Open Forum: Are We Getting Bored Of Remasters?

Replay value.

Once a rare and sought after breed, nowadays remastered games seem to be springing out of the ground left, right, and centre. A week can’t simply roll on by without mention or rumour of yet another game being re-released on slightly newer tech.

This year alone we’ve seen plenty of remasters come to both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Chief among these are the third instalments of both God of War and Gears of War alongside Devil May Cry 4 and even Resident Evil. There has also been a few notable digital remasters such as Journey and Homeworld, as well as handheld revamps like Xenoblade Chronicles and the sublime Majora’s Mask.

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Some five or six years ago, remasters were almost completely unheard of. Although there were definitely cases of video games being optimised and re-released on other platforms, this was a relatively unknown practice, but in today’s climate, it’s not uncommon for studios to eye up their recent string of last-gen hits, and who can blame them?

Not only are they cheaper to make than sequels and new IP, there’s also a healthy demand that has yet to show signs of fatigue. This camp is mainly comprised of  those who missed out on playing the original version of a game, and those who adore it enough to consider a re-purchase on newer hardware.

However, one question that continues to float around is this: which games are truly deserving of being remastered? The go-to answer is, of course, the “classics” – landmark games that have dropped jaws around the planet in years gone by. Games like Final Fantasy X, Metal Gear Solid 2, God of War, and Kingdom Hearts.

God of War was in fact that one game to kickstart this recent remaster trend. Prior to the launch of God of War III (a truly seminal game, for anyone asking) Sony Santa Monica e-mailed its fans a survey, quizzing them on upcoming extras they’d like to see in the game’s special edition. The survey seemed innocent at first, touting the usual bits and bobs we like to see, but then something caught our collective eye. A HD remake of the first two God of War games, complete with trophy support.

The rest, as they say, is history and soon demand for the God of War remasters skyrocketed. (Re)developed by the talented folks at Bluepoint Games, they were eventually released on Blu-ray to rave reviews. I remember being so excited that I even imported a copy from the United States just in time for my eighteenth birthday.

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Inevitably, more remasters were soon to follow. Under the “HD Classics” label we saw series like Splinter Cell, Ratchet & Clank, Sly Raccoon, and Prince of Persia all go under the knife. They just kept on coming with smaller remasters also cropping up via digital storefronts.

Compared to many of the remasters we see today, these ones actually felt warranted. It seems that, somewhere along the way, this nostalgic edge has been marginalised in order to help publishers bridge the gap between the two most recent console cycles. Games like Hitman and ICO originally launched almost a decade before being spruced up whereas The Last Of Us was out for little more than a year.

Stefan shared his thoughts on the matter a few months ago, with his opinion being that we need a more universal approach:

Just the act of preserving our gaming history through remasters is inherently worthwhile, and shouldn’t really be restricted just to the games that are “good”. Of course, those will be on the frontline, and we’ve seen the vested interests of major companies playing out with remasters after just a year or two.

However, there’s also some rather exciting projects like the recent Mega Man Legacy Collection, with Digital Eclipse porting the games into the Eclipse Engine. This then acts as a middle ground for these games to be run on existing and future platforms with ease. The more games that are recreated in the Eclipse Engine, the more of our gaming history can be preserved for the ages and brought to new platforms in one fell swoop.

When it comes to remasters, there are no right and wrong answers. Even the ones that seem cobbled together and grasping are still enabling a sizeable part of the market to re/experience a catalogue of games they might otherwise pass on. For that reason alone, it’s hard to get mad whenever publishers give their old games a fresh lick of paint.

36 Comments

  1. I have no problem with “remasters” per say, especially more hard to acquire titles such as resident evil, what I do object to is remaster for the sake of it,prime example would prototype a shallow and baseless cash grab.
    I believe in the preservation of older titles for historical and sentimental value, remasters keep games alive for much longer and is even more vital with removal of backwards compatibility.

  2. My answer is no….I bought The Last of Us on both platforms and will buy the Uncharted remastered edition even though I have them on PS3…

    Some games are just worth it…some are not…I’ll skip DmC and Dishonored remastered editions…perhaps if I did not have them on the PS3 then it would make sense to get them on the PS4…

    Then there is a new generation…my nephew is 16 and was on XBox for a while when he was younger but now has turned to Sony and has a PS4, he has never had a PS3…thus he can play The Last of Us and soon Uncharted and that option would not have been available if it were not for the remasters…

    It entirely depends on the game and your choice but it seems to make sense to re-expose certain games on better hardware both for the publisher and the gamer.

  3. depends on what they are re-mastering in my opinion.
    some games are best left well alone.
    some are just lazy ports(dishonord)
    some don’t really look that much better.
    i think its down to personal tastes whether you want to play them or not.
    there are a few games out there that I would love to see jazzed up.call of duty or bioshock would be nice!

  4. For those that are entering the gaming arena, these remasters are always going to be great because of the chance to play gaming legends which would otherwise be locked out, but for the already initiated it feels like there’s just as many remasters as there are brand new IPs (of the AAA kind I should mention).

    No doubt the cost of developing current gen games is part reason for this, which is the puzzling thing about where gaming is heading. It seems as the games get bigger and more complex on new hardware (with lashings of innovation), more time and money is needed. The economy and rather tight market doesn’t exactly help new devs studios start up and survive either. It seems like remasters and indie games are filling all the gaps, which is certainly something I’m not that interested in.

