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The most technically-advanced game for each year

Phediuk

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Sep 10, 2013
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I don't know how to articulate the thread title in a way that doesn't sound stupid. Is there a more elegant way to say "the game that pushes the most powerful hardware the furthest, representing the bleeding edge of video game tech for each year"? Because that's what I'm looking for here. Would appreciate some input if you think there are better choices for any particular year.



1971- Computer Space
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ph5dcoMeTM

Other notable games: N/A



1972- Pong
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHsYjWm8XSI

Other notable games: N/A



1973- Gotcha
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoDZoZqsHF8

Other notable games: Gotcha is pretty much the only game from ’73 that isn’t Pong or a variation thereof.



1974- Speed Race
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qc5_UXYFJZo

Other notable games: Slim pickings, but Atari’s Gran Trak 10 is another early racing game.



1975- Gun Fight
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYa0G6KGayk

Gun Fight was the first game to feature a microprocessor and, I believe, the first game to feature recognizably human characters.

Other notable games: There’s also Taito’s Interceptor, the first arcade flight sim, but there’s no videos of it on Youtube.



1976- Night Driver
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lArePoulGkg

Very early scaler game.

Other notable games: ?



1977- Super Bug
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1t2po_qGqnY

Super Bug features smooth multi-directional scrolling about a decade before it would become common on home platforms.

Other notable games: ?



1978- Fire Truck
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMol8ES3DGM

The follow-up to Super Bug, and a significant improvement in both background detail and the animation of the player sprite. The more famous game of ’78, Space Invaders, also deserves a mention for the sheer number of moving enemies onscreen at one time.

Other notable games: Space Invaders



1979- Speed Freak
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tEgk4-5T-U

Speed Freak features the first-ever true Z-axis in a game.

Other notable games: Starfire, Radar Scope



1980- Battlezone
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymrYkbEbnEQ

Battlezone features the first ever fully-navigable 3D environment in a video game, and is generally considered to be the first virtual-reality game.

Other notable games: ?



1981- Turbo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=am-CB0lo6SQ

The first of a bunch of Sega scaler games in this thread.

Other notable games: Donkey Kong, Sky Skipper, Defender



1982- Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnoEcMbj6FQ

The predecessor to Space Harrier both in gameplay and in visual effects. The scaling is a few notches above anything else from this year.

Other notable games: Pole Position, Tac-Scan, Sub-Roc 3D



1983- I Robot
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmvWxG2zvs8

Highly competitive year, with TX-1 and I Robot being the main contenders. TX-1 has by far the best sprite scaling of any game made up to this time, but I Robot takes the crown due to its pioneering use of polygonal graphics (the first-ever fully polygonal game, in fact.) I’m not sure how to handle the Laserdisc games, as while they do make great use of cutting-edge tech, they’re more like movies than games.

Other notable games: TX-1, Astron Belt, Dragon’s Lair, Major Havoc, Star Wars



1984- TX-1 V8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0zfjqHDgFI

A strange year, as TX-1 V8 looks exactly like the first game, but this time, there’s nothing much to challenge it. I will give a shout-out to Elite, though; despite being confined to comparatively primitive 8-bit micros, it was more-or-less the first open-world game, featuring by far the largest environment of any game made up to that time, and the first game with free 360-degree player movement on six axes.

Other notable games: Tube Panic, Pac-Land, Elite



1985- Space Harrier
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPkZDlvDsgc

A new board from Sega, and another win.

Other notable games: Hang-On



1986- Outrun
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7tZFW4WedI

Sega’s scaling tech once again takes a fat dump on every other game.

Other notable games: Thunder Ceptor



1987- Afterburner
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gq1rzgWAcVA

The only game that challenged Sega this year was another Sega game.

Other notable games: Thunder Blade



1988- Winning Run
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G01FZUtIMX0

One of the easiest choices in the whole thread. It may seem like it’s several years too early for a fully-polygonal racing game, but here’s Namco on the bleeding edge.

Other notable games: Galaxy Force, Power Drift



1989- Winning Run Suzuka GP
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCgNU9CZgIM

A minor update to Winning Run. No one caught up to Namco this year.

