Why I’m not bothered by “HD remakes / re-releases”

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The practice of re-releasing games that are only a few years old as an “HD remake” or remaster has rubbed people the wrong way for the last few years. There’s just something about being asked to pay as much as $60 for re-releases of games we’ve already paid for oftentimes in the last three or four years. Sometimes these games are presented as a package, therefore offering a ‘better’ value, such as the Borderlands Collection, Master Chief Collection or Final Fantasy X / X-2.

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The practice of re-releasing games dates back as far as 2009, with the release of the God of War Collection on the PS3 (well I suppose you could say it goes back even further, with Super Mario All Stars on the SNES, but I’ll keep it recent). The re-releases really started to pick up steam with the current console generation, and early on during this cycle people started to fatigue of these games since there seemed to be more re-releases than new content being produced.

With all these re-releases seemingly milking more money for the same product, people have been speaking up, announcing their displeasure with the practice often in comment sections and on places like Reddit. I myself have even rolled my eyes at some re-releases (looking at you Deadpool), but at the same time I’ve purchased many of them, and I don’t regret it. I’ve had more fun with the Borderlands collection on the Xbox One, even though I’ve owned both games on the 360 and PC. They simply felt more refined on the current gen console (I wasn’t much of a PC gamer at the time). The Master Chief Collection is still one of my favorite game releases of all time. I love being able to switch between all of Halo games with ease, and appreciate the touched up version of Halo 2. I no longer have a PS2 (I’m not one to keep old consoles lying around), so of course I picked up Final Fantasy X HD when it released on PC, and I think there’s no better way to play it.

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Fortunately, you don’t always have to open your wallet again for these re-releases, at least if you’re a PC gamer. Bioshock’s updated version was free for those who already owned it, as was today’s release of Skyrim Special Edition (at least if you already owned the game and its DLC). That’s a nice gesture, as they certainly could have asked that we pay again (and they have if you’re a console gamer. Sorry!).

So I can understand that people have a problem with paying for updated visuals, but I’ve been thinking about it this way. We often have no problem upgrading other forms of media as technology has evolved. How many of us have owned movies on VHS, then DVD, then Blu-ray and then digital (or even UHD Blu-ray)? When we upgrade our technology (be it media players or TV’s) we want to get the best possible version of our media available to us. Now movies aren’t quite priced the same as a game, but how often are you going to watch those movies? Once or twice? So you might pay $15-30 for a few hours of entertainment, versus paying $60 for an HD remake of a game that can offer upwards of 200 hours of shiny “new” entertainment.

If you’re not convinced, there’s no problem holding onto your 360 or PS3 version of Skyrim, but I personally want to play the best available version. Besides, part of me likes to think that these releases help to fund new and exciting projects. Game development is more expensive and time consuming than ever, but game prices haven’t risen in years. That’s part of the reason why so many games have micro-transactions, whether we like it or not. Re-releasing an “old” game with a new coat of paint may just provide a publisher with the confidence that consumers are still interested in their products. Maybe I’m just viewing things from a glass half-full perspective, but I like to remain positive whenever possible.

I’m going to stop rambling on now and go enjoy some Skyrim Special Edition in 4K. Thanks for reading! If you feel I’m flat out wrong, or want to express your opinion, I encourage you to comment!

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What I’ve been playing this week

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Last night I jumped back into the Master Chief Collection for the first time in awhile. The matchmaking process was more smooth than the last time I played, however there have also been some less pleasant changes. Halo CE is my favorite game to play Slayer in, yet the dedicated CE playlist is now only 2 vs. 2. I don’t see how a two player team is appealing to anyone these days. It’s not fun to have so much of the map completely void of action as you hunt down the two person team that will always be at the same spot everytime. Furthermore, 2v2 matches are excessively long. It took an eternity for the matches to finish, and most of the time both teams would get bored toward the end and would just start team killing each other.

The Team Slayer and Big Team Battle playlists include Halo CE and allow for larger teams, but the problem is CE maps hardly ever get voted for. If I try to play those playlists I get stuck playing a lot of Halo 3 which I don’t enjoy nearly as much as I do CE. Therefore I end up having to choose between playing matches that bore me, or quitting, leaving my team a man down (and also facing a matchmaking penalty).

