Final Fantasy 9's Lindblum might be my favorite city in all of videogames. It's a grand capital perched on a mountain, with an impractically giant gate in front for airships to come and go. Its buildings are all strange shapes, often jutting out at odd angles or stacked atop one another against the mountainside. It's a warm, happy city that's sadly relegated to Final Fantasy 9's low-res pre-rendered backgrounds. Except, now, for one specific part of the city: the outside of Tantalus headquarters, which has been painstakingly recreated in Unity by artist Fabian Denter on Polycount (opens in new tab).
I've been following Denter's work for a few months as he's posted regular updates about this project. You can follow along with the process in a sequence of posts. It starts with basic geometry of the foreground area, which includes the Tantalus building and the buildings on either side and a sidewalk and stairs. By the second post, seeing a 3D recreation of the sidewalk's railing, I already wanted to be able to play around in this 3D reimagining of FF9.
Denter recreated some of the textures from the original scene, including this great poster of Lindblum's ruler, king Cid Fabool. (He's been turned into an oglop, if that wasn't obvious). Check out how good the recreation looks!
Tantalus HQ has been slowly coming along since October, and at this point is nearly finished. Denter hasn't posted an update since mid-December, but I expect he'll be back to completely finish it off soon enough. There's not much missing beyond a few background details and a Final Fantasy 9 character for scale.
While modern Unreal Engine 4 remakes of classic games like Ocarina of Time are a dime a dozen, they're mostly garish and overly realistic, ignoring the art style of the original work. Higher detail doesn't necessarily make something better. Denter's work is different, I think, because it's deliberately trying to recapture the game's original look in 3D, right down to the camera angle and textures and colors. It'd be impractical to create the whole game world this way, of course, but it sure makes me happy to look at.
Check out the model coming together piece-by-piece below.