Other notable games: Stun Runner, Hard Drivin’



1990- Galaxian 3
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ0usw-L2nI

Some may object to Galaxian 3 due to being a laserdisc game, but it still runs on Winning Run tech, which was still hands-down the best arcade board around in 1990. The polygonal tricks seen here weren’t being done anywhere else at the time. The only serious challenger this year was another Namco game on the same board.

Other notable games: Driver’s Eyes



1991- Solvalou
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LpkhK7QNJk

As with Galaxian 3, another Laserdisc game, whose only real challengers were, once again, other Namco games using the Winning Run board.

Other notable games: Starblade, Winning Run ‘91



1992- Virtua Racing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3PcHBFsjxg

Sega finally caught up to Namco this year, with Model 1 offering the first real step up from Winning Run since 1988.

Other notable games: SimDrive



1993- Daytona USA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAcMqFTkAs8

Another very easy choice. Model 2 was about an order of magnitude superior to anything else at the time, and so Daytona utterly crushed the competition this year.

Other notable games: Ridge Racer, Virtua Fighter



1994- Virtua Fighter 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7OYlmdhOZY

The only serious competitors for ’94 were other Sega Model 2 games. I’m giving the title to VF2, though, because it’s the first game with realistic polygonal humans.

Other notable games: Attack of the Zolgear, Desert Tank, Virtua Cop



1995- Sega Rally Championship
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6REoftI1lbQ

Model 2 kept coasting along this year with no serious challengers.

Other notable games: ?



1996- Virtua Fighter 3
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUznrujBk48

And Sega shoots way out ahead of the pack, again, with its Model 3 hardware. However, it should be noted that Model 3 was the last board of its kind; after 1996, arcade games would never again have a decisive edge over home platforms, as the technological arms race became too expensive, even for Sega.

Other notable games: Scud Race



1997- Harley Davidson & LA Riders
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMcKS7fSzw4

Pretty tough choice this year. Any of Sega’s Model 3 games would be a valid choice. I also included Quake 2 here, which was pretty much the killer app for 3D accelerators on PC. Quake 2 didn’t quite match what Sega was doing in the arcade, but it was clear the gap was closing.

Other notable games: The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Virtua Striker 2, Le Mans 24, Time Crisis 2, Quake 2



1998- House of the Dead 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68p-TbW3kKs

Very tough call between Sega’s Model 3 games and Unreal, which was THE technical benchmark for PC gaming in 1998. Anyone care to give their input on this year? Also, I felt Sonic was worth a mention, if only for that whale-chase scene in the beach level.

Other notable games: Unreal, Daytona USA 2, Spikeout, Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast)



1999- Outcast
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaHTNj_hSl0

The level of detail in Outcast’s open world was unprecedented at the time, and was extremely demanding for even the most powerful PCs. With that said, it’s a tough choice between this and Quake 3, since they focus on different things.

Other notable games: Quake 3, Nocturne, Unreal Tournament, Dead or Alive 2 (arcade), Shenmue (Dreamcast), Soul Calibur (Dreamcast)



2000- Giants: Citizen Kabuto
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoJD2Ox59kw

As with Outcast, this was a very impressive game in its day for its huge environments with a high level of detail. Very nice textures for 2000, too.

Other notable games: Sacrifice, The Bouncer (PS2)



2001
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHdBHeDjAY0

Probably the most competitive year in the whole thread. Really tough to narrow it down to one game. It was a fairly weak year for PC games, and a very strong year for consoles. I’m inclined to give it to RTCW on principle of it being the go-to benchmark at the time, but I could definitely see DOA3 getting the nod here. Serious Sam is mentioned mostly for the huge final battle, which blew my mind back then.

Other notable games: Max Payne, Serious Sam, Dead or Alive 3 (Xbox), Halo (Xbox), Star Wars: Rogue Leader (Gamecube), Metal Gear Solid 2 (PS2), Gran Turismo 3 (PS2)



2002- Unreal Tournament 2003
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiuJwZGTWF4

Unreal 2 was the best engine on the market at the time.