On another note, I’m also upset that there’s no longer a Team SWAT playlist. SWAT is one of my favorite Halo game modes, and it’s unfortunate that there’s no longer a dedicated playlist.

Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 2

I’ve also been working my way through episode 2 of Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands. I’ve been enjoying episode 2 just as much, if not more so than the first episode. Tales from the Borderlands is an absolute masterpiece so far, and I can’t wait to play more of it (I just wrapped up chapter 3).

Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious

The standalone Fast & Furious themed game set in the world of Forza Horizon 2 is available for free for Xbox One gamers up until April 10th (when it’ll be priced at $9.99). As long as you download it before April 10th you’ll be able to continue playing the game for free. The game features an achievement list separate from Horizon’s worth 1000 gamerscore which is pretty cool. Fast & Furious features a pretty sweet intro and some great new music alongside some classic Fast & Furious cars. I’ve played around with it for awhile and if you’ve enjoyed Forza Horizon 2 you’ll enjoy this game just as much.

NBA 2k14

I’ve dabbled in the NBA 2K series before, however could never get good enough at the games to enjoy them. I picked up 2k14 for under $10 and jumped into the My Player mode last night. The way they set everything up (story wise) is pretty cool, but you basically have to sit through what feels like 30 minutes of cut scenes before you even get out onto the court for the first time (and then you’ll be riding the bench for awhile longer). I’ve found 2k14 has been easier to play than previous titles so far which means I’m able to enjoy it so far. I’m still completely incompetent on defense and I have hardly any idea how to play offense legitimately. Basically all I do is try to shoot threes, but on rookie difficulty I’ve been able to get by so far (though I have yet to rate beyond a C+).

The rest

I’ve fooled around with Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 and have enjoyed it so far. It’s simple yet aesthetically pleasing and fun to play. I’ve been working through Borderlands 2 still but have hit a few frustrating points (while playing solo) so I think I need to spend some time jumping into other people’s games to level up a bit.

This week I hope to finish Tales from the Borderlands and make some progress in NBA 2k14. Other than that I’ll continue my Madden 15 franchise and play some Advanced Warfare.

What are you playing right now?

 

A Video Game Life’s top 5 and Game of the Year!

Number Five: Civilization Revolution 2 (iOS)

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Back in 2008 Civilization Revolution on the Xbox 360 served as my introduction to the wonderful strategy series that’s been around since 1991. The gameplay was incredibly addicting and winning battles was wonderfully satisfying again and again. One night browsing the app store in my hotel room in Hawaii I stumbled across a pleasant surprise when I saw Civilization Revolution 2 for sale. I bought it immediately and spent countless hours trying to dominate the world rather than sleeping. Revolution 2 plays great on the iPad and offers hundreds of hours of enjoyment for longtime Civ fans or newcomers alike. I’ll be enjoying Civilization Revolution 2 well into 2015 and beyond, and it certainly deserves recognition as one of the best games released in 2014.

Number Four: The Wolf Among Us

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Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us took me by surprise this summer. I was never blown away by the Walking Dead games but decided to give The Wolf Among Us a try. I downloaded the entire season on the iPad this summer and dove right in. I was immediately blown away by the unique, dark world and the amazing characters within. The music and scenery during the introduction following the preface absolutely blew my mind and ranks as one of the most awe inspiring sequences in a video game I’ve ever experienced.

The mystery Bigbee gets wrapped up in kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire experience and every twist and turn made it so hard to put my iPad down. I burned through the episodes as quickly as I could and loved every minute of it.

Number Three: Hearthstone

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Hearthstone is an incredibly well made, free card battle game. Blizzard took a chance and hit a grand slam with Hearthstone. The game features great artwork, animation and sounds along with easy to pick up, hard to put down gameplay that provides countless hours of entertainment. I feel like Hearthstone is quite easy to understand and get the hang of compared to other card battle games like Magic the Gathering, but there’s still plenty there for more seasoned players. Hearthstone is so hard to put down because no matter how badly you’re being beaten you’re never quite out of it. I’ve been on the edge of defeat and have gotten the right cards at the final moments and have battled back from that edge and onto an incredibly satisfying victory. There’s hardly anything more rewarding than experiences like that!

