One of the truly great things about the PC is its community. With mod-able game engines, level creators and SDK’s made available by open minded developers, many of the games that have faded into obscurity on consoles are enjoying a renaissance on PC. With improving graphical prowess on the old biege box, well designed game engines can have texture packs added, particle effects redesigned and whole new levels and environments crafted for them. The result is a game that appears so far beyond the initial release in terms of visual spectacle that it looks like something from the next hardware generation. Here’s the five most graphically improved games:
Grand Theft Auto 4
While it was always a complex and deep game world, GTA4 didn’t always have the visuals to match its design complexity. When it was first released it looked good, but as time has passed other open world games have surpassed it visually. That’s where the PC modding crowd took over. With little official support or tools available, the modders nonetheless have produced a look that makes the games visuals live up to the rest of its ambitious feature set. Whether its used in machina or played all over again, there’s never been a better time to check out the sites in Liberty City.
With Skyrim looking absolutely gorgeous in the trailers that have been released so far, its worth remembering how great Oblivion looked when it was first released. As one of the early games that showed us the importance of HDR in graphics hardware, Oblivion both pushed people to upgrade their PC’s and buy Xbox 360’s. With a huge and complex campaign and a detailed and deep game world, Oblivion is only now beginning to show its age visually. The work of the dedicated fanbase has done so much to improve the game though, that the team behind Skyrim will have to work hard to match its predecessors visual fidelity.
Street Fighter 2 HD Remix
An entry for the PC crowd, Street Fighter 2 HD Remix was a labour of love by a dedicated fanbase. Never before has a developer worked so closely with its community as Capcom did here. Not only did they hire the famous fighting game auteur Sirlin to fine tune and redesign the game, but they also featured remixes of the main game themes by OCRemix. This, together with the gorgeous anime-inspired graphic overhaul made SSF2 HD Remix a wonderful package. As one of the few examples of a console game completely remade, this effort showed that if a developer works with and listens to its community, even closed platforms like consoles can have their finest games gloriously updated.
Crysis 2 is a good game in its own right, but it never lived up to the high technical benchmark set by its preprocessor. The focus on consoles meant that Crytek were no longer pushing the technical envelope in Crysis 2 like they did in the first. In fact, the original Crysis is arguably still the best looking game available today. With the visual improvements made by the community, its hard to imagine a better looking game.
Certainly not the best looking game on this list, Minecraft nonetheless manages to produce vistas and sights that evoke awe. The work and effort put in by its community to craft beautiful worlds is what makes Minecraft something worth witnessing. With the work done by modders in creating advanced visual effects, and the continuing updates and evolving nature of Minecraft, who knows how great it will look in the future.