Other notable games: Splinter Cell (Xbox)



2003- Unreal 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lW-xgHsqyDk

See 2002. Unreal 2’s only competition is another Unreal 2 game.

Other notable games: Splinter Cell (PC)



2004- Doom 3
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4XYT4ZkzOk

Very competitive year, but Doom 3’s lighting effects were on a whole other level from other games in 2004. HL2 mostly gets on here for its physics engine and facial animation, while Far Cry’s here for having a highly-detailed open world for the time.

Other notable games: Half-Life 2, Far Cry, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay



2005- FEAR
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIKjYzhyZ_M

Duh. FEAR was the reference point for PC visuals at the time of its release.

Other notable games: Battlefield 2



2006- The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsSUWqbGgH0

The scale and detail of Oblivion was beyond that of any other open-world game at the time. The foliage, in particular, was mind-blowing; all those blades of grass everywhere! Also, a shout-out to Gears of War here, as UE3 was hands-down the most advanced engine at the time, though it was somewhat hampered by being limited to a console exclusive.

Other notable games: Gears of War (Xbox 360)



2007- Crysis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMHgBplll8Q

Most obvious choice ever.

Other notable games: STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl



2008- Crysis Warhead
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IinbYssn4kI

Duh.

Other notable games: ?



2009- ARMA 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCFxcsut0-8

One of the hardest years to choose. Crysis remained the benchmark on PCs in 2009, with the market otherwise stagnant. There was no standout mind-blowing game this year. Even so, ARMA 2 was known to be quite demanding on high settings. Any other suggestions? I feel like I’m reaching here.

Other notable games: Mirror’s Edge (PC)



2010- Metro 2033
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtFEbmnXVe0

Crysis was still the most common benchmark in 2010, but Metro at least gave it some competition.

Other notable games: ?



2011- Crysis 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMKx6eW7TzI

Crysis takes the crown again, though Battlefield 3 is a close second.

Other notable games: Battlefield 3, The Witcher 2



2012- Far Cry 3
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNkpCLIDKj0

Another game filling exactly the same niche as Crysis.

Other notable games: Max Payne 3



2013- Crysis 3
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqDbQD5Pa2c

May as well be a three-way tie here. I could see any of these three games on top.

Other notable games: Metro: Last Light, Battlefield 4



2014- Assassin’s Creed Unity
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vp3F_xLKbPg

Perhaps the most lifelike recreation of any historical period to date.

Other notable games: Ryse (PC)
 

Dictator93

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Jun 29, 2011
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Crazy, I prety much agree with almost every one of your selections (and great contenders too).

Edit: your crysis 3 screen is actually from Crysis 2.
 

Jawmuncher

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Came to see if Crysis was winner for every year of release. Nice to see that it was. Unsure about AC Unity though. I still think I would give it to Ryse. Even with being a smaller play area. It really is damn impressive.
 

iapetus

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1984. Groundbreaking true 3D free world space sim with massive galaxies to trek through, trading, piracy, missions.



Nothing comes close.

It's so much more impressive in scope, in technology, in sheer fucking ahead-of-its-timeness than any cookie-cutter sprite-based racer. Yes, wireframe is pretty hokey these days, but a full 3D space combat game back in 1984 was cutting edge, and some of the things those guys did with the hardware (changing screen resolution part way down the screen to allow high-res mode for the main view and high-colour mode for the HUD) are incredible.
 

djplaeskool

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Dude, I'll never forget the first time I watched/played SCUD Race. Mind was blown by the look.

At the time, I felt that we'd never EVER get games at home that could rival or diminish the arcade experience. SEGA Model 3 was an absolute marvel.
 

Horns

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Technically or visually advanced?

Because you would have to list GTA V in there for 2013 (possibly 2014 as well). It may not be the most visually appealing, but what it is doing under the hood and pulled off on 360/PS3 was amazing.
 
Jun 7, 2014
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I think Smash 3DS or Wii U should be the most technically advanced games for 2014.

Smash 3DS: A game that looks almost as good as brawl and runs at 60fps, with tons of content, on an extremely poor piece of hardware.

