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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.

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault

The stage remembered by many. - 2017-05-11
The stage remembered by many.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 2002
  2. Developer: 2015
  3. Chances for reedition: slim

The third installment of Medal of Honor was also the first one to be released on PC. The franchise was already popular at that point, but it was Allied Assault that elevated it to the top. All thanks to a single level – the D-Day Omaha beach landing, borrowing a lot from Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, offered an unparalleled interactive experience.

The creators flawlessly captured the chaos and randomness of death on a battlefield that overwhelmed the player with its sheer scale, setting the standard for all WWII shooters that followed. And although now we’re pretty much used to this level of “cinematic” game design, many would gladly pay to relive the nightmares of D-Day in HD. Unfortunately, as Electronic Arts isn’t interested in competing with itself and prefers to focus on MoH’s twin franchise, Battlefield, chances for a remake, or even a remaster, are not very good.

The last installment, the 2012 MoH: Warfighter, flopped so bad it buried the entire franchise. - 2017-05-11
The last installment, the 2012 MoH: Warfighter, flopped so bad it buried the entire franchise.

The Witcher

List of things I want to see in a remastered Witcher: 1. Upgraded main character model. - 2017-05-11
List of things I want to see in a remastered Witcher: 1. Upgraded main character model.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 2007
  2. Developer: CD Projekt RED
  3. Chances for reedition: slim

It’s true that it was the third Witcher that made the charm, making CD Projekt RED one of the brightest stars on the RPG firmament, but its two predecessors weren’t half bad either. Especially the first installment is fondly remembered by some of the players as the most “slavic” in the entire trilogy – the Murky Waters village or Outskirts of Wyzima were among the most atmospheric and memorable RPG locations.

The first Witcher modified and used the same technology that powered Neverwinter Nights. The devs at CDPR squeezed everything they could from it, but there was only that much they could do. In this case a simple remaster wouldn’t be enough, as the game needs some more in-depth modifications. However, if we were to take the latest RED Engine and use it to depict the contents of the first game... Yeah, right. Unfortunately the devs already attempted to remake the first Witcher (the unreleased console version was to feature, e.g. a completely overhauled combat system), and they are more than likely to never try this again.

Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout 3 still doesn’t look so bad... - 2017-05-11
Fallout 3 still doesn’t look so bad...

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release dates: 2008 and 2010, respectively
  2. Developer: Bethesda Softworks and Obsidian Entertainment, respectively
  3. Chances for reedition: slim

Converting a classic franchise, such as Fallout, into 3D without raising controversy and criticism from orthodox gamers was impossible. And promptly some people raged. Most gamers, though, were rather pleased with the new artistic direction and spent dozens, if not hundreds of hours in the capital wasteland. True, there had to be some compromise and the game was not entirely without technical issues, but the 3D wasteland managed to keep its unique atmosphere intact. New Vegas, released 2 years later, managed to one-up its predecessor when it comes to post-apocalyptic vibes, and is generally considered the best 3D Fallout ever created.

Remasters could focus on polishing the technical aspects of both games (especially New Vegas) and get rid of all the bugs and issues that survived the period of dev support. For now, however, the current IP owner – Bethesda – appears to be completely uninterested with any kind of reedition, making the chances for a refurbished wasteland rather slim.

...until you realize what the modding community has achieved throughout all those years. - 2017-05-11
...until you realize what the modding community has achieved throughout all those years.

Call of Duty 2

Don’t you miss the digital WWII trenches? I know I do. - 2017-05-11
Don’t you miss the digital WWII trenches? I know I do.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 2005
  2. Developer: Infinity Ward
  3. Chances for reedition: moderate

Long before single-player campaign became mere addition to online experience and the story moved far into the future, Call of Duty was an FPS series that focused on WWII, having both feet, or maybe boots, on the ground. It offered a long, solid story campaign that depicted battlefields from various perspectives – in CoD2 the parties were USA, United Kingdom, and Soviet Russia. And although the “evolution” of the franchise was a commercial bull’s-eye, garnering the series global popularity, a significant number of fans misses the experience offered by the early Call of Duty games.

