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Rise Of The Remasters (And Why They’re A Problem)

The-Last-of-Us-Remastered-25

So when the hell did this happen? I feel like I turned my back for one moment and thirteen publishers tried to put lipstick on one of their big 2013 titles and tell me it’s a new release.

They can’t think we’re all quite that moronic, which leads me to an inexorable conclusion – they actually believe it IS a new release. Or, at the very least, they believe that we believe it is.

So then I have to ask, is it?

No. No it’s not.

I could wax philosophical at this point; stick a Swiss flag up my bunghole and give some kind of an objective overview of both sides of the story here, but frankly I don’t want to.

This entire parade of plumped, fluffed and enhanced AAA titles can walk itself right into a New Mexico landfill – as can anyone dumb enough to pay full price for a game they already bought and played a year ago.

There are many reasons I hate this, but let me discuss some of the biggest:

A New Console Is Not A Reason For A Re-Release

This is the justification given mostly, and it makes absolutely zero sense to me.

The last couple of years have seen a bevy of console games which never made it to the PC, but somehow there is room in the budget to port those games across to the exact same audience.

Some fancier hardware does not warrant a re-release of a game that’s a year old. We’re not talking major leaps and bounds here either; it’s like cranking your graphics detail from medium to high and turning on anti-aliasing.

Hey Crytek is struggling at the moment, maybe they should re-release Crysis, as is, since now people’s computers can actually run it on high settings without killing the family pet with an exploding GPU.

It’s bad enough that roughly half of the AAA titles we get every year are sequels, expansions or other play-it-safe moneymakers that check their originality at the door, but now we have to deal with a market flooded with games we may literally still be playing right now.

If you want to show off what the new consoles can do, why don’t you make a NEW GAME to do that?

It’s An Obvious Money-Grab

Oh, that’s why. Because new games are risky and cost money, old games with a fresh tan and a boobjob are much cheaper and much safer.

The sickest thing for me is that they’re probably going to sell loads of the damned things. What’s even worse is that there is probably a large contingent of people who have the old game who are also going to buy the new one.

If you’re one of those people, I hope you at least ask Naughty Dog to buy you a drink before you let them f**k you.

Make sure it's something expensive too.

Make sure it’s something expensive too.

Remasters Should Be Reserved For The Classics

I think of a remaster as something that’s trying to update something that needs to be experienced. This works particularly well for games, as they age quickly and awfully, and the low-tech look and feel is often a turn-off to newcomers.

This doesn’t mean that we need a hardware-accelerated version of Big Rigs or Superman 64, however. Some things are best left forgotten.

For me, the purpose of a remaster such as Black Mesa (the unbelievably excellent Half-Life 1 makeover by an independent team) is to allow those who didn’t grow up with it to experience and appreciate it for what it is. If you don’t have that nostalgia attached to it, it can be hard to look past the shoddy graphics and outdated engine.

Or, for those of us who have played and loved the game, to re-experience it again in a different way, to fall in love with it all over again.

The Last Of Us is a great game, it may even one day be remembered as a classic, but it sure as shit isn’t at nostalgia level yet. It’s hard to feel nostalgic about a game that still has its poster plastered inside gameshop windows, where lazy employees who haven’t taken them down yet are now hoping to recycle it for the Remastered Edition.

They Should Probably Be Free

Obviously you couldn’t have something like The Last Of Us going for free, but The Last OF Us Remastered shouldn’t even exist so it’s kind of a moot point.

What I’m trying to get at here, is that these remasters should really be passion projects. As I said previously, they shouldn’t be about trying to squeeze another round of cash out of an old game, they should be about taking a piece of art and making it accessible to a modern audience.

Most of the time this happens because they’re made by a group of dedicated fans, but wouldn’t it be great to see developers do this as well?

I honestly have no idea how much it would cost to overhaul an old-school classic like Duke 3D or Monkey Island or something and just release it as a free download, but when I look at the marketing budgets for games like Destiny or Call of Duty I somehow feel like there’s space for it.

This is just a Photoshop sadly; but how much cooler is this than The Last Of Us with slightly better textures?

This is just a Photoshop sadly; but how much cooler is this than The Last Of Us with slightly better textures?

Conclusion

Perhaps an idealist, or an optimist, or I’m just a jaded fool who doesn’t understand this industry or what people actually want. Maybe you’re all chomping at the bit for some of these Remasters, and I’m not going to tell you what to do with your own money.

Hell, maybe if I was rich I’d also like setting fire to big piles of it. My issue is more with the uncomfortable feeling it gives me. I know it’s very in right now to say the games industry is a money-hungry corporate juggernaut that doesn’t give a toss about anything other than the bottom-line, but I don’t think that’s entirely true.

I think in a lot of ways we’ve created the monster, and the industry is only like that because it has to be. Companies have been forced into a situation where taking risks are not rewarded, and playing it safe with annualised, franchised releases is.

We’ve seen companies like THQ crash and burn after a couple of games that didn’t meet sales expectations, and that’s the reality. When you have to spend a hundred million plus on a game to make it meet our standards, a couple of commercial flops can sink you. So instead, we get a lot of tiptoeing and a lot of easy moneymakers year after year.

