Gaming is becoming more and more advanced as the years go on. The introduction of VR technology and the way AR is breaking new ground just goes to show what we, as gamers, are starting to expect from our games. Games look more lifelike than ever before and challenge us in ways we have never even dreamt about. So it begs the question why developers are so strung up on giving us “HD remasters” of past titles. And why do we lap them up so much?
It’s a fact that the games industry is the fastest growing industry in the last 20 years without question. Companies like Xbox, Playstation and yes, even Nintendo, keep pushing the boundaries on just what games are able to do, which is a fantastic thing for us as consumers as we can see the progression of our favourite franchises over the years. Yet a current trend in the last couple of years or so, sees developers giving past titles a new lick of paint and shipping them out to consumers all over again, so that they may relive some of their treasured gaming moments in glorious 1080p. But why? We all have our favourite games from the past for sure, but do they warrant the upgrade just so we can play them all over again on our next-gen consoles?
I suppose the answer ultimately comes down to the player’s taste. For instance, I cannot fathom a reason for why Transformers: Fall of Cybertron was ported onto the Xbox One after it already saw release on the Xbox 360. Yes, I reviewed the game and said it was amazing and all that, but seriously I wouldn’t have ever looked at that game on my Xbox 360 and thought, “gee I’d love to play that on my Xbox One as well!” On the other side of the coin lies the remaster of Skyrim, which Bethesda currently has slated for release at the end of October. Now I am going to play the hell out of that game, literally until the sun expires and little cyber-demons stroll through the streets. I absolutely loved Skyrim, and spent an inordinate amount of hours playing it on my old 360. So naturally, I am excited to see how a game, which looked as fantastic as it did on the older machine, looks on the newer one. So what’s the difference between Transformers and Skyrim? Personal preference.
But does that mean that developers should be remastering every single past success they have ever produced? Ubisoft might have you thinking so, as they have recently revealed The Ezio Collection (yeah, no one saw that coming) which collects Assassin’s Creed 2, Brotherhood and Revelations all into one epic volume of Ezio-goodness. Now I absolutely loved Ezio’s Assassin’s Creed games, believing still to this day that he has THE greatest storyline of any of the assassins we have so far encountered. However, my gripe with The Ezio Collection is that on the face of it, nothing has improved from when the games were originally released.
Ubisoft have said that the Ezio Collection has, “enhanced graphics for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Telling an epic three-part story of vengeance, intrigue and romance”. I agree with the story bit, Ezio’s Assassin’s Creed games are some of the best in the entire franchise in my opinion, however I am still waiting to see these “enhanced graphics”. Now obviously this is just an observation from the trailers and screens which have been released, but to me a remaster should bring the content into line with other next-gen content that already exists. Like for instance what 2K did with Bioshock. Yet from what I have seen, especially looking at Assassin’s Creed 2, it looks like all that has been done is enough to make the game work on the Xbox One and that’s it. Done and dusted. What’s to stop me from just downloading the games, for free, on Backwards Compatibility?
The same can be said of the Batman: Return To Arkham games which see Asylum and City collected into a volume and ported onto the Xbox One. The only slight difference is that Rocksteady have seemingly attempted to improve the visuals of their previous games…and everybody is hating on it. Seriously everyone? What the hell Rocksteady? Why try and change something that didn’t need to be altered? Now can you see the developer’s problem? They can remaster a game so it can look phenomenal on the new consoles and people will complain it doesn’t look right, or they can leave it completely alone and people will complain there’s no point in buying it because nothing has changed. It’s a nightmare and very few people are able to pull it off.
Cue BioShock. 2K Games pulled a blinder with this franchise right from its conception. The final feather in their cap came with their remaster of the entire series. BioShock: The Collection collects BioShock 1, 2 and Infinite but with a twist. They look phenomenal! Seriously, if you’re going to do a remaster of your game then take note from 2K. Not only have they been meticulously recreated, but you also get all the DLC that comes with the games to boot. There is so much content to keep you occupied with this collection that it truly does feel like a fitting hat-tip to the franchise. Before anyone mentions the Call of Duty 4 remaster, I’m aware it’s a thing, but I just think BioShock tops it.
HD remasters seem to be something that we are going to be stuck with for a while. Either as a “get out of jail free card” for developers who need to produce something, or as a “gift” from developers to the fans wanting to recreate treasured gaming moments. Whether this is a good or a bad thing, really isn’t for me to say, it’s all down to your personal preference and how much you liked games you played in the past. For me, it will ultimately come down to whether or not the remaster adds anything to the experience which perhaps I haven’t already tried before in the past.
That being said, Skyrim. All day long…Skyrim.