One of the biggest trends we see at E3 is that publishers are not afraid to remaster old video games (in some cases, as recent as old as only two years) with high definition graphics, new gameplay and added content. That’s fine and all, as HD is something everybody wants (even Nintendo now realizes it needs to jump aboard the HD train), but can companies legitimately call a game HD just because it has a pixel resolution of 720p or 1080p? Shouldn’t HD games be more than just running in a certain resolution?
While publishers who are remastering their old standard def games never claim HD-remakes are “next-gen-quality” games, we can’t help but feel the term “HD” is being tossed around too easily and misused. When <i>we</i> think of HD, we think of next-gen – games that are detailed and rich, not simply upscaled with more pixels. We played and viewed several HD-remakes that are making their way to retails within the next year and we have to say, for better or worse, not all HD remastered games created equal.
House of the Dead Overkill: Extended Cut
Released on the Wii over two years ago, Sega’s finally remastering the on-rails zombie shooter for the PlayStation 3. Thankfully, Overkill Extended Cut is one of the better looking HD-remakes (maybe even the best) shown off at E3, because it’s not merely a new coat of gloss, but a game that has support for PlayStation Move, the official Move pistol gun and the Sharp Shooter. New features include different scenarios and even 3D support.
Pistol controls are simple: shoot with the trigger and reload by cocking it the gun to one side or pressing on the Move button. Sharp Shooter controls are equally interesting: shoot with the trigger, reload by pumping its barrel or tapping the special reload button the button of the faux-magazine. Switching between the shot gun and regular pistol is handled by the little triangle and square button on the side of the SS. Shooting zombies is better than on the Wii, with gore exploding everywhere in more bubbly fun. It just feels so much more satisfying to shoot a zombie and not see sharp polygonal blood gushing out everywhere.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Kojima Productions’ critically acclaimed PlayStation Portable game is back for another round on the PS3 and well, honestly, we can’t say the high def graphics hold up too well. A Konami representative told us that Peace Walker is running on the same engine as the PSP version, just with more detailed textures and it shows. Clear-cut low polygon counts are visible to the naked eye, often appearing boxy and chunky. Environment obstacles looked pixelated and muddy. If you’re expecting MGS4-quality graphics in Peace Walker on PS3, you’re going to be disappointed.
No More Heroes: Hero’s Paradise
Another one of the the better (for lack of a better term) HD remakes – the game won’t wow anybody in terms of cutting edge graphics, but the porting of the Wii Remote and Nunchuks controls over to the PlayStation 3’s Move and Navigation controller works like a charm and generally feels more comfortable thanks to the contoured Move controller as opposed to the Wii Remote’s blockiness. Gameplay is largely the same with gamers controlling Travis Touchdown and his Lightsaber clone, the Beam Katana, but why change something if it isn’t broken? Little touches like the Wii Remote’s speaker that was used to simulate a cellphone ringtone is replaced by only rumble, but at least you can still save your game by sitting on the toilet! The game’s 8-bit cameos and homages in the game are still present, although we really wish Konami could have fixed the original game’s awful camera. Surely, they could have used Move to give gamers more control over changing views – slamming into a wall still wastes about half our game time!
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
Konami’s most valuable franchise doesn’t stop at getting the HD treatment with Peace Walker. Oh no, the classic PS2 games Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater will be prettied up with HD visuals for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Unlike Peace Walker, these games actually looked sort of HD. Clothing is crisper, shrubbery is more detailed – it looks good. While, I have no intention of playing Snake Eater for the umpteenth time (it’s also getting remade on the Nintendo 3DS), fans who missed out on the PS2 era or were too young to play those games at the time will be in for a treat.
God of War Origins Collection
Continuing Sony’s obsession with HD-ing (yes, I’m coining the term!) PSP games for the PS3, Origins Collection includes both the fantastic Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta games, complete with dual-analog controls (adjusting the camera with the shoulder trigger on the PSP was a pain, wasn’t it?) and an angry Kratos. The game’s new visuals look decent, slightly better than what Konami is doing with Peace Walker, but still, this is a PSP game that’s getting touched up. Gamers who played the PSP version can probably skip Origins Collection.