Tuesday, 13 April 2010

IQGamer's Top 5 Tech Titles For 2010

Over the next couple of months this generation is set to witness another wave of technically proficient and defining titles, following on from last year’s Uncharted 2, this year’s God Of War 3, and Crysis, from a few years back. It’s for this reason that IQGamer has presented you with our top five titles to look out for on a technical level. Games which potentially, will not only push the barriers of what is possible on their respective platforms, but that will also showcase the perfect blend of art and technology fused together for outstanding graphical excellence. Some of these of course will transcend that notion, being as relevant for their gameplay as well as their graphics.

1: Alan Wake

Remedy Entertainment’s unique take of the survival horror genre has been in development for six long years, and in that time scarcely anything has been seen of the title. The recent trailers however, have shown that those six years could well be worth the wait, with an eerie, Stephen King meets Silent Hill style approach to the mood and atmosphere, and a action focused, episodic style of gameplay which looks set to bring freshness to a somewhat worn out genre. Visually, the game looks like being the poster boy for lighting for the 360, with some of the most impressive dynamic lighting seen outside of PS3’s God Of War 3, whilst also providing a range of post process filters, and some amazing texture work.

2: Halo Reach

Microsoft’s 360 exclusive sets to re-write the rulebook of just what is possible on their white box of tricks in the eyes of rabid PS3 fanboys. In reality the 360 has always been capable of such graphical feats, but having a title display them all at the same time is a welcome sign that developers are finally trying to seriously push the machine. ‘Reach’ is one of the first titles to be pushing up too 40 lights sources on-screen at once, from the glow given off from firing your Plasma rife, to the reflections shining off the surrounding lights. In addition, a healthy use of normal-mapping combined with improved texture detail, gives far more depth to the various surfaces found in the game, whilst a higher rendering resolution and trillinear filtering brings up the image quality significantly from Halo 3 and ODST.

There’s more of course, but for now why not check out the impressive gameplay video below, which showcases exactly what we mean.

3: The Last Guardian

More of an artistic inclusion that a purely technical one, but a game nevertheless that has the potential to truly blend artistic beauty with awe-inspiring technical brilliance. We’ve already seen the wonderfully smooth and completely natural looking animation from earlier trailers, which by far moved me in a way most games routinely fail to do, ‘feeling’ alive rather than just looking like it. A mixture of detailed texture work, painted textures, hand drawn inspired main character model, and lovely HDR lighting effects combined with ‘that’ animation make this one to look out for. More intriguing though, will be the bond between the boy and the creature, and the unique gamplay mechanics it could bring to the table. This is easily one of the most exciting titles for us at IQGamer, regardless of any technical merit that might be bestowed upon it.

4: Lost Planet 2

Capcom’s sequel to the 2006 hit is looking every bit as sweet as the first game, with bigger and badder enemies, huge screen-filling bosses, and some of the best particle effects we’ve seen so far on both PS3 and 360. More detailed texturing, improved lighting, better filtering and an overall higher image quality is just some of the things this sequel brings to the table. The first game however, introduced us to much of this anyway, so it will be far more interesting to see how the co-op campaign works out, and how the collecting of alien residue is still required for survival. Despite not being high on many people’s hype list it is right up there on our radar, and we’ll be sure to be taking a long hard look at the game upon its release.

5: Crisis 2

Maybe this one should be higher up on the list but you will find out why not in just a moment. The first game is still, by a long way, the most technically accomplished game ever made. If you have the PC to run it Crysis will push around on ‘enthusiast’ settings pretty much every graphical effect buzzword known to man. And at 1080p 60fps for a short while, if you’re lucky. ‘Crysis 2’ is attempting to do exactly the same thing but with a strong focus on consoles this time around.

The game already seems to be implementing ambient occlusion, along with simulated god-rays, dynamic lighting, volumetric effects and various specular and refraction techniques also. Not too mention particle effects and an impressive real-tie physics system. Sadly, it all currently looks rather poor when shown in high definition on the consoles, with low resolution textures, bilinear filtering, no anti-aliasing, and slightly sub 720p rendering res. These two screenshots here and here show what were talking about, whilst the vid below shows how impressive it can look in motion.

So there you have it, IQGamer’s top five technically advanced titles to look forward to. All of those are definitely no-brainers in terms of graphical might and technology, but some of them might also genuinely take their respective genre’s in altogether different directions, doing for gameplay what others have done for graphics. Or maybe, some will in fact do both, proving we have lots of power and imagination left to be gleamed from the current batch of consoles. Either way you can expect us to be providing our flagship tech analysis on at least three of those above five titles, and most likely full reviews for all of them too.

Lastly, you might be wondering why there aren’t any Wii titles on that list. Well, seeing as it IS a list of the most technically advanced titles coming to consoles, we didn’t think something that can push Nintendo’s little white slab to its limits quite justifies a place amongst titles running and competing on superior hardware. Artistically speaking, both Metroid Other M and Super Mario Galaxy 2 are certainly candidates for the race of ‘best visuals’, just not in the overall technical sense. Although, you cannot deny that both games are technically beautiful, working in and around the constraints of the aging Wii hardware.

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