The debate when it comes to video game graphics is eternal, with people on multiple sides of the spectrum pointing out valid aspects that need to be kept in mind. Some people argue that — keeping in mind the hardware that we have — games should be pushing the limits with their graphical prowess, while others are of the opinion that visual styles are becoming too homogenized and need to be differentiated in some form or the other. Meanwhile, there are some people who believe that graphics simply don't matter — it's about the gameplay itself. However, these people are not looking at the bigger picture — visual design is a key aspect of any video game, and failing in this department can have a substantial impact on the quality of the title itself.
In contrast, games with excellent visual design — whether powered through innovation or hardware — have showcased firsthand just how popular graphics are to augment the overall gaming experience. It's this visual quality that leaves fans with their mouths that they witness creativity — in all shapes and forms — molding the impact a video game has on the masses.
To put this contrast in a better light, we've decided to choose 20 games with incredibly bad graphics, coupled with 10 of the very best that put these visual disasters to shame.
30 WORST: Bubsy 3D
Whoo boy, we simply can't talk about some of the worst-looking games of all and not mention this absolute mess of a game.
Bubsy 3D is one of the ugliest games of all time, without a shadow of a doubt.
Of course, it's not like the game is known only for its bad graphics. In fact, to its credit, Bubsy 3D is known for being one of the worst games of all time. Graphics aren't the only cruddy aspect about this game — it failed in pretty much every other department as well.
29 WORST: Rogue Warrior
You know what? In the defense of Bubsy 3D, the game was trying to adopt three-dimensional graphics when it was fairly new. With the lack of experience the studio had, it was — barely — understandable that the game would crash and burn during development and after launch.
Rogue Warrior can't hide behind that reasoning.
Releasing in a period when games were constantly moving up the ladder in terms of graphics, Rogue Warrior's muddy textures and subpar looks pretty much served as the nail in its coffin before it was even released.
I mean, just look at the image — does that look anywhere close to a game worthy of being on the sixth generation of consoles?
28 BEST: Red Dead Redemption 2
Time to stray away from the realm of the negatives and move towards a game that has been rightfully praised for what is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful open-world games of all times.
You guessed it — we're talking about none other than Red Dead Redemption 2.
No matter what your opinion about the game might be, the fact of the matter is that Red Dead Redemption 2 is definitely one of the best-looking games of all time.
One can only wonder what the PC version might look like... if it ever releases, that is.
27 WORST: Gods And Generals
Sigh... to move on from a beautiful game like Red Dead Redemption 2 to talk about subpar games with horrible graphics is a tough ask. I mean, just look at Gods And Generals — in what realm does this piece of trash qualify as a bona fide video game release?
Serving as nothing more than a way to promote the film it's based on, the game ends up being nothing short of a train wreck. Graphics aren't the only problem — everything from the gameplay to the story is virtually non-existent.
26 WORST: Far Cry Vengeance
To see a Far Cry game showcased in the worst-looking category might be a surprise, but there was a time when the series was not as relevant as one might've liked it to be. This game is a remake of Far Cry Instincts: Evolution — a title with such an extensive backstory that we won't even get into it at this point.
All we'd like to say is that the game was on the Wii, which meant that graphics and FMVs were downgraded to such a massive extent that the game was almost unplayable.
25 BEST: Shadow Of The Tomb Raider
Say what you will about the new Tomb Raider series, but one has to admit that it looks incredible — especially on a technologically-advanced PC. But don't let the console player in you be deterred by this fact — the game looks amazing on the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro as well.
While it's true that the game might be the same-old open-world adventure with little to no innovation, the sheer beauty of the game should be enough to convince you — or anyone, for that matter — to try this title out.
24 WORST: Drake Of The 99 Dragons
From a game that looks amazing to an incomprehensible piece of trash that doesn't deserve to call itself a video game — oh how far we've fallen. You might think this to be overly dramatic, but words simply aren't enough to state just how much of a trash heap Drake Of The 99 Dragons actually is.
The graphics — which are positively bad — are the least of this game's problems. From broken gameplay to an unlimited array of bugs, the game features every horrible thing that could ever wreck a title... and then some.
It's honestly amazing that this game managed to secure a release without dooming the entirety of the video game industry as we know it.
23 WORST: Turok
An FPS on the Nintendo 64? Why, you can choose pretty much any one of those incomprehensible crud-tastic visuals on this list! Out of respect, we haven't chosen the obvious option that is GoldenEye 007. Instead, the (dis)honor goes to none other than Turok.
While the game itself was pretty good for its time, the one thing that critics harped upon even back then was the muddy, unimpressive textures that are simply way too ugly, especially when one looks at them through a modern lens.
22 BEST: Forza Horizon 4
Are you honestly surprised that a game from the Forza Horizon series made it on the list? After all, it's not like racing games have anything great going for them right now, so it's obvious that the one thing these games definitely need to focus on is the graphics.
