Editorial

Can We Please Define What a “Remaster” Really Is?

25

We’ve been getting a lot of remasters this year… I mean, A LOT of remasters, with even more coming.

So far this year we’ve had Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin, State of Decay: YOSE and that’s just to name a few of the many. Even today for that matter, God of War 3 re-released for the PS4, and Prototype 1 & 2 re-released on current gen consoles, with Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, The Uncharted Collection and Dishonored: Definitive Edition just around the corner.

The problem I have with a lot of these so-called “remasters”, however, is that they aren’t really remastered. Most of these games have had slight little tweaks here and there, upping the framerate and resolution to 60fps and 1080p respectively, maybe changing the look of a few textures here and there and maybe even tweaking the gameplay a little bit. But publishers have made the terms Definitive Edition and Remastered interchangeable, and that’s honestly really annoying.

Let’s take a look shall we? Here’s today’s recently released screenshots for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves on the PS4.

Looks marginally the same right? Not that it’s a bad thing, I’m incredibly excited to jump back into the Uncharted franchise while I wait for A Thief’s End on the PS4. However, via the PlayStation Blog, even their own hands-on preview of the game defines this collection as a remaster – The good news is that Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection brings these three classics to PS4 in remastered form… – which really isn’t the case is it? Most of the games I listed above have also defined themselves as “remasters”.

Let’s take a look at another upcoming remaster. The Gears of War Ultimate Edition comparison screens can be seen just below.

I think it’s fairly clear what is an actual remaster, but to publishers it doesn’t seem to make a difference. If you’re going to call or advertise your game as a remaster, it should be a big upgrade over the original game, not just a bump in resolution and framerate.

Definitive Editions should be the collections that receive a little freshening up for a re-release. Maybe I’m making a fuss over a non-issue, but as a games journalist who has to read all these press releases that tout these big changes, and come release I can hardly notice a thing, it’s annoyingly misleading. And that makes it even worse, for you, the consumer of these products.

 

Nick Calandra
OnlySP founder and former site owner.

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25 Comments

  1. @Nick Calandra

    Uncharted is remastered, the depth of field is not an issue on PS4 and the frame rate is 60 fps (target not locked). So the PS4 is pushing double the frames as the PS3 while at the same time bumping the graphics up to 1080p. Not to mention the polygon and texture work. From what I have read they are looking to unify the game mechanics across all 3 titles. This is Naughty Dog we are talking about here, they aren’t known for phoning anything in. The Last of Us Remaster was impressive and I expect the Uncharted Trilogy to top that effort.

    The Prototype Biohazrd was never advertised or called a Remaster it is a simple bundle. That game is exactly what a remaster isn’t and they didn’t mislead anyone calling it a bundle.

    Most of your Definitive games were games that were ported from the PC to the PS4/Xbox One. I haven’t seen too many publishers deviate from that definition of “Definitive”. I mostly disagree with you that publishers use Remaster and Definitive Edition interchangeably. It is noted you didn’t exactly provide much evidence to support your claims about this either.

    At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter. I can’t speak for every gamer but I think that most gamers can spend their money as they see fit. There is ample opportunity to research titles you are interested in and if they aren’t up to snuff you can opt out of buying them. We are savvy consumers not mind numbed robots looking to lap up whatever publishers toss in our direction.

    1. No where in this editorial did I say anyone wasn’t smart enough to make the right purchasing decision. But, publishers keep calling them all different things, and for the average consumer who doesn’t read online articles like this, how could you know the difference?

      Hell, if you look at the comments section on N4G, nobody there can even agree on what exactly an HD Port, or a Definitive Edition or Remaster really is. That’s a problem, and it’s exactly what I’m talking about in this editorial. I didn’t need to provide a lot of research to bring that point up, which is why I didn’t.

      God of War was touted as a remaster, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, a remaster, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, a remaster etc. The only real remasters I’ve seen are DMC 4, Gears of War: UE, Halo 2 Anniversary and a few others.

      What’s the difference between The Last of Us: Remastered and Dishonored: Definitive Edition? Not much, upgraded framerate and resolution.

      1. I always thought Definitive Edition was a cool way to say “Includes all DLC”. :P

        1. @nickolaidas:disqus

          Those are usually called Ultimate Editions or sometimes Complete Editions. Or they will adopt the moniker of the season pass like Battlefield 4 Premium Edition.

