I find it incredibly odd that the moment a movie remake or reboot is announced, people will immediately cry foul and decry the lack of imagination and originality in cinema, without even giving the movie a chance (I’ve been guilty of this myself, yet I’ve been proven wrong in harshly judging a film before it’s released).
Yet those very same people cry out for remakes or remasters of games. I’ve found the reliance in the current generation on swathes of ‘remastered’ games to be a little depressing, in honesty – I’d much rather the talent and resources that game developers and publishers have access to are used on bringing us new games and experiences. Not only that, but the ease with which games are remastered with little change aside from graphical upgrades really hits home how small a jump we’ve had from the last generation to our current one in terms of gameplay.
Remakes are different of course; a game such as Resident Evil 2 being remade to take advantage of modern technology and game design principles is more welcome than a simple graphical lick of paint. I get that it’s a beloved title and having a more modern version makes sense, but having already experienced the original (multiple times), I’d still rather see Capcom pushing the boat out a bit and working on new franchises or resurrecting some of their other, more neglected series.
Remasters are an area where the PC excels; perhaps that’s why it seems so odd to see console gamers lapping up a slightly upgraded version of a game for what seems to me to be an extortionate price; on PC, for the most part your entire library is remastered any time you upgrade your graphics card – it’s a great and often underappreciated benefit of PC gaming. Yes, there’s the cost of the upgrade itself – but that’s comparable to buying a new console and will last just as long, if not longer, than a console generation will – yet in many cases it’ll result in hundreds, if not more, of your games getting an instant glow up (using that number exposes me – my backlog of shame on PC is ridiculous). For the record, my current graphics card is a GTX 970 – pretty much mid-range at the time I bought it in 2014, it still copes admirably – especially in comparison to current gen consoles.
Still, remasters and remakes are hugely popular – critically acclaimed, even, in the case of the Resident Evil remakes – so they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. As an example, The Last of Us Remastered sold 2 million copies within 24 hours of release (physical and digital sales combined) – even though the original game had already sold around 8m copies – which clearly shows that there’s a demand for such titles. Halo: The Master Chief Collection – though hit with plenty of issues at launch – is now a stunning package of remastered games; the first two Halo titles in particular really do benefit from the extra graphical sheen, but my concern is less with polishing titles from a few generations ago and more that they’re often upgrades of last gen titles with little else to differentiate them from the visuals; it’s a lazy money grab in my opinion.
The Xbox One X approach of enhancing games you already own – or can now pick up incredibly cheaply – is far preferable. Imagine my surprise when I bought the first Assassin’s Creed for just £1 pre-owned, only to find that it’s been visually enhanced when played via Xbox One X; surely this is the way it should be, rather than a near full price re-release?
With backwards compatibility (rumoured to be a feature that’ll be included on both Sony and Microsoft’s next consoles) – and innovations such as the aforementioned Xbox One X enhancements (which work the same way a PC does for back catalogue games), however, perhaps – and hopefully – remakes will be a more common sight in the next generation than remasters.
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