What games were cream of the crop back in the mid-2000s, and did you ever imagine how far graphics cards and graphics quality would come?

This is an appreciation post if nothing else. To this day, I have to marvel at Moore's Law, helping manufacturers to go leaps and bounds in terms of power with each successive generation of CPU/GPUs, and allow us consumers to go from low-res texture games to lifelike hair and water in open world games at high refresh rates and frames per second (while still having the option of playing artfully designed pixel graphics games). To think, that a high-end 8800 GTS from 2006 has long since been eclisped by Intel HD graphics (530), and that by 2017, cards as powerful as the 1080 TI were lightyears ahead of all of that! Some days I wake up and realize that I have traveled from the days of an NES to Nvidia 256 graphics presentation to being even further beyond now. Maybe one day I will own a handheld that can game the way a console can, or even a VR headset as capable as PCs now at playing beautiful games - I know HL: Alyx is a standout there.

What do you all think? Were there any games you used to play and look back on now to see how far you've come? I imagine Doom, Half-Life, Crysis, or Bioshock: Infinite might be among them, but are there any games that you put lots of time into years ago, and have returned to much later with nothing more than amazement at how far we've come? Times may be rough, but I hope we can at least from time to time share in the joy that gaming in these last few decades has brought us.

  • I think Crysis not staying as the benchmark of gaming is the most surprising. Now another game, Cyberpunk 2077 takes its place.

    Now its 4k as a standard, graphics now can be almost lifelike, even on consoles!

  • Gotta go with Half-Life and Counter-strike.  They were using breakthrough mechanics.

  • Probably Doom 3 for me.

  • Good reference to Crysis. I can sure remember the old meme "But Can It Run Crysis?"

  • Half life 2, Crysis, and Fear are 3 I think of! 

  • I think open world games have seen the most advancement. Think of Dragon Age, look how far we have gotten. Or maybe look at the Souls series and now Elden Ring. It always amazes me! 

  • Cryostasis, that game had some great graphics for it's time. Whatever physics still beat out some games today in my opinion. Sadly, I don't think it ever got much popularity though. 

  • Myst and Half-Life were all anyone talked about in my crowd years ago.