Horizon Zero Dawn: Aside from the kinda weird facial animations, this game just looked amazing. The whole robot-dino aethetic just sold it. One of the first games that really used light well on an open landscape.
Mass Effect 2: The character models, and art direction were just on point. The original ME looked good for it's time, but has aged hilariously. This on the other hand still looks good when running on a proper PC.
Ninja Gaiden Black: First game I ever played that legit had bumpmaps. Nuff said.
Resident Evil 4: I don't know what else to say other than, this game made the GameCube look like it had the power of an Xbox under the hood.
Metroid Prime: Fucking environmental effects on your fucking visor! That and Samus' model just looked amazing with the shiny chrome texture applied.
Halo Combat Evolved: Biggest leap in graphics ever was going from Perfect Dark in 2000 to this in 2001.
Ocarina of Time: This is the game that made PS1 look last gen. Facial animations, and you could actually make out facial features! Unlike that pixel soup that was Metal Gear Solid on the PS1!
Super Mario 64: I don't need to explain this.
Mortal Kombat II: This is the closest a game has come to looking photorealistic at any given time for me. Sure, by today's standards it's pixelated, but in the 90's it looked like real people fighting. You had to squint to tell it was a video game. When's the last time you had to do that?
Great post, but did you play Halo Combat Evolved back when it came out? Cos that had bumpmapping years before Ninja Gaiden Black.
So did games like Rogue Squadron II, Luigi's Mansion, and Starfox Adventures on the Gamecube if you played any of those.
Not to downplay Ninja Gaiden Black's visuals of course, it's a beautiful game to this day and definitely one of the best looking of its generation.