With one console generation drawing to a close and the next still in its infancy, resurrecting last-gen games with modern technology has become a popular and lasting trend. Game remakes (or remasters as they are known this generation) are certainly nothing new, but the introduction of new consoles that lack backwards capability has given players the excuse to re-experience classic games with a high-definition facelift. Sometimes that just means improved graphics or performance; other times HD remasters will actually incorporate new features, such as Grand Theft Auto 5's first-person mode on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
While the HD-remastering trend at its worst can be little more than a cash grab, fans are clamoring for visually improved versions of last-gen tentpoles such as the Gears of War or Uncharted games, and such projects are being confirmed and announced all the time. Still, there are plenty of older games just begging for the treatment, and here are the 10 that should be at the top of the to-do list.
Assassin's Creed: The Ezio Collection
Assassin's Creed: Unity was plagued by glitches and received only modest reviews, but the prospect of next-gen AC is still exciting. Hoping for remastered versions of all seven core last-gen games is probably unrealistic, but a more manageable approach would be to create an "Ezio Collection." This would bundle together remastered versions of Assassin's Creed 2, Brotherhood, and Revelations, thus compiling the full story of AC's best protagonist thus far, Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The Ezio games are easily the most beloved of the series' pre-Unity installments, so upgrading his trilogy would let the franchise jump on the HD-remaster bandwagon and give players an excuse to play through some of the franchise's best moments. Bonus points if they incorporate Unity's co-op play or improved descent mechanics into Ezio's adventures.
If Ubisoft wants to venture further back, however, the original Assassin's Creed could benefit hugely from a bit more tinkering. Just seeing an HD version of the Crusades-era Holy Land would be amazing enough, but the game would be a lot more replayable if the remastered version applied some of the combat changes from AC 2, improved the fast travel system, or made the interminable Desmond sections skippable.
Batman: Arkham Asylum/Arkham City
Rocksteady Studios will wrap up their acclaimed Batman trilogy this summer with Arkham Knight, so a collection bundling all three of the games is pretty much inevitable at some point. That would make for a perfect excuse to give Arkham Asylum and Arkham City an HD spit-and-polish. In fact, there are rumors that HD remasters of the first two Arkham games are already in the works, but nothing is yet confirmed.
Arkham Asylum was already an incredibly solid game, so this is a case where a graphical upgrade and the ability to play it on the next-gen consoles would be potent selling points even without any other changes. Still, Asylum could be even better if retrofitted with City's streamlined Detective Mode, or even with some of the combat upgrades introduced in the sequel. Arkham Asylum doesn't feature nearly as many Riddler trophies as City, but the second game's ability to mark inaccessible trophies' locations on the map could make life easier for completionists playing through Asylum for the first time in its HD incarnation.
Mostly, though, Rocksteady's trilogy comprises a top-notch three-part story of the Dark Knight, and it deserves to be playable all the way through on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Originally created back before Nathan Drake was even a glimmer in Naughty Dog's eye, the much-beloved Crash Bandicoot series spawned some 18 games across multiple platforms, so there's no shortage of material to work with. The core series has been dormant since 2008's Crash: Mind Over Mutant, but Activision's mobile-only Crash games breathed some new life into the franchise between 2008 and 2010. It seems inevitable that the critter who introduced "bandicoot" into the gamer lexicon will eventually return to consoles, but the perfect way to help tide fans over in the meantime would be by bringing the games to next-gen consoles.
It might seem overly ambitious to put together a remastered collection of every installment in the series, but then again the Crash Bandicoot games aren't massive endeavors like Skyrim, so it's not entirely unfeasible. If a complete collection is too cumbersome, an HD-remastered set could instead just focus on the core seven games and/or the racing installments. Either way, a bit of poking around online easily shows there's definitely fan demand for a remastered Crash out there, so why not bring the whole lot to next gen?
