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Assassin’s Creed III Remastered and the Dilemma of Re-releases

Assassin’s Creed III Remastered makes the Case for a Video Game Industry Criterion Collection

At their worst, video game re-releases and remasters are shameless cash grabs. They take popular titles and throw a new coat of paint on them – and some bonus content if you’re lucky – and then charge gamers up the wazoo. But they’re also necessary. With TV and film, it’s much easier to track down old content in its original form. If you’re a hardcore Assassin’s Creed fan, then it’s time for excitement. Ubisoft has announced they’re releasing Assassin’s Creed III Remastered next month.

Assassin’s Creed III Remastered is a visual upgrade of Ubisoft’s best-selling 2012 action-adventure title, Assassin’s Creed III.  The open-world action-adventure gameplay is set in and around the American revolution. The game is notable for its large open-world setting – players explore Boston, New York City, and the wilderness in between – and for having a half-Mohawk protagonist (Connor Kenway).

Take a look.

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If you’ve played recent Assassin’s Creed installments, then nothing here will feel ground-breaking. This entry’s gameplay, look, and themