Time for another rant on things I actually LIKE. I know, it seems bizarre to hear me NOT diss things, heh.
I played Vandal Hearts 1 a ways back, and thanks again to Icy for sending it my way for reasons I don't actually fully remember (was it a donation contest or something?). And I had to say, one of the many aspects I was pretty impressed with was the look of the game and its characters. It's a strategy RPG about war and the chaos and bloodshed that it brings (think Suikoden games, or Final Fantasy Tactics). However, it actually has characters who LOOK realistically gritty and tough for the times and events of the country. Let's face it, by and large RPGs feature pretty, well-structured anime people designed to be at the LEAST visually pleasing, and more often than not downright beautiful. It's how entire groups devoted to wanting to bone characters like Sephiroth and KOSMOS get started. Someone in a game may be an experienced warrior used to close combat, but like hell will that ever have any influence on their complexion. I mean, not that I mind in the least Lady Chris Lightfellow's perfect looks and lack of any disfiguring scars or anything like that, but it IS just a tad unrealistic.
Not to mention, let's face it, some people are just not very good looking, plain and simple.
There are a few small exceptions to the general Beautiful Anime Character rule, of course, but usually these are games whose very American-styled universe necessitates a lot of ugly--you don't expect to see chipper, big-eyed heroes with bright blue hair in Fallout's post-apocalyptic wastelands, nor pretty slim glowing blonde teen magical girls hanging around gang turf and junkyards from Shadowrun's cyberpunk I-Have-5-Different-Kinds-Of-Cybernetic-Jacks-In-My-Head-And-I'm-Also-An-Orc-With-Wolverine-Claws world. Something like Vandal Hearts 1's world, you'd expect your standard anime pretty people cast.
But instead, you get gritty, real-looking characters, quite a few of which are a far ways from lookers. Everyone looks REAL, and to me, it actually really helps to draw the player into the tough world they inhabit and get into its atmosphere. I can't complain all that much about games handing me gorgeous lady characters all the time, but all the same, VH's a very refreshing, realistic, and appreciated change of pace.