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Essays 14 July 2021, 15:29

author: Michael Grygorcewicz

Intemperately devours games, movies, comics, books, TV series – everything that has a good story and doesn't run away. Also a fan of wolves, Metal Gears, brawlers, and buying old games he will never have time to play.

A New Coat of Paint - Video Game Remakes and Remasters we Badly Need

We may all despise them, but everyone has a list of things they’d like to see done – remakes and remasters have become an obligatory part of the gaming landscape. Our editorial staff has chosen several games they’d like to see upgraded.

Releasing revamped or totally redone versions of classic hits is a long-established tradition in the video game industry; just look at franchises such as Pac-Man or Pong. This trend, however, has somewhat intensified in the recent years, since the publishers and devs noticed that some dime can be made on the side. After its release, PlayStation 3 was flooded with HD collections of games from the previous generation of Sony’s console; this scenario is again recreated after the release of PlayStation 4.

Things are quite similar on rival platforms – you don’t have to keep track of every release for Nintendo or Microsoft systems to have noticed at least a couple of remasters of some old hits emerging in the past decade. Even the PC, where games are more time-proof by definition, has had its own share of revamped games – let’s just mention Bulletstorm.

Truth be told, Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition isn’t winning a spot in the hall of fame – the classics deserve much more than this. - 2017-05-11
Truth be told, Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition isn’t winning a spot in the hall of fame – the classics deserve much more than this.

The players, however, often disapprove of this trend, especially if a simple upgrade of the graphics is everything that changes, but it’s more than certain that everyone could name at least one game which they played a couple of years ago, and which in their opinion deserves a new edition. The following list is precisely this: a collection of games that we’d love to play again in a modernized version.

Remaster, remake or reboot

People often confuse the members of the R team. All these terms sound kind of similar, but are actually very different from each other; hence much fuss can arise from common misunderstandings. A remaster is a slightly tuned up version of a game, and it most often features higher resolution and introduces achievements. Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition and The Last of Us: Remastered are examples of remasters.

A remake is an older game completely rewritten with the use of newer technology. Remakes will usually follow the same plot as the original game and recreate the original mechanics which may be slightly updated and readjusted to contemporary standards. Examples include Tomb Raider: Anniversary, Counter-Strike: Source or Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy.

Last but not least – reboots. A reboot is also created from scratch, but here, the departure from the original is much more significant – most of the time, the entire story is changed. 2013’s Tomb Raider and Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst are reboots.

Dreams come true

The original version of this article was published in 2017, and now we decided to update it. In addition to adding some new dream remasters and remakes, we also checked how many of the old desires have come true. The results are pretty good - in four years, as many as seven of our dream refreshes that we dreamed of in 2017 have either debuted on the market or been announced.

  1. Gothic Remake
  2. NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139...
  3. Diablo II: Resurrected
  4. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD
  5. Warcraft III: Reforged
  6. Crysis Remastered Trilogy
  7. Mafia: Definitive Edition

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

13 years ago, GTA: SA was a torture test for PlayStation 2. Today, you can run it on a smartphone. - 2017-05-11
13 years ago, GTA: SA was a torture test for PlayStation 2. Today, you can run it on a smartphone.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 2004
  2. Developer: Rockstar North
  3. Chances for reedition: slim

“Which GTA was the best” is the sort of argument that can cost you some friends in certain areas of the world. GTA III is a whisker behind the newer entries, but it was the one that marked the advent of Grand Theft Auto’s golden age. Vice City had a fantastic atmosphere, and by many is considered the best of the series. However, GTA: San Andreas’ scope and content are impressive even today.

Inspired by California and Nevada, the fictional state of San Andreas comprised three big cities and a dozen of smaller places as well as uninhabited middles-of-nowhere and a top-secret military base that held many secrets the uncovering of which was as nerve-racking as it was satisfying. Apart from that, the devs from Rockstar North seriously improved on their own idea of the sandbox formula – most notably by introducing protagonist customization, rudimental character development, and the famous gang wars.

