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brain-dead pathfinding, and graphics that may be better than the original but still look about fifteen years out of date.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.

Mass Effect: Andromeda Is the Best Star Trek Movie in Years

I’ll level with you: I’ve had an unusually busy month, and it’s not done yet. I would frankly rather spend what free time I have on continuing to explore Mass Effect: Andromeda than blogging, but I suppose blogging about Andromeda is the next best thing.

The deserts of Eos in Mass Effect: AndromedaI’m still pretty early in the game, and I’m a long way from ready to do a full review (though you can be sure that will come at some point). Any of my current impressions of the game can and will probably change with time.

However, right now, I would say it has met or exceeded pretty much all of my expectations. Of course it also needs to be said my expectations were very carefully managed, so don’t think I’m without complaints, but they’re complaints I expected to have. Too many boring side activities, slow pacing, iffy combat. In other words, it’s a Bioware game.

Right now the thing I’m enjoying the most is the sense of discovery and wonder of the unknown that runs through the whole game. I’ve said before that Mass Effect feels like it’s become something of a spiritual successor to Star Trek, and never has that been more true than it is now.

Some other quick and dirty (and spoiler-free) thoughts based on my first few days with the game:

-I don’t like Cora or Vetra as much as I expected to. I definitely don’t dislike either of them, but I was expecting to be more impressed than I am. Cora’s a beast in combat, though. I think she’s getting almost as many kills as I am.

-On the other hand, so far I like PeeBee more than I expected to.

Exploring deep space in Mass Effect: Andromeda-In general this may be the first Bioware game where I don’t hate any of my companions, assuming Jaal turns out okay. I’m not yet blown away by any of them, but so far none of them rub me wrong way, either. Even Drack is growing on me.

-Overall, though, my favourite characters so far are all outside the squad. Suvi is awesome, and Kallo and Gil are both a lot of fun.

-I like the Tempest a lot better than the Normandy. Easier to navigate. Pretty windows.

-I actually kind of like scanning planets and systems this time. If only because the space graphics are so pretty.

-On that note, I love my new computer. I’m running the game at 100% maxed settings, and it’s smooth as butter. It looks real.

-I’m far too pleased with how my Ryder looks. Also, the game’s ability to automatically make her father look like her is amazing.

-With keybindings being as limited as they are, Throw and Pull really should have been combined into one power. It sucks to give up 66% of your slots just to be able to combo them.

-I’m glad they brought back so many guns from the original trilogy. I’ve already been reunited with my beloved Viper.

My character in Mass Effect: Andromeda-Jump jets! Jump jets.

-Did I mention Suvi is awesome?

-I am a little worried the wealth of side missions will start to beat me down after a while. That’s what happened with Inquisition. But at least this time the places you’re exploring seem to be a bit more interesting, and so far nothing is as annoying as collecting shards.

-The Remnant are the Xel’naga. I’m not saying they remind me of the Xel’naga; I’m saying they are literally the Xel’naga.

-For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over lack of polish, I’ve encountered very few issues, and all of them minor. Some very mild animation hiccups once in a blue moon, and I keep finding references on the Tempest to squadmates I don’t have yet. I’ve already heard Jaal mentioned, and I haven’t even encountered his species yet. But that’s hardly game-breaking.

-Above all, this is a Mass Effect game, for better and for worse. For all the talk of how much has changed, this is still fundamentally pretty much the same sort of experience as the original trilogy, with all the good and all the bad that entails.