Smash Wii U: 8 player 60 fps action, with gorgeous visuals. Not a stutter even when complex items get involved.
 

Savantcore

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Nov 8, 2013
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Early shout out for MGSV as most technically advanced game of 2015. Open-world 1080p 60fps on consoles would deserve the crown.
 
Apr 22, 2009
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As someone who was born in the 70's I remember playing Outrun when it came out and thinking how real it looked! Imagine showing someone in the 80's Driveclub, there head would explode, it's amazing how far gaming has come.
 

Footos22

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2013 should be Ryse for Xbox one. It even won that sicgraph or whatever its called award. So think that is a given.
 

bigkrev

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I'd give serious consideration to DOA Ultimate in 2004- That game looked just as good as most early 360 games.
 
Apr 1, 2013
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Technically or visually advanced?

Because you would have to list GTA V in there for 2013 (possibly 2014 as well). It may not be the most visually appealing, but what it is doing under the hood and pulled off on 360/PS3 was amazing.
I agree with this; GTAV's achievement was amazing. Did The Witcher 2 come out in 2010 or was it 2011? The Crysis sequels looked nice, but felt like a step back after the first game. Also, I would include Elite in there for 1984.

Is this list all in your opinion OP, or was there some kind of voting for it?
 

Crossing Eden

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We need bigger screens for the modern games OP.
Crysis 3


AC:Unity


Also I think Ryse won an award for it's technical prowess before the pc version came out.

Early shout out for MGSV as most technically advanced game of 2015. Open-world 1080p 60fps on consoles would deserve the crown.
The fact that it's 60fps is actually the main factor that'll hinder it. Not to mention cross gen. Due to the framerate they can't put in as many technical and graphical bells and whistles as other games as well as also having to be scaleable with last gen consoles. Compared to say, Batman Arkham Knight, which will undoubtedly be 30fps, and AC Victory, which might look even better than Unity. Great thread btw OP, that's dedication.
 

truth411

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Most of the games you have are P.C. games which I agree with for the most part. But GOW3 should be the winner for 2010. Yes it was on console but it had the best quality custom MLAA solution, BETTER than what was on PC on a console thanks to Cell SPUs. Heck when it comes to being technically innovative and push what is possible PS3 exclusives is nothing to scoff at. Killzone 2 looked incredible in 2009, the deferred lighting was incredible. Just sayin.
 

BiGBoSSMk23

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2009 should be Uncharted 2.
Most of the games you have are P.C. games which I agree with for the most part. But GOW3 should be the winner for 2010. Yes it was on console but it had the best quality custom MLAA solution, BETTER than what was on PC on a console thanks to Cell SPUs. Heck when it comes to being technically innovative and push what is possible PS3 exclusives is nothing to scoff at. Killzone 2 looked incredibly in 2009, the deferred lighting was incredible. Just sayin.
This. Thread says technically advanced. Buy just because your game is hard to run doesn't make it that advanced.

Arma 2 looks like ass compared to Killzone 2, personally.

Uncharted 2 is also quite impressive on a technological level.
 

Eos

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pc:ryse vs unity
they look both look fantastic but is there a clear winner?
 

Qassim

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This. Thread says technically advanced. Buy just because your game is hard to run doesn't make it that advanced.

Arma 2 looks like ass compared to Killzone 2, personally.

Uncharted 2 is also quite impressive on a technological level.
Equally so, an ugly game can also be the most technically advanced.
 

Superfrog

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Very interesting selection and contenders, well done.

A remark on 1993, though: while there is no doubt on the technical significance of Daytona, Ridge Racer and Virtua Fighter, Doom should have been at least a contender. There was also Strike Commander on PC, by the way.

Looking back at all this, 1993 was an absolutely incredible year in regards to technical benchmarks.

Other titles missing in action (two of them for hardware that wasn't up to date anymore at the time of release, though):

- Wolfenstein 3D (1992)
- Donkey Kong Country (1994)
- Gran Turismo (1997)
 

andymcc

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More technically advanced than House of the Dead 2? Just no. The Dreamcast was nearing release by the time OOT came around. Games on newer hardware had long since eclipsed anything a N64 could do.
Dreamcast was out six days after OoT. it never stood a chance.

all that sega domination. lol
 

nOoblet16

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AC Unity is not the most technically advanced, it looks amazing but let's not forget how it uses pre baked lighting and pre bakes a lot of other things as well as has a lot of technical issues with LOD problems, all of which would automatically mean it is not the "most technically advanced".

