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What's better: physics freakouts or beautiful food?

Jarring or juicy?

Last time, you decided that a really big unreal place is better than going undercover. Good. Very good. Great deciding, reader dear. I'm wholly impartial, of course, but I am glad you haven't forced me to come up with some contrived reason to jam a really big unreal place back into the running. We can continue. This week, it's a question of jarring vs. juicy. What's better: physics freakouts or beautiful food?

Physics freakouts

I think a thread running across our grand competition is that I am delighted by anything which both makes video games seem magic and exposes them as the shams they are. Few things capture this better than physics freakouts. How amazing that we can simulate the behaviour of objects and bodies in real time! How wonderful when they trip up and freak out in wildly unrealistic ways!

Video games are full of fun physics freakouts. It's always a joy to watch a ragdoll physics corpse get stuck inside an object and vibrate furiously. I also enjoy any time a Grand Theft Auto V car or plane ends up somewhere it shouldn't be and slowly, violently shakes itself to pieces. Destruction physics can freak out in fun ways too. I'd also include glitches like the HL2 speedrunning technique of jumping atop an object in midair like a magic carpet; you can't tell me this pallet isn't freaking out with overwhelming physics. (Though I wouldn't include games which are built upon silly physics; that's the game working as intended.) And the very, very best of all is when the physics on my own cyberbody freak out and somehow launch me halfway across the world, hopefully to burst against a wall.

Beautiful food

Food, glorious food! Hot turkey and sweetroll! I know you already decided that fruits are not better than NPCs saying your custom name but today I present a different thing: beautiful food which artists have clearly cooked virtually with serious effort and love. Beautiful, beautiful cyberfood.

Delicious food in a Final Fantasy XV screenshot.

Monster Hunter: World and Final Fantasy XV are the games I most think of for beautiful food. They offer us buffs from eating a wide variety of such delicious dishes (cooked, respectively, by a cat and a catboy), which are rendered in 3D-o-vision so juicy and glossy you almost want to lick your screen. I am so very, very grateful that Capcom and Square Enix decided that this was a valuable use of limited time and resources; they were right. Portal's cake was worthy of song, too. But food doesn't need to be high-poly raytraced gleam-o-ramas to look delicious. Plenty of low-poly food still looks lush, 2D renderings tasty, and pixel art snacks scrumptious. It's all about care, love, and culinary vision.

With food so important to our daily existence, I am always glad to see it respected and venerated in video games.

But which is better?

As much as I appreciate a glistening dinner, I think those typical Source engine sounds of ragdoll freakouts are etched into my ear canals. PRLRLLPLLPRLPLPFLPFLPFPLLPRLPLRPPL. But what do you think, reader dear?

Pick your winner, vote in the poll below, and make your case in the comments to convince others. We'll reconvene next week to see which thing stands triumphant—and continue the great contest.

About the Author

Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice is likely in the sea.

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