Grand Theft Auto V made a comeback to the state, but the landscape was altered in too many ways for the game to feel like a genuine return to GTA: SA. And then there’s the story – not that there’s anything wrong with the adventures of Franklin, Michael and Trevor; it’s just not the same without “All we had to do was to follow the damn Train, CJ!”. It’s very unlikely that Rockstar should commit to producing anything more than a remaster – they’ve got plenty on their plate with the continuous development of GTA Online and the works on Red Dead Redemption 2. Nothing wrong about pipe dreaming, though.

San Andreas with GTA V’s graphics doesn’t seem probable, but there are thousands of gamers dreaming about this. - 2017-05-11
San Andreas with GTA V’s graphics doesn’t seem probable, but there are thousands of gamers dreaming about this.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series

The Zone may not look as impressive today, but it’s not horrible either. In terms of graphics, that is. - 2017-05-11
The Zone may not look as impressive today, but it’s not horrible either. In terms of graphics, that is.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 2007, 2008, 2009
  2. Developer: GSC Game World
  3. Chances for reedition: slim

The hypothetical remake of The Shadow of Chernobyl could offer a whole lot of interesting features. The original was only a couple of unfulfilled promises shy of being the No Man’s Sky of its generation. Contrary to Sean Murray’s game, however, the Ukrainian production ultimately had legs to withstand the pressure, actually reaped quite positive reviews and gathered a dedicated fanbase. Both sequels – Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat – only reinforced the reputation of the franchise.

These original first-person shooters used some ideas from other games, most notably numerous mechanics characteristic for narrative-driven games. But arguably the most outstanding element of the franchise was the sheer atmosphere of the radioactive Zone – with the menacing nuclear plant and the derelict city of Pripyat.

Unfortunately, despite a couple of years of development, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 never came to existence. Some of the ideas from this game were used in Survarium, a game that has been in Early Access for a couple of years and received rather mixed opinions. There’s a huge demand for a return to the Zone, though, which is best asserted by the controversial Areal, which attempted to ride on the references to the series created by GSC Game World.

Deus Ex

There was a time when these graphics were considered flawless. Just imagine. - 2017-05-11
There was a time when these graphics were considered flawless. Just imagine.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 2000
  2. Developer: Ion Storm
  3. Chances for reedition: slim

Warren Spector’s opus magnum impresses us with the freedom of choice and approach even today – in 2000, it was a true milestone for the whole industry. On top of that, it also offered a staggeringly mature and memorable story. Even though the series returned into the limelight with Human Revolution, most players still consider the original Deus Ex the best game in the series, and hold JC Denton much dearer than Adam Jensen.

Sadly, the talk of the town maintains that due to Mankind Divided’s disappointing sales figures, there won’t be a new installment anytime soon - all plans concerning the expansion of either Jensen’s story or the series itself came to a halt, which means that even if Square Enix was thinking about a remake, thinking about it is all they’ll do. Well, maybe we’ll find some consolation in Cyberpunk 2077… when it finally comes out, that is.

If Mankind Divided wasn’t such a flop, it could have helped a lot with bringing the original Deus Ex back to life. - 2017-05-11
If Mankind Divided wasn’t such a flop, it could have helped a lot with bringing the original Deus Ex back to life.

Gothic

The graphics I can live with. The wooden mechanics – not really. - 2017-05-11
The graphics I can live with. The wooden mechanics – not really.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 2001
  2. Developer: Piranha Bytes
  3. Chances for reedition: slim

While the journey of the nameless hero in the Valley of Mines is mostly remembered as a decent albeit not tremendous game, there are some players that simply worship the series – particularly the original title. The crude controls and a very steep learning curve didn’t deter crowds of players who embarked on the adventure in the penal colony inside the barrier. Their patience and enthusiasm was rewarded with the unparalleled atmosphere of the locations, iconic characters, great nonlinearity and engaging plot.

