Extreme Makeover: Game Edition

February 7, 2014 11:00 AM


Reboots have always been a popular fall back point in the film industry, but over recent years a trend has developed for giving classic games HD makeovers and reboots. The likes of Halo Combat Evolved: Anniversary, and the recently released Fable Anniversary, come to mind. Now, I played the first Halo and I played the first Fable and thoroughly enjoyed both. Fable was a particular favourite, and I have longed for a re-release of what my nostalgic mind still insists is a timeless classic.

The same thing has happened throughout gaming history. Through rose-tinted spectacles I still look back fondly on Playstation One, Two and Original Xbox classics – But I know that many, the Playstation One games in particular, would be unplayable if I were to return to them, their graphics would be horrific and their game play clunky. But, like a right-wing politician with a warped agenda, my memories refuse to face that reality. I have returned to old classics before with hopes held loftily high, only to have them dashed by the realities of how far gaming has since come.

COD 2As an example of how easily a game can become dated and stale I point to Call Of Duty 2. COD2 is a 360 game, the console I still use, and yet I find it hard to return to even though it is undoubtedly one of my favourite COD games. It isn’t the graphics, for they are still good enough – if a little rough around the edges – but simply because you cannot run on the game. There is no button for sprinting. It seems a small issue, but it is a mechanic that seems vital when it is no longer there, and one that has been staple in FPS games for years. You can’t sprint from cover to cover, or dash away from a grenade. You can only walk and it makes the whole thing seem slow and dull. Maybe I’m just being petulant but it does, quite frankly, ruin the whole experience for me.

But these anniversary releases and HD makeovers are different. They’ve been worked at and restored like ancient masterpieces, but does that make them palatable enough for a revisit? That wholly depends on several points. Firstly, how well the remastering has been done; The same game with a new coat of paint and varnish is simply not good enough. The inner machinations need tweaking heavily to fit modern gaming expectations, and game play almost always needs reworking. Furthermore, many of the old classics aren’t necessarily online friendly while online multi-player is a major feature of modern gaming. If it cannot be injected with a decent and enticing multi-player element it could easily put off all but the most die-hard of original fans. That brings me to the most important factor of all, which is how you feel about the game in the first place.

FableLike a remake of your favourite film, there is a lot on the line when one of your favourite games of days gone by has been dragged out of retirement and put back on the shelves. You feel it must be treated with a certain kind of reverence, do you not? I loved the first Fable, and though I have yet to get my hands on the Anniversary edition, I will certainly be risking the smashing of my rose-tinted glasses to play it again (Especially after the disappointing third instalment). As I understand it, the combat has been retuned to resemble the styles seen in the second and third games, which is comforting. But the world of Albion in the first Fable was split into linear areas of the map, out of sheer necessity and technological limitations, which meant a lot of loading screens and will mean the same in the reboot – That could hamper a game in a realm of open world RPGs and Sandbox games on the scale of Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto V.

Remakes are a complicated business, in both film and game formats, in the same way page to screen adaptations are. There will always be someone disappointed by them, and I for one am not sure they are a good thing when put into practice. Sure, I want to be able to play those games again, but will the remake capture the endearing essence of the game that made us love it in the first place? Will it ever be the same as it was on that initial play through? I’m dubious of whether it will and sometimes, even if there is real effort put into revamping a game, it is best to leave well alone and allow them to stay alive only in our fond, nostalgic memories. But, if you’re insistent Mr Developer Man, then you’d best do it so well that it does the original justice and maybe even overshadows it and improves on it. That’s a hard thing to accomplish, because let us be honest here, you are dealing with peoples’ sacred memories and gaming loves.

So if one of your favourites has been given a makeover, I urge caution, and suggest that you don’t expect too much (As maybe I, myself, admittedly might), and just be grateful that you get to play it again, and that it has gone through some serious beauty therapy. Either that or ignore the new release, and try to remain content with your memories of the game you were so fond of.