I want new, exciting and original games, and this wave of remasters is just showing me exactly why I can’t have that.

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  • BinaryMind

    True true. The only thing I can think of to make it better is to at least make the games half price *at least* AND make them free for people who already own the original.

    Metro Redux is sort of doing ok with their deal I guess if all these new changes are really game changing. I would still prefer it cheaper though but oh well.

    Age of Empires 2 HD is a joke. Buggy as hell and ALL THEY DID was change the resolution. That game is worth about R 20 at most but they are charging R200! Out of their fudging minds!

    • http://www.nag.co.za Chris Kemp

      That’s the issue with it in general really, for a boxed retail release it can’t possibly be free, but that’s how they’ve chosen to do it.

      If it was simply a digital download or something like that, there are ways to make it a lot more fair/appealing to those who already bought it the first time around.

      That being said, it still just feels impossibly stupid to have a “Remastered Edition” of a game that came out last year.

      • BinaryMind

        Yeah, agreed.

  • Alex Rowley

    Two of my friends went with 360’s last gen and now have PS4’s. They both are planning on getting The Last of Us remastered because of the sheer amount of praise it has, these remasters are aimed for a specific audience like that, I have no problems with them because I honestly don’t believe they are that much of a strain on the devs and are not interfering in the process of the creation of new games.

    If I had to buy an X1 I would buy the Halo remastered edition coming out because I haven’t played any of them before.

    • http://www.nag.co.za Chris Kemp

      It definitely makes sense for them to buy it, but there’ve been plenty of games (Titanfall comes to mind) that simply released on both old and new consoles almost simultaneously. Same game, but obviously better graphics on the newer hardware.

      Releasing it as a separate “remastered” edition with a whole lot of fanfare just doesn’t sit well with me, I guess because it feels like it’s trying to get PS3 owners who already have the game to buy into it again.

      • Alex Rowley

        Yea my example for is the only reason why I see somebody buying this. I have no clue why anyone would buy The Last of Us for PS4 if they already played on PS3. I just se them as opportunities to play the games we haven’t yet.

        PC is getting the remastered version of GTAV which I am happily going to buy. Honestly I blame the consoles for not being backwards compatible.

  • Dalton Baury

    For me the only place a “re-master” belongs is as a port onto a tablet or phone, I have had lots of fun with Monkey Island on the iPad or KOTOR even they are amazing. The problem still remains though that the nostalgia only lasts an hour then I get bored so to pay premium price for a remaster of a game that is new oh hell no, the “nostalgia” will last a good 30 seconds.

    • http://www.nag.co.za Chris Kemp

      That is an interesting thought too, I definitely don’t mind those as they are usually pretty inexpensive and a unique take on an old title.

  • Sierra53

    I may end up bending over and grabbing my ankles for the Fable Remastered edition….then again, I may just come to my senses and re-install Fable TLC on my pc.

    • http://www.nag.co.za Chris Kemp

      Haha, I’m a lot more okay with that one. I assume it’s a remaster of the original, right? Which came out in 2004 or 2005 or something, which means it’s a decade old game at this point.

      At least that has something approaching nostalgia :P

  • Alec Samuel

    Your column here Chris could be argued to an extreme point… Yes it seems like they are trying to resell the game to people who have already played it (games like The Last of Us Remastered). But honestly they want to give the experience to the people who did not own the PS3 and anyone who has a played it more of a reason to get it again. When they release any game it’s for money, otherwise the creators won’t have any money for the next game. Maybe this is a way of driving more resources into the sequel/prequel. I agree with your opinion but there are alot of people that bought the Remastered because they haven’t played it or thought it was worth buying again.

    • http://www.nag.co.za Chris Kemp

      I agree that it may make sense for someone who hasn’t played The Last Of Us to get it now on PS4, but why is it being released now? Why under a new name, with it’s own special parade?

      There were plenty of games that released at the end of the old-gen cycle that were simply multiplatform, across old and new. The Last Of Us could have done the same, but instead they choose to touch up a few textures and re-release the game nearly a year after the launch of the PS4.

      To me it’s just clearly a money-grab and it doesn’t sit well with me at all.

      • Alec Samuel

        Oh yes it is very much a money-grab, but unfortunatly we love an Industry that is driven by money… And it’s being released with a new name and it’s own “special parade” because that is for the people who have played it already and want to buy it but these “changes” is to convince them that it is worth it.
        Honestly people don’t have to buy it, if they don’t want to. These companies can release what they want. People will complain but as long as the company makes a profit in the end they won’t care.
        Once again I agree with you, I’m merely just playing Devil’s Advocate.

        • http://www.nag.co.za Chris Kemp

          Yup, what people spend their money on is their prerogative. My concern as it relates to me is that it’s time/resources not being spent working on new games, but rather rehashing old ones.

  • Guest

    I agree with the points on the minimal improvement on these rmastered editions being released a very short time after the original on the previous gen. It’s like they had hidden graphics settings like in Watch Dogs and just turned some of those on for the new consoles.
    I get it’s mostly for people who didn’t play it on last gen, but does that also justify charging full PS4/Xbone price for what is essentially the exact same game as last year for last gen?

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