We know for sure that the franchise plans to revisit the past in the latest installment, but I wouldn’t count on it shifting back to single-player focus, at least when it comes to main installments. That said, the remastered edition of Modern Warfare, which was included in some special editions of Infinite Warfare, turned out to be a big hit and may spawn a new tradition – addition of upgraded releases of classics along with new titles (if not every year then perhaps every two years). Assuming this becomes a thing, the next CoD game we’d like to see remastered would be Call of Duty 2 – one of the best installments of the franchise.

Final Fantasy IX

The cartoonish visuals of FFIX have aged much more gently than the realistic depictions in FFVIII – they could still use a good overhaul though… - 2017-05-11
The cartoonish visuals of FFIX have aged much more gently than the realistic depictions in FFVIII – they could still use a good overhaul though…

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 2000
  2. Developer: Squaresoft
  3. Chances for reedition: good

For a company that is very eager to re-release older Final Fantasy games, and often, Square Enix is also surprisingly unwilling to create remakes of earlier installments of the iconic franchise. It took years of sending petitions and pleas for the company to have them mercifully agree to create a remake of their greatest hit, Final Fantasy VII. We, in turn, hope that it won’t be the last time Square Enix makes such a move, and as the new FFVII will most likely be a stunning success, we’ll be seeing more remade Finals, especially those of the PSX era.

The ninth installment revisited the fairy-tale-like roots of the series, returning to the theme after several games went for a mixture of fantasy and cyperpunk. The colorful, cartoonish character designs were hiding a plot equally complex and intriguing as the ones from FF VII and VIII, and the game mechanics lost nothing of their charm while enriching the old, proven solutions with some new tricks. This is the installment we’d like to see again the most, only this time with visuals comparable to Final Fantasy XV.

Promo materials for Final Fantasy VII Remake look stunning and give us some idea how other refreshed Final Fantasies may look like. - 2017-05-11
Promo materials for Final Fantasy VII Remake look stunning and give us some idea how other refreshed Final Fantasies may look like.

Crysis trilogy

To be honest, even without any upgrades Crysis holds its ground against many modern AAA titles – especially when it comes to depiction of forests. - 2017-05-11
To be honest, even without any upgrades Crysis holds its ground against many modern AAA titles – especially when it comes to depiction of forests.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 2007, 2011, and 2013, respectively
  2. Developer: Crytek
  3. Chances for reedition: good

The first Crysis was nothing short of a technological revolution. It was a title that set the bar for video game visuals for many years, and I mean it – even the sequels had a hard time in direct visual comparisons with their ancestor. Even today, ten long years after release, the leafy Philippine forests can take your breath away with their spectacular sights, and not many modern games can honestly say that they can do better.

People tend to forget about one thing – the Crysis franchise was more than beautiful graphics. Under that impressive coat lay a solid FPS core, which added some variation by featuring special combat exosuits; the suits offered a varied array of buffs – super strength, speed, invisibility, and armor. The ability to quickly switch between the powers offered by the suit was the essence of efficiency in the game, not to mention vehicles that were scattered across maps for additional fun.

As the effect of aging on those games is almost negligible, a complete remake would be unnecessary – just add some polish here and there and the trilogy is ready for a re-release. Knowing that Crytek was having some serious financial trouble lately, we wouldn’t be very surprised if we were to face crises once more, and soon.

Silent Hill – the first three installments

The second and third installment not so much, but Silent Hill 1 has aged very, very badly… - 2017-05-11
The second and third installment not so much, but Silent Hill 1 has aged very, very badly…

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 1999, 2001, and 2003, respectively
  2. Developer: Konami
  3. Chances for reedition: don’t ask

To the fans, the fate of this iconic horror series is almost as scary as its best installments. After the great first three installments the series experienced a steady decline in quality, with the year 2012 being a quadruple nail to the coffin – Downpour was botched, the creators of Book of Memories for PlayStation Vita obviously had no understanding of what made the series great, the remastered editions of Silent Hill 2, 3, and 4 were lumps of bugs and issues that cried to heaven, and the second movie adaptation... let’s not go there, OK? The only thing that could have been worse would be if somebody were to announce a very promising reboot, and then cancel it because of corporate meddling. Oh, wait... that’s exactly what happened.