While gamers impatiently wait for Bethesda to confirm that Fallout 4 is in the works, a next-gen remastered edition of Fallout 3 could be truly incredible. For many players, this was a game that ate up hundreds of hours and served up one of the most enjoyable game worlds of all time, one that players are still exploring seven years later. But even though they were released on the same consoles, with only a few years in between them, it's frankly amazing how much of a graphical leap there was between Fallout 3 and Skyrim. The chance to explore the Capitol wastes as rendered with current tech is something countless gamers would relish. Fallout 3 would also benefit enormously from the simple touch of not having backgrounds freeze during conversations, a long-standing distraction Bethesda finally did away with in Skyrim.
Ideally, a remastered Fallout 3 would throw Obsidian's New Vegas into the deal as well. It might not be as universally acclaimed as Bethesda's game, but it was definitely a worthwhile return to the Fallout universe, and it actually improved on Fallout 3 in a few areas. For that matter, a remastered Fallout 3 could become even more interesting if it pilfered some of New Vegas' features, such as the reputation and karma systems, the companion wheel, and most especially the challenging "Hardcore Mode." War never changes, but an HD Fallout 3 with optional Hardcore Mode could easily lure players back to the Capitol wastes for another 100 hours.
Final Fantasy 7
Nearly 20 years after releasing on PlayStation, Final Fantasy 7 remains an undisputed classic and easily one of the most beloved installments of the Final Fantasy series. It's also one of the most influential RPGs of all time, one whose legacy has stretched well beyond the JRPG realm. Nor has Final Fantasy 7's popularity dwindled in the ensuing decades: when the game hit the PlayStation Network back in 2009, it was downloaded 100,000 times in the first two weeks. There's no question that the demand for an HD-remastered Final Fantasy 7 would be there in spades.
Final Fantasy 7 did actually make its way to PlayStation 4 last year, but only as a port of the 2012 PC version, which did at least support higher resolutions. FF7 fans are still holding out hope that the game will get a proper HD remake at some point down the line, even if the game's director, Yoshinori Kitase, has downplayed the possibility. He told Eurogamer last year that he would like to make it happen, but added, "you must believe me when I say it would take a lot to happen." With Final Fantasy XV in the works and the series showing no signs of slowing down, hopefully a true FF7 remake will happen before the game is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Gears of War: The Marcus Fenix Trilogy
With a next-gen Gears of War game currently "making massive progress" under new developers Black Tusk Studios, the Xbox's tentpole franchise will be looking to reinvent itself while still honoring its roots. Meanwhile, rumors of a remastered Gears of War trilogy refuse to die, even though Black Tusk studio manager Rod Fergusson recently denied that the so-called "Marcus Fenix Collection" is currently in the works for the Xbox One. That doesn't mean it might not arrive further down the line, and as popular and successful as the Gears of War franchise has become, it's pretty much a given that the first three games will find their way to next-gen consoles at some point.
All the more so since Gears of War is such a staple of the Xbox multiplayer scene. There's a legion of Gears fans out there wishing they could dive into Horde mode on their next-gen consoles, so transitioning that multiplayer suite over to the Xbox One would be a big selling point, following in the footsteps of the Halo: Master Chief Collection. With the next installment in the Gears franchise confirmed to be exclusive to the Xbox One, it makes sense to bring the bulk of the series over to current consoles, even if it's later rather than sooner.
The Mass Effect Trilogy
However much controversy the ending of Mass Effect 3 stirred up, BioWare's epic sci-fi franchise remains one of the most ambitious and engrossing series of the previous console generation. It's also a series that by its very nature lends itself to replaying multiple times, with die-hard fans sinking hundreds of hours into seeing how every gameplay choice could unlock different twists and turns. BioWare is currently at work on a fourth installment that will reinvent the franchise for next-gen consoles and leave Commander Shepard behind. It's unclear whether how or if players' save files and choices from the first three games might affect the fourth, but there's no question that Mass Effect fans would love to replay Shepard's story again on current consoles.