It goes without saying, however, that time was not gentle with Gothic. Compared to contemporary solutions, the controls of the game seem grotesque. The graphics are visibly outdated, and many mechanics could be considered archaic. At the same time, the greatest advantages of this game are still there, so a remake that would meet today’s standards would have all the makings of a successful reedition. For now, Piranha Bytes are entirely focused on Elex, and according to the studio itself, no remake is planned.

NieR

NieR‘s graphics were outdated even before the game was released… - 2017-05-11
NieR‘s graphics were outdated even before the game was released…

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 2010
  2. Developer: Cavia
  3. Chances for reedition: good

NieR was released to a very lukewarm reception, only to achieve a cult-classic status after the years. The less-than-impressive graphics and mechanical issues were reflected by the scores received by the game – despite a great setting and compelling storyline, most reviewers awarded anything between 60-70%. The sales were equally mediocre, which didn’t actually urge Square Enix to supply a whole lot of NieRs to retailers.

In time, though, an increasing number of players grew to recognize the true values of this game, and a peculiar fame suddenly surrounded NieR, boosted by the fact that the PS3 edition of the game became an extreme rarity coveted by the collectors and quickly gaining value. Because of that, there’s no shortage of people interested in a reedition – it’s not even about upgrading the game as much as just making it more available.

The recent success of NieR Automata, by PlatinumGames, generated even more interest in the iteration developed by Cavia; a better moment for releasing a modern edition will probably never come. The developers themselves don’t rule out such a possibility, so the chances of getting a new version of that game and visiting the world infested with the mysterious Black Scrawl virus without the need to spend $200 appear to be quite reasonable.

…it’s sequel, however, is a different story. If the remake were to look like this, it would absolutely suffice. - 2017-05-11
…it’s sequel, however, is a different story. If the remake were to look like this, it would absolutely suffice.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005)

NFS: MW aged with dignity, and the graphics are still acceptable. - 2017-05-11
NFS: MW aged with dignity, and the graphics are still acceptable.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 2005
  2. Developer: Electronic Arts Inc.
  3. Chances for reedition: slim

The ninth installment of the legendary Need for Speed series is most often quoted as the apex of the franchise and one of the best car games in history. The game stayed true to the roots of the series and featured breakneck-speed car pursuits, but this time in broad daylight. More aggressive drivers could resort to slow motion in critical moments and the petrolheads were able to reconfigure and customize their rides with dozens upon dozens of parts. A decent plotline completed the picture.

The name Most Wanted was used again seven years later thanks to Criterion. The remake had little in common with the original – it rather resembled the flagship game of that studio – Burnout. It was a good racing game, but it was totally not the game the fans expected. More fidelity to the iterations released at the beginning of the previous decade is arguably what the Need for Speed series needs to reclaim the title of the king of racing games, especially after the last couple of entries which all met with a lukeworm reception.

Jagged Alliance 2

In the strategy genre, graphics are considered to be of secondary importance, but Jagged Alliance 2 has visibly gotten old.
In the strategy genre, graphics are considered to be of secondary importance, but Jagged Alliance 2 has visibly gotten old.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 1999
  2. Developer: Interplay Entertainment
  3. Chances for reedition: moderate

Jagged Alliance 2 was a very successful turn-based strategy. Liberating Arulco with an army of mercenaries helped by local militia and civilians required many sleepless nights, which may be ascertained by hundreds of players. For a while it seemed that nothing can spoil the future of the franchise, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. JA2 got a reasonably good expansion, but the sequel was never realized and after a series of obstacles, the works came to a permanent halt.

After some years, an attempt was made to reboot the series, but the outcome wasn’t what you’d call impressive. The 2012 remake of Jagged Alliance 2, Back in Action, wasn’t a terrible game, but many people were disappointed with the game abandoning the turn system for the sake of real-time management. When it comes to Flashback, released three years ago, we’re talking about a genuine failure, full of half-though-out and half-baked ideas. This is why I think that the best thing the devs can do right now is easing up on the attempts to revolutionize the franchise, and focusing on reviving the glory of the second installment, without any unnecessary additions – just the old game updated to contemporary standards. And we would all benefit from that.

