COMMENT: Game remasters - Great or just a cash grab?

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The recent spate of game remasters have been a blessing for some of us older gamers.

From the Command and Conquer Remastered Collection to the latest Diablo II: Resurrected, we've been getting a lot of our favourite classics returning in high definition. These older games don't just get a graphical makeover, some things have also been tweaked for modern sensibilities.

It sounds great, and it is. These games are loaded with nostalgia, and were tons of fun in my youth. But can they actually hold up to today's AAA games, or are they just a cash grab for game studios to resell their old games? Well, the answer lies somewhat in between.

Let me explain.

A remaster isn't always just painting over the graphics with higher res images. There's also music, cutscenes, or even tweaks to add optional modern changes. That means development resources that need to be budgeted for, and lots of work needed to get everything the same as the original, but better.

The benefit of a remaster, as in the case with C&C, is that you can have the old version of the game running in the new version, letting you toggle between both at any time. This is effort that fans adore, because it showcases how much love was put back into the project.

That said, you can have bad examples — and Blizzard's Warcraft III: Reforged comes to mind. The WC3 remaster has had fans up in arms over promised new upgraded cutscenes that were not delivered, and features such as automated tournaments that were removed.

I'm hoping it's not the case for the upcoming Diablo II remaster. D2 was a game I spent countless hours on, even dabbling in the burgeoning rune market at that time. 

Blizzcon appears to have given me some hope that Blizzard will actually get it right — they aren't changing the core gameplay but adding a shared stash (found in Diablo 3), and a toggle that lets you switch between the new and old graphics. 

Cutscenes were also remastered, and you can import old save files (but these won't work for the online multiplayer component, of course).

These announcements leave me cautiously optimistic, but I'm going to wait for the actual release before putting down money. What I will put down for though, is for the Mass Effect Legendary Edition. EA has strangely proven to be the better studio at remaking their old IP and I'm looking to finally finish the trilogy (I skipped the last game after the controversy over its ending).

Other games that have been remastered that you should try include Baldur's Gate, Assassin's Creed: The Ezio Collection, and the Age of Empire series. You can find a full list here.

At the end of the day, I'm all for remasters, but only if it's done right. 

Sure, it may feel like companies are running out of ideas and are doing this for the cash, but I'm glad these old games are seeing the light for a new generation of players. 

As long as they don't quite crash as burn as Warcraft III: Reforged, that is.

Aloysius Low is an ex-CNET editor with more than 15 years of experience. He's really into cats and is currently reviewing products at canbuyornot.com

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