Nostalgia is a powerful enemy, that can lead us to revisiting things that were better left to memory. It can also lead to video game developers releasing terrible reboots and remakes of games that no one wanted. Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures anyone? Did anyone want to see a side scrolling Pac-Man adventure game? It was a terrible terrible cash grab. On the other hand, there are occasional games that deserve a remake or “face-lift” years after their time in the lime light.
The recently released Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a great example of what you can do when you strap an old time favorite down with a skilled team of “digital plastic surgeons” like 343 Industries. They retextured everything, improved the frame rate, updated the audio, but kept everything that made the Halo games spectacular years ago intact. The following top 5 games are a few deserving titles that haven’t quite aged perfectly, but with a little refreshing from current gene technology and consoles, could easily hold up to the new power house games of today.
5) Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Released in 2005, Chaos Theory was, and still is, the best game in the series. While it’s recent predecessors Conviction (2010) and Blacklist (2013) were more accessible for new players, offering a more fast paced, aggressive Sam Fisher, they felt like a bit of a step away from the series.
Chaos Theory on the other hand was tactical stealth at it’s best, by stripping Sam down to only two guns and a small hand full of gadgets, you had to think twice before pulling that trigger in a crowded room. Although more linear than future titles, the level design was superb, forcing you into sticky situations like a bank vault or a North Korean missile battery, where you’ll find yourself quietly sitting inches from your enemy planning your next move. Although the first three Splinter Cell games were remastered in “HD” for the PS3 back in 2011, the difference was almost unnoticeable.
A truly remastered Chaos Theory using the Unreal 3 or 4 engine would be mind blowing. Borrowing a couple recent elements like the black and white lighting when you’re in the dark and a fluid cover system, with the return of Michael Ironside voicing Sam Fisher…I’m gonna start my letter to Ubisoft right now.
4) Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy
This game was ahead of it’s time and may have bit off a little more than it could handle. Released in 2004 by now defunct Midway Games, Psi-Ops was bland in the third person shooting department by today’s standards, but made up for it with a set of destructive rag doll psychic abilities.
The Havoc 2.0 engine played a big part here, although choppy at times, it allowed you to pick up and throw around nearly anything and anyone you pleased. On top of telekinesis, you could unlock things like Pyrokinesis, Mind Control, and Remote Viewing over time, giving you multiple ways of handling your enemies.
The level design was sub-par, the missions were uninteresting, and the characters could have been so much more, but none of that mattered when you could yank a sniper out of a tower from fifty feet away with your mind, drop him on a waiting patrol below, then throw a wave of fire at them. The game was never boring, so it’s a shame that the likelihood of a remake with Midway now dissolved is quite low. But to whomever owns the rights to this game now, the fans want it back!
3) Half-Life 2
A devoted PC modder can do anything if a developer isn’t up to the task. Case in point, Fake Factory’s gorgeous Cinematic Mod for the Half-Life 2 Trilogy, which bumped up the graphics to full HD quality. They’ve already done the work for you Steam and you’ve got the money, buy it from them like you do when anyone makes something awesome from your games and port it over to consoles!
Okay, I’m sure that’s not really how that works, but I’m bitter. One look at the mod will make you cry trying to play the game with it’s original graphics. Take a break from not making Half-Life 3 and give us Half-Life 2 the way it was suppose to be. You’ve had 10 years!
2) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Bioware had many gamers and Star Wars fans alike drooling over Knights of the Old Republic when it was released back in 2003. Set four thousand years before the Star Wars: Episode 1 movie, KOTOR is a turn based RPG that follows the rise of former Jedi Darth Malak as he forms his new Sith armada and turns it on the Republic.
Your character on the other hand, has amnesia…okay not very original on that front, but it unfolds into an amazing story where the lines between the light and dark side aren’t always clear, making your decisions quite difficult at times. The writing was deep and believable, with great voice acting to boot, the worlds stayed true to the Star Wars universe and had beautiful landscapes to explore, the turn based fighting system was still action packed, so it never felt slow.
I literally can’t think of anything bad about this game besides the fact that I still have to fire up my original Xbox to play it on a console again. The game is so great though it almost stands the test of time, but I can’t help but think how amazing planets like Mannan or Korriban would look with all new HD textures.
1) Jade Empire
I’ve never played through a game start to finish 9 times before until I found Jade Empire, yet another Bioware title. This action RPG streamlines the traditional idea of an RPG, removing the complicated potions, crafting, endless tiny menus, and tedious skills systems and makes it all more approachable. Your “powerups” or “potions” are acquired in combat from killing enemies and are used instantly, you only have one upgrade screen, and all your skills only have three upgradable elements.
This may seem a little too minimalist for some, but Jade Empire pulls it off well and allows you to focus more on the fluid combat and rich Chinese mythology inspired story. The bad news is Bioware CEO (one of the biggest supporters of the IP) Ray Muzyka, left Bioware is 2012, leaving the chance of a Jade Empire sequel or even a remake very unlikely.
Having recently released Dragon Age: Inquisition and now discussing the future of Mass Effect 4, they’ve got a lot on their plates. You did an amazing job on this one Bioware and whether it returns or not, I’ll be back for my tenth playthrough soon enough.