I Don't Enjoy Remastered Video Games, But I Can't Help Myself

In this golden age of ‘HD remasters’ and ‘definitive editions’ I’ve only played through one from start to finish.

One.

That was Journey.

There are a few obvious reasons for that. Journey is fantastic. Journey is seamlessly designed. Journey is aesthetically pleasing. In terms of what it sets out to achieve, Journey is sort of perfect.

Journey is also really short. That’s the real reason.

Over the last five or so years I have played a ton of remasters. I’ve played remasters of games that are legitimate classics. Outside of Journey, I haven’t finished a single one.

Metal Gear Solid 3 HD. Hey, this game is still awesome but… Metal Gear Solid 5 exists.

Shadow of the Colossus HD. Gave up after about four colossi.

Wind Waker HD. Gave this a right good wallop, because it’s probably the most beautiful game ever made. Still gave up after about 10 hours.

Tomorrow we’re getting a fancy new version of the BioShock games. Soon after that, last generation Assassin’s Creed is getting the same treatment. I am excited about this. I will play these video games.

But I know the outcome.

I will play. I will marvel at the sharp resolution, frown slightly at the textures themselves. Rose-tinted memories will shift. I’ll be slightly disappointed, but I’ll trek on.

I’ll enjoy myself in a hollow sort of way. The pleasure of reliving a past gaming experience dampened by a bland familiarity I can’t quite shake. “Ah yes, this is a good mission,” I’ll say, at some point. But I’ll have forgotten about the banality that precedes and succeeds it. I’ll spend a large part of my time waiting to get to a specific ‘good part’, but feel strangely devoid of excitement when I finally make it there.

On average I will last through one serious session. Probably two to three hours all up. A little longer if the game has a particularly rewarding core loop (like say Halo or Metal Gear Solid). Narrative driven games are at a particular disadvantage here – it’s hard to recreate the same initial experience we all had with the Uncharted remasters for example. Spectacular set-pieces are jaw-dropping the first time round, less so years later, when technology has moved onwards and upwards.

If it’s a quiet period, if there’s nothing else to play, I might convince myself to go for round 2. That's when the fatigue will really set in. The excitement of playing a game I once loved: evaporated. The nostalgia: replaced with a humdrum sense of routine and ritual. Playing for the sake of it. Playing like you scratch an itch. Playing like a threatened sneeze that never comes.

I'm kinda over replaying old games with a fresh coat of paint, but I somehow can't help myself.

So much is lost: the thrill of playing something new, the sense of wonder. The joy of exploration. That represents a large part of what excited me about video games in general — new worlds, new spaces, new characters. Retracing old footsteps has a different feel. It's a limited pleasure. It cannot possibly hope to satisfy players the way a well-made new experience does.

But it remains alluring. That's the weird part. My body never learns. I will play BioShock. I'll play Assassin's Creed 2. I'll navigate the same loops, jump through the same hoops. I'll remember, I'll forget and when the time comes — I'll be ready and willing to do it all over again.


Comments

    I am in the same boat with a few exceptions. I also replayed Journey when it was rereleased and I have replayed The Last of Us 3 times on the ps4. The only other game I can think of is Metro 2033.

    That said, I will definitely be replaying the whole of Bioshock 1 and maybe the other 2.

      Yeah I replayed the TLOU remaster at least 3 times. Loved it so much.

    Metal Gear Solid 3 HD. Hey, this game is still awesome but… Metal Gear Solid 5 exists
    I'd still take 3 over 5 any day of the week. 3 was perfection of the formula.

    Could really use a non HD remaster and a focus on original content for new games though.

      Spot on buddy. 5 is great, but 3 actually had a story that ended and was relatively satisfying...

      I was always a huge fan of MGS, but I didn't even bother playing 5. I just had no motivation to even check it out. There was nothing about it that made me want to play it, especially after hearing how there was almost no story to speak of, and hardly anything in the way of cut scenes (I don't care how good the gameplay is). MGS 3 will always be the best in the series - it's such a good, self contained story that doesn't even need the other games to make sense.

    My wife adores Bioshock and the Bioshock collection was an immediate must-buy for her. She bought it at about 1am this morning and then set about clearing her Xbox One's hard drive to make room for the subsequent 70 gigs of downloads.

    I'm enjoying the fact we're seeing a lot of remastering and BC support this gen, though there are plenty I will avoid. I'm well off the Assassin's Creed wagon at this point and while the Ezio story arc was easily the best (despite Black Flag being the most varied and interesting in gameplay) I really don't see why I would return to it at this point. I can see why people would, though. If you're really into those games they offer a lot, and I'm sure there are people who will enjoy revisiting them as much as I enjoyed revisiting Sleeping Dogs and Tomb Raider.

