Shut Up and Take my Money! My Love/Hate Relationship with HD Remakes


Just take it already

When I was younger I had a vastly different relationship with videogames.

I chose the games I wanted for my birthdays and Christmas based on what my friends and cousins had. I didn’t read many gaming magazines or if I did, I would borrow them from the library months or years after they were relevant. Even when I began working in my teens, the combination of high game prices and a low amount of time meant that I still didn’t managed to collect many of the great titles of the PS2/GameCube Era. It was probably only at the end of high school when I bought a Wii that I began to actively and regularly buy games. By this stage the PS3/360 era was kicking off and again high prices meant that I wouldn’t be able to join that arms race till a few years later.

Now at the dawn of the PS4/XBONE era I find myself buying FFX HD to play on my Vita, I see Okami HD on the PSN Store and the ICO/Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection sitting on my shelf and I feel conflicted. One part of me is happy that I can now play the games that I missed out on, games that I probably wouldn’t have fully understood at the time and games that I probably would have lost interest in when they got complicated or were no longer the flavour of the month among my friends. The other part of me is sad that these HD remakes are all that remains of the great gaming franchises that used to revolutionise with every game rather than disappoint.

This is the paradox of HD remakes; On the one hand they let fans old and new experience great games. On the other hand, HD remakes are a monument to the former glory of some of the great gaming publishers.

This leads me to the question of why? Why are we getting HD remakes instead of great new games? Where are we heading and what is the silver lining in all of this?

It is my belief that the prominence of HD remakes has become less about preserving the history of gaming and more about making money for large studios that have been producing sub-par games or not producing games at all. Recent history has revealed this HD trend to be a Sony dominated enterprise. With more HD remakes than any other platform the PS3 is a nostalgic game fan’s best friend. Rivaled only by the Wii U with its slow yet interesting role out of virtual console games the PS3 and Vita have seen many classics given new life. However the disturbing trend is that we are being given these HD remakes instead of new games worth buying.

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Square Enix is leading the pack with HD remakes of both Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy X released in the past year and only mere trailers to show of Kingdom Hearts 3 and FFXV; games it has had in development of almost a decade. Further its recent entries in the Final Fantasy series have been less than spectacular. Square Enix’s actions make me question the direction the company is taking, it can clearly make great games Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Bravely Default and Tomb Raider are all recent examples but are the costs of doing business so high that the company must rely on making old IP profitable again so as to bank roll new games?

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This seems to be the case with Sony Santa Monica, the company behind God of War, which has recently succumb to layoffs in the wake of the under performing God of War: Ascension. Sony Santa Monica has re-released every title in the God of War series for the PS3 and Vita and I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before they are re-re-released on the PS4. They have made great games but has their eye towards making lightening strike again and again on the same franchise left them without any creative breathing room? These games aren’t FIFA or Madden, remaking them every year with minor tweaks just doesn’t work and pumping out HD remakes to distract from the sub-par new iterations just makes it worse.

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So what does the future hold? I think the answer is different depending on your system of choice. For those who play on the PC none of this is a concern, the community will always find a way to bring the games of yesteryear back from the dead. For console gamers the future is a little darker, with backwards compatibility disappearing HD remakes and re-releases are going to be the norm especially when they can convert a popular game and cash in again. We can see that the Last of Us is already slated for a next gen release a mere year since its PS3 debut and we can only speculate as to when and if GTAV will appear on the XBONE and PS4 after making billions on the PS3/360.

So is there a silver lining in all of this? The answer is complex; it is a question of balancing enjoyment with disdain, I will probably always go out and buy HD remakes of games that I’ve wanted to play but didn’t have the time for, I will enjoy my time with these HD remakes and the reduced price makes it a good value proposition. I will however also cringe at how long it has taken for FFXV or The Last Guardian to come out, these games seemingly stuck in development limbo now supposedly to be released on the PS4. I will also question why Capcom hasn’t released another Okami game when it has re-released the title twice on the Wii and PS3 and other studios somehow manage to find funds to produce a new Armoured Core or Dead or Alive every other year.

The average consumer is being given a choice between the shiny and shallow latest AAA title and a classic, most will make the wrong choice and complain when they are trading in the AAA a few weeks later but the choice allows for education and education breeds change.

