A few days ago, my colleague Stephen wrote an article stating why he believed that remastered re-releases - games from the previous generation of PS3 and Xbox 360 being remastered for the new generation of PS4 and Xbox One - are getting out of hand. Indeed, with this year seeing the “definitive” and “remastered” versions of Tomb Raider, The Last of Us, and Grand Theft Auto V, all games that only came out last year, it’s easy to see why these remasters are souring a large portion of the gaming audience. However, I disagree entirely. I don’t often feel compelled to write counterarguments to our articles, but I am going to explain why I feel new-gen remastered re-releases are, in fact, great.
I welcomed the influx of last generation’s “HD Remasters” with open arms. Revisiting my favorite PS2 titles such as Metal Gear Solid 3 and God of War remastered in HD and widescreen was a true delight, and even allowed me to check out many games from that era that I had missed, such as Okami and the Sly Cooper series. It would be absurd to assume that every PS2 owner played the best of what the console had to offer, or even that all people who were interested in those games had access to them. Like Blu-Ray re-releases of our favorite films, remasters of older games gives them a fresh coat of paint and allows people to revisit them with a new perspective, or experience them for the first time.
I welcome the new-gen remasters for the exact same reasons. Yes, while their PS3/360 counterparts were made in “HD”, that term can only be loosely applied here. The vast majority of PS3 and Xbox 360 titles ran at an internal resolution of 720p, and sometimes even less than that, much less than the stunning 1080p that PC and some PS4/Xbox One games offer. On top of that, many of the most graphically intensive games of the last generation failed to keep a consistent framerate, hovering around and often dipping below 30 frames-per-second, a far cry from the rally for 60fps that has dominated the gaming discourse for the last few months. Indeed, The Last of Us, arguably the best looking PS3 game, is plagued with aliasing, muddy textures, and framerate dips. The game is still a masterpiece despite those flaws, but I am ecstatic to re-experience the title once it comes out remastered for the PS4 later this month.
It is also a matter of convenience. Many gamers put their old consoles in storage once the new generation rolled out, and some even sold their consoles. Not everyone wants multiple big, plastic boxes and their accompanying cables cluttering their apartments. For those wanting to revisit games from the previous generation without having to fish out their old console or track down a new one, remastered re-releases offer a convenient solution.
Improved graphics, performance, and accessibility on the new consoles are the main selling point of these remastered titles, but many have ignored the new ways these games take advantage of the new generation. One of my favorite features to use over the last year with my PS4 is the Remote Play functionality with the PlayStation Vita. My significant other often uses the TV for streaming or her own gaming, and Remote Play allows both of us to enjoy our preferred media while still being able to spend time with each other. In engrossing games like Grand Theft Auto V, which can often eat up hours of my weekends, a PS4 remaster of this title gives it an advantage over its PS3 predecessor.
In the face of better graphics, improved performance, and new features, the most common rebuttal against the influx of remastered re-releases is to call them “cash grabs”, an argument I’ve never understood nor agreed with. After all, if you perceive something to be a “cash grab,” who is forcing you to purchase it? Why let your negativity affect those who missed out on the game the first time around, or those who are willing to pay for an improved experience? This is not the same as Day-1 DLC or exclusive pre-order bonuses; this is simply the practice of bringing great games to a wider audience. Your original copies of the games still exist, albeit with less graphical fidelity, but that is just a reality of the video game medium. Never mind the fact that revenue generated from remasters such as these is what lets game developers continue to make new experiences.
As games expand and become more ubiquitous, it begins to make less and less sense to arbitrarily limit games to only one or two platforms. Given our place in the current generational transition, it only makes sense that we would see a staggering in these releases. I anticipate that as we move farther away from the last generation, we will see less remastered re-releases of recent games. But I fully expect remastered re-releases of older titles (think 2006-2012), and I can’t wait to see those games in a new light.