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From the moment the first teaser was launched, it became clear that Final Fantasy VII Remake was always going to look good — after all the series is renowned for being at the cutting graphic edge for RPGs. Even after playing the demo a handful of times, I was awestruck by the beauty of the game. After spending the last twenty years wondering what Seventh Heaven, Wall Market, or even Aerith’s house would look like on modern game consoles, Square Enix has set a new bar for graphical presentation.
There are so many delicate flourishes that enhance the game, the delight ramping up every time one is spotted. I loved slotting specific materia on Cloud’s weapon just to see it on his back when I exited the menu. I actually stopped to read the signage of every store or billboard in Sector 7 and the Shinra building. While new to Remake, the theatrical performance at the Honey Bee Inn is dazzling. Not content with simply rehashing what we’ve seen before, Square Enix sought to build on our collective memories and deliver a modern version of the seminal RPG. While there are some marginal imperfections in the graphical presentation, in Final Fantasy VII Remake Square Enix has lovingly crafted a stunning rebuild of one of the most treasured RPG of all time.
Vanillaware is well known for its unique art style, and the graphics in 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim do not disappoint. The PS4 does an excellent job at blurring the line between traditional animation and gameplay, as each character looks like they are straight out of an anime. Unlike other Vanillaware games that have repeated background designs, each area in 13 Sentinels has a unique background that is meant to fit the atmosphere and time period in which each story segment takes place. These scenes are filled to the brim with detail and come alive with layered scrolling and matching lighting as the character moves. During battle, seeing hundreds of damage numbers pop up as Sentinels blast away a swarm of kaiju that explode into fireworks of particles invokes the ultimate feeling of satisfaction. This game is an absolute treat for the eyes and is Vanillaware’s most visually striking game to date.
While not known for having the most advanced graphics out there, the Yakuza series has always done a great job at creating finely detailed locations. That hasn’t changed in Yakuza: Like a Dragon, though it has the added benefit of further enhanced graphics, especially on the Xbox Series X. Everything from random street corners to the facial animations of characters are full of detail, giving the game a great look and making its city feel alive. It’s hard not to get distracted and simply wander Yokohama, taking in all the sights. The Dragon engine certainly seems to be painting a bright future for the series in the next generation of consoles.
by Paul Shkreli, Kelley Ryan, and Mike Apps