As with many of the remastered collections that have come before, the oldest game in the series stands to benefit the most from an HD upgrade. A pure graphical polish of the original game would be stellar enough, but a more ambitious plan could see the combat brought in line with the tighter gunplay of the sequels. Another huge area for improvement is the planet-going Mako vehicle, which handles like a school bus with a JATO rocket strapped to the back. The Hammerhead flying tank introduced in Mass Effect 2's Firewalker DLC wasn't perfect, but it was at least a lot less cumbersome to drive. Supposedly planetary exploration will play a big part in the next Mass Effect, so ideally the folks at BioWare could apply some of those lessons learned into a remastered version of the original game.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
It's been over a decade since the original release of Knights of the Old Republic, and it's still regarded as one of the best Star Wars games of all time, not to mention one of the best Star Wars stories, full stop. It's kind of astonishing that it hasn't gotten a high-def remake by now, especially since it would give that fans who are forever clamoring for KOTOR 3 something to chew on. With The Force Awakens due in theaters this December, it's the perfect time to seize on Star Wars fever and announce a remastered edition of KOTOR and let a whole new generation of gamers discover BioWare's epic tale.
But why stop there? Obsidian's Knights of the Old Republic 2 was in most ways a truly worthy sequel to the original, but it suffered from a rushed deadline that forced developer Obsidian to cut huge swaths of material-- including an entire planet -- and release the game with a painfully abrupt ending. KOTOR 2 is still well regarded in spite of its problems, and the fan community has since created mods of the game that restored much of the cut content. Why not make an official restoration part of an HD-remastered Knights of the Old Republic two-pack? It'd be the next best thing to a KOTOR 3 announcement.
This slot very nearly went to suggesting HD remakes of BioShock and BioShock Infinite -- and those are still great ideas -- but an upgraded version of the series that inspired them could be even more interesting. After all, the BioShocks would no doubt look gorgeous in high definition, but they already look gorgeous on last-gen tech. The first System Shock game came out in 1994, so an HD version of it and the 1999 sequel could make a classic series relevant and accessible for a ton of gamers who might never have downloaded it from GOG.com.
The creepy space station corridors might not be as uniquely beautiful as Rapture or Colombia, but System Shock's story and scares would more than make up for that. And then there's the fact that System Shock introduced one of the best game antagonists of all time. The malevolent artificial intelligence SHODAN was making players' lives miserable long before Portal's GLaDOS began promising cake, but there's an entire generation of gamers who likely don't even know her name. System Shock's influence can be felt in games ranging from BioShock to Half-Life to Deus Ex, and bringing the series to next-gen consoles would be the perfect way to honor that legacy.
The Uncharted Trilogy
The Uncharted series was one of the biggest feathers in PlayStation's cap during the previous console generation, an unquestionably top-tier franchise that left many Xbox loyalists jealous (or just inspired them to buy a PS3 as well). With razor-sharp writing and over-the-top action that rivals anything you'll see in a movie theater, Nathan Drake's adventures in tomb raiding were so good they actually charted the course for the eventual Tomb Raider reboot. Furthermore, the Uncharted series was already pushing the limits of what the PlayStation 3 could accomplish, so the games are just begging to be given the extra power the PS4 can provide, even if all it does is push the already impressive graphics that much further into jaw-dropping territory.
With Uncharted 4: A Thief's End delayed into 2016, fans are itching for the further adventures of Nathan Drake. HD-remastered versions of Uncharted 1 - 3 would certainly make the wait a little more bearable. Thankfully, unlike most of the suggestions on this list, this one might have some concrete good news on the horizon: yesterday a French retailer listed Uncharted: The Remastered Trilogy for a September 30, 2015 release. That's not a confirmation, but Nathan Drake has certainly chased leads based on less.
What are some game remasters or collections you'd like to see release on the current-gen platforms? Let us know in the comments below.