As the Facebook gaming era moves into a new generation, spurred by the meteoric rise of Farmville, we’re seeing a dramatic rise in visual quality. This echoes the trends of the early 80s, when console gaming came to prominence with the Atari 2600, and bigger developers are making bigger budget games for Facebook. We take a look at 5 social games that look as good as console games.
When we say console games, we mean games that have a visual quality high enough that they could be released on an XBox 360 or a Playstation 3, but as two-dimensional games likely on XBox Live or the Playstation Network. There are no prominent 3D games on Facebook, yet! Without further ado, here’s the list.
Kick @$! Poker
This game uses Richard Garriott’s new Portalarium Player to allow for a faster, nicer animation engine than Flash. You can tell almost immediately upon playing this game that it feels like something you would play off of a DVD or CD than something you play online. There is a plugin to download, but the visual treat makes it worth it. We’re expecting more from the Portalarium Player soon. Read about the game here.
We just reviewed Gangster City here at SocialTimes.com, and it’s clearly a visual cut above any other gangster game on Facebook. Featuring fully animated, voice acted cutscenes, the game looks and feels like something you’d play on the XBox Live Arcade, rather than Facebook. Playfish’s entire roster of games tend to have high production values and large, animated characters. Games like Pet Society and Country Story also take the production values on well known games to a higher level.
Like it or not, Farmville is one of the best animated games available on Facebook. Every item, animal, structure or player in the game has vibrant colour and animation. The animals move about their allotted area and the variety of trees and items is unmatched. Every ‘ville’ in Farmville is different, and that makes the game something that could easily pass as a casual game on a console. I could see this game being released as-is for the Nintendo DS and selling like hotcakes (if Nintendo could figure out how to integrate social).
Sony Online Entertainment’s PoxNora actually was a PC game before SOE ported it to Facebook, and it shows. The game is a card-based title that has a visual similarity to games like Warcraft (albeit with far less animation). That said, the pieces and landscapes look fantastic, and the intricate UI surrounding the game makes this one of the most hardcore games available. The look and feel of the title is certainly something people buy for their PC as a PC Gaming title, and the fact that it’s on Facebook only means that we’ll soon be seeing more of these ports.
FaunaSphere is a full blown Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) ported to Facebook. This game was ported to Facebook from originally being a standalone MMO, and it shows in the quality of animations and customizability of your character. The game is also action based, as you swipe away at pollution in the land of FaunaSphere, and the animations on your character as he performs actions and powers up is excellent. Give it a shot!