Ok, misleading post title. We’ve talked a lot about remasters, actually, but since Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection comes out this week, I thought we could cover this ground one more time. 

In terms of game-per-dollars-spent, U:TND (sure, let’s go with this) has to be one of the best bangs for your buck. You get three older games for the price of one new one, and those games have all had their graphics reworked and some light gameplay changes. Still, these are some of the highest rated games of the PS3 era, and for any newcomers to the series – like yours truly – this would be a pretty great deal.

Of course, there’s always the question of whether or not it’s fun to go back and play old games, even when they’re remastered with graphic and gameplay changes. The sands of time have washed away certain gaming tropes that can linger in these remasters, and for the price of, say, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, would you rather play something folks have been playing for years, or the new hotness? So, to remaster or not to remaster? That is the question.

Friday, 9:31 am – Ricky

Alright, this is kind of on topic, because it’s about a new version of a classic franchise. I played the beta for Star Wars Battlefront last night. It. Was. Glorious. I’m very happy with how the game plays, and OVER THE MOON with how it looks and sounds. It’s been a long time since I’ve played Battlefront 2 on PS2 (weird to say the predecessor has a “2”), and this is really everything I’d hoped for in terms of a next-gen Star Wars game.

I started by playing a “capture-the-point” type game, where drop pods appear randomly one at a time across the map, and your team tries to capture and hold the pod for a period of time. Once it’s captured and held by either side, a new pod drops and there’s a rush to the next spot. It’s an 8-vs-8 mode, with no vehicles, so it’s a nice way to get your feet wet.

After a few rounds of that, I jumped in to the Hoth map where AT-ATs are advancing on the rebel base. The rebels are trying to – again – capture and hold relays that will call in Y-Wing strikes so they can unleash laser fury on the AT-ATs, and the Empire is trying to push the AT-ATs in to the Rebel base to win. This was a 20-vs-20 mode, with AT-STs stomping around, vehicles dogfighting overhead, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker (powerups that you can find and then use) running around and tearing shit up… it was glorious. So good. I can’t wait to get my hands on the full game on November 17th. I think the “arcade” approach to the game (no bonus for aiming down sight, so shooting from the hip is the same as looking down the scope) will balance perfectly with Fallout 4, which comes out a week earlier.

Tuesday, 9:54 am – Gavin

In terms of game-per-dollars spent AND games with a defined end point (thus ruling out games like Civ, Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, Cities: Skylines, etc) it’s going to be tough to beat the Metroid Prime Trilogy re-released for the Wii in 2009.  They didn’t do much to the aesthetic of it, but they dropped some of the idiosyncrasies of the controls for the Gamecube titles, making them much more intuitive and sensible.  What we were left with was three absolutely incredible games, including the absolute best game of 2002, Metroid Prime 1.

I was never much of an Uncharted fan.  I thought I’d like it – the idea seemed sensible enough, it looked nice, and had a cinematic feel that was all the rage at the time.  But when it came down to it, Uncharted just wasn’t fun.  Bullet sponge enemies, finicky controls (Sixaxis grenades were just the worst) that often left you sticking to cover when you meant to do literally anything else, and repetitive action sequences all led to me not having a great time with it.  Spoilers I suppose, but I absolutely detested the introduction of supernatural enemies in the game because there really hadn’t been much foreshadowing of this in the marketing campaign.  There’s a place for those types of enemies in games (obviously), but when you aren’t expecting it, it can really throw you off your game and shatter your expectations for a game.  The game just ground to a halt when those enemies showed up.

I’m generally a fan of remasters.  As long as the remastered version doesn’t miss the spirit of what made a game fun, I find they most often make the incremental improvements necessary to bring a game from good to great, or great to incredible.  Super Mario All-Stars was an example of a game where the only thing that was really changed was a fresh coat of paint and remastered music.  Controls weren’t changed, there were no additional gameplay elements, and the spirit of the franchise wasn’t lost.  The Mario games are a risky case when we’re talking remasters because there’s so much cultural history wrapped up in just about every mainstream Mario title.  To take on what is effectively the elder statesman of modern video gaming and say that you can do it better?  Good luck.  And yet, Nintendo pulled it off, not by doing anything too crazy with it, but just modifying it enough to realize that the culture of video gaming in 1993 was one that appreciated bright colours, not the muted colours that were found in the earlier incarnations of the Super Mario Bros. series.  So, with enough restraint, they brought games that were less than ten years old to the fray and reintroduced them to a generation of gamers of might not have had the chance to try them out on an NES (back in these days, consoles were much more expensive, relatively speaking, than they are now).

I spoke at length many moons ago about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.  The revamped controls and touch-screen made it easier to switch items, which was key in the Water Temple, a dungeon that has been ingrained into the memory of every late-90s teenager as being the worst of the worst.  Meanwhile, I played it for the first time on 3DS with these new controls, and I found it to be challenging, but not at all the demon that people made it out to be.  Polygons tightened up, contrast turned up a bit, and a few video clues inserted into the game in specific parts made it a solid, consistent title, certainly one worthy of the praise that OoT has gotten, even though most of the major breakthroughs that OoT brought forward were ones I experienced for the first time in Skyward Sword.

I’m a fan of remastering only if there’s something that demonstrably needs improvement. That’s not to say that I know everything about all games, but it’s risky and hubristic to take on great games, thinking that you can make them better.  If anyone tries to remaster Super Metroid, I’ll be surprised at the gall.  But when a remaster lands, it can take a game that hasn’t aged well, or has some issues of note, and can reintroduce it to a new market, and not just service the nostalgia crowd.

Monday, 8:25 am – Ricky

My hectic work time is slowly dying down, and my major project will soon launch. Just in time for the fall game season! I’m looking forward to getting back into games again. Actually, yesterday matt, our buddy and I finally beat a GTA5 heist we’ve been working on since heists launched with – gasp – the remastered PS4 version of the game. It felt great playing  co-op again, and I’m looking forward to more of that in the coming months, especially Battlefront’s horde mode/co-op thingy.

Regarding our topic: I still have the remastered The Last of Us to go back through, including the Left Behind DLC and I’d like to try the multiplayer. So I’ll probably skip The Nathan Drake collection for now – maybe when we hit  a lull next year and before Uncharted 4 comes out, I’ll pick it up and go through it. They’re introducing “Explorer mode”, which basically makes the game a cakewalk if you’re just in it for the story. Perfect for blowing through it before the flagship PS4 follow-up comes out.