So StarCraft: Remastered

After months of speculation, Blizzard has now officially announced StarCraft: Remastered, an HD update of the original game and its expansion, Brood War. They’re going to make SC1 and BW totally free, while the Remaster will be a paid upgrade.

A screenshot from the official remaster of StarCraft 1A remaster of a classic Blizzard game seems like the sort of thing I’d be over the moon about, but to be honest… well, as Randy Jackson would say, I’m not feelin’ it, dawg.

The trouble with updating old games is that there’s such a fine line between changing too much, and not changing enough, and where that line sits can be quite subjective. For me, this remaster isn’t changing enough.

It’s basically the original game with slightly tweaked graphics. That will undoubtedly please the purists, but to be honest I don’t really want to be dealing with clunky UI, infuriatingly brain-dead pathfinding, and graphics that may be better than the original but still look about fifteen years out of date.

Ultimately, what kills my enthusiasm more than anything is Mass Recall.

The main thing I’d be interested in when it comes to a remake is the campaign, and Mass Recall already provides all of the story content of the original with fully modernized graphics and gameplay. And it’s free. It’s giving me more while costing me nothing, whereas the official remaster is offering less for a price.

The main thing the official offering has over Mass Recall is that it includes competitive play, but I’m not much for PvP, so that doesn’t really matter to me.

I am a little intrigued by the animated interludes they’re talking about — I don’t know if that means the briefings, the cinematics, or both —  as those sound pretty cool, but I don’t think it’s worth dropping cash for.

I’m sure there are people who will enjoy this remaster, but it seems like it’s going to be a pretty small niche.

I’m not really that disappointed because the remaster I want already exists in the form of Mass Recall. I am, however, concerned about the precedent this sets for other hypothetical remasters of old Blizzard games, which don’t already exist in the form of mods (not good ones, anyway).

I’d love to see modernized versions of a lot of older Blizzard titles, but if they’re all just going to be minor graphical face-lifts and nothing else, I’m not sure I’d want to bother. Warcraft III could maybe work with nothing but mild visual tweaks, but the others would need more changes to really be worth playing in this day and age. I’m not saying I want them totally redone from scratch, but at least fix some of the more broken old school mechanics.

No One Lives Forever Lives a Little Longer

Recently I was taking a walk down nostalgia lane, listing off some of my favourite older games. This put me in mind of how much I missed some of them and wished those franchises were still around.

No One Lives Forever: The Operative, restored in HDSome random morose Googling later, I stumbled across No One Lives Forever Revival Edition. This is a free fan-made update of both No One Lives Forever games that will run on modern operating systems.

I was a little suspicious at first, but I did some research, and it all seemed legit. Download seemed to take longer than it should have, but once it finished, I was able to install both games successfully, and they work!

The Operative holds up really, really well. I just launched it to see if it worked, and the next thing I know I’m halfway through Misfortune in Morocco.

I wondered if perhaps some of my love of the game was just due to nostalgia, but that’s definitely not the case. If anything it may be better in some ways than I remember. The core gameplay is still silky smooth and intensely satisfying, and the writing shines as much as ever. This game is just so clever, so much fun.

It’s a small thing, but something I really appreciate about NOLF is that pistols are actually a viable option. I like pistols aesthetically, but in most shooters they’re pretty weak compared to the other options. In NOLF, they’re actually pretty good.

The people behind the Revival even tweaked the graphics a bit. No One Lives Forever now supports widescreen format and HD resolutions, the anti-aliasing looks better, and to me it seems like the textures and lighting are popping a little more. It won’t be mistaken for a modern game, but the graphics were good for their day, and with the tweaks, they’re holding up pretty well all things considered.

Unexpected Turbulence, one of the greatest missions in gaming historyI have encountered a few issues here and there, but nothing game-breaking. Most notably all the keybindings were messed up at first for some reason, but it was nothing a few minutes of rebinding couldn’t fix.

I don’t know if I’ll play through the whole game again. I’ve played this game an enormous amount, even if the last time was about fifteen years ago. I can still quote most of the conversations verbatim. Says something to just how memorable the game was/is.

That said, I do feel kind of tempted to at least get to Unexpected Turbulence… or maybe Rendezvous in Hamburg. Always liked that one.

I went into No One Lives Forever 2 long enough to verify that it works, but I didn’t explore it in any depth. I do plan to play through it, though. It’s another game I missed out on due to Real Life, so it’s all new to me.

I’m kind of nervous, honestly. After how brilliant the first was, and after so much time, how can it possibly live up to expectations? I feel disappointment may be inevitable. And I know they replaced the voice actress for Cate Archer, which is a heinous sin.

But still, I need closure.

Cate Archer in No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M's WayNow, I will be honest: This Revival Edition is essentially piracy, and normally I don’t approve of that. I believe that creators should be paid for their works.

But there are a number of extenuating circumstances here.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, there is no legal way to obtain a copy of either NOLF game anymore (short of finding an original disc, and good luck with that). They haven’t been for sale in a very long time, and they’ve fallen into a legal limbo that may prevent them from ever going on sale again. I’d pay for these games if I could, but I can’t. It’s simply not an option.

Secondly, these games are classics. I don’t know about NOLF2 (yet), but The Operative is easily one of the greatest games ever made. It should not be lost to history. It deserves to be kept alive. Newer gamers need to have the opportunity to experience it.

So in this case I think it’s better to keep the games alive, no matter the method.

If you’ve never played No One Lives Forever before, I highly you take the opportunity to do so now and enjoy one of the high water marks of the gaming industry. And if you have played them before, enjoy them all over again in HD!