The only way we’ll see a new Silent Hill, given Konami’s current state and policy, is on a pachinko machine. Nothing they can do to prevent us from dreaming of a true re-release, though. Of a remaster that, in contrast to the infamous Silent Hill HD Collection, would be playable. Of a new, completely rewritten SH1, which was the scariest of them all in my opinion. A melancholic SH2 with its ground-shattering plot twist, and SH3 that would tie all the loose ends left by the first installment. The last two games would need only some cosmetics. Perhaps someday, when Konami gets new management.

P.T. was exactly how the Silent Hill of our age could have looked like. - 2017-05-11
P.T. was exactly how the Silent Hill of our age could have looked like.

Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven

The visuals have aged significantly, but the atmosphere still goes toe-to-toe with The Godfather. - 2017-05-11
The visuals have aged significantly, but the atmosphere still goes toe-to-toe with The Godfather.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 2002
  2. Developer: Illusion Softworks (currently 2K Czech)
  3. Chances for reedition: moderate

Mafia III has directed the series on a completely new track. While the plot managed to defend itself, the unpolished mechanics and technical issues were a big disappointment. For many gamers that series has ended and Mafia IV, assuming it will even come to be, will have a lot of work to do to rebuild the players’ trust in the franchise. One way to help it would be to release a reedition of the series’ best installment – Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven.

The story of Tommy Angelo, his path from a simple taxi driver to one of the Don’s most trusted men has certainly stood the test of time and is still considered one of the best gangster tales ever to be told in a video game. Also in terms of gameplay the title easily beats many modern games, including its own sequels – 15 years later and which other game has had a police that reacts to player speeding? The only thing that needs refurbishing are the visuals – the rest of the game is as solid as the day it was released.

Ishar series

Ishar: Legend of the Fortress – second chapter of a four-part cycle.
Ishar: Legend of the Fortress – second chapter of a four-part cycle.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release date: 1991–1994
  2. Developer: Silmarils
  3. Chances for reedition: slim

This somewhat forgotten RPG series has left its mark in history mostly with the unconventional system of recruiting/discharging party members – before somebody could leave or join the party the decision had to be put to a vote and the outcome depended on the will of all party members. Well, you could always order the assassination of party members who did not agree with your opinion, but many say it is unethical. It could also lead to an outbreak of a civil war in your party.

The game’s other characteristic was its significant difficulty level (and remember, we’re talking of an age when ‘Nintendo hard’ was a common thing), which, along with a solid set of RPG features, caused this four-part saga to deprive numerous gamers of their good night’s sleep. Today, its dated gameplay solutions make it very easy for the players to recoil, and the games would basically have to be rewritten from the ground up to be able to please younger gamers. The party management system, however, remains a unique feature and a modernized version is something we’d very much like to see.

That’s how I image a modern take on Ishar; given current technology it could turn out just like Skyrim. - 2017-05-11
That’s how I image a modern take on Ishar; given current technology it could turn out just like Skyrim.

Thief: The Dark Project

Thief knew how to build a dark atmosphere. - A New Coat of Paint - Video Game Remakes and Remasters we Badly Need - dokument - 2021-07-14
Thief knew how to build a dark atmosphere.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release year: 1998
  2. Producer: Looking Glass Studios
  3. Chances of a reissue: moderate

If you insisted, this whole list could be filled only with representatives of stealth games – not counting Agent 47, almost all masters of hiding in the shadows, who at one time laid the foundations for the entire genre, have not practiced their trade for years. And the return of Hitman in the classic formula would probably please that fraction of fans who weren't convinced by the sandbox new trilogy (which was arguably excellent). Meanwhile, Snake remains in retirement, Sam Fisher continues to break the hearts of his fans by making guest appearances everywhere but in his own stealth game, Denton was replaced by Jensen, who was also eventually released of duties... and Garrett, having retreated into obscurity seven years ago, no amount of pleading or love letters can convince him to step back into the limelight.

I partially understand – the king of thieves has been used to being treated with respect over the years. It was he who first showed in 1998 that stealth games can also work well in first-person, and then twice confirmed his mastery of the thieving trade. So when the reboot of his adventures, simply entitled Thief, released in 2014, was met with a cooler reception from fans and critics, it must have traumatized and discouraged him from future appearances. However, time heals wounds – it's high time to come back!