    This said, I wonder how much backwards compatibility affects things. If it was native on both consoles, some remasters would have next to nothing market value. After all, there was a raft of PS1 games early in the PS3 age, yet they were all digital releases for emulation, not remasters.

  5. No, I like them and think they are are a great practice to bring new blood to old classics.

    Yes, there are terrible remasters that are just a “cash grab” as hully said above. But then, there are terrible original games being released weekly that some may say are just as bad.

    Also, it’s been said time and time again yet somehow ignored by the people that don’t like remasters, these games keep people in jobs. They really do.

    So the game is finished, you’ve done your job which was get the game into a basic prototype. You don’t deal with polish, you’re the guy that just does the coding in the background, or the scenery, or whatever. So now you’re twiddling your thumbs with nothing to do and the game isn’t releasing for another 5 months. Your next project hasn’t even been announced yet because everyone is too busy with the current one.

    This is where remasters work, and work well. Maybe they give this guy a different style of job on it, improve his skills in that field.

    That example is very much made up but I bet it isn’t too far off the truth in many of these cases!

  6. I don’t really mind remasters but I’d like to see some proper effort put into the remastering itself. The Last of Us being a good example.

    However, I’m guessing market forces will also help dictate whether a half-arsed remaster will make its money back and help build the franchise. Only then will we know whether it’s worth continuing with a project or starting something new.

    Part of me wants devs to do their best with new franchises and part of me wants the “classics” looked after. Perhaps the better angle on this is to look after the classics more comprehensively, especially as we move forward with an ever-increasing slice of digitally delivered games.

  7. I have mixed feelings about this. Firstly, when I have re-visited very old games, albeit the same version or an improved “remastered” one, nostalgia always appears to play tricks on me and as such I very often don’t enjoy the game as much, and it can turn out to be a disappointment. Some things are best left in the past.

    I guess I pick and chose where the argument suits me, so it’s a bit hypocritical. For example, I’ve been pleased with the PS4 versions of The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto 5 however I think both were worthwhile re-release since they came in the latter stages of the PS3’s lifecycle and their multiplayer elements still offered plenty of longevity, which might have been cut short with the jump to current gen consoles. Therefore their re-release is justified in my opinion, and I still play both games online on PS4 whereas I think it unlikely I would be doing so on PS3 now, had they not been re-released. On PS4 GTA5 also has much improved visuals and a First Person view; and TLOU has photo mode and I believe it runs at 60fps and 1080p.

    Then their are lazy remasters like Dishonored where the resolutions has seen little to no improvement – sure it’s price of around £20 makes it good value, but it’s hardly a “definitive” definition, by definition, when it could be better!

    Then there’s your quick cash-grab like Tomb Raider Definitive Edition. It was probably a shrewd move to release it asap on current gen as there wasn’t many other games out at the time, but I’m not sure people would have cried out for it – or Dishonored – in the same way they would have for GTA5 or TLOU.

    Some re-releases make more sense than others, like the Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition since it came with all the DLC – and the game had a lot of DLC! Seeing as there wasn’t the equivalent Game of the Year Edition on PS3 with all the DLC, I guess this type can be justified. Or Gravity Rush Remaster since it will appeal to people who never owned a Vita.

    Anniversary Editions are often quite nice, but personally I think they’re only worthwhile if they add anything different, otherwise it’s most likely people have played them or they’re readily obtainable as it usually only occurs with top games. Telltale’s Back to the Future is getting a 30th Anniversary Edition (read: a PS4 release) next month. Just seems like an excuse to release it on PS4 to me, since the game is only a few years old and PS+ members got it free already.

    Anyway, I guess there’s absolutely no harm in remasters etc providing they are either much improved or offer added or “all” content. Finally, it’s only ok if a remaster doesn’t come to the detriment of the development of another, new game.

    • Oops, can’t believe in all my waffling that I didn’t mention the huge benefit and pull of re-releasing console exclusive games like Uncharted and The Last of Us. Guess I just did…

  8. I think it depends largely on the games being remastered and how old/rare they are, but also performance upgrades that are possible. The Last of Us had a hefty FPS upgrade that made it far more playable, while the likes of Guardian Heroes were so rare and expensive that the port was much appreciated.

    Multiplatform games such as Dishonored and Borderlands feel unnecessary as copies are everywhere, but Grim Fandango was a classic scarcely found. If we can get lost classics remastered and enhanced, then people will lap it up.

  9. If it’s a real remaster with obvious improvements over the original then I’m definitely for it. Assuming it’s a true classic worth revisiting of course.

  10. Depends really. Sony remastering some of their big-name PS3 games (Last of Us, Uncharted 1-3, God of War 3) makes a lot of sense given there are probably plenty of PS4 owners out there who were on 360 last generation.

    The same goes for Xbox remastering Gears1. With Gears4 over a year away, it makes sense for Microsoft to get some new fans on board ahead of Gears4’s release. Plus it gives existing Gears fans something to play while they wait.

    Multiformat games like Dishonored, Sleeping Dogs, Prototype on the other hand? Pure cash grab in my opinion and they’re starting to piss me off.

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