The Publishers will profit whether we buy their latest AAA disaster or a HD remake and lets face everyone isn’t suddenly going to give up on games so the money will keep coming in. My only hope is that publishers will realise that HD remakes are popular because their new games are uninteresting and gamers are searching for former glory not cheap nostalgia.

Thus enjoyment versus disdain becomes our rhetoric as we constantly remind ourselves how great some companies used to be rather than enjoy their new titles. If anything publishers need to start afresh either by losing the long running franchise names or starting from scratch, it worked with Tomb Raider and it’s working with Bravely Default, they should keep the HD remakes for preserving history rather than distracting us from the present.

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Preview: Thief Will Immerse Players in a City with Plenty of Secrets and Loot


Patience is a virtue, which rings true when playing Thief

Much like Final Fantasy, I never got into the original Thief trilogy, purely because at the time in 1998 I didn’t own a PC powerful enough to run it. I was only equipped with an Amiga 3000 and my trusty Nintendo 64. Moving along, it wasn’t until 2002 when I had a PC that had enough grunt to run games at decent specs. By that time unfortunately I had invested my time in so many other franchises Thief fell into the shadows.

Now with Eidos Montreal having successfully rebooted Deus Ex with Deux Ex: Human Revolution on consoles, of course it would seem fit to do the same thing with Thief.

Always explore your surroundings
Always explore your surroundings

Thief  opens up with Garrett in a room where the first thing you’ll do is steal loot, and lots of it. Searching table drawers or cupboards, almost everything in the world of Thief can be stolen. Knives, forks, scissors, stainless steel cups, photo frames, coins the list just goes on and on. Every item that you steal within the environment will reward you with coins, which of course is the in game currency.

These coins will allow you to purchase items such as arrows or upgrades to your various abilities, longer lasting focus, better lock-picking skills and more.

Garrett returns as the game protagonist/anti-hero refit for the modern gamer, whilst still retaining his quality trademarks which have hailed him in various lists as one of the “influential most bad-ass and anti-hero characters” to be created.

We learn after looting the room you start in that Garrett has a protege, in the form of a female thief, called Erin.

She’s young and extremely cocky, much like many sidekicks in almost every game or superhero tale. It is during this opening mission you’ll embark throughout the City whilst learning the basics of the game. How to run and jump towards ledges which is mapped to L2 (Game features parkour movement akin of Mirrors Edge) and how to equip various arrows etc.

Using the PS4 touch-pad for this type of functionality was flawless, I found myself using it a lot more than scrolling with the D-Pad. Various arrows such as water, fire or blunt are mapped to specific sections of the touch-pad. Once you slide your finger and have highlighted the arrow of your choice, all you do is click and it’s equipped.

Whilst Garrett can fight, it isn't advised
Whilst Garrett can fight, it isn’t advised

You can’t seem to retrieve these arrows, so be sure to explore every inch of every level as Thief isn’t your average stealth game.

In an effort to retain the PC gamers who grew up on the original Thief trilogy, Eidos have introduced difficulty mods that one can select before starting a new game. These include classic, legendary and ultimate difficulty mods.

One mods includes turning off the glint that all types of loot give off when entering a room. This means searching all inches of a room before leaving as no glint will give you any help what so ever.

Other mods include the ability to turn off automatic saves and finishing all missions without knocking out or alerting any guards. The toughest of them all, is of course the mod which only gives you one life.

Let’s say you’ve poured 10 hours or so into the campaign and you’ve managed to reach the final level, if you die at any point you will be reverted to the start of the game. It’s definitely giving PC players that customisation they love, to cater the game to how they want to play and also the hardcore gamers, who love a challenge. Eidos did comment that they will be finding ways to reward those players who wish to take up the challenge.

Despite the game difficulty, one can still find it a challenge even on Normal.

This is due to the fact that Garrett is NOT a brawler. Even though he is equipped with his trusty Blackjack and Erin’s claw, I do not advise in ever combating more than one enemy at once. Garrett does hold the ability to dodge attacks, however ensuring minimal casualties and maximum coins will require patience. Take enemies out from behind without alerting anyone or don’t engage them at all.

