I'm going to say that the city of Aqulonia in AoC was the best looking city. The sense of scale makes Lion's Arch look like a butt-pirate town.Lion's Arch might be the best looking city ever in a MMO :3
It is true that games don't need to be a 10 in the graphics department in order to be considered 'good' or even great games. It's just simply not true. I still remember the first crappy PC games I've ever played. Or maybe the text-based RPGs? Ughhh.
Now, cartoony vs realism is another subject, and it comes down to personal preference. To say one works better than the other is just another way of saying "I like this more than the other" without being too biased about it.
Retired Holy Priest
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Well, if you talk only about MMOs, maybe.
Lineage II graphics at release were not great. At all. But they improved the graphics every expansion until my computer couldn't handle it anymore, lol.
But yea, I see your point.
To me, WoW will always have the best graphics. Why? Because with very simple means, I can have 75 fps in any setting and it doesn't cost me a fortune, I don't have to boost or overclock or whatever to make the game run fast. I've seen how players have to work to get the most out of Rift, and it sickens me...games should not force players to get monster setups just to play on normal settings. In WoW, they will upgrade textures and looks and animations, but that cartoon style = they can optimize and make sure the game won't run well unless you sit with heavy rigs.
If GW2 can have the style that it has according to the videos and won't require me to go out and get YET ANOTHER new graphics card, more memory etc etc...THEN I'll say the graphics and the game is splendid. Otherwise I will probably lose interest and regret buying it. Don't get me wrong, I upgrade my comp whenever possible, but the setup I have now is brand spanking new, just not very expensive.
---------- Post added 2011-12-29 at 11:01 PM ----------
Not too many people know this but before GW2 was put into production they began using a new graphics engine and the developers say the game graphics are more of a "Concept Art" feel rather than having photo-realism. They're reasoning was that in time graphics that have realism wear out, fade away, and overall in a year or so better realistic graphics come out. However, graphics with more of an artistic feel never fade because they are in fact art. I think the reasoning itself is brilliant and the concept art engine is another brilliant decision. I want to play GW2 not because of the hype, mechanics, story, but because of the concept art engine they are using. I myself am an artistic person and I just love the way they have been doing things.
Indeed, GW2 is more artistic than realistic, which is a good direction IMO. However, I think it is incorrect to say it is better than WoW. While graphics style are a matter of personal preference, it appears that WoW is still superior in animation and overall integration.
I think that WoW's animation is still the best in the industry; and especially so because it seems so 'natural' to the art style. GW2 does not look as well balanced, and therefore not as immersive. At least that is my feeling. Also keep in mind that WoW has an enormous variety of animations in every aspect of the game (toons, mobs, pets, emotes, etc.) that maintain that exceptionally high and consistent level. I don't see evidence of that in GW2.
Doctor Octopus : 80 Asura Warrior
Captain McNuggets : 80 Human Mesmer
Professor McNuggets : 36 Asura Engineer
General McNuggets: 11 Sylvari Thief
I really am surprised how far this thread has gotten and that anyone can dispute the quality and aesthetic choices that ANet has done with this game. Some people may not like it, but the quality is there, no reasonably denying that.
Not sure if OP is brainwashed, or Blizzard employee...
In all honesty, it comes down to personal preference in my opinion. I played WoW for a long time, and I got used to the style. It's fun, inviting, and smooth. The problem most games encounter when they try to make realistic graphics is that they don't use enough polygons because it would overload their target audience's computers, or they're just lazy.
What ends up happening is that instead of having each brick of a wall jutting out a few centimeters different than another, each with it's own little bumps and cracks, they make a flat wall with a fuzzy drawing of a brick pattern on it. This is fine and dandy in a game like WoW if it's bright and smooth enough, because then you can tell it's a cartoon. However, when you try and make the graphics "realistic" by having the drawing look tedious and overdone, it just looks fake and off-putting. It's comparing some painterly style ground textures to taking a photo of the earth beneath your feet and pasting it onto a flat surface.
From what I've seen, GW2 has hit a happy medium in my opinion. Their engine is good enough to make fair amounts of polygons without causing everyone to rush to buy a new GPU and 2 more sticks of RAM. They included many projected surfaces each with their own fairly unique texture skins, a good amount of shrubberies and projected plants on the ground, and branches on the trees that aren't simply composed of a criss-crossed 2D drawing, which I assure you thrive quite happily in Azeroth.
Somehow through all of this, they managed to make the game run smoothly and finish with a clean cut. I am extremely impressed with A-Net's work on this game's graphical properties.
TLDR: It all comes down to personal preference. For example, in my opinion the graphics are a happy medium between roughly overdone realistic graphics you may find in many F2P MMOs, and WoW's fuzzy cartoon displays which many people have become accustomed to.