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10 Video Games To Show Off Your Home Theater

By Chris Abbott, 7/24/2012

With the amazing high-def, 3D visuals that were introduced in this most recent generation of gaming consoles, video games are definitely one of the best ways to show off a killer home theater system these days. Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like cranking up the receiver and getting completely immersed in an intense gaming experience. And while it’s virtually impossible to truly narrow down a list of best HD gaming experiences, we decided to give it a shot with some of our favorites. From the explosion-laden Battlefield 3 to the high-speed Forza 4, here now are 10 amazing games to show off that home theater you’ve invested in.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

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Nathan Drake’s second chapter in the Uncharted series is certainly something to behold. Among Thieves brings a level of graphical fidelity that deserves to be witnessed in beautiful high definition, and has enough sound options to make any audio enthusiast pleased. With Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, and Linear PCM 5.1 settings for its uncompressed audio, Naughty Dog delivers the goods.

Rez HD

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Originally released in the early 2000’s on both Dreamcast and PS2, Rez got the HD treatment in 2008 when it showed up on Xbox Live Arcade. The game is a rail shooter that takes players through a Tron-like computer environment, illustrated by wire frames and vector graphics with splendid colors and lighting. Electronic music accompanies the unique sights, and players alter and enhance the soundtrack with every action on screen. Rez HD is greater than the sum of its parts; it’s a visual and aural odyssey that builds until the game’s last area that will have you cranking the volume on your receiver and getting lost in the sublime sounds.

Battlefield 3

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With the latest entry in the Battlefield franchise, developer DICE continues to impress in the audio/visual department. Their Frostbite 2.0 engine allows gamers to blow environments to bits with grand explosions; a few well-aimed shots with an RPG-7 will reduce buildings to rubble. To make the destruction even more believable, Battlefield 3 sports unbelievable sounds. DICE has won several awards for sound design in previous games, and they are continuing to set the bar here.

Crysis 2

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Crytek has upped the ante of what a game’s visuals should look like. The first Crysis was brilliant, but its sequel trumps it graphically. Animations, special effects, and environments look utterly gorgeous, but the real star of Crysis 2 is the lighting. The way light touches the environment and every object in it -- enemies, buildings, trees and bushes -- requires a high definition screen to truly appreciate.

God of War 3

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Before God of War 3 was released, David Jaffe (who directed the first God of War) said “...it looks like a painting come to life - it’s THAT good looking” on his blog. After watching a few minutes of Kratos traversing lush environments and beating enemies with a ferocity that has yet to be matched, Jaffe’s not wrong. God of War 3 pushes the PS3 to pump out images and scenes so lavish they make Kratos’ brutality more ferocious than ever.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

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Kojima Productions made Guns of the Patriots with painstaking care. From animations to camera angles, you’d be hard pressed to find a game with the same level of presentation than MGS4. Beautiful sights aside, this game demands a surround sound experience. To put things in perspective, the sound design team spent countless hours recording footsteps in different shoes to deliver an unparalleled level of authenticity. For rich, layered sound effects and an unbelievable score from Harry Gregson-Williams, look no further than Metal Gear Solid 4.

Forza Motorsport 4

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Since the first entry in 2005, Turn 10 Studios has improved its racing sim with every sequel. But with Forza 4, Turn 10 rebuilt its graphics engine from scratch, and it definitely shows. This means that there are over a million polygons making up each vehicle that the game has to offer. The tracks themselves have been given just as much tender loving care, and driving a lap around Laguna Seca in your dream car is so photorealistic that the roaring engines with transform your living room into the driver’s seat.

Gears of War 3

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Gears of War 3 is the culmination of the blood, sweat, and tears Epic Games has put into their Unreal Engine. Planet Sera appears fantastically run down and war-torn, and the Locust Horde has never looked so menacing. The sounds of Horde popping out of emergence holes frighten, and the raucous gunfire soothes -- but nothing beats the violent revving of your Lancers chainsaw combined with the scarlet blood splattered on your screen.

LA Noire

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Let’s face it: when it comes to facial animation, LA Noire has yet to be beat. Team Bondi set out to make the most believable digital characters, and succeeded thanks to new technology called MotionScan. Fantastic acting coupled with the sounds and style of the late 40‘s, LA Noire is a very cinematic experience. Seeing characters’ lips move in perfect sync with the dialogue makes the game more immersive, but the soundtrack is what gets LA Noire on the list. Andrew and Simon Hale have crafted such fitting tones, jingles, and themes that listening to it on anything less than a 5.1 system would be selling it short.

Super Mario Galaxy 2

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Never mind that the Wii can’t compare with Sony and Microsoft’s tech specs. In Mario’s second adventure across the galaxy, Nintendo demonstrates that art style matters just as much as the resolution on screen -- perhaps even more so. The exquisite orchestral arrangements of classic Mario tunes perfectly complement the sweeping experience. With vibrant, vivid visuals, breathtaking music, and immersive environments sure to captivate any gamer, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is essential in showcasing your home theater system.

 

 

Now Let's Hear Yours


You've read our recommendations for games to show off your home theater, but we're interested to hear what other titles you'd recommend. Let us know in the comments!

 



Chris Abbott regularly writes about video games for IGN and 1UP.com. You can follow his twitter for even more gaming recommendations.

