This generation, we're getting more than a handful of remasters. No really, as thin as game cases are these days, you probably wouldn't be able to hold them all in one hand comfortably, gamers with original XBOX Duke controller hands withstanding.
Anyway, we've been getting a lot of them these days and it's gone from mild to shamefully shameless. Granted, the lot of them have been remasters of very successful titles that were very-well received and sometimes hard to find. So when exactly do we have enough remasters? When we run out of games, I guess, but remasters aren't a bad thing; I just think the industry has, for the most part, been going about this very poorly. In this post, I will share when, in my opinion, a remaster is a good idea and when it isn't, starting with remasters we have to remasters we should be asking for.
So far we have...
Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition
Sleeping Dogs was a great game. A lot of fun in an open world chaotic environment packed with karaoke, pork buns, and civilians stuffed into car trunks (don't pretend you haven't done it). In about 2 years' time, we're graced with a definitive edition that packs in the DLC with some graphical and gameplay tweaks (among other, subtler things). Was it worth it? Unless resolution and DLC are enough to entice you, no. It was a remaster of a great game, but it was a safe bet and perhaps a shameless cash-in. The game isn't rare; in fact it can be purchased digitally on your platforms. Heck, you can ignore the cost of the game entirely if you got it on PlayStation Plus where you'd only need to buy the DLC. Same experience in reality.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
What isn't there to love about a remake of one of the GameCube's stand-out, knock out hits? It was vibrant, lengthy, intuitive, and fun. Add Nintendo's quirky new manipulations with the Game Pad and you've got a game worth revisiting. You can tell it was remade with elaborate care and revisiting the game was so pleasant. In a way, it's like going to the movies to see Titanic and then watching the IMAX remaster in theaters on the 100th anniversary of the ship's incident. It was an unforgettable experience and revisiting it is worth the trip. It doesn't add content, but it's a faithful recreation to an amazing game.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
Oh, Tomb Raider. Fantastic game all around. Very survivalist with reusable arrows, the makeshift upgrades, great cast/voice acting, and fun multiplayer. It looked like a worthy combatant for Nathan Drake's adventures and really showed that a long-running franchise can catch its second wind if done well. Then, in a more shameful act than Sleeping Dogs, the game receives a current gen version within a year of the original's release. The game is prettier with an improved frame rate, added content, and fun little functions that make use of the current controllers, but is it worth it? Now I ended up buying the PSN version on impulse recently because it was on sale on PS4 but I also bought the original during a flash sale. Still haven't paid the full price for one version. But no, it wasn't worth the premium they were selling it for if you played it already. I don't regret re-buying it, but then again I didn't pay full price for either version.
The Last of Us: Remastered
There's something very special about The Last of Us. Some people don't get it or found it to be nothing spectacular in terms of gameplay but the story was phenomenal. I'm not one to cater to reviews very much, but the consistency is overwhelming where this very game was awarded over 200 game of the year awards. For many of us, it was a very intimate experience from beginning to end as you watch the relationship between characters play out. Then Naughty Dog came out and released The Last of Us: Remastered, featuring a doubled frame rate, very noticeable graphic and resolution improvements, DLC, and of course Grounded Mode (the hospital still gives me nightmares and I have no idea how I cleared it). The Last of Us was a game I bought at full price once and traded it in to buy the remastered version for about $20 a year later, both on release day. In hindsight, it wasn't necessary and easily regrettable, but it's still a phenomenal game. Would I say the remaster was worth it? Not exactly. It was a fun go around again and it made fun use of the DualShock 4's speaker, but the experience was still fresh in my mind. It was like rewatching your favorite show on Netflix on your new TV where you've likely seen it enough times to recall the outcomes a little too well. It's still a phenomenal game (every game mentioned so far is, but I think The Last of Us more so) but unless you're having a PS4 gaming drought, I can't see a reason to buy it again unless you haven't played it. Given the game has sold to about 10% of the PS3's install base, I'd say a lot of you haven't experienced the game yet, but even then, it's much cheaper on PS3. If you're like me and a glutton for punishment where Grounded doesn't scare you, it may be worth exploring the buzz. Otherwise, a re-release a year later is overkill. The odd glitches at times don't help either.
