To many, remakes and remasters have incurably plagued the PS4 throughout its lifespan. This, to some degree, can be attributed to the generally reliable power of nostalgia to keep consumers continually coming back to their favorite franchises. Another factor is the PS4’s lack of backward compatibility, which has meant that PS3 games had to be ported to the next gen in the form of remakes and remasters.
However, not all remakes and remasters on PS4 are created equally. While some are lazy cash grabs, many are well-crafted works that show love to their predecessors while still bringing old classics into the present. The following is a list of the 5 best remakes and remasters available on the PS4. The criteria considered include the quality of the games, how they have taken advantage of improved technology and whether the games justify their existence.
5. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
Since the release of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune in 2007, the Uncharted series has become a staple in the libraries of many PlayStation gamers. Uncharted stars Nathan Drake, a charming treasure hunter with inhuman levels of luck. Joining him on his journeys around the world is Sully, a silver-haired connoisseur of cigars.
Uncharted games feature 3D platforming in some of the most beautiful environments that can be found in gaming. When Nathan Drake is not scaling mountains in the tropics or shimmying on the ledges of ancient buildings, he is engaging in action-packed shootouts with waves of enemies. While the games might not have the most robust cover-shooting system around, encounters with enemies are still heaps of fun.
While many might claim that Uncharted’s linear narrative and level design is outdated, the games manage to get it right by using the linearity to their advantage and providing a maximalist cinematic experience that makes players feel as though they are controlling their favorite Indiana Jones film.
The first three Uncharted games on console – Drake’s Fortune, Among Thieves and Drake’s Deception – were originally available on the PS3. Thanks to Bluepoint Games, the games were remastered for the PS4 and they are as engaging as ever. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection features all three remastered versions of the PS3 games with a host of improvements that take advantage of the PS4’s superior hardware. The games run at 60 frames per second, and lighting and textures have been improved. Despite the graphical upgrades, the games still show their age, but that should not deter anyone from trying the trilogy out if they have not experienced any Uncharted games before.
4. The Last of Us Remastered
Naughty Dog makes an appearance on this list once again in the form of The Last of Us Remastered. The Last of Us is a zombie horror game that tells the story of a man named Joel who must deliver a young girl named Ellie to a rebel group called the Fireflies. Ellie is special because she is immune to the virus that has been infecting humans and turning them into zombies. If Ellie can be brought to the Fireflies alive, a cure may potentially be found.
The journey the game chronicles focuses on the relationship between Ellie and Joel, and how they come to form a bond despite the hardships they face in the brutal post-apocalyptic world they find themselves in.
The game was originally released on the PS3 in 2013 and was met with near universal acclaim. The Last of Us was praised for its detailed world and well-crafted narrative that left players with difficult moral conundrums to dwell on. For me, personally, the beauty of the game comes from the way it forces players to keep focusing on the light in the darkness – the fireflies glowing on a black evening – to fuel the will to continue fighting for survival. This experience was forged in a way that fused gameplay and narrative in a way that only video games are capable of.
The remastered version of The Last of Us on PS4 brought all the positives of the original game to the next generation while adding a few much-appreciated improvements. It took advantage of the features of the DualShock 4. The touchpad could be used to bring up inventory items, the lightbar changed color according to what was ensuing in the game and audio recordings could be heard through the controller’s speaker. The biggest changes were the graphical upgrades and the inclusion of a 60fps mode, which all enhanced how the game looked and felt.
Like Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, The Last of Us Remastered will not fool you into thinking it is a native of the current generation of gaming. However, it manages to retain the core experience of The Last of Us while adding enough improvements to make it worth playing again on the PS4, or trying for the first time if you missed out on it previously.
3. Grand Theft Auto V
The Grand Theft Auto series stands as a juggernaut in the gaming landscape. Grand Theft Auto III allowed players to wreak havoc in an open world that made gamers feel as though anything was possible. It offered unparalleled freedom in a 3D world that was impressive for its time and is still fun to play over a decade later.
Since Grand Theft Auto III, every iteration of the game has brought significant improvements while still retaining the core elements of Grand Theft Auto that make it fun. When Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas rolled around in 2004, it had near perfected its formula and got millions of players hooked. It is the highest-selling game on PS2 and is widely regarded as one of the greatest games of all time. The game took place in the fictional city of San Andreas, where CJ, a young gangster, comes home to find his gang, Grove Street Families, in shambles. What ensues next is an unforgettable adventure that has CJ taking down corrupt cops, engaging in gang wars and even strapping on jetpacks.
The success of Grand Theft Auto did not stop with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. In 2013, Grand Theft Auto V was released. The game was also set in San Andreas, but featured three all new protagonists. The open world Grand Theft Auto V offered featured unparalleled detail and a seemingly infinite number of things to do. If you got tired of speeding down streets or going on bank-robbing heists, there was always the option to ride a Ferris wheel, do yoga, play with your dog or run a triathlon.
