Remaster When the Time is Right

Since the launch of the current generation of consoles, there has been an abundance of remastered titles from the previous generation. These range from games such as The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V to Sleeping Dogs and Darksiders 2. In this article, I am not going to argue which games should or shouldn’t get a modern update at some point in the future. What I do believe though is that there should be a certain period of time before a game is even considered to get the remaster treatment.

The original Half-Life is considered to be one of the best games of all time, if you were to play it today, or even within the past few years, you find that the graphics have not aged well. The game is just over 18 years old after all. It is credit to the game that in other areas the game is better than some modern titles. This is why in 2004, the Crowbar Collective was formed by a group of volunteers, to rejuvenate Valve’s classic using Valve’s latest Source engine. The result was the game Black Mesa. Between Half-Life and Black Mesa’s releases, there was a period of 14 years, during which gaming technology came on leaps and bounds. By 2012, Half-Life was crying out for a modern facelift so that a new generation of gamers could experience Gordon Freeman’s amazing adventure.

Now, let’s consider another game many call an all time classic in The Last of Us, a game first released in June 2013 to much critical acclaim. Naughty Dog’s masterpiece was the swansong for the PlayStation 3, pushing the console to its graphical limit. Even now the PS3 version is very pretty. Despite this, just over a year later in July 2014, Sony decided to publish The Last of Us Remastered on PlayStation 4. ONE YEAR! Not even a goldfish would have forgotten the Joel and Ellie’s story in that amount of time.

I can understand it from a business point of view, it would be a pretty easy port and its release boosted the PS4’s exclusive game portfolio, which at the time was pretty sparse. It also allowed those that had jumped from Xbox to PlayStation for this generation to experience the game for the first time. My view though is that Sony should have waited a lot longer before remastering the game, maybe waiting as long as until the PlayStation 5 or later. The Last of Us is definitely a game worthy of a remaster, but in a number of years time when gaming technology and graphics are even better than they are now. That way, we would all get to experience Joel and Ellie’s journey in a whole new way, not just a extra spit and polish kind of way.

There are plenty of examples of titles which have been remade to provide substantial improvements over the original, allowing modern gamers to appreciate the gameplay of the time without the dated graphics, control methods or AI. On the GameCube we had Hideo Kojima’s groundbreaking title Metal Gear Solid modernized with Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. The GameCube also saw a remake of Resident Evil, which itself has now been updated on PS4 and Xbox One. Both Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil are classic games which are deserving of remakes. Games like The Last of Us are too, but the difference between them is that the appetite for a remaster was much stronger amongst gamers for Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil. At the end of the day, what would you rather have? The Last of Us on PS4 or The Last of Us in 10 years time on the PlayStation 6?

As gamers, we are used to being patient. Much like when one of our most anticipated title gets delayed, we’re disappointed but put up with it, as we acknowledge that it will lead to a better experience. The same can be said of our favourite games that we want updated to todays standards. The longer we can wait, the better and more memorable will be the end result.