill3, where the animations where on par with current gen consoles.
* In the Franchise/ResidentEvil series, the VideoGame/ResidentEvil remake has amazing graphics. VideoGame/ResidentEvil4 still looks good today too, despite it's age.
** The REmake still holds it's own, even in the current gen.
** Shout out to ''VideoGame/ResidentEvilRevelations'' for looking so, so good on a [=3DS=].
* ''VideoGame/{{Syberia}}'' has some beautiful visual effects, especially when it comes to water. That it is a brainchild of an artist more than of a writer or game designer probably explains the loving attention given to its visuals.
* The Franchise/MetalGear series. If there's anything Konami does best, creating impressive graphics may certainly be it. Thanks to Kojima's meticulous eye for detail, these games still look good despite their age. The HD remastering of [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2 MGS2]], [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3 MGS3]], and [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolidPeaceWalker Peace Walker]], give new appreciation for the visuals in these games. [=MGS3=] really pushed the limits of the [=PS2=], and its HD remastered version can give some games from this generation a run for their money.
** Although [=PS1=] games haven't aged well at all, the first game is considered to be [[http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-yOput4lAToY/UNBv9rhpF-I/AAAAAAAAAHQ/TBdOXS1vGu8/s1600/MGS+Snake+behind+tank+in+Armory.jpeg one of the best looking games]] [[http://xboxoz360.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/oxcgn-metal-gear-3.jpg from the period]], due to realistic lighting and high level of detail.
** ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4'', despite using RealIsBrown, manages to look very pretty, pretty enough to make the game of the best looking out there currently.
** Then there's ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidVThePhantomPain'', which hasn't even been released yet, and shames the developers who say that there's little to no more room for graphical improvement after this gen (it's slated to be released for the 360 and [=PS3=] in addition to Xbox One and [=PS4=]). [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acq2RRTQrs0 Take a look for yourself]].
*** Konami posted a [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60FqLOMOPgU generational comparison of the game]]. Some lighting effects aside, you would be hard pressed to figure out which version is which.
* No matter how much HypeBacklash their games can suffer from, SquareEnix are masters of FMV...particularly in the Franchise/FinalFantasy series. Some of their cut scenes are so beautiful that you can almost forget you're playing a video game. The ArtEvolution with each progressive game means that by the time VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII came out, the gameplay was almost as beautiful as the cut scenes.
* ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX_P0Q4ploQ Xexex]]'' had gorgeous rendered graphics and pulled off other amazing graphical feats such as warping and zooming back in 1991. The graphics were so ahead of their time, it was impossible to port this game to the SegaGenesis or the SuperNintendoEntertainmentSystem without a severe downgrade.
* ''Videogame/SuperMarioRPG''. Probably the pinnacle of graphical achievement on the SNES, it puts ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry'' to shame with its [[DigitizedSprites digitized]] environments, creating a very convincing pseudo-3D world with detailed environments and character designs.
* ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamAsylum'' has an amazing, gritty, realistic style (if you aren't using Detective Mode).
* Everything from ''AliceMadnessReturns''. The facial expressions, Alice's dresses, the fighting motions...hysteria mode.
* ''VideoGame/{{Bayonetta}}'' has some of the most stunning and beautiful environments and locations ever seen in a video game, ''especially'' on the Xbox 360 version.
* ''[[VideoGame/SegaSuperstars Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed]]'' did an excellent job at recreating locations from classic Sega games in beautiful HD. You know the developers did a great job when one of the original developers of ''VideoGame/SkiesOfArcadia'' cried tears of joy when seeing how well-made the ''Skies of Arcadia'' racetrack is.
* The characters in ''Skullgirls'' are all made with HAND DRAWN ANIMATION.
* Creator/StudioGhibli had a hand in ''VideoGame/NiNoKuni'', and it shows. You could be fooled into thinking you're watching some kind of Ghibli movie.