      2. @Nick_Cal:disqus

        I never said that you explicitly said that gamers weren’t smart enough to make the right gaming decisions. I was merely closing my argument with a statement that makes the article a moot point.

        These terms are mostly for marketing purposes. From what I have seen Remasters are games that are given a graphical boost and the Definitive editions are games that are ported from the PC versions to the PS4/XB1. So far most publishers haven’t used “Definitive Edition” for anything that wasn’t on the PC before.

        1. But that’s the thing, the article isn’t a moot point? For you, and other people who read these types of articles it is, but it’s not directed at you. I’m just stating the general idea here is the fact that publishers are misleading with all these different “Editions” of a previously released game.

          One way I look at is the remasters of movies, but they’re not really comparable since there’s so much more going on in a game than just a resolution bump, which a lot of publishers release as Definitive Editions. But then, we get a remaster like Halo 2: Anniversary or Gears of War: UE and it changes the dynamics of the way these games are being advertised and talked about.

          Go do a Google search on Prototype or Borderlands: Handsome Collection. Most websites are labeling them as remasters in the same vein they’d label Gears of War: UE as a remaster. Do you see my point?

          1. @Nick_Cal:disqus

            But that’s the thing, the article isn’t a moot point?

            It is, honestly who is this directed at? The average age of a gamer is like 27-30. Many of these people have made it through college. You don’t think they can determine which game best suits their needs regardless of what kind of “remaster” nomenclature is used?

            I’m just stating the general idea here is the fact that publishers are misleading with all these different “Editions” of a previously released game.

            The problem is none of this is fact it’s mostly your opinion and to be quite honest (and I don’t mean any disrespect) you haven’t done much research to support your point of view. This is noted on how you downplay the Uncharted Remaster and put Gears of War on a pedestal.

            Do you think the government should step in to regulate these terms? In my opinion the publishers are doing just fine with the HD Port monikers, it isn’t a flawless system, but its working good enough. At the end of the day we are talking about marketing terms.

            One way I look at is the remasters of movies, but they’re not really comparable since there’s so much more going on in a game than just a resolution bump

            Do you even know what is involved with Remastering a movie from film? If the film is all cracked they have to hand fix all the little squares before they put it into a projector than the film is submerged in a solution to be projected and recaptured. The solution fills in all the cracks and small tears. The audio track is a completely different story. Its an extremely time consuming process.

            There is literally no way to compare that process to the digital process of “remastering” games.

            which a lot of publishers release as Definitive Editions.

            Look I have pointed this out numerous times now and if you want to ignore this point or pass over it again, fine — so be it, but I won’t participate in a conversation if the other person is just going to ignore my points and plow on an repeat themselves.

            You must not be reading what I am saying so I will say it once more.

            For the most part (and please point out where this is wrong) Definitive Editions have been games that were ports from a superior PC version of the game. Most publishers have stuck with that definition of Definitive Editions. I won’t say ALL have but most of your Definitive Editions on PS4/XB1 have been PC ports which have more bells and whistles than the PS3/X360 versions of the game.

            we get a remaster like Halo 2: Anniversary or Gears of War: UE and it changes the dynamics of the way these games are being advertised and talked about.

            Nothing prevents a publisher from mentioning a game is remastered while pointing out all the little things that went into that remaster.

            Go do a Google search on Prototype or Borderlands: Handsome Collection. Most websites are labeling them as remasters in the same vein they’d label Gears of War: UE as a remaster. Do you see my point?

            Who cares what “other” websites are calling it. Guess who isn’t calling it a remaster? The publishers so any other website that does call it a remaster are the ones participating in misleading their readers. Your article here is misleading by lumping Prototype Biohazard Bundle in with a list of games that are “Remasters”.

            The publisher isn’t responsible for a 3rd party misrepresenting their product. Any moron with 2 eyes should be able to tell Prototype Biohazard Bundle looks like ass. Borderlands never looked that much different on the PC over the Consoles so it’s no surprise how the nomenclature played out.

            Article is a moot point because gamers aren’t buying games just because they have the words “Remaster”, “Definitive Edition”. They are buying games because they want to play them. There is nothing misleading going on because pretty much anyone can visit YouTube and watch a trailer or gameplay of any game they wish to buy.