Thankfully Eidos have included multiple paths that players can take up on when entering a new area. Whilst many will take the obvious route, players can activate the “Focus” ability that will highlight interest points in blue.

This is the only ability that Garrett possesses and it can be turned off if one does not wish to be assisted. Remembering guard patrol patterns, exploring the environment and using the available tools at your disposal will be key.

Water arrows can distinguish torches, however if a guard notices this they will reignite the flame. Hiding bodies will ensure guards do not become alerted of your presence and throwing glass bottles will create enough of a distraction to ensure safe passage to the next bench to hide.

The environment is interactive and the games highlight is that of Garrett’s hand movements.

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Jazz hands

Anything that Garrett touches he will interact with. My favourite portion of the game is picking locks and feeling up photos for switches to unlock the safes behind them. When walking through curtains, rather than a static movement to sway away what’s in front of him, Garrett’s hand will move in an extremely realistic fashion.

Putting out candles with his fingers the same way you would in real life and even whilst walking, you’ll notice Garrett’s hand hover in front of him as to balance his body when creeping around. It’s the little inclusions such as this that makes Thief such an immerse experience.

Whilst the game is rich full of content and the characters are as pleasant to listen to as they are to look at, you’ll appreciate the dedication the development team had trying to create a true next-gen experience.

It’s more about making the player feel as if they’re the character they’re controlling. Seeing things through a first person perspective is important and you want the character to be as interactive as possible with his surroundings.

Peeking around corners like you do in Battlefield 4 or sliding to the crate across the footpath rather than walking there. The level design works for various game styles. You can scour the rooftops of The City and find little hidden areas to loot or various pathways to your mission. If you do this, you will be rewarded with not only dialogue spoken by Garrett but with high value treasure you can steal that is completely optional.

Everything of high value that you steal or earn is stored at your Watchtower which is your hub. You can admire your possessions or embark on the next story mission, it’s totallty up to you.

Perhaps one of the more innovative features though, as to not pull the player away from the experience, is the PS4 controller. When players sit or walk through the shadows the light on the controller will stay blue. If a player stumbles into the light or a bright flame, it’ll turn white. This allowed Eidos to minimize what’s on the screen and not have the player continually look at a certain section of the HUD to see if they’re hidden or not.

It’s why Thief is so enjoyable, from running around or creeping behinds guards you’ll always smile at the animations. The PS4 and Xbox One allow developers to do this now and it’s why I’m extremely excited to see what else they can throw in to the experience.

On top of all these features Thief is definitely a story and character driven experience, which is dark in tone and for mature audiences. The City is harsh, and you’ll uncover many secrets on your path to find out the truth. Stay patient, toy with the mods and turn the volume up when you play this game, because you’ll want to enjoy it and immerse yourself.

Down it is!
Down it is!

Thief 1 vs. 2. vs. 3 vs. 4 Screenshot Comparison


FEATURE_Thief screenshot comparison

Thief 1 vs. 2 vs. 3 vs. 4 Screenshot Comparison

A look back and forward

by Nicholas Laborde

©2013 Nicholas Laborde

thief 4 screenshots oxcgn #8The gaming world collectively freaked out earlier this month when the fourth Thief title was announced after a very, very long wait.

Eidos Montreal, the talented team behind Deus Ex: Human Revolution, will be handling the game, and it couldn’t be in better hands.

Considering the age of the series (the first title, Thief: The Dark Project, released in 1998), I thought it was time to do a screenshot comparison to showcase the giant leaps in visual fidelity that the series has seen since its initial release many moons ago.

Below, you will find screenshots ordered from left to right, with the oldest ones on the left. The order is as follows: Thief: The Dark Project and Thief II: The Metal Age on the first rows, and Thief: Deadly Shadows and Thief 4 beneath.

Note that Thief: Deadly Shadows and the newest Thief title do not have numbers in their titles, but I referred to them as 3 and 4 respectively for continuity.

See how Thief has aged!

OXCGN’s Hitman: Absolution Review


REVIEW_Hitman Absolution

OXCGN’s Hitman: Absolution Review

The year’s standout stealth entry

by Nicholas Laborde

©2012 Nicholas Laborde

hitman absolution screenshots oxcgn #13Last year, Deus Ex: Human Revolution kicked off the fall release season by giving the world an extremely versatile way to play.

