Remastering games is something this generation’s developers appear to be doing by the bucketload, and frankly not all of them are what you would expect, appearing more like cheeky cash-grabs than anything else.
Crysis series campaigns
(Let's not talk about the multiplayer)
What's that you say? Those rubbish games? Yes. Those rubbish games. The ones probably brought down by inferior hardware – aka 'last gen’ consoles. The freedom of gameplay in the Crysis series is tremendous, and with hardware allowing the game to run above 20fps the games would be very good indeed. Let's face it, Crysis – a game that came out over four years ago – is still better-looking than pretty much everything released this generation. While graphics aren't everything – and it seems hypocritical to have an old PC game (that probably still wouldn't be as good as the PC on ‘ultra’ settings) as a showcase for generation remasters – there are so many positives to Crysis titles.
The gameplay is fun, the gunplay is best-in-class and there are multiple ways to attack your enemies and go about your objectives – with speed, power and stealth being the black-and-white options. There's plenty of enemy variety, too. Having even the first Crysis run at 60fps would be the bomb. Last-generation consoles barely managed above 20fps, and the screen was blurry for most of it too – which is down to lower resolutions, according to the idiot’s guide to hardware, which would surely be bumped up on new consoles. The first two Crysis titles have decent stories as well, with the third going a bit mental admittedly – but then the third game makes up for it with seven open-world maps, mixing the best of the previous games. It's Far Cry starring Master Chief. The only thing remaining to point out is that Crytek really need the money. It's a missed opportunity.
Left 4 Dead 2
In the absence of a third Left 4 Dead being created by Valve any time soon, why not slap Left 4 Dead 2 on to your Xbox One or PS4? This multiplayer game is still one of the best ever created, if not the best, and it includes every level from the first Left 4 Dead thanks to crazy downloadable content drops. Stick an £8-12 download price on it and you'll have a tonne of players killing zombies for the next 10 years while we wait for number three to be released – whether that be Portal 3, Half Life 3 or Left 4 Dead 3.
What's so good about it? Well, four player co-op (with bots while offline) taking on hordes of 28 Days Later-style zombies on crack, and special zombies creating all kinds of problems as the players try to get from A to B. It's simple on paper, but the game creates no end of stories between your friends in a ''do you remember the time...'' vein. With a story told subtly through character remarks and messages scribbled on walls and a competitive multiplayer allowing four players to take control of special zombies as well, this level of simplicity becomes a virtue.
Perhaps more an eventuality than being on a wishlist in the wake of ODST gracing the Master Chief Collection, Halo: Reach – possibly the greatest Halo campaign – is the only game missing on Xbox One. Its release on Xbox 360 was great, and certainly the high-point of the series, but it did suffer with an incredibly low framerate and an odd film grain effect (which could be down to resolution again). Seeing the game spruced up to high heaven would only confirm Bungie's last good game as the greatest they've ever made.
The game has everything: four player co-op that scales in difficulty the more players are added, some of the best set-pieces and level design, solid gameplay and visuals and sound that are simply sublime. This is without mentioning the excellent narrative, which follows six doomed Spartans as they defend their planet from certain annihilation.
It's going to happen. Expect an E3 announcement.
Star Wars Battlefront
If any game needed a sequel or a remastering it is Star Wars Battlefront 2. ‘Oh, but it's already getting a kind of sequel-y remastery-type thing’, you respond. Is it really, though, or is it getting a reboot – a reboot by a company which doesn’t know how to make its games fun anymore has taken on a Star Wars game all about fun. It's a recipe for disaster. Sure, fans of Battlefield will be right at home, as will the Call of Duty fans – the series that DICE has been trying to emulate – but do we need another twitchy FPS?
It's already confirmed that the previously primarily third-person Battlefront is now limited to first-person view. It's a slippery slope. Certain elements of the Battlefield series being present isn't a bad thing – Battlefront after all is a Star Wars version of Battlefield – but it was also so much more. We all want to see ground-to-air combat, going into space and doing the whole blow up the Star Destroyer thing, that's all good gravy – but will they bring along with it a grinding progression system, or limited health so you die in one shot? Will they take away the joys of playing against bots because other people ruin the fun for everyone, and all we want is to shoot droids on our own time?
There's only one thing DICE needs to remember – when taking inspiration, take it from Star Wars Battlefront, not CoD or Battlefield. Make the game fun first, but fun for everyone – not just the FPS obsessives.
You would be forgiven for thinking the first Fable would be the likely candidate for remastering, given the recent anniversary release; but frankly nothing beats the vast depth of Fable II, and the incredibly simple mechanics lacking in the weaker Fable III. But why remaster it?
Simply, because it's been five years and there is only Fable Legends (that we know of) on the horizon – and that one doesn't hit the targets that a fully fledged Fable game would smash. So, bring back the most user-friendly and fun Fable with kick-ass graphics and a fun co-op mode. Games are too boring nowadays, let's go take some bar wench into the wheel of fortune... or was it wheel of death?
We'll find out now...
If there's one thing that’s pretty certain about Mass Effect, it's that you'll have an opinion on it: The ending was rubbish. The ending was great. I love Garrus. Oh? My Garrus is dead, it's all about Tali. I made this decision about what gun to buy from Cerberus and it didn't affect my ending.
Let's just shut up about the ending, okay? Three supremely wonderful games in their own right tell an incredible story in the course of over 90 hours, and while some fans still begrudge Bioware for not giving them infinite endings in favour of an admittedly Deus Ex-style ultimate choice, these fans forget that it's the entire journey that matters – and everyone’s story will be different.
Okay, sure, but not to the extent that one Shepard will have kicked the Reapers arses back on Horizon and retired as a disk jockey on Ilium, while another sits crying into a bottle of intergalactic but somehow still Scotch whiskey as they mourn the loss of three team-mates from a decision involving which dock to pick – funny as that would be.
Mass Effect is a series that gets you emotionally attached to the characters in such a way that it's understandable to be upset when the ending doesn't live up to expectations. It has the best stories to tell. It also had really good combat in the second game, with really good RPG elements in the first, and an amalgam of the two in the third – despite what some would argue was the weakest story.
None without faults then? That's where a remaster comes in. Use Mass Effect 3’s gameplay and visuals throughout and Mass Effect’s sluggish running will be solved, allowing the story to flourish. Mass Effect 2 will, well, just look and play better. It’s a guaranteed seller, and perfect for consumption while we wait for (at the very earliest) 2016’s next Mass Effect.
What games do you think deserve a remaster? Let us know on the forums.