One of the latest trends in today’s gaming landscape is the introduction of high-definition remakes. Let’s face it, companies know that nostalgia sells, and the prospect of slipping on those rose-tinted specs with the added bonus of a HD makeover is far too tantalizing an opportunity for punters to miss out on. But let’s not get too sceptical here. Sure, some of those gems of yesteryear don’t quite pack the same punch as they did, but those that do stand shoulder-to-shoulder with even some of today’s biggest blockbusters.
The Classics HD range for PS3 and other such endeavours have proven a massive success over the past 18 months or so. Not only do they remaster some of gaming’s best from the past decade in lush 1080p, but they also throw in extra goodies such as Trophy and 3D support. This not only gives fans a chance to relive the games again in HD, but also offers the chance for newcomers to experience them for the first time with a modern makeover.
As such, we’ve attempted to sift through the abundance of HD revamps/collections on PS3/PSN, and come up with our definitive list of 5 HD remakes you simply need to get your mitts on.
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RESIDENT EVIL 4 HD
I’m an old-school Resi fan at heart, but between this and Code: Veronica X HD, there really isn’t any competition. Resident Evil 4 is one of the most influential action-adventure games of all time, and stands up ridiculously well even today. The HD makeover isn’t quite as polished as some of the remakes out there (some textures look a little muddy in places), but the quality of the gameplay and the fact you can snap it up for next to nothing makes this a must-have purchase. The combat is intense and gratifying, and the game positively exudes atmosphere, plus the hidden treasures and weapon customisation will keep you busy well past your first play through. If that wasn’t enough, you also get the brilliant Mercenaries mini-game and the PS2/Wii extra Separate Ways to tuck into. In short, one of the best single-player horror games out there.
SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS
Forget about the perpetually-delayed The Last Guardian; Team ICO’s previous effort will keep you busy for ages. Originally released in 2006, SotC is a sprawling adventure, where gamers gallop through dream-like landscapes searching for and destroying sixteen lumbering monstrosities known as the Colossi in order to save your beloved. The catch? Each Colossi has its own unique weak point that must be exploited in order to take it down, and they just so happen to be the size of a small building. The only crime that’s ever been committed as a result of these games is the fact hardly anyone bought them. The extra spit and polish afforded by the HD re-release sharpens things up considerably, though given this game was one of the most aesthetically-pleasing games back in the PS2 days means we’d probably buy it again regardless. Thankfully, the frame rate is smooth-as-silk too, removing the chugging nature of the original.
BEYOND GOOD & EVIL HD
Ubisoft’s criminally unappreciated 2003 platformer stacks up just as well today as it did nearly ten years ago, and for good reason. Sure, the high-definition paintjob makes it look even prettier than it did on PS2, but the gameplay – a compelling marriage of stealth, puzzle-solving and action – illustrates just why fans are clamouring for a sequel after all this time. Lead heroine Jade is an instantly likable lass, as is her uncle and partner-in-crime Pey’j (who just so happens to look like a boar), making for quite the oddball couple. The story is also a highlight, managing to subvert genre expectations by offering a surprisingly thought-provoking tale packed with intrigue and political undertones. The great thing about the jack-of-all-trades gameplay is that it doesn’t excel in one particular area; it executes everything really well. Throw in Trophy support, plus enhanced character models, textures and soundtrack, and you have the perfect package.
METAL GEAR SOLID 3: SNAKE EATER
After all the self-indulgent nonsense in MGS2 (which is a great game in its own right), creator Hideo Kojima really brought the series back down to earth with this 1960s prequel. Set in the Cold War, Snake Eater is MGS at its stealthiest, replacing the industrial, metallic strongholds of the first two games with lush jungles and dusty mountain passes. The game looks gorgeous in HD all these years on, while the gameplay remains just as rewardingly thorough as it always was. Methodical is the name of the game here, with players required to use their noggins to slip past enemy lines instead of filling them full of lead, reserving encounters for only when absolutely necessary. Make no mistake; having Snake slither through the grass behind a foe before surreptitiously slitting his throat and making it through without raising the alarm is one of the most gratifying tasks you’ll accomplish. To top it all off, the weighty narrative packs an emotional punch, the score is utterly mesmerising, and the game offers one of the best boss battles ever conceived – completely unmissable.
GOD OF WAR II
Piquing the original to the post by the width of a loin cloth, God of War II’s HD revamp remains one of the first and best games to have received a 1080p makeover. Kratos’ second adventure was the PS2’s swansong, and while the improvements over its precursor are merely incremental, it still offers the most refined GoW experience to date outside of GoW3. The visual fidelity is top-notch, though the cosmetic overhaul is really just one component in an incredibly polished package. GoW II oozes quality from every pore, with the controls remaining as tight as ever and the thrilling mix of visceral combat and puzzle-solving just as compelling as it always has been. Throw in Trophy support, and you have even more reason to plough through this defining, adrenaline-fueled bloodbath.
What HD remakes do you think are the best of the bunch? Let us know in the comments section below!