Flashback had better graphics, better… Nah, I guess this list ends here. - 2017-05-11
Flashback had better graphics, better… Nah, I guess this list ends here.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

None of the latter installments in the Elder Scroll’s series came close to the atmosphere from Morrowind. - 2017-05-11
None of the latter installments in the Elder Scroll’s series came close to the atmosphere from Morrowind.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 2002
  2. Producer: Bethesda Softworks
  3. Chances for reedition: moderate

When Morrowind was released, it offered a fresh approach to the RPG genre – the main thread wasn’t the primary concern of the players. Instead, they were given the ability to shape the world and explore it freely. The scope of the world was unparalleled and the graphics dazzling. The success of TES III determined the direction which the further iterations followed – although all of them were equally as popular and successful as Morrowind, none of them really managed to produce something similar to the quaint, eerie mood that defined the island of Vvardenfell.

For a couple of years now, the works on a fan mod to Skyrim have been underway, with the goal of recreating the elderly Morrowind on a more modern engine. Even though Skywind looks quite impressive, the progress – as is usually the case with such projects – happens very slowly, and there’s always the risk that it may never actually be finished. That’s why many of us would welcome the news about the developers of the original working on such a modification with a sigh of relief. For now, we’ll have to do with the June expansion to The Elder Scrolls Online, which will let us roam the famous province of Morrowind.

X-Wing series

The force was strong with these games, but perished with time it has.
The force was strong with these games, but perished with time it has.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 1993–1999
  2. Developer: Lucas Arts
  3. Chances for reedition: slim

The original idea for the X-Wing series was something that could only be realized in the 90s. A serious, intricate simulator of the cult starfighters from Star Wars is not something most companies would now decide to support. Subsequent installments allowed us to play both as the rebels and the imperial pilots. In the hangar, you could find the cult X-wings, TIE Fighters or the Millennium Falcon, as well as the A- and Y-wings. Besides shooting down everything that moves, players also had to keep their ships power efficient, and manually control the de/activation of front and back shields.

Throughout the years, more than once have I stumbled upon some theories about the supposed revival of the series, yet it never came to that. And it doesn’t look like anything should change – the genre of serious sims is a dying breed, the game would need much more than just graphic lifting… refreshing X-Wing would require some serious financial commitment – this is a risk no one is willing to take nowadays. It’s more likely that we’ll get another arcade space shooter in the vein of Rogue Squadron than an actual stellar simulator. It doesn’t change the fact that if anyone with enough money were to decide to bring X-Wing back to life, I’d be the first one to play it.

The VR mission in Battlefront allows you to feel like an X-Wing pilot for a few moments, but it requires a full VR set. It also lacks the complexity characteristic of the simulators. - 2017-05-11
The VR mission in Battlefront allows you to feel like an X-Wing pilot for a few moments, but it requires a full VR set. It also lacks the complexity characteristic of the simulators.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005)

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005)

Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven

Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Gothic

Gothic

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas

The Witcher

The Witcher

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Fallout 3

Fallout 3

Diablo II

Diablo II

Crysis

Crysis

Crysis 2

Crysis 2

Crysis 3

Crysis 3

Call of Duty 2

Call of Duty 2

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault

Silent Hill 2

Silent Hill 2

Deus Ex

Deus Ex

Silent Hill 3

Silent Hill 3

Final Fantasy IX

Final Fantasy IX

Silent Hill

Silent Hill

Jagged Alliance 2

Jagged Alliance 2

Ishar: Legend of the Fortress

Ishar: Legend of the Fortress

Star Wars: X-Wing

Star Wars: X-Wing

The Generation of Remasters: Why Is There An Overflow Of Revamped Games
The Generation of Remasters: Why Is There An Overflow Of Revamped Games

We live in a remastered world that surrounds us with revised versions of movies, new editions of well-known music CDs and games whose core versions have just been released a moment before. Are we the Generation R?

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