* Sony and Guerrilla Games were so confident in the graphical qualities of ''[[{{VideoGame/Killzone}} Killzone 2]]'', they used in-game rendering for a commercial. That you can download off the PSN store and run it on your PS3 in real time.
** And spared no effort on ''Killzone: Shadow Fall'' to make sure that the PS4's prowess could be felt as a launch title.
* GuiltyGearXrd. The most common reaction for the first trailer is "Wow, they really made some very detailed sprites [[TwoAndAHalfD HOLY CRAP THAT'S NOT 2D ANIMATION]]".
** Also a strange example of awesome visual effects coming out of StylisticSuck, since the 3D models have no tween animations, creating a sort of stop-motion effect to make it look more like the 2D games, but still allows for ''Street Fighter IV''-style dynamic camera angles during certain parts like introductions, Overdrives and Instant Kills.
* ''Jet Set Radio'' was one of the first games to use cel-shaded graphics, and it looked amazing when it came out in 2000. Both the HD remaster and the original Dreamcast version still look very good. ''Future'' has held up even better, being an Xbox game, and is among the early Xbox titles that holds up against modern releases.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'': The views are awesome, the creatures are interesting, but for really, really neat, you can't go past the Quickenings. You will probably see each one dozens if not hundreds of times, yet they never stop being breathtaking.
* ''VideoGame/AceCombatInfinity'': The explosions of enemy aircraft and ground targets look very detailed, the views of the battlefield (especially in "Dubai Night Assault") look really neat, the aircraft are very well detailed as well.
* Turn on ''VideoGame/MarioKart8''. Pick a track. Any track, new or returning. The level of detail is nothing short of stunning. Nintendo really went to town for this one.
* ''VideoGame/NoMansSky'' is shaping up to be nothing short of ''incredible''. See that mountain in the distance? You can hike toward it. Feel like swimming? The ocean is there waiting for you. Looking out at that AlienSky above you? You can get in your spaceship and fly toward every single one of the planets in it. Looking out at the starfield while you're on patrol? Every single one of those stars you see is its own solar system, with planets waiting to be explored, all {{procedural|Generation}}ly-generated.
* ''VideoGame/MiddleEarthShadowOfMordor'' not only has rain as a dynamic weather effect, but also ''hail''. Hail that bounces off characters, to boot.
* ''VideoGames/AssassinsCreedUnity'': The Next-Gen Paris in the [[http://kotaku.com/heres-how-incroyable-paris-looks-in-assassins-creed-uni-1620018718 Gamescom Trailer]] is kind of surreal for how gorgeous it is. The team spent ''five thousand hours'' recreating Notre Dame. And ''damn'' does it show.
* ''DragonballXenoverse''. ''Good God''. The visuals are just [[StealthPun off the scale]]. And none of it is pre-rendered, its all ''in-game graphics''.
** Prior to Xenoverse, ''Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit'' held the crown for best visuals in any Dragon Ball game ''ever'', and it's hard to argue. Just look at the [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csW9vAYxBUI opening.]] It's ''stunning''.
** And prior to Burst Limit [[VideoGame/DragonBallZBudokai Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3]] was considered at the time the number one Dragon Ball game in the visual department. It's safe to say that that {{Dimps}} have a damn good record when it comes to visuals in Dragon Ball games.
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' games are known for BulletHell patterns that are NintendoHard, but are also absolutely mesmerizing, using intricate patterns with a variety of objects. Try watching a replay sometime and just watching all the beautiful patterns unfold before your eyes.
* "SuperSmashBros for 3DS and Wii U" takes everything that "Brawl" did and IMPROVED upon it. Lucina has her birthmark on her eye, a detail that the creator himself admitted NO ONE WILL SEE, but had to include anyway. The crowning gem, however, HAS to be Orbital Gate Assault and The Great Cave Offensive. You can see individual threads on character clothing and the color palette is gorgeous.
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