There are two fundamental graphic styles in most MMORPG games and they are Realistic and Cartoony. Some of the most popular free to play games today are anime inspired and thus fit into the cartoony model. Games like MapleStory and Scions of Fate have millions of players worldwide and one of their most attractive features is their graphic style. Even popular Western pay to play games like World of Warcraft benefit from the cartoony style.
Realistic graphics are generally pursued by Western developers though they are becoming more common in Asia too. Voyage Century is a clear example of Asian developers taking an interest in realistic graphic styles. Published by IGG, Voyage Century has markedly different graphics than other more traditionally Asian IGG games such as Zu Online and Tales of Pirates.
The FPS genre has long been dominated by realistic styled games. Shooters are considered to be on the leading edge in terms of graphical capabilities and it often takes other genres years to catch up. Even in the MMO field, games like WarRock, Soldier Front, and GunZ are all realistic styled. Recently, however, many developers have seen the wisdom of trying something new. A good example is the new game under development by DICE, Battlefield Heroes. Known for their historically themed Battlefield series, DICE has decided to offer a free to play, third person shooter with cartoony graphics that draw inspiration from Team Fortress 2.
As a personal preference, I tend to favor cartoony graphics. These games tend have lower system requirements yet can still look impressive. Most realistic games limit their audience by setting their system requirements too high which I feel is one of the reasons for the general decline of PC gaming in relation to consoles. My preference does change depending on what genre we’re talking about. For RTS games I like realistic graphics over cartoony graphics.
Do you have a preference when it comes to graphic styles? Is it genre specific or game specific? Please share your thoughts with me by leaving a comment below!