Number Two: Tales from the Borderlands (episode one)

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Telltale games have had a big year this year. The Wolf Among Us came to a wonderful conclusion this summer and then this winter saw the start of two new adventures with Game of Thrones and Tales from The Borderlands. The latter has not only been my favorite Telltale game to date, but also one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had with a video game ever! The first episode¬†is upbeat, colorful, energetic and absolutely hilarious from start to finish. I’ve never laughed so much while playing a game. I had a smile on my face from start to finish as I made my way through the exciting chapters of the first episode. There was never a dull moment and the conclusion to the episode had me dying for more. I can’t wait to experience the rest of the story! Tales from the Borderlands confidently lands at number two on my list because it was a refreshing experience with some incredible writing in a great world. I highly recommend it!

Game of the Year: Halo: The Master Chief Collection

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This is sure to be a controversial pick for a variety of reasons. First of all, this is technically a re-release of games spanning from 2001 to 2013. Secondly, the game had an incredibly rocky launch, and was not ready to be released upon the salivating masses in November. It’s true, for the first three weeks I owned the game I was only able to play around 15 matches which is entirely unacceptable. That said, now that the game has been more or less working as intended for the last week or so it’s easily been my most enjoyable gaming experience of 2014.

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Being able to jump into matches across four different Halo games with my friends from around the world with whom I’ve played the games with in the past. It’s amazing to see how much Halo has grown all in one package. We used to throw our cumbersome CRT TV’s in our cars and drive miles to a central meeting place, lug our TV’s downstairs, order pizza and play Halo for hours on end. To be able to jump into a game of Halo Combat Evolved or Halo 2 with the push of a button is awesome. To be able to play a match of Halo 3, 2, and CE in quick succession is equally awesome. The Halo 2 Anniversary remake is a stunningly beautiful way to relive both a great campaign and a great multiplayer experience.

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I will easily spend hundreds of hours over the next year and beyond enjoying the Master Chief Collection. The last week of fun alone has already made up for the three weeks I was barely able to play the game I invested $60 in. From the start the Master Chief Collection was a bargain for $60. They could have easily charged $60 alone for the Halo 2 Anniversary edition, but instead they threw in three more games and gave us an unimaginable value. For that, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is crowned A Video Game Life’s Game of the Year! Congratulations 343!

 

Spartan Ops has arrived in Master Chief Collection

Halo 4’s Spartan Ops mode has arrived in the Master Chief Collection along with this week’s 3gb patch which also further improves gameplay and matchmaking. I never played a lot of Spartan Ops, so I figured I’d give the first mission a try yesterday.

It was pretty fun, but it’s certainly geared toward co-op play as overall it felt like there was just too much to kill and the mission dragged on longer than it probably should have. Still it’s nice to have a couple more hours of new content added into the Master Chief Collection. So grab a few friends and head into Spartan Ops and see what damage you can do. Enjoy!

There’s a Halo CE playlist in Master Chief Collection now

There’s finally a Halo CE playlist in the Master Chief Collection! Unfortunately it’s only 3v3 which seems a little small at times, but I guess it’s better than nothing! It seems like matchmaking is working a lot better as well, I was able to get into several matches back to back tonight and it was great!

My ‘Halo and Brews’ Twitch Broadcast from last night

Last night I celebrated the return of the SWAT playlist to the Master Chief Collection with a ‘Halo and Brews’ Twitch Broadcast where I enjoyed a couple Square Mile Ciders and saw my performance get worse and worse through the night. Enjoy!

(Apparently Twitch muted the second video due to copyright, so there’s that. I guess I’ll throw some YouTube music into it or something in a bit)

 

Halo Master Chief Collection matchmaking is STILL slow (5 December)

So after yet another patch this week, Master Chief Collection’s matchmaking issues have still not been eradicated. It’s been slightly better than it was launch week (nearly a month ago), but not by much. I’ve managed to get into 3 matches today, but the latest patch now forces you to back out and search for a match again after every match. You cannot stay in the same lobby after a match. Not only does this slow down the matchmaking process further, it also harms the multiplayer experience.

If you have a close match or a good team you’re out of luck after the end of the match. You’re forced to press B backing you out to the matchmaking menu where you’ll have to start the search for a match all over again. This is severely disappointing. It can be quite difficult to group up with a good group of players and to be forced to disband the lobby after every match is just ridiculous.

Also waiting two or more minutes for a match only to have it spontaneously end after the loading screen is not cool. You can see my latest attempt to get into a match below.

I guess I should just play more Advanced Warfare…