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Do great graphics mean great games?


Does having a superior 3d accelerator card makes your gaming experience better?

It was less than a year ago and yet another 'vital' 3D card upgrade shoved down our way via the magic of Geforce 3. It's as if we're being asked to buy a new console twice a year. Updated demos of Doom and Max running on Nvidia's new Direct X 8.0 - friendly hardware were aired at the Game Developer's Conference in San Jose last month and they are staggering to look at. Flaming bullets shatter clumps of cement off tubeway walls, bodies twist and reflections reflect off other reflections; the shadowy showreel of Doom3 is equally impressive to the eye with detailed images of new game characters.

But will these graphically splendid Geforce 3 demos truly offer up better gameplay when they become games or just more dimples on the chins of the games' main protagonist? Are we really going to have more fun just because the gun barrels have scratches on them and the characters' eyebrows twitch? And can we trust developers to spend as much time on gameplay mechanics once the cheques have been cashed for providing these early tech demos?

Black and White, one of the most promising new releases for the PC since Colin McRae 2.0 will run just as smoothly on a machine equipped with a TNT2 card as it does on a Geforce, if at a slightly lower resolution. Doesn't this put paid theories that graphics can win over gameplay? We should ignore the overpriced and over-hyped Geforce 3 until its finished games are reviewed.

They say the best way to predict the future is to look back. It's interesting to reminisce about how the pc industry has teased gamers with untouchable imagery such as recent Doom 3 and Max Payne to get us to buy into new 3D hardware. This has happened ever since the launch of the PC's first 3D card - the Diamond Edge 3D in 1995 when Sega converted a handful of impressive Saturn games such as Virtua Fighter and Panzer Dragoon specifically to run on the card. Similarly, when 3dfx and Videologic tussled for the 3D crown with their respective Voodoo and PowerVR cards, high-resolution demos of Tomb Raider and 'Ultimate Race' were used to get tons of cash and make us place our trust in the future of either technology. Those who plumped for PowerVR were soon left out in the cold as 3dfx went on to dominate the market.

The truth is that Geforce 3 will succeed because its clever design makes the most out of Windows and its new Direct X 8.0 games graphics engine. But those of you who bought Geforce GTS2s, Ultras and their ATI Radeon equivalents should sit tight, enjoy Giants, Sacrifice, Colin McRae 2.0 and Black and white for now, and completely ignore the technobable hype around G3's pixel and vertex shader's for thetime being.

Yes, we will swirling clouds and new lighting effects in new games in the next 18 months, but until Microsoft gives us a clear indication of how many Xbox games will make it through those conversion gates, you're paying a premium to prove to yourself that game graphics can win over that ever elusive gameplay.


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