We are currently entering the final stretch of the year, the weather is turning cold, the leaves are falling from the trees and woolly hats are reappearing from their summer hibernation. For gamers, fall sees an influx of new games across all platforms, encompassing all genres. Fall 2016, however, is something slightly different. Yes we will have the annual FPS offerings from Call of Duty and the sport simulators from FIFA and PES, but we are also getting two games which have been gestating for 10 years apiece, and, most intriguing of all, we are getting a deluge of remasters.
When you are a gamer, keeping up with all the new games across the year is impossible. The two most obvious stumbling blocks to gaming nirvana are time and cost. Younger players have school and burgeoning social lives to negotiate and older players have work/family commitments. This leaves little to no time to play games, particularly if you like to invest into long play sessions. Though the time issue pails into insignificance when you consider the cost of keeping up. I recently created a list of all the games I wished to play up to the New Year. The amount of money it would cost to do so astonished me. At last count the list contained 12 games at an estimated cost of £423. Even with an income and no real overheads, I can’t afford that. As such, some games will have to make way. That’s where the remaster comes in.
Gamers can be quite a cynical bunch, we don’t like bullsh*t and we can smell it a mile off. Remasters for many gamers are a cynical way for publishers to sell the same game a few of years down the line with, in some cases, minimal visual tweaks. Many gamers will swear publishers and console manufacturers (like Sony and Microsoft) are in cahoots to make sure that new consoles don’t allow backwards compatibility just too eek a bit more cash from consumers. The fact Phil Spencer got a huge ovation when he announced backwards compatibility for Xbox One in 2015 shows how important it is to the fan base. Alas, Sony doesn’t bother with backwards compatibility and not every Xbox 360 game is backwards compatible. That leaves the humble remaster.
Of the aforementioned list of games I have compiled, 5 are remasters, and that doesn’t include the BioShock Collection which I have already purchased. The fact is, while cynical gamers will see the remaster as the bane of the medium. They do allow people who didn’t play the original for whatever reason to go back and experience it. How many new PlayStation owners have taken advantage of Uncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection to play one of the greatest game franchises ever made prior, or subsequently, to playing Uncharted 4? I, for example, never played a single BioShock game before the remastered collection was released, so I subsequently bought the collection and dumped hours upon hours into it. The BioShock Collection got remasters right; offering updated graphics, but also some bonus features, including: new trophies and developers commentary. Thus giving a reason for both previous and new players alike to purchase it.
Publishers/developers who release remasters are often derided for “not being able to think of something new”. That is simply not true. The majority of remasters are of critically and commercially successful games, made with the intention of allowing players who didn’t get around to playing the original to experience it in the best way possible. A good example of this is from Ubisoft, they are releasing Assassins Creed: The Ezio Collection on the same day as their brand new game, Watchdogs 2. Clearly they have new ideas and are simply releasing the Ezio Collection—arguably the best story arc of the Assassins Creed series to date—for players, new and old, to experience it with updated graphics and at a better frame rate.
If remasters are done correctly they are the best way to play older games that you may have missed. Yes it would be great if you could slot your old PS3 or Xbox 360 game into the newest generation of hardware but even that has its pitfalls. Many people trade-in or sell their old hardware to pay for their new hardware and I don’t think anyone would argue that it’s better to buy an old console just to play certain old games. There are plenty of games I am going to miss this generation, of my 12 game list, I’ll do well to play half, but it’s good to know it’s possible to play them again in the future updated for new hardware. Game remasters are absolutely good for the industry; let’s remember nobody complains when a film is remastered—unless they change it… looking at you here George Lucas! So why complain when games are remastered, they fit a need and want to experience classic games in the best way possible.