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Best Visuals of 2013: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Best Visuals of 2013:
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
Writeup by John Tucker
In my review of Ni no Kuni, I gave it a perfect 100 for its graphics. In 7 years with RPGFan, it's the only time I've given a perfect score in any category. But although there are items in other categories that one could complain about, I found absolutely no flaws with its visuals. Studio Ghibli's cutscenes are amazing, and the rest of the game manages to translate their style perfectly into a video game. The environments are varied, and the buildings in town look hand-painted. Even the minimap shows incredible attention to detail. Likewise, the animations are great and appropriate to the characters and what they're doing. I love the little touches like the way the main character's running animation changes when he runs up and down stairs. He doesn't just run up an invisible plane — he actually takes the stairs one at a time.

And aside from the game itself, there's The Wizard's Companion, an in-game book that the main character carries with him at all times. You access it through the menu, and it fills up over time with pages about the spells you have learned, background on the regions you've visited, descriptions of items, and for no reason other than the joy of having them, fairy tales. The writing's great, the illustrations are fantastic... I'm in awe. It's an amazing little artifact, and although the gameplay wouldn't have suffered the tiniest bit if it didn't exist, it adds another touch of heart to things because it's there.


Runner-up: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Runner-up: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PC, PS3)
Writeup by Derek Heemsbergen
There are many wonderful things about Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, but it takes only a single glance to acknowledge how extraordinarily pretty Eorzea is. It's a gorgeous, intricately-designed world populated by attractive characters doing stylish things. Every class has a set (more than one, actually) of iconic Final Fantasy equipment, so players can adventure in the garb of their favorite classic characters. FFXIV actually "feels" like a next-gen title; incredible water and reflection effects, dazzling attack animations, detailed architecture, fantastic monster designs, and more make it not only the most beautiful MMORPG out there, but also one of the best-looking games ever. Period.

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