Lunchtime Discussion: Visuals or Audio?

I’ve mentioned it before, but my gaming setup isn’t all that. My TV is tiny and non-HD and I have stereo sound from the TV’s built-in speakers. Not exactly ideal, but I can still appreciate the graphical or audio design of a game. For example I can see the overwhelming blandness that seems to fill games currently. Ok so maybe, maybe, war zones really are that bland. Maybe all the dust that being in a war seems to create, according to games at least, does coat everything in a layer of distinct blandness. Of course this doesn’t really explain Prototype, although I guess the millitary was in New York at the time. Maybe they bring the dust with them to make themselves feel more at home.

Of course there are exceptions to this blandness, Uncharted 2, Shadow Complex, Borderlands and the latest Prince of Persia all spring to mind to show how a strong art style and direction really add to a game. All of those games do something fairly distinctive in how they’re presented to you, and the art really adds to the game, particularly in Prince of Persia which likely would have suffered even more without the cel shading. For all of these titles the art style stuck with you and helped to draw you into the games world, giving you an easy hook into the games world.

The same goes for audio, titles that do something interesting with their sound design, or have amazing voice work stick with you. Whether it’s the sound track from WipEout, the terrifying sound design in Dead Space or the voice acting in Uncharted 2 the use of sound in those games is one of the things that stays clear in your head years after you last played the game.


Now after I’ve wittered on for a bit about some awesome games lets get to the point; which matters more? You don’t get to have cop-out and say gameplay or story, I know those are important but that’s a discussion for another day. For me it’s the graphics. I don’t mean that a game has to have amazing, AAA graphics, I mean they have to do something that hooks me into the world. For example Batman: Arkham Asylum really captured the look and feel of Batman’s world for me. Given that it’s coming from a comic book where the art of that world can change heavily between artists, that becomes even more impressive. The interesting use of graphical overlays for story telling in Splinter Cell: Conviction is something that’s really drawing me in as well. What about you? What matters more for you and what games really show off good audio or visual design?

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