    Last edited 15/09/16 1:17 pm

      I completed Assassin's Creed II to 100% and since have barely touched the series. At that point I was so sick of slicing the necks of old timey Italian police that I think it's scarred me mentally...

      The good thing about the remasters is that a) I can play it on another newer console, and b) it gives a bit more exposure to old games that people may have missed. But some games you wonder what they are actually remastering sometimes as they actually still look good in their original form coughUnchartedcough...

        I actually only played Uncharted 1 and kept telling myself I'd play the rest - when UC3 came out I said I'd buy the UC1&2 bundle (as I'd traded UC1 in by that point) and never did.

        I bought a PS4 earlier this year and so far all I've played on it was Until Dawn and the Jackbox bundle which was on sale last week. I currently have the Nathan Drake collection and am waiting for a chance to get around to playing it so I can finally buy Uncharted 4. There's also a good chance at some point I'll buy The Last of Us (which I already played on PS3, the last PS3 game I ever bought) simply because I never got around to buying the DLC which they bundled in with the remaster and hey, I enjoyed it a lot.

          Mate, you're missing out. Uncharted 1 was probably the weakest in the series because they definitely fleshed out the gameplay later on. It was still great but its definitely worth playing the others.

        You might enjoy AC:Black Flag, I was thoroughly burnt out on the series after finishing AC3 but after listening to people talk about how great Black flag was for years I decided to give it a shot.

        It's really good, mostly due to how much it's not like a standard AC game and has a likeable protagonist. (Edward)

          Nah, see I did try Black Flag. I do agree it's a step up from the endless AC2 games and AC3 etc, but I just cant get back into that Assassin gameplay for some reason. Every time I try to play it I have a blast with the shipping, but then get back to the land based gameplay and I just feel like "Oh yeah this shit again...". It seems like no amount of piratey goodness is able to fill the void (as great as I think that element is).

            Black Flag is great, but because it's a great pirate game, not a great AC game. I really wish Ubisoft had created a separate franchise for Black Flag which would have allowed it to flourish within its own perimeters rather than be stifled by a game-structure that's for all intents and purposes completely counterpoint to what makes it fundamentally great.

    Bioshock I will skip... I've never liked it as a series (even more so after being duped by Infinite).

    AC2 maybe, but I don't have the time to climb through all those landmarks like I used to.

    I've been picking up some of the HD remasters where the original has been sitting in my 'pile of shame'. Ie Skyrim, Beyond two souls etc. For people who haven't gotten around to playing the original it's probably a better experience - I just wish you didn't have to repurchase the title to get the HD treatment for consoles.

    Remasters/remakes are great if you missed the game the first-time round or you're trying to convince someone who did that they should give it a go. Otherwise I usually skip them, even for my all-time favourite games like "Grim Fandango" or "Day of the Tentacle".

    "Oddworld New 'n Tasty" I thought nailed it, though. I loved the style and world of the original "Abe's Oddysee", but the gameplay frustrated me too much to actually play it to completion.

    I kind of know what you mean.

    I did finish Shadow of the Colossus HD, my first introduction to the game. I was as spellbound as people must have been when they first played it on PS2. That one worked. Didn't do ICO, because how could I after playing Shadow of the Colossus. That game is amazing.

    DmC remake - didn't feel it, never finished. It's an okay game I guess, just didn't feel it?

    Devil May Cry 3 SE - I really wanted to like this, but I got really angry that all I wanted was to beat the crap out of stuff, but the game maintains the RE1 formula of keys and puzzles and stuff. The very first DMC was actually originally intended to be a RE game, but did they need to keep this crap?

    Dishonored Definitive - Oh man, I platinumed this hard. I love this game. It's an excellent remaster and extremely playable.

    DS2 - Scholar of the first Sin - First introduction to DS2. Bought it after Bloodborne, but had played all other souls game. Why does this feel like a level pack for Dark Souls? Why does it look even uglier than DS1? Some locations are pretty, but most look bad. I finished this, but I definitely feel the it's the weakest souls game. Still enjoyed myself for the most part, because a weak souls game is still a good game. Kind of a good remaster if you ignore the faster weapon breaking due to higher FPS. It's just an ugly game.

    Sleeping Dogs Remake - Unplayed. But I got it for like 10 bucks I think.

