Do Videogames Need Refreshing?

‘Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary’ is coming out in a few more weeks. The reports I’ve read seem to think that it will be the exact same game as before, only “enhanced” by fancy new sound effects and a new graphics engine with high-definition graphics. Is that what gamers want? Or do y’all want something, I hesitate to ask, “re-envisioned”?

I’ve loved all of the ‘Halo’ games. Sure, each one is pretty much just a slightly more advanced version of the game before it, but golly if they aren’t all a lot of fun. However, once a new one comes out and you’ve played through the campaign once or twice, all you have left is the multiplayer functionality. This could be said of most modern videogames, including the ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Killzone’ series. So where do developers go from here? Continue on the same course? Try something different? Remake or refresh one of their older games?

For reference, I’m going to define “refresh” as what’s being done to ‘Halo’ (same game/ new HD graphics) and “re-envisioned” or “remake” as what’s being done with the upcoming ‘Syndicate’ (same title/completely different game).

“Refreshing” seems to have been around the block already, the most obvious recent example being the way that old PlayStation games have been ported to high-def “remasters” for the PS3. This includes titles such as the ‘God of War’ collection (which had the first two games), ‘Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary’ and ‘Medal of Honor’. The titles being refreshed seemed to be just slightly updated, either by high-def graphics or (more importantly) the inclusion of trophies and achievements for your particular console’s online gamer identity.

Re-envisioned titles, on the other hand, seem like developers made a decision somewhere down the line. A decision in the vein of: “Do we have enough for a sequel or should we just remake it for a modern audience?” Examples of these include ‘Bionic Commando’, ‘Ninja Gaiden Sigma’ and ‘Doom 3’. It’s hard to compare the experience of playing the original games to these new versions, much like watching the remakes of some movies. How many times have you seen a film remake that takes an old title but is otherwise a completely different movie?

Of course, there’s a fine line that some developers play with as a title bounces between remake and refresh. Sometimes, you get a game very reminiscent of the original, but updated for the new console it’s being played on. Like ‘Perfect Dark: Zero’ (360) or ‘Mario Kart’ (Wii).

To remake or refresh? This appears to be a question that developers make all the time these days. Personally, I’m excited to find out if Microsoft can capture the feeling of the original ‘Halo’ by enhancing it for our modern systems and televisions. You even have the option of playing the enhanced version or the original version (though why you’d want to do that is beyond me). I can think of several games I’d buy if they were refreshed. Remakes, though… I’m having a hard time thinking of a remade title that was just as fun as the original. Can you think of any? Are there any games that you’d like to see refreshed?


  1. Alex

    I actually don’t mind the refresh trend, particularly when the original game has high quality gameplay. If the only thing holding back a game, if the only thing that feels dated and aged about a game is graphics, then I think it’s perfectly fine to remake them. The graphics capabilities of the newer systems (as well as the newer programming techniques) can help to alleviate the one thing that keeps a game from being a relevant, modern experience.

    Not only that, but because modern consoles aren’t particularly backwards compatible (the PS3 stripped out that functionality and the 360s was only barely there to begin with), some of us who didn’t have the previous generation of consoles still get to experience some of those great games without the need to buy an outdated console, take up an input on the tv, go through the whole rigamarole.

    All of that being said, if the gameplay wasn’t there to begin with, I’d say leave it alone. I, personally, would love to see updated iOS versions of the old Sierra “Quest” games, whose point and click interfaces would be perfect on an iPad. I’d also like to see cleaned-up, high-resolution versions of some other, older PC game that won’t even run without serious tweaks on modern hardware: The Eye of the Beholder series, The Summoning, Deus Ex. Just a short wishlist there.

  2. Javier Aleman

    I like refreshes because great gameplay doesn’t age like graphics do. Take the new Ocarina of Time and Starfox games that just got refreshes. The gameplay has always beem awesome but the graphics looked terrible now. Finally those two games have graphics that can match the gameplay. Same goes for Ico/SOTC. I’d much rather play these games than the newest cod or grand theft auto. I like havung a

    • Alex

      Oddly, the older GTAs, particularly Vice City and San Andreas are two games that I’d like to see get the HD Treatment and be elevated to a new engine on a modern console.

  3. JoeRo

    I agree with the general sentiment here that refreshes can be rather nice. I’m thinking specifically of Ico & Shadow of the Colossus, games that I wouldn’t have played if they hadn’t recently been “refreshed”.

    As for remakes that can be a bit trickier. Stray too far from the formula that made the original game good to begin with and you just may wreck the experience. And what about sequels, do they count as remakes? Fallout 3 was a game that was awaited with much anticipation and trepidation. Fans were afraid that the new first person gameplay wouldn’t support the kind of experience they loved from the original games, but they also couldn’t wait to play it. Many agree that it’s a great game, but a lot of the fans are still split. What about the iterative versions of Call of Duty (now modern warfare, Battlefield, and the Madden franchise? Do those games count as sequels, remakes, or refreshes?

  4. I like refreshes. I am right now playing fan-refreshes of Kings Quest 1-3, I got official refreshes of a couple of Monkey Island games, and I am LOVING God of War HD.

    I also LOVED Ninja Gaiden Sigma. Re-envisioned titles are normally pretty darn good. Final Fantasy gets re-envisioned every few years, Doom 3 was actually pretty good, and Kings Quest: The Silver Lining is just awesome (another fan-made game).

    I say, bring on Halo!