Bringing old video games to new platforms has been around for decades. "Remastering" old games by updating their graphics, adding new features, refining gameplay and overall performance, etc., and bringing them to new platforms is something many associate with Sony and their 2009 God of War Collection. This PS3 game consisted of the first two God of War games, which originally came to the PS2 towards the very end of its life cycle. But rather than just lazily porting these games to Sony's new console to ready gamers for the upcoming God of War III, the collection brought both games "HD" graphics and trophies. Two reasons to re-purchase these games. Dig deeper (and I'm sure you could go even deeper with such games as the Super Mario Advance series), and I would actually credit Nintendo for starting the remaster trend with its 2005 release of Super Mario 64 DS on, you guessed it, the Nintendo DS handheld. The game featured improved graphics, some minor new gameplay elements and mechanics, over 30 mini-games, and all sorts of features that utilized the DS's second screen. This game allowed older fans who had a N64 as a kid (I guess I was still a kid when the DS game came out too) to re-experience the revolutionary game with nostalgic memories but also with some new, added fun. It also allowed newer/younger gamers to experience one of the greatest, most important games ever created for the very first time. Everybody won.
Flash forward to 2015, and we've seen successful remasters of several old games, particularly from the PS2/GC/XBOX generation, such as Sly Cooper, Jak & Daxter, Kingdom Hearts, Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Halo: Combat Evolved, etc. Given that these games came out at a time in which the video game industry was rapidly changing and evolving, it made sense to remaster these games and to keep them alive in a way. After all, who still has a working PS2 and all their old games? Personally, I do for the most part because I am a very sentimental, nostalgic person. But it would be a shame to let games die with the past. Re-releasing games digitally via Sony's PS1/PS2 Classics or Nintendo's Virtual Console is brilliant for preserving games if nothing else. But having new excuses to play either your old favorites or games you may have missed out on is an even more exciting idea.
Towards the end of the PS3/Wii/360 generation, I remember having a conversation with a friend about whether or not games from the current (now previous) generation would ever be re-released/remastered for the PS4/WiiU/XB1 generation. The reason it became a discussion and somewhat of an argument is that, while the new generation would certainly mark various improvements, there wouldn't be the same "SD" to "HD" gap that the PS2 to PS3 (for example) bridged as a selling point. Just how better could the PS4 version of Mass Effect 2 look and play from the PS3 version, even four years into its life cycle? I guess we will have to wait and see for now, but the odds are that the remaster will not be as significant as say, Metal Gear Solid 2 was.
Neither me or my friend would have guessed that we would be getting "remastered" game or collections this early into the generation. Sleeping Dogs, Tomb Raider, and The Last of Us have been brought to the new generation with almost trivial levels of improvement or change. Just over the course of these past couple weeks, a PS4 remaster of God of War III has been announced while remastered collections of the Uncharted and Batman: Arkham series have been highly rumored. Now, I get the fact that many 360 owners jumped ship to the PS4 after not experiencing the PS3's library, or vice versa. Or maybe a kid just turned 17 and is now itching to play the M-rated games that he/she missed out on. I get the idea of remastering games, I really do. In fact, I'm all for it. However, I do think that time plays a very important role. I mean, Uncharted 3 and Batman: Arkham City released about 4 years ago. 4 very short years. Why not let these games reach their 10th birthday. At least the first games in their respective series (holy s***, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune turns 10 in two years!).
The other alternative is something that I think was well realized by both Rockstar and Microsoft with Grand Theft Auto V and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, respectively. The PS4/XB1 version of GTAV not only brought over the one year old game with better graphics, but also added a first-person mode, environmental changes, and roughly coincided with the launch of their online heists multiplayer mode. Halo: The Master Chief Collection collected and remastered Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 with remade cutscenes, Halo 3, Halo 4, and soon Halo: ODST with their brilliant single-player campaign. For multiplayer, every Halo map ever was available to play. As added bonuses, a multiplayer beta for Halo 5: Guardians was included as well as the smash flop Halo: Nightfall mini-series. Both re-releases weren't lazy cash grabs, but rather celebrated the original games and improved them. They seemed like fan service while making a quick profit. If remasters of the previous generation happen so soon, they should look to these two releases as inspiration.