    Resident Evil 6 - Finished one episode? It's not very good?

    Metal Gear remaster on PS3 - Bought it. Couldn't bring myself to play it?

    Last edited 15/09/16 1:32 pm

      I got Sleeping Dogs for $10 as well, which included all the DLC I'd previously paid for new on the Xbox 360. Well worth it for my favourite game of 2012. Did you already play it on last gen or is it all new to you?

        Played it before on PS3, but not the DLC. It was a really good deal and I really enjoyed the original game! But in all honesty, there are just so many free-roaming open-world games out, and they're not even remasters.

        I just remembered I've bounced off the Saints Row remasters as well (first time playing them).

    It's case by case. I tried to re-play Demon's Souls last year. The visuals were very very basic to what we're used to now.

    A Demon's Souls remaster? Oh my yes please.

    This all goes back to backwards compatibility. It absolutely needs to be a feature, but not one we're expected to pay for. There wouldn't be a thirst for these old games if we were simply able to play these old games. There's a desire to play Demon's Souls again because I can't play it on my current hardware, and the re-master is a (willingly paid for) benefit we've been trained to want.

    I cannot for the life of me remember how to get through this one puzzle room in Wind Waker HD. I played the game in about 2005, and beat it. I have forced myself to stay away from guides.

    I bought Wind Waker HD at launch in 2013 or thereabouts.

    What I'm getting at is sometimes remasters are also brand new experiences, it's definitely case by case.

      I'd joysplode for a Demon Souls remaster. Dark Souls 1 remake too would be great.

      Would be really happy to have a Mass Effect remaster too. I want to play them back to back, and I know a friend who has never played it, and she loves open world rpgs but only has a PS4.

      Also a Katamari Damacy.

    Im all for a remaster but only providing the game they are remastering requires it. IMHO CodMW still looks great today with ample tweaks you increase graphical performance and range already available, chucking some high res textures at it doesnt cut it for me.
    Black mesa source was a fantastic remaster IMHO, one of the best around and its not even official lol

    I would really like to see something like Jedi outcast or academy done, they deserve it

      You're looking at it from a PC way though. Remasters are mainly for us console peasants. I personally don't care for CoD though, so don't care for that remaster.

      I'd be down for a Jedi Knight remaster too. Or just a new game with the same multiplayer sabre fights. Loved those games.

    Biggest problems with HD remasters is that the only thing that typically gets an upgrade is the graphics, core game play is usually exactly the same, even if they have been tweaking the engine for newer versions.

    Last edited 15/09/16 2:18 pm

    I think it works if games are old enough (Monkey Island) but it feels like a cash grab for only 10 year old games.

    Man, up until recently you played video games for a living. Of course you were going to be less interested in a HD remake than something new and interesting.

    Last edited 15/09/16 2:58 pm

    This really depends on the game/series. I thought the Uncharted games were a bit pointless to remaster because they are visually still pretty good today. But it tied in nicely to release them with Uncharted 4 and have them all on the same platform so it made some sense.

    If done well, this can make a game come back to life. Final Fantasy X is a great example, where I dont think I would have played the original again for ages, but having it there in HD with updated visuals was great and I actually played through it (mostly) again. Day of the Tentacle was another one which was excellent. It also helps if you havent played through them for a long time, so you forget about a lot of the cool stuff that happened.

    I've played The Last of Us remastered 3 times and completed the multiplayer journeys, despite how it released shortly after the original version I'm so glad it exists.
    I'm keen on Bioshock but I felt like they were all overrated, still gonna play them all.
    The only remaster I would love to see is Dark Souls, I think it looks and plays great but I'd love to see it touched up on current gen.

    I have to play devil's advocate here and speak in favour of these kinds of re-releases. Simply put, if you love a game from a previous "era" (in this context, a technological era i.e. previous hardware platform) and you want to play it again, is it not appropriate to have an updated version available? Granted, I do see and acknowledge the counter argument which disagrees with the prospect of buying a game again, but then it's your prerogative to decide whether or not it's worth while to do so.

    Wow, there are a lot of people with a lot of disposable income on this site! If I buy a game I play the shit outta it, I felt bad for buying forza horizon 2 cheap the other week and barely touching it until yesterday haha

    I'm enjoying lots of these remasters actually. Between 2003 and 2013 I played games very sparingly, so I missed a LOT of classics but some games are difficult to go back and play with their older graphics and game play styles. For example the Uncharted games I've now played and finished thanks to the Nathan Drake collection, and I am very grateful because they are some amazing games.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now