If you peer out over the painstakingly rendered Venetian skyline in Assassin's Creed II, or watch a car being convincingly torn to pieces during a high speed crash in Forza Motorsport 3 one thing is abundantly clear. Videogames are beautiful now.
It's not the figurative beauty of yore – the iconic charm of Pac-Man, the elegiac simplicity of the vector-mapped space craft in Elite. Modern games are edging toward photo-realism; indeed, through technologies like mimetic interfaces and augmented reality, they are encroaching on reality itself. And at times they are breathtakingly close.
But here is the minor tragedy at the heart of modern games: no matter how astonishing they look, players will never see one of the most beautiful components: the 3D engine.