You could play it as an action game, mowing down everyone in sight and taking no prisoners.

Or, you could go through the entire game without harming a soul.

This year, the only AAA game with true stealth options we’ve received is Dishonored, which as with Human Revolution is not a dedicated stealth title but can be played that way.

Now, for the first time in years, we have a legitimate AAA stealth title in the form of Hitman: Absolution.

Agent 47 is back, and he’s stealthier than ever.

Should you tail this target?

OXCGN’s Game Of The Year Awards 2011


OXCGN’s Game Of The Year Awards 2011

Did the VGAs get it wrong?

by: dkpatriarch

©2011 David Hilton

For many of us the VGAs were a bit underwhelming.

Which games stood head-n-shoulders above the others?

We had new announcements in the form of new ‘post-apocaliptic’ zombie survival type games (sigh), and new footage of some upcoming games that look either very promising (Bioshock Infinite, Hitman Absolution) or incredibly silly (Metal Gear Rising: Revengance, or as I call it: Devil May Rise: Cryvengance).

Then we had the idiocy that made our gaming industry look even more puerile with ‘tea bagging’ those whose speech went a little long and bad jokes.  Are we still all supposed to be childish teens?  Or am I just getting way too old for such ‘humour’?

Anyway, for the last week or so we at OXCGN have been nominating and tallying our own Game Of The Year Awards for 2011.  

If last year was the year of the sequel, this year was the year of the three-quel (Uncharted 3, Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Resistance 3Dungeon Siege 3Serious Sam 3…I’m sure there are others…).

These are just our individual opinions scored together using a complex mathematical formula involving each of us picking a Top 3 and scoring them with a 5, 3 or 1.  I’m sure the VGAs had a much more sophisticated methodology…

Without any more rambling, here are OXCGN’s Game Of The Year Awards for 2011.

Feel free to discuss your opinions of the VGAs and our picks in the comments section below.

Do you agree with our GOTY picks? here

OXCGN’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review: Eidos Lied, But All Is Forgiven


Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review

Eidos Lied, But All Is Forgiven In A Well-Augmented Conspiracy

by exterminat

©2011 Nicholas Laborde

In the year 2000, conspiracies began to die down. Tensions were starting to ease after the Y2K computer crashing rumors subsided, and in a world pre-9/11 and post-Cold War, we had nothing to fear… or so it seemed.

That is, of course, until Deus Ex released and with it, a reminder to gamers far and wide that conspiracies are probably still all around us, later confirmed by real, unfortunate events that still shape our world today.

The brainchild of Warren Spector and Ion Storm, Deus Ex offered a successful blending of multiple genres executed in such a way that gamers had never seen before, instantly propelling itself into the annals of video game history as a true ‘classic’.

Then, along rolls 2003 and Deus Ex: Invisible War trots onto store shelves everywhere… needless to say, we’d much rather forget about it.

Finally, we have arrived in August 2011, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution is here to augment your life and your very way of thinking.

Once again, conspiracies abound, and the truth will change you; the question is, are you ready to experience it?

• OXCGN’s Deus Ex article well worth reading:-

Deus Ex: Human Revolution: A Title You Shouldn’t Miss

Let’s see what SARIF Industries ‘really’ have planned….

Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Thank You – there is a God


Deus Ex: Human Revolution to hit E3 Big Time

And OXCGN will be there!

by XboxOZ360:

©2010 Grant Smythe:

Finally, God has answered my prayers and allowed those who have been harboring this creature to finally unfold its wings and fly free . . .

Welcome to the next chapter in the Deus Ex franchise which is about to drop at the next big E3 between June 14th – 17th 2010 inclusive of the Keynote presentations. Which I might add that OXCGN (self included this year – hoot) will be attending and ideally getting some up-close-n-personal time with the guys at Edios and Square Enix and Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

The trailer looks nothing short of ‘awesome’, and shows a great deal of promise and possibilities for the franchise to take a new step in “This-Gen”. One that it simply could not make in the previous generation of consoles, no matter what the platform. Continue reading Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Thank You – there is a God