That said, here are three games that I would love to replay right now as remasters:
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Collection
Includes: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3; remade campaigns; separate true-to-self multiplayer modes looking and sounding better; All DLC
Why: Hate or love what Call of Duty has begun, there is no denying its influence and relevance in both the video game industry and pop culture during its early Modern Warfare days. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is right next to The Last of Us, Bioshock, and Grand Theft Auto IV in my short list of the most influential AAA games from last generation. When that game came out, there was really nothing else like it. Its campaign rivals blockbuster movies and its multiplayer component had millions hooked. Its popularity was inescapable. And for good reason. I would LOVE the opportunity to play COD4's multiplayer all over again just the way it was. No new modes, no new perks, not just its brilliant maps thrown into what Call of Duty is now. But that's not saying there isn't room for visual, technical, and audio improvement. The original game is now overrun with hackers and features near ugly animations and textures. MW2's multiplayer has a special place in my heart as well. Anxiously trying to get the "nuke" killstreak would be even more intense with timely updates. Again, keep the core mechanics and layouts, perks, etc. Go ahead and make the horrible MW3 multiplayer as well, why the hell not. That's just the multiplayer. How great the Modern Warfare trilogy's campaigns were cannot be exaggerated that far from the truth. They are fantastic, well connected and are begging to be replayed with all of the most recent Call of Duty advancements. Here is where you can mess the mechanics and practically remake the trilogy to feel like a whole experience.
Possibility: 50/50. I can see Activision getting greedy and pushing out two Call of Duty games in one year. Making this a Spring release shouldn't mess with a new Call of Duty that badly. Or maybe just give Infinity Ward or Sledgehammer a fourth year to make their game while this collection comes out in Fall 2016 or Fall 2017, which would coincide with the 10th anniversary of COD4. On the other side of the coin, why ruin a good thing? Call of Duty is still wildly successful and I have a feeling that Treyarch's new Call of Duty is going to reinvent the series in a major, major way. They have become the top dog in Activision's platoon of COD developers. This collection could get in the way and ruin the hype behind a new Call of Duty. I really could see Activision going down either path.
- Fallout: Ultimate Wasteland Collection
Includes: Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition, Fallout: New Vegas - Ultimate Edition; remastered from PC versions
Why: I adore Fallout. Fallout 4 is the subject to my dreams. That said, I think that this game is at least one year away, and it should be in order to release as successfully as possible, with hopefully just as few bugs on the console versions as the PC version has and look better than even the best modded versions. Back to reality, I think it would be wise for Bethesda Game Studios to test the waters of the PS4 and Xbox One with a remaster of the two beloved PS3/360 games. It would be wise for them logically and from a business point of view. Eagerly waiting (and sometimes impatient) fans such as myself would eat this collection up. The thought of playing through Fallout 3 without nearly as many hiccups and bugs is a truly exciting thought. Perhaps Fallout 3 gets barrel sights and a few other improvements that Obsidian made with Fallout: New Vegas. And how about shorter load times and not having to worry about your save file growing and its correlation with frame rate issues like a ticking time bomb?
Possibility: Near 90%, eventually. It would be shocking if we never saw these games get the remaster treatment at some point. But having this collection come out before Fallout 4 could be problematic because I have hope that that game comes out a lot sooner than some people might think. Like maybe even this year kind of soon. Releasing this giant 400 hour collection could fatigue some casual gamers. It could even take away from Fallout 4 sales when you take into account gamers who haven't played Fallout yet.
- Red Dead Remastered
Includes: Red Dead Redemption, all DLC including Undead Nightmare, slightly remade version of Red Dead Revolver; improved graphics and sound, new weather cycle and environmental objects and effects, first-person mode, photo mode, downloadable soundtrack voucher
Why: Red Dead Redemption is my favorite PS3 game. I wrote all about my love for it a few blogs back in my Top 35 PS3 Games list. It's a just a special game. Rockstar always treats their fans nicely (their console-owning fans anyway) and this would be the ultimate celebration of one of the greatest games of all-time. A friend of mine and I had a long discussion of just how cool it would be to replay this game using GTAV's remaster as a template. It would be beautiful. Man, I love this game and I miss it dearly. The possibility of this remaster happening is the only thing keeping me from dropping another 250+ hours into this game.
Possibility: 70% With absolutely nothing official on their agenda (a RDR sequel and new IP are rumored time and again) for the first time that I can remember, they probably have multiple large scale games in development that are still multiple years away. I would be shocked if we get a brand new Rockstar game before 2017. They need something to fill that gap. This would sell hot. Rockstar, are you listening?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!?
- A special shoutout goes to a Super Mario Galaxy Collection, but I just want a Super Mario Galaxy 3. That's all I can ask for.
How about you? What remasters from last generation would you like to see? Thanks for reading and please comment :)