 

Comments (29)

Good picks but I feel that Red Dead Redemption, Bioshock, and Dead Space all deserve a place on this list.
Played and loved Uncharted 2 on my LCD - great stuff
Agree on Dead Space. Some other good titles to showcase are Killzone 2 or 3.
I don't know how Uncharted 3 didn't make it onto this list. The 3D is absolutely amazing.
Final Fantasy was amazing on the PS3
Bioshock's visual art direction is peerless IMO.
Tiger Woods Golf has amazing surround sound.
uncharted 2 and 3 are both amazing
I got BF3 because I read here that people like the surround sound on their previous titles. It does have nice 5.1 surround to it. The graphics are pretty nice on the xbox, but pc is even better from what I understand. So nice that the pc crowd is making short little films out of the stuff. Here is probably the most famous short film. "One"...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVjIcSSTyrI
Any of the Uncharted games should most definitely be on this list. Uncharted 2 Is the best in the series but 3 Is a small bit more cinematic. they also all conform to video standard rec 709 , unlike many games.

The Dead Space Games are great cinematic horror games but what really sets them apart from the crowd is the sound design. These games need to be heard just as much as seen. The surround sound ambient effects truly need to be heard to be believed.

The Mass Effect Trilogy is another example of great cinematic story telling in games and this space opera needs to be experienced for the great character interactions and for how your actions in the previous game carries on into the next. great stuff.

LA Noire is a entertaining crime Noire game with a great story and the best character facial animations yet seen in a game. these characters come alive and will make you almost forget you are interacting with fictional characters

Heavy rain Is a dark and foreboding cinematic experience that kinda reminds me of an episode of x files or the twilight zone. Its definitely a game that is blurring the line between games and the feel and direction of today's best TV Drama.

Theres many more But I want to mention that for people wanting to enjoy gaming on a properly calibrated screen the best hardware currently to do so, in general is a PS3. I Say this because It has a properly implemented hardware gamma. The Xbox 360 Has a linear piece wise gamma. what this means in practical terms is that many games on the XBOX will have shadow details crushed or they will be very murky looking. where as the same game on the ps3 will have proper shadow detail. This is a compounded by a greater issue in that most developers in the games industry don't pay much attention to established video standards.

Some game developers are getting better and do compensate for the Xbox's Shortcomings but this often translates poorly to the PS3 as it tends to wash out these games when they are ported to the ps3. Just be aware that you may need to adjust a games gamma to compensate for the developers lack of knowledge with regard to rec 709 or even sRGB for that matter.

Here is a link for further reading on the Xbox linear Gamma response . This info is geared toward game developers but It will help you understand why this is important to videophiles like us. http://filmicgames.com/archives/14 http://www.valvesoftware.com/publications/2008/GDC2008_PostProcessingInTheOrangeBox.pdf

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Good call on Heavy Rain, cid67. Totally agree with you there. Bioshock is another good one to add to this list.
I was thinking Alan Wake (XBOX 360) and Gran Turismo 5 (PS3). BUT after taking a second look, not so much.
Super Stardust HD. WOW!
Man. most of those games have garbage graphics. Laughable 720p resolution and jaggies everywhere.

PC games destroy these games in every way.
Skyrim with HD mods. Crysis 1 with Natural Mod. BF3, everything at Ultra. Metro 2033, at Ultra. Flight Simulator X, on maxed out.
I'm surprised no one mentioned Batman: Arkham City as that game looks visually stunning..
Looks like I have some games to add to the wish list!
Witcher 2. Absolutely gorgeous game with impressive sound design. Play the "Dark Mode" difficulty level and listen to your subwoofer groan in agony when you pull out your sword. The forest in the first stage is the most organic, natural sounding forest I have ever experienced in video games. And its dangerous too.....
I have to disagree about Crysis 2. It most certainly does not trump Crysis graphically. Just look at these screenshots of the original Crysis running on PC. The sequel doesn't even come close.
Yes it does. You need to play with DX11 enabled to really see it shine (1, 2, 3, 4). However, there Ultra High mods available that vastly improve the original Crysis as well. As far as showing off visuals, I'd have to say that BF3 is probably the best looking game I've ever played thus far, especially in terms of real-time effects (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

I'd also have to echo some of the games already mentioned. repete's right in that Bioshock's art direction and visuals are fantastic. The sound design in that game is also a treat (those Big Daddies moaning and stomping around is pretty eerie). Batman: Arkham City for its visuals. The Mass Effect series for its cinematic scope (not to mention the music). Witcher 2 and Metro 2033 for their visuals. Dead Space 2 for its sound design. I'd also add Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit for solid visuals and sound.

And while a game like Limbo doesn't push the boundaries graphically, if you're looking to elicit a different kind of reaction with unique visuals, that's definitely the game to do it. The sound design is excellent as well. Journey would be another game in a similar vein.
Uncharted 2 and Crysis 2 are absolutely stellar for flexing the muscle of any Home Theater. Crysis 2 serves, for me, as a reference for audio in video games. If your surround setup is done correctly, when you engage armor, you hear it wrapping around you as your subwoofer pressurizes the room. Uncharted 2, however, is the most technically proficient video game I've seen on any console. Keep in mind that there's far more than graphical fidelity at work here; it's a combination of graphical fidelity, level design, and sheer visual atmosphere.
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