The concept of HD remakes sounds golden on paper capable of converting even the most hardened of gamers into a teary-eyed reminiscing mess. Imagine waves of nostalgia sweeping over PS2 owners as they slay the Hydra in God of War on their PlayStation 3 nearly seven years later or rewind a mistimed jump in the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time remake. Nostalgia aside, HD remakes even allow players who began gaming with this generation of consoles namely the Xbox360 and PS3 a chance to finally figure out what the big deal is.
This whole trend of remaking older, popular games in high definition started with the God of War collection where Sony offered players HD remakes of both God of War I and II for nearly half the price of a full game. Soon, most of the industry followed suit and we were swimming knee deep in HD remakes. Now I for one don’t have a problem with these remakes, as long as developers put in a bit of effort into it. Imagine you’re playing an old PS2 game in HD, enjoying the crisp visuals in 1080P and BAM!, you’re suddenly accosted by cut-scenes rendered at 480p. The horror! And this for some reason is a trend I’ve noticed in most HD remakes, God of War Collection included.
Yay or nay?
Few kinks aside, I’m all for HD remakes, as long as working on that remake doesn’t affect a studios’ current project. Because let’s face it; if push came to shove all these games could be played on your trusty old PS2 or if you’re really lucky on your PS3 since a lot of them are backward compatible. Yes, the addition of HD visuals sounds like a better proposition but do I really want developers not working on a new IP just so they can churn out a visually sharper 10 year old game? I think not. And you have to understand that gameplay has also evolved exponentially since the past ten years, so the mechanics I enjoyed (or even put up with) way back in 1991 may frustrate the crap out of me right now. Take Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, for example. I loved the game to death and would pay any amount if Rockstar gave that game the HD treatment. But would I truly enjoy with a smile on my face the game’s unforgiving checkpoint system that would make me retry entire missions, unless I saved my progress at my safe house? Unlikely.
But then tweaking gameplay would mean a ton of work for the studio negating my point of allowing them to concentrate on current projects. This is why developers like Rockstar themselves shouldn’t work on these projects. They should supervise the remake and be there with all sorts of valuable inputs, but at the end of the day they should outsource this kind of work to capable, handpicked studios allowing them to work on newer projects like GTA IV, Max Payne 3 and Agent.
So yes, as much as I appreciate these HD remakes, I do hope developers don’t abuse this concept in the long run shamelessly cashing in on older IPs they know will sell well even today. As long as they can achieve a balance between new, fresh games and some well deserved remakes, I think gamers will be perfectly happy straddling the best of both worlds.