The online portion of the game has been a money-printing machine for Rockstar Games and a source of endless fun for gamers.
Grand Theft Auto V was remastered for the PlayStation 4. In addition to graphical upgrades, the remastered version also offered the option to play in first person mode. This is a significant addition, as it makes the violence feel far more visceral and provides a highly immersive gameplay experience that feels uncomfortably real at times. Another addition, though minor, is the red and blue blinking of the lightbar whenever the cops are on your tail.
As was revealed in the PlayStation 5 reveal event that occurred on the 11th of June 2020, Grand Theft Auto V will be coming to the next generation, too. Among remakes and remasters on the PS4, Grand Theft Auto was one of the most financially successful, yet Rockstar believes there is plenty more to be squeezed from the game. It seems Los Santos still has a lot to show us.
2. Shadow of the Colossus
There are some games that make you sweat with adrenaline. Other games make you scratch your head as you try to solve puzzles. Shadow of the Colossus does both all while providing a story that will linger in your memory long after you put the controller down.
There is not much to Shadow of the Colossus’s open world. Just open grassy fields and a few crumbling buildings that look like the ruins of a lost civilization. Roaming this eerily empty world is a young man named Wander and his horse. Wander is on a quest to resurrect a young girl who he believes has died in an untimely fashion. To do this, he must defeat sixteen colossi. These are huge stone creatures located in various corners and crevices of the map.
The task may seem straightforward at first, but as you encounter the colossi, it becomes apparent that all is not as it seems. The colossi may be large, but most are not destructive, at least not until Wander attacks first. They have glowing, expressive eyes and look upon Wander with curiosity rather than contempt. Although they are made of stone, they have patches of fur that make them seem like organic creatures, ones capable of pain and suffering. As the story unfolds, the lines between villain and hero blur, and players are forced to question the morality of their quest.
Originally released on PlayStation 2, Shadow of the Colossus has since been remastered for both the PS3 and the PS4. As a game that relies on scale to convey much of its emotional tone, it benefits greatly from the graphical quality the PS4 is capable of in comparison to the PS2. Things do not only look big, but they feel big too. It is a sublime experience to stand in the presence of a towering stone giant so big its fingernail is larger than you. The colossi feel more alive than ever, which makes battles with them all the more exciting.
The remaster is a good example of why some games deserve remakes. Oftentimes, remakes and remasters are done with the intention of convincing gamers to buy the same product twice by offering it on a modern platform such as the PS4. However, some games are ‘ahead of their time’ and benefit greatly from being rebuilt using newer technology that allows more of the ideas hidden in the original game to be fully realized.
Much of Shadow of the Colossus‘s story is told through its environment. Everything from the design of the colossi to the ruins of civilization to the massive scale of both the natural world the colossi build and atmosphere that facilitates deep contemplation. These effects are enhanced by the improved graphics that make everything feel more alive – and, paradoxically, more dead when need be – and heighten the immersion and emotional weight of the experience.
Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most awe-inspiring games available on the PS4 and elevates the work of art that was the original game.
1. Resident Evil 2
It is a cold, rainy night. Claire Redfield, wearing a leather biker jacket given to her brother, rides through the streets of Raccoon City on her Harley Davidson. But all is not well. Filling the evening air are the disturbing moans of Raccoon City residents who fight for the last slivers of their humanity as they are slowly zombified. Claire will spend the rest of the evening in Raccoon City Police Department where she will juggle limited ammunition and environmental puzzles to survive until morning. Will she make it?
When Resident Evil 2 hit PlayStation, it revolutionized the genre of survival horror and garnered itself a loyal cult following that would ensure the franchise would remain alive until this day. It offered a creepy setting and managed to keep players on the edge of their seats by forcing them to carefully manage limited resources as they defended themselves against a city overrun by lurching zombies.
Resident Evil 2 was remade for contemporary gaming systems in 2019 and the result was an almost perfect modernization of the game which kept what made the original so great. It ditched the dated tank controls and fixed camera angles for a third-person over-the-shoulder perspective that complemented the experience well. This was a drastic change from the original but was executed masterfully. Elements kept from the original game include the puzzles that require backtracking, and A and B storylines that converge and give the game lots of replay value. Fans of the series will feel right at home with the remake, while newcomers will hardly feel like they are playing a game that was first released in the ’90s.
The star of the game, arguably, is the tyrant Mr X. He is an unstoppable force that stomps through the Raccoon City Police Department as he relentlessly hunts for his human targets. Mr X is an almost ever-present threat throughout the game and ensures that players are always on their toes. The sound of his heavy footsteps is enough to have my heartrate racing.
Resident Evil 2 is a game that pays homage to its past while still acknowledging the technical advancements that have come since then. It is one of the best survival horror games available on the PS4 and a shining example of a remake done right. It’s top spot on the list of the best remakes and remasters available on PS4 is well earned.