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin
I don't have much to say about Dark Souls II other than it was one of my games of the year and the DLC was pretty rough, especially Crown of the Ivory King which was probably also the best. Being re-worked for PS4 and XBOX One, this game is an interesting case. I'm not going to be as condemning of this, despite it too being a re-release in a year's time with all of the current content available. In the previous mentions, the games included all of the additional content of the old version. In the case of The Last of Us: Remastered, new DLC was made for it while the definitive editions don't add anything to the experience to my knowledge. In the case of Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, it's essentially the same game with multiplayer improvements and newly-introduced balances. I might say it's more forgiving though because anything added to the revised edition will be available for the current versions as well. It doesn't deliver much of a stigmatizing blow to customers who stuck by them since they aren't missing out, but still unnecessary. I can forgive FromSoft here for making things right to early adopters.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
Now I love Final Fantasy X. Really and truly. It was a a ton of long-lasting fun with a sequel that I actually didn't dislike. Seeing it remade in HD and trophy support was a dream come true. But the frustrating part is its new announcement for PS4. Square is getting pretty shameless with their remakes (and I'm not done mentioning them on this blog) and it shows here. Yes, they're fun games. Yes, I'd recommend them very highly, but no, I don't think it's worth it unless you haven't touched the game since PS2. Honestly, there was potential to sell the Vita as a great companion here if you could stream the HD version to the PS4 via remote play rather than making it available for PS4 as well. For some companies, this generation is becoming the era of "ICYMI" on the PS3 and PS4. Maybe there's an ulterior motive, but all in due time. Oh, and I won't give Final Fantasy XIII its own section since it's in the talks phase at the time of me writing this, but yeah, it's a waste of time. You can probably get all three for a fraction of what you'll probably pay on PS4 and XBOX One. That's just a waste of time since the original games are all HD anyway. The only offered improvements would be frame rates, visuals, and the XBOX One version fitting on a single disc. Pass.
Kingdom Hearts 1.5 & 2.5 HD ReMix
Cheesy story about hearts, add Final Fantasy characters in Disney worlds along with Disney characters in those Disney worlds and you get Kingdom Hearts, a game that was released ages ago along with many of its sequels. Despite the condescending tone I took when I started talking about the series, this is actually a remaster done well. The HD visuals are an enormous overhaul with what I imagine are improved controls and, surprise, they're the Final Mix versions with trophy support. With Kingdom Hearts III finally being confirmed for development, it's great that we have the games to catch us up to speed on the impending release. Let's also consider that it does us a favor and only feeds us the cutscenes of the less popular games in the series (Re:Coded and 358/2 Days). The choice would've been nice, but Square more than made up for it with the addition of the incredibly rare Birth By Sleep Final Mix.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo has an enormous following, that goes without saying. It's pretty much THE go-to first person shooter that isn't Call of Duty or Battlefield. That said, do I think The Master Chief Collection is worth it? Aside from the multiplayer issues we've all heard about, yes. It and Kingdom Hearts' remasters are perhaps the most effective recaps to prepare for their upcoming sequels yet. Halo spans generations and the visual overhaul is nothing short of unreal where the original 2 games look so refreshed that many people have said it feels entirely different. Let's not forget the Forge maps from the originals brought back. Every. Last. One. Of course, if you owned the original games, you could technically play them all on the XBOX 360 since it's backwards compatible with them, but that's probably a rare scenario. Besides, the games have cleaned up very nicely and, aside from the multiplayer bump, it is a huge service to Halo fans. I know multiplayer is crucial to Halo as a series and the multiplayer problems defeat the purpose to a point, but the single player has far more often than not been a delightful experience for those who play it.
So that all being said, we have pointless remasters and some that were done exceptionally well. Though they haven't been mentioned, what would some great ideas for remasters be? Well, for starters...
A Valkyria Chronicles Collection
This underrated gem was truly phenomenal. The SRPG mechanics, heartfelt story, and beautiful visuals went largely unappreciated and sadly, the sequels were made portable, never to see the light of console again (yet?). A remaster/collection of Valkyria Chronicles I, II, and III would be wonderful because (a) more people can play it, (b) like Birth By Sleep, a console controller can really enhance the experience of II which was a PSP title, (c) we would have a translated version of Valkyria Chronicles III that isn't fan-made, and (d) the original would benefit from trophy support. A man can dream...
A Dark Cloud Collection
It's been literally ages since Sony and Level-5 crafted their sort-of answer to Nintendo's Zelda franchise which improved significantly in the second release. The Georama, character swapping, weapon synthesis, and many other things made Dark Cloud it's own game and a fantastic one at that. I played it the other day and, while the first one's controls haven't aged well, the second one has the potential to strongly become an amazing current generation title...but first, Sony and Level-5 should acclimate this generation of gamers to the series with an HD collection. The games are a huge time sink and quite challenging, though more straightforward with less random quest exploration than Zelda. It didn't need to be Nintendo's prized franchise though: as I said, it was its own game. Level-5 still has some magic in them considering Ni No Kuni turned out to be a great game. It'd be great to revisit the Dark Cloud games in glorious HD with trophy support.
Gears of War Collection/Remastered PC version
It's been a good number of years since we really dabbled in Gears of War. Personally, I could live without 2 and 3, but I know Gears has generated enough buzz where people would be dying to play the games again or get into it and with Black Tusk slaving away on the next big game, the XBOX One is the ideal place to do it. With the newfound power of the XBOX One, there's no doubt the games could mirror their PC doppelgangers, maybe outdo them at this stage. The Last of Us, a game that pushed the PS3 to the limit, wasn't overwhelming in the slightest for the PS4 and Gears didn't push the 360 as hard as the The Last of Us pushed PS3. That said, I have no doubt we could be treated to a 60fps, 1080p resolution showdown with the Locust Horde. I'd also wager we won't be seeing the random texture pop-ins either.
So that's what my list looks like. What would you love to see remastered/as a collection? Feel free to comment below!
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