In the last two console generations, there have been quite a few game re-releases with some texture improvements, bumped up resolutions and faster frame rates. Today, we’re looking at which remaster collections contain the highest quality titles and the best bang for your buck.
In order to work this out, we’ve taken the average review scores of the original iterations of the games, thanks to Metacritc, and then formulated the average score of those when combined together. For example, take the Devil May Cry HD Collection for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. If we take the Metacritic score of the PlayStation 2 versions of Devil May Cry (94), Devil May Cry 2 (68) and Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition (87) and work out the average, we get a score of 83. Furthermore, if the original iterations were released on multiple platforms, the system that produces the highest average will be taken into account. Lastly, only remaster collections are eligible for this list – no remakes. This disqualifies the likes of Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy.
10. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster – Score: 88.5
Final Fantasy X (PS2) – 92
Final Fantasy X-2 (PS2) – 85
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster appears on both the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation 4, a phenomenon exclusive to Square Enix. The PlayStation 4 version of the remaster is undoubtedly superior. Being the first Final Fantasy game on the PlayStation 2, it was an early showcase of what the system could do for the genre. The plentiful fully-voiced cutscenes were a first for the series. The intimate journey with Tidus, Yuna, and their companions made it a journey worth remembering.
Final Fantasy X-2 was the first direct continuation of a main series Final Fantasy game. Reducing the main cast down to Yuna, Rikku, and Paine, Final Fantasy X-2 saw the Gullwings traveling around Spira to find the answers to a mysterious sphere. It brought back many staple features missing from its predecessor such as the ATB system and jobs in the form of dresspheres. However, its story wasn’t quite as engrossing as the original, and ultimately brings the average score of the collection down slightly.
9. Ratchet & Clank Collection – Score: 89.6
Ratchet & Clank (PS2) – 88
Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (PS2) – 90
Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (PS2) – 91
At the time of their release, the Ratchet & Clank games were well regarded action platformers. The original Ratchet & Clank introduced us to what became one of the most recognizable duos, appearing in our Top 10 Best Dynamic Duos in Gaming list.
In Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, the emphasis on having a multitude of weapons was improved upon by allowing you to level each one up. Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal ended up as the best of the three with its introduction of series villain Dr. Nefarious, and the ability to briefly play as Captain Quark. Each new entry improved in small ways to improve the Ratchet & Clank formula; the quality of the games definitely increased as the games were released. The average review scores for each game were incredibly close, showing a consistent level of quality across all three, but the score for the remaster doesn’t quite reach 90.
8. Metal Gear Solid HD Collection – Score: 90
Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance (PS2) – 87
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (PS2) – 94
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP) – 89
The Metal Gear Solid series is home to some highly rated games, and the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection features three of the greatest. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was a huge surprise to people upon its release, placing us in the shoes of a brand new character, Raiden, for half of the story. The re-release of the game that donned the Substance subtitle was relatively the same experience but added a couple of extras, including a mission mode. Surprisingly, this edition of the game sits much lower on Metacritic with a score of 87, as opposed to the original’s outstanding score of 96. Were the skateboarding missions that bad?
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater takes us back to 1964 during the time of Naked Snake’s virtuous mission and operation: Snake Eater. A late PlayStation 2 release, Metal Gear Solid 3 pushes the system to its limits, being one of the most graphically impressive games of the time. The remaster features all of the improvements of the Subsistence re-release, such as the adjustable camera and the inclusion of the MSX versions of Metal Gear 1 and 2.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was one of the first PSP games to be placed onto a HD collection. This updated version makes the game much easier to play thanks to the simple inclusion of a second analogue stick. Peace Walker was a huge departure to the series where it split the campaign into smaller missions. The inclusion of co-op also made this a very different Metal Gear experience, but one that is still definitely worth playing. The online capabilities of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 made it much easier to team up with friends and build your own Outer Heaven.
7. The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection – Score: 90.5
Ico (PS2) – 90
Shadow of the Colossus (PS2) – 91
Before The Last Guardian, Team Ico’s previous works were two cult classics on the PlayStation 2. Ico isn’t quite as revered as its spiritual successor, but it’s still a great game in its own right. The whole game is a mix of puzzle solving, platforming, and some light action segments. It’s essentially one long escort mission where Ico and Yorda try to escape an abandoned castle. Although it’s not mentioned as much as Team Ico’s other games, it should not be skipped.
While 91 is an exceptional score, it’s surpising that Shadow of the Colossus is only one point higher than Ico. Shadow of the Colossus sets Wander on a quest to defeat a number of great beasts known as colossi. Both games excel at displaying a high level of artistic expression with minimal dialogue. A remake of Shadow of the Colossus with redone art assets is due for release on the PlayStation 4 in 2018. But until we get a 4K remake of Ico, this remaster remains the best way to experience that game.
6. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection – Score: 92
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS3) – 88
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) – 96
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3) – 92
This remaster collection is an incredible package. While the Uncharted games can easily be enjoyed on their own, they are undoubtedly better to play chronologically. The relationships of the characters grow from game to game, and it just wouldn’t be the same if you jump in at Drake’s Deception. The Uncharted games are also short enough that you could treat this collection as one big adventure. And the remaster increases the frame rate to a smooth 60 FPS.
The first Uncharted introduces us to the lovable cast of Drake, Sully, and Elena. It was a great showcase for what the PlayStation 3 could do graphically, and the third person action sequences were a lot of fun. In terms of level design, the jungles of the first Uncharted were a little bland, whereas Uncharted 2 is anything but. The graphics, set pieces, enemies, locations, and character development see a huge improvement in the sequel. The third is more of the same, but that definitely isn’t a bad thing. The story sees some interesting twists in Uncharted 3, and it houses some of the best set pieces in the series. If you want a fun time, pick up Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, and once you’re finished with that, pick up Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. You will not be disappointed.