And whoo boy, Forza Horizon 4 completely blows this expectation out of the water. The environments are stunning, the cars are detailed almost to an unnecessary extent, and the game itself is quite fun to play if you happen to be a racing aficionado.
21 WORST: Aquaman: Battle For Atlantis
The age of superhero games might be ripe in today's day-and-age, but the fact of the matter is that this wasn't even remotely the case just a few years back. Just take a look at Aquaman: Battle For Atlantis, to understand what we're trying to get at here.
I mean, the visuals are absolute trash! Underwater stages can actually look halfway decent if one made the effort even back then, but this missing effort is painfully tangible in the main game itself. On top of all this, there's also the fact that the game is an absolute nightmare to play as well!
20 WORST: Superman 64
But by Jove, if one wants to talk about horrible superhero games then look no further than the absolute pile of rubble that is Superman 64. It's almost like the developers didn't even bother to nail down exactly why people like Superman in the first place.
Everything in this game is an absolute mess. The draw distance of the game is so poor that the game is constantly foggy at all times. Honestly speaking, someone could've poured grease on the visual engine and made something better than this ridiculously awful mess.
19 BEST: Final Fantasy XV
There are points one might bring up about Final Fantasy XV that are valid. For a game stuck in developmental heck for around 15 years, one might've expected something way, way better. However, nothing can live up to 15 years of hype, so let's give credit where credit's due — Final Fantasy XV looks positively gorgeous.
Whether it be the flashy anime-esque battles or the oh-so-glorious hair — but really tho, the hair looks amazing in the game — one can confidently say that no punches were pulled in making Final Fantasy XV look amazing.
18 WORST: Life Of Black Tiger
Sony's PlayStation is generally considered by many to be one of the best console franchises of all time, if not the very best. However, nothing is perfect, and there are some bad apples that have snuck onto the PlayStation Store.
One such baffling addition to the store left fans in equal parts laughter and bewilderment when they saw this abomination on the PlayStation. The "game" (if one can even call it that) is Life Of Black Tiger, and it's just so bad. The graphics are obviously horrible, and the entire game plays like a half-baked mobile game, to be perfectly honest.
17 WORST: Godzilla
Speaking of PlayStation exclusives, it's time to talk about another burning heap that has served to do nothing but stink up the high-quality repertoire of games on the console. The sad part is that this game is actually part of a major IP but still manages to butcher it in the process.
We're talking about none other than Godzilla, a piece of trash disguising itself as a game. One would've thought that busting up cities as a Kaiju would be entertaining but, to Godzilla's credit, the game managed to prove that nothing is impervious to bad video game design.
It's a horrible, ugly game that is better off avoided.
16 BEST: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of the best video games of all time. Now that that's out of the way, it's time to talk about one particular aspect of this game out of numerous others that are worth some heavy praise — the graphics.
The fact of the matter is that this game is incredibly beautiful to this very day, and understandably so. It's been four years since release, and even then modern games don't even come close to the beauty featured in this game. From the lush green forests to the vast oceanic expanses — the game is incredible to look at.
15 WORST: Damnation
You'd think that a steampunk game that's releasing in 2009 would feature unique visuals, augmented by the then-latest hardware, right? Wrong.
If anything, Damnation is a pretty fitting title for this game since that's what the game pretty much sentenced itself to upon release. There are little to no redeemable features about this game, with the graphics being just one of the many crappy elements that further serve to reduce the quality of this game as we know it.
14 WORST: Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing
A game so bad that they didn't even bother to put in any collision detection or a limit on the speed limit when a car goes in reverse — that's the extent of how bad Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing actually is. Of course, that's just gameplay problems — we have yet to touch upon the graphics if one can even call it that.
It's almost like the person in charge of making the maps couldn't be bothered with adding even a speck of detail to the environments. This, coupled with the horrible overall textures, has culminated in a game with the blandest visuals of all time.
13 BEST: South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Now, you might understandably be confused as to why this game is mentioned to have one of the best graphics in video games. Well, we say this because it's not about pushing the bounds of graphical prowess all the time. Sometimes, it's about visual design — something that the South Park games have nailed down to a T.
We've taken South Park: The Fractured But Whole as an example, but — to be completely honest — any one of the two games could've made this list. The faithfulness to the show is something that should be commended in every sense of the word.
12 WORST: Pac-Man (Atari 2600)
Now, you might find it unfair for us to pick a game from the Atari days and put it under the list of worst graphics. It's akin to using a cheat code to make this list...but just hear us out here.
Generally, games that used retro graphics utilized distinctive features and characteristics to accentuate their gaming experience. In this context, Pac-Man on the Atari 2600 is absolute garbage since the game doesn't do anything to even replicate the iconic features of the Pac-Man character itself.
11 WORST: Hellboy: Asylum Seeker
Hellboy is a character known for a lot of reasons, but video games are not part of this reasoning. The best way to illustrate this would be to talk about Hellboy: Asylum Seeker — a game that was released for the original PlayStation... in 2003.