We have perfect proof that a sensibly tailored remake of the first Thief, combining the phenomenal atmosphere and interesting story of this production with a more polished, modernized mechanics, makes sense. The proof is Arkane Studios' Dishonored series – hugely inspired by Garrett's legacy and confirming that such format still works. The rights to the brand are held by Square Enix, which likes to bring its older series back to life from time to time – so we're keeping our fingers crossed that Thief will finally be brought back.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

Had Bloodlines not bowed to the weight of its own ambitions, it could have brought a new quality to virtual gameplay. - A New Coat of Paint - Video Game Remakes and Remasters we Badly Need - dokument - 2021-07-14
Had Bloodlines not bowed to the weight of its own ambitions, it could have brought a new quality to virtual gameplay.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Original release year: November 2004
  2. Developer: Troika Games
  3. Chance of a reissue: slim

Bloodlines is one of the sadder stories in the video game industry. The swan song of Troika Games was an outstanding game. It offered enormous, impressive freedom in shaping the fate of the protagonist and the world around them, which, combined with the extremely evocative atmosphere of the grim reality controlled by the vampires of Masquerade, gave an incredible effect. Unfortunately, the scale of the project meant that it was also an unfinished game at the time of release – a lot of deleted content and gigantic technical problems ruined its chances for commercial success, bringing Troika to the financial bottom. Only fan modifications years later brought the game to a proper condition.

How far Bloodlines was ahead of its time can be seen in the fact that the game, with the right mods, can still impress with the same qualities it did in 2004. So it would be all the more nice to see a real remake of this title, modernizing its mechanics and setting, while respecting what is timeless in it. Fans of the original had their hopes raised by Bloodlines 2, which was announced a few springs ago, but recent insider reports raise fears that it may suffer the same fate as the first part – the developers seem to be outgrowing their own ambitions. Therefore, perhaps instead of a full-fledged sequel, a safer route would simply be a remake?

Star Wars Jedi Knight Series

Kyle Katarn let us fulfill our fantasies of becoming a Jedi. - A New Coat of Paint - Video Game Remakes and Remasters we Badly Need - dokument - 2021-07-14
Kyle Katarn let us fulfill our fantasies of becoming a Jedi.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Release years of the original: 1995–2003
  2. Developer: LucasArts, Raven Software
  3. Chance of a reissue: slim

The exclusive Star Wars game production deal that Electronic Arts signed in 2013 didn't work out well for the brand. We've gotten very few big-budget entries in eight years, and even fewer of them have lived up to fan expectations. Now, finally, Star Wars can be created by other teams as well, which raises hopes for a better future. More than new games that may or may not be successful, we'd probably be happy to see the return of the Chose One of the Star Wars franchise. Twenty years ago, it showed how great it could be to draw a lightsaber.

The Jedi Knight series primarily allowed you to follow Kyle Katarn, a former Imperial who changed fronts and, as a mercenary, helped the Rebellion on secret missions before eventually exploring the paths of the Jedi. The series started out as solid shooters, but fully spread wings by giving us the ability to fight using the Force and saber. It's difficult to find a list of the best games set in this universe, which wouldn't place the four parts of Jedi Knight at the top spots. Even Force Unleashed and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, released many years later and strongly expanding the combat, are no match for Katarn's adventures in the eyes of fans.

Standing in the way of the series' comeback, unfortunately, is the new canon introduced by Disney – making the storylines presented in the Jedi Knight series no longer part of the official Expanded Universe.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005)

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005)

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Gothic

Gothic

The Witcher

The Witcher

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas

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

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

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

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

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

Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven

Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven

Fallout 3

Fallout 3

Crysis

Crysis

Call of Duty 2

Call of Duty 2

Diablo II

Diablo II

Crysis 3

Crysis 3

Crysis 2

Crysis 2

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

Silent Hill 2

Silent Hill 2

Silent Hill

Silent Hill

Deus Ex

Deus Ex

Silent Hill 3

Silent Hill 3

Jagged Alliance 2

Jagged Alliance 2

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Final Fantasy IX

Final Fantasy IX

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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