  2. A remaster is a previously released game which has some visual/audio improvements. Said improvements solely depend on the developer. It could a mere resolution bump, better framerate, better textures and somewhat graphical adjustments. The PS4 version of Devil May Cry 4 is just as remastered a title as the X-Box One Gears of War. Sure the latter had more heart put into it, but in the end both games are remastered (as was the Last of Us for the PS4).

    1. That’s correct. But, publishers keep switching between “Definitive Edition” and “Remastered”. I’m looking at this from the point of a consumer right now who doesn’t read these types of articles.

      When I think of Definitive Edition, it’s a slightly updated version of a previously released game. Dishonored – Dishonored: Definitive Edition. Better resolution, and framerate and that’s about it. Same with Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection.

      When I think of a Remastered Edition of a game, it’s a heavily upgraded version of a previously released game. Gears of War – Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. Fully updated graphics, updated cutscenes, better performance etc. There’s significant change there.

      1. Yeah, yeah, yeah. The trend of this generation: Since the Xbone is losing badly for some “press” anything for Xbone is the state of the art, while the PS4 is getting only peanuts. Fortunately the public isn’t that stupid. The PS4 is leading again in the June NPD numbers for US and don’t make me start about Europe and.. Japan. lol

        1. Dude, I’m sorry but you need to pull your head out of a certain area. I said nothing “negative” towards the PS4, and even if I did that doesn’t make me biased towards one console or the other. People like you who feel the need to pull out sales numbers to defend a piece of hardware until your blue in the face need to find something better to do. and we definitely don’t need junky comments like that here. Have a good day.

          1. Here here.
            Completely agree with your argument, having not owned a PS3 (it was the worst) last of us seemed a good prospect for PS4, but it was early on in the next gen cycle. But now with games like blood borne, W3 wild hunt and Arkham knight do i really want to play up scaled versions of years old games, like god of war 3 and dishonour.
            Games like gears of war UE has been heavily publicised, in particular how they went right back to the start stripped everything and rebuilt it, not only that xbox360 owners, like myself, get a chance to play 5 new chapters only available for PC in the past. And they are selling it at £20-£23 new (£45 for new games in UK). When dedication like this is involved I would pay to replay, but with backwards compatibility coming to my xbone “remastered” games like dishonoured can wait till then.

        2. Jecht, this website is one of the few that is completely unbiased towards consoles and pc. The only bias is towards single player gaming over multiplayer – which I have no beef at all with, since I hate multiplayer and adore single player.

    2. Bullshit!

      Sorry had to call you out on it, so full of crap. The Last of Us was but a mere up in res and frame rates. Like a PC port, would we now attach all multiplat games that are on PC a remastered? No. So far Gears: UE, Halo: MCC and FF7 are true remasters.

      1. Oh ok so if it doesn’t fit your personal description of a remaster then it doesn’t count, got it.

      2. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Last of Us remastered has improved textures and shadow mapping – it’s not a mere resolution bump.

        http://www.polygon.com/2014/7/16/5902983/the-last-of-us-remastered-ps4-preview-graphics
        And lay off the language – this isn’t IGN.

  3. Did you play Gears of war Beta? You didn’t know what are you talking about it.

    1. Uh, pretty sure I specifically said in the article we know which of the two games was, and was not a remaster. But, if I need to be more clear with you: It’s Gear of War: UE.

  4. I feel that you have touched on an important topic here, Nick. I feel that a Definitive Edition like you said should be reserved for touching up on graphics and sound. I also believe that a remastering should be more akin to a director’s cut or something more akin to a re-imagining of the game.

    1. Thanks for the comment Bethany. And I agree, publishers should really try and make a universal system for this stuff so we know what exactly each “Edition” of a game entails.

  5. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/remaster

    remaster

    verb re·mas·ter (ˌ)rē-ˈmas-tər

    : to make a new copy of (a recording or film) with the sound or image improved

    That obviously applies to videgames as well. Higher resolution and better framerate are general improvements.

    There, you have got your definition from a very reliable source. Sure worth more than any random article in the internet like the clickbait you posted.

    1. ^this

    2. “Higher resolution and better framerate are general improvements.”

      So on pc, you can create your own “remaster” by changing the resolution to a higher value in the options screen? :)

      1. That’s a gross over-simplification. PC version are normally designed using higher poly count models and higher res textures, which are scaleable.. Whereas these items are designed for console at the lower res.to meet the consistent power level of the machine.

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