I am saying a game can look great without being the most technically advanced by having good art direction and building around the limitations but it does not mean it is more technically advanced. Then there's the other thing about being hard to run doesn't really mean most technically advanced either. Most technically advanced would just mean how much of advanced real time tech the game's pulling off.
 

nynt9

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lol @ Unity.

Yeah, still screenshots of Unity don't capture the awful pop in, NPCs who randomly change clothes and clip with the world, flickering textures, broken LOD and a ton of other problems.
The game looks really bad in play, only select screenshots can make it look good.
 

R_Deckard

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2001
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHdBHeDjAY0

One of the toughest years to choose. It was a fairly weak year for PC games, and a very strong year for consoles. I’m inclined to give it to RTCW on principle of it being the go-to benchmark at the time, but I could definitely see DOA3 getting the nod here. Serious Sam is mentioned mostly for the huge final battle, which blew my mind back then.

Other contenders: Serious Sam, Dead or Alive 3 (Xbox), Star Wars: Rogue Leader (Gamecube)
Not gone through the whole list but agree with many...not this one though. This is the same year MGS2 was launched and this kicked Wolfenstein's arse for tech advancement and it is not even in the list with Dead or alive 3 and Serious Sam???!!??
 
Sep 11, 2014
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Another nod for GTA V in 2013. First thing I thought of when I heard "most technically advanced game". However, it might be more suited for "Games that pushed hardware to the limit" type thread. I understand that PC's obviously were besting seventh generation hardware in 2013.
 

SmartWaffles

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I think Smash 3DS or Wii U should be the most technically advanced games for 2014.

Smash 3DS: A game that looks almost as good as brawl and runs at 60fps, with tons of content, on an extremely poor piece of hardware.

Smash Wii U: 8 player 60 fps action, with gorgeous visuals. Not a stutter even when complex items get involved.
Those doesn't mean they are technically advanced, both games actually have pretty simple graphics, especially the Wii U version.
 

Dictator93

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AC Unity is not the most technically advanced, it looks amazing but let's not forget how it uses pre baked lighting and pre bakes a lot of other things as well as has a lot of technical issues with LOD problems, all of which would automatically mean it is not the "most technically advanced".

I am saying a game can look great without being the most technically advanced by having good art direction and building around the limitations but it does not mean it is more technically advanced.
Then Ryse probably given how actually unambitious baked lighting is. THen again, the crowd stuff in AC unity deserves some praise.
 

Percy

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Unity on the list is insulting.
.

Also, XB1 version of Ryse has really shitty performance in addition to failing to achieve full HD res, so I'd question it's inclusion here tbh. PC version? Sure, XB1 version? No.
 

hotnheavyload

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I disagree with 1999 and 2000.

I would put Shenmue over Outcast and Dead or Alive 2 over Giants: Citizen Kabuto.
 

KKRT00

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2003 should have Planetside 1 as a contender too.

---
Technically or visually advanced?

Because you would have to list GTA V in there for 2013 (possibly 2014 as well). It may not be the most visually appealing, but what it is doing under the hood and pulled off on 360/PS3 was amazing.
Its year of Crysis 3. Nothing came close to it that year, maybe except for Ryse.
 

Woffls

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Great write up, OP. Was pleasantly surprised to see the list starting in the 70s.

Interesting how everything turned from driving games to shooters once we nailed true 3D. Maybe visuals do dictate the sort of games we play.
 

truth411

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Another nod for GTA V in 2013. First thing I thought of when I heard "most technically advanced game". However, it might be more suited for "Games that pushed hardware to the limit" type thread. I understand that PC's obviously were besting seventh generation hardware in 2013.
If that were the case 2013 should go to TLOU hands down. No game pushed it's platform harder and it is the most technically advanced console games imo.