Metal Gear Solid 2 is a huge leap forward.
Yes, this is an avoidance repeated with every new console generation. Everyone thinks the graphics they’re seeing right now will never look better. Such was the case with the Atari 2600 to NES and the jump from NES to Super NES. Then came the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation 3D with graphics, textures, and lighting, which blew everyone away. Metal Gear Solid was the closest thing to a movie we’ve ever seen with video game graphics.
Then came the PlayStation 2 with far more complex models, higher-resolution textures, and better lighting effects. And everyone watched Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 and marveled at how true these were movies-a-game. Nothing can be better than this.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is less than a leap forward from Metal Gear Solid 4.
Games on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 looked even more detailed with improved effects. But that was when the real jump in graphical quality started to become smaller and smaller hops. And The Last of Us was originally released on PS3.
PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were a little sharper and smoother. They represented the push in 4K graphics and featured more advanced effects; So The Last of Us was remastered. And the game still looks great on the PS5.
In fact, the PS4 remaster of the PS4 game looks good enough to stand toe-to-toe with the ground-up remaster for the PS5. The latter may sound a bit better, but it’s really close. Why are Sonny and Naughty Dog upset at the moment?
Resident Evil 2 Remake was basically a completely new game.
The remake has a place, but the bumps in a generation that barely improve gameplay or graphics don’t. Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 Remake were completely new games that were built on the layout and structure of the originals, but offering a completely different experience (and Resident Evil 4 Remake will hopefully do the same). They were also remakes of the original PlayStation games, and jumping four console generations is a lot more than you can snag one.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake did the same thing, but to a greater degree. Same idea, same characters, same setting, but the graphics and mechanics were completely changed that it became a wildly different game. Beyond that, its status as a remake rather than something else — in the context of Final Fantasy VII’s compilation — is a big question, but no spoilers here.
Then there are most visual remakes that justify themselves by leaping from early 3D technology to today’s hardware without even major gameplay changes. Crash Bandicoot N. Vicarious Vision’s remakes of the first three Crash Bandicoot games in the Sane Trilogy are spectacular, as well as the company’s remakes of the first two Tony Hawk games in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. They tweak the mechanics to make them feel a little better to play, but they’re otherwise faithful retreads of the five classic games. They just look a lot better, because the original Crash Bandicoot looked like an orange rectangle with blue legs and a face.
Crash Bandicoot from Crash Bandicoot n. Four console generations like the Sane Trilogy could make a big difference.
Will there be a visual change?
The games look amazing today. Games from five years ago also look pretty amazing, even if they don’t have actual facial animations at all. Even games from 10 years ago look great if you upgrade them. There’s less and less to improve on how games look with each console generation, and The Last of Us Part I proves it conclusively.
Graphically, other than fine details like facial animation, is there a huge difference between Horizon: Forbidden West and Horizon: Zero Dawn? Or the Elden Ring from Dark Souls 3 (yes, Bluepoint’s remake of Demon’s Souls looks fantastic, but it was a different developer and a two-generation jump, much less)? Or Halo Infinity from Halo 5? Or Forza Horizon 5 from Forza Horizon 4? Or how about TLOUP1RR and The Last of Us Part II?
Maybe I’ll be proven wrong in a few years, and I’ll just be another person who said “there’s no way video games can look better than they do now!” But The Last of Us Part I isn’t a game to do that.
The Last of Us Part I hits PS5 on September 2, and a PC version is in the works.
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