5. BioShock: The Collection – Score: 92.6
BioShock (PC) – 96
BioShock 2 (PC) – 88
BioShock Infinite (PC) – 94
BioShock 1 and 2 place you in the dystopian city of Rapture – a city constructed to house brilliant minds – left in ruin. At the time of its release, BioShock was heavily praised for its atmosphere. Destroying Big Daddies, saving/harvesting Little Sisters and exploring a sunken city full of abandoned robots and wretched splicers is a truly creepy experience. It does a great job at making the player feel isolated, even though there is a lot of life around you. It was quite a unique game, and there still is nothing quite like BioShock. It’s easy to see how it garnered such high praise. BioShock 2 sees us back in Rapture, but this time you take control of a Big Daddy.
BioShock Infinite is quite a turn for the series. Separating the series from Rapture, BioShock Infinite is set in the floating city of Columbia. It trades the dark atmosphere for high octane action and a much more complicated story. The partner Elizabeth went on to become one of the most recognizable characters in the series. It’s a much different experience to the first two BioShock games, but one that was also highly praised, giving the overall collection a strong average score.
4. Halo: The Master Chief Collection – Score: 93.3
Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox) – 97
Halo 2 (Xbox) – 95
Halo 3 (Xbox 360) – 94
Halo 4 (Xbox 360) – 87
Master Chief is the face of Xbox. The original Halo: Combat Evolved is the definition of a system seller. Not only did it show the graphical fidelity of the original Xbox, but it was one of the biggest contributors to popularizing the console first-person shooter. It sits as the highest individually rated game on this list. Its sequel, Halo 2, made the game even more fun with the introduction of dual-wielding, the Arbiter, and was the first online Halo game. It may not have been the revolution that the original was, but the Xbox Live integration is nothing to stick your nose up at. Nowadays, Halo is known more for its online play than its single player or LAN modes.
Stepping into the next generation, Halo 3 was one of the most anticipated games of its time. We finally got to finish the fight! Of course, the fight wasn’t really finished, otherwise Halo 4 and its sequels wouldn’t exist. Halo 4 was 343 Industries’ first attempt at a Halo title after series creator Bungie’s last entry, Halo Reach. Ultimately, Halo 4’s lower score brings the collection down as a whole. Perhaps people didn’t take to the new direction that 343 Industries took the story in.
3. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Trilogy – Score: 93.3
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell (Xbox) – 93
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (Xbox) – 93
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (Xbox) – 94
Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher stands comfortably next to Solid Snake when considering the most iconic stealth game heroes. His night vision goggles are probably the most iconic stealth gadget in video games. Splinter Cell’s main focus is on its stealth gameplay. Being provided with limited ammunition, the game encourages you to come up with creative ways to quietly sneak around your foes.
Again, like Ratchet & Clank, the Splinter Cell series was treated with a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory added improvements to the gameplay, such as being able to shoot while hanging in Pandora Tomorrow, or gaining a combat knife in Chaos Theory. It’s fascinating that the Splinter Cell Trilogy outranks big boys like Final Fantasy, Halo, and Metal Gear Solid in review scores.
1. Batman: Return to Arkham – Score: 93.5
Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3) – 91
Batman: Arkham City (PS3) – 96
We’re not skipping number 2; there are actually two winners with a score of 93.5. This remaster collection places the two highest rated games in the series onto one disc. In Arkham Asylum, Batman’s job is to regain control of the prison after many of Gotham’s most dangerous criminals escape. Being confined to the one area, acquiring new gadgets, and slowly uncovering more of the asylum makes it feel almost like a 3D Metroidvania. The weighty punches and the methodical nature in which you can jump from enemy to enemy provides a satisfying combat experience.
Batman: Arkham City removes the claustrophobia of Arkham Asylum in favor of a more open-world game in which you get to explore part of Gotham city to your leisure. Finally, Arkham City allowed us to control Batman gliding around the city of Gotham to our heart’s content! With more characters and one of the craziest endings in a piece of Batman media, this is one game that fans of the dark knight must play. Arkham City’s improvements over the original game greatly increase the overall score of the collection. It’d be safe to say that this is the best Batman game ever, if it weren’t for the existence of Sunsoft’s excellent NES game.
1. God of War Collection – Score: 93.5
God of War (PS2) – 94
God of War II (PS2) – 93
The God of War Collection on the PlayStation 3 was one of the first HD collections ever made, around the time when the trend was just taking off. God of War is a hack and slash game of godly proportions. Tasked with killing Ares, Kratos uses his blades of chaos to tear down his opponents. Using your chained blades to slice through hordes of enemies can be incredibly addicting. It’d be criminal for a hack and slash game’s combat to become boring, but that’s certainly not the case for God of War – or the whole series in fact.
God of War II released on PlayStation 2 months after the PlayStation 3 had launched. It ended up outclassing some PlayStation 3 games in the graphics department, taking the PlayStation 2 to its limit. The sequel’s gameplay doesn’t stray far from the original, but it doesn’t need to. All it had to do was continue Kratos’ story. God of War II shows Kratos’ fall from godhood and the trials he has to overcome to regain his power.
Remaster collections are a welcome way to play some of the best games that you may have previously missed, or just want to replay with a new paint of coat. Are there any collections of older games that you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments down below.