Yep, you heard that right — a game that was originally released for the PC in 2000 was released for the first PlayStation three years after the PS2 came out. The graphics are horrible in every sense of the word, and that's not even getting into the garbage fire that is the gameplay.
10 BEST: God Of War
Are you really all that surprised? The PlayStation 4 has been littered with a bunch of exclusives that look gorgeous in every way, shape, or form, and God Of War epitomizes what the current PlayStation generation is all about.
From the nigh-photorealistic graphics to the gorgeous effects — there are simply way too many things to talk about when it comes to the visuals of God Of War. People who've experienced the game first-hand can attest to the fact that the graphics in this game are nothing short of spectacular.
9 WORST: Aliens: Colonial Marines
The hype surrounding Aliens: Colonial Marines was nothing short of outstanding, and one need only take a glance at the E3 reveal to understand why this was the case. However, the fact of the matter is the game was one of the most disappointing releases of all time, and for good reason.
The game itself was nothing short of a disaster, and the sub-par visuals certainly played a key role in turning this once-hyped release into a dumpster fire for the ages.
8 WORST: Dexter: The Game
Dexter is a show that's seen its fair share of ups-and-downs, but one can certainly see the promise in a video game that encompasses everything the show is about. Enter Dexter: The Game — a title that was originally released on smartphones to a lukewarm reception.
However, it's when this game was ported on PC that people understandably lambasted the game for not making a single improvement. It was nothing more than a cash grab — and a pretty lazy one at that.
7 BEST: Detroit: Become Human
David Cage is a person well-known within the gaming community for a whole host of reasons — some more flattering than others. However, this entry isn't talking about the brilliance — or lack thereof — in his games. Rather, we're here to talk about one thing only — the graphics of Detroit: Become Human.
Let's get this out of the way — Detroit: Become Human is absolutely gorgeous to look at. Everything from the high-quality performance mo-caps to the visual fidelity is an absolute treat that every PlayStation fan should find lucky to enjoy.
6 WORST: RuneScape
RuneScape is a legendary MMORPG that is still running strong to this day. A free-to-play model that's not intrusive in the slightest has contributed to the runaway success of this game... although it's definitely not because of the graphics.
RuneScape is a very old game, and this shows in the dated visual design that can honestly make your eyes bleed at times. However, in the grand scheme of things, it must be said that this MMORPG is widely recognized as one of the most important games for a reason, and one need not harp too much about the graphics — that's not what this game is about.
5 WORST: Ride To Hell: Retribution
Whoo boy. It's kinda crappy that the games with crappy graphics also need to be one of the worst games of all time. Talking about these games is something that everyone is better off avoiding.
Ride To Hell: Retribution is a travesty of a game, and one must wonder what the developers were thinking when they thought that releasing this game was even a remotely good idea. The gameplay is bad, the characters are forgettable, and the graphics... are just not worth mentioning.
For your mental peace, we recommend that you avoid this one like the plague.
4 BEST: Uncharted 4
Naughty Dog is a developer known for producing some incredible games with amazing visual fidelity, and one need only look at Uncharted 4 as a measure of just how incredibly their visual engine is.
The game is truly one of the most beautiful titles of all time, featuring a story that's more focused on the narrative than ever before, coupled with improved gameplay. However, it's the visuals that are the focus here... and whoo boy, Uncharted 4 is just such a gorgeous game.
3 WORST: Minecraft
Minecraft is a game well-known for obvious reasons — after all, there's a reason why the game has been bought out by Microsoft, ultimately making Notch — the creator of the game — a freakin' billionaire.
However, the graphics are certainly not its selling point.
One might argue that the beauty of the game lies in its simplistic design, but let us shoot a question at these people — how many people have you introduced Minecraft to, only for them to shun the game because of unappealing visuals?
The answer would be quite high, wouldn't it?
2 WORST: Crackdown 2
The hype for Crackdown 3 was nothing short of unreal, making it all the more disappointing when the game dropped and it was... well, it wasn't all that great. It also reminded us about Crackdown 2, the forgettable step-child of the series that no one wants to talk about.
The game looked like absolute trash.
It did absolutely nothing to endear fans of the series, preferring instead to use the same-old mechanics with a new coat of what seemed like fresh paint... only for fans to realize that the game looked horrible in every sense of the word.
1 BEST: The Last Of Us
We've already talked about Naughty Dog, so you already knew for a fact that The Last Of Us was certainly going to be a part of this list. And why not? After all, the fact of the matter is that the title is widely touted as one of the greatest video games of all time.
A major reason for this critical appraisal is the graphics.
People who thought that the Uncharted series looked beautiful were absolutely blown out of the water when The Last Of Us came on the PS3. It was a landmark title that cemented Naughty Dog's name at the highest echelon of video game development.