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We love screenshots here at GamesBeat, and not just because they break up our text to give our readers’ poor eyes a break and make our articles look longer than they actually are. A good screenshot says something about a game, whether that thing is “this is what you can expect” or “this is what we, the developers, hope the final product will look like, but, you know, fingers crossed.”
Here are some of the most interesting screens we saw this year, and to highlight their greatness (or lack thereof), we’ve made up arbitrary awards for each of them.
Funniest official screenshot
Dead Rising 3
Developer Capcom’s zombie-slaying series Dead Rising has always been a good source of funny images due to its unconventional weapons and opportunities to dress up its heroes in outfits of varying functionality. It’s not hard to find pictures of weaponized teddy bears or characters wading into a sea of undead wearing nothing but a bikini and a traffic cone, but this screen gains extra points for transcending broad silliness and making a decent visual joke with its “Jedi Knight” gag.
Funniest player-made screenshot
Batman: Arkham Origins
This image, courtesy of Funnyjunk, captures the well-timed confluence of framing and a graphics glitch. The thug in the foreground just can’t even handle that Batman is standing, like, right over there, and Batman doesn’t even seem to care one way or the other about it. Probably because he’s Batman, and he uses the fear and surprise of evildoers as fuel.
Players first meet BioShock Infinite’s unfortunate lighthouse keeper, who guards the entrance to the airborne city of Columbia, before they’re entirely sure what’s going on. The corpse seems to be a message from hero Booker DeWitt’s shadowy employers, but once the game is over and we learn that DeWitt’s quest to rescue Elizabeth started at the behest of the pan-dimensional Lutece “twins,” it only raises more questions. Did the foppish Luteces torture and kill the keeper? If so, why leave the spooky message in blood? Or was this just a non sequitur to build tension? This body was so confusing that it made our list of lingering BioShock Infinite questions, and we still never reached any solid conclusions.
Most inexplicably awesome
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Even if you don’t know anything about Ubisoft’s tribute to ridiculous ’80s action films, this screen still contains enough silly awesomeness to make you want to watch The Running Man again. Look at it: the neon-accented beasties, the sweet-ass robot hand, the inexplicable girlie mag clipped to the visor … . This shot has more testosterone than you can handle. Apparently, just because a guy is driving around in hostile territory with gigantic monsters everywhere, it doesn’t mean he might not still want to look at some boobs.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
We could have picked any screen from Starbreeze Studios’ one-person co-op game because every frame of it is beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that even the titular siblings themselves have to stop and take a seat on one of the many benches scattered across the world just to look at it. Brothers doesn’t have BioShock Infinite’s lofty views or The Last of Us’ gritty realism, but its soft-focused, almost watercolor-style graphics were among the best of the year.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
This shot, a side-by-side from VideoGamerTV’s comparison of the 10-minute demo of developer Gearbox Software’s ill-fated Aliens: Colonial Marines and the finished product (below), instantly captures the disappointment of the final game. The screen on the left looks a lot like the movie, complete with its high-contrast, blue-tinged color palette. The screen on the right looks like it’s made of Lego. Our reviewer wasn’t too happy with the title although he had more problems with it than just its graphics, but this screen gets the frustration and squandered potential across immediately.
Most pants-wettingly terrifying
Corpse Party: Book of Shadows
The best screenshots get across a lot of information with a single image, and this one from Corpse Party: Book of Shadows, Xseed Games’ follow-up to its Japanese-horrorific game about terrible things happening to children in a haunted school, definitely accomplishes that. We don’t even know what else to say about it. It’s that effective.
Outstanding achievement in beards
The Last of Us
Developer Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us is sure to top a Game of the Year list or two because of its stark world, high-tension gameplay, and amazingly realistic graphics. This shot shows off that third element with a good close-up of antihero Joel’s incredible beard. The title provides plenty else to talk about, but when we saw this screen, we just couldn’t look away from the well-rendered face-warmer. All those strands and textures and different colors … . Truly, this is the most lovingly created digital facial hair ever made.
Least impressed character
Grand Theft Auto V
If you go and check out developer Rockstar Games’ official screenshots for its open-world crime game Grand Theft Auto V, you’ll see a lot of characters with explosions behind them. But this shot of Trevor driving away from a Michael Bay-level catastrophe and looking like he’s just out on a leisurely Sunday drive is the best of them all. We all know Trevor is crazy, but surely he’s not so far-gone as to not appreciate that a lot of people want to do something this badass. Or maybe he just does it all the time, so it’s kinda boring now.
Most hilarious glitch
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
The Assassin’s Creed series is known for its giant worlds and impressive graphics. And all of that comes at a price as a search for “Assassin’s Creed glitch” will turn up thousands of entries both amusing and disturbing. This capture from a YouTube video called “Ascension of the Jackdaw” (included below) contains everything you could ask for. Watching the crew of hero Edward Kenway’s hearty little ship fly off into the sky before the craft itself rises from a gaping hole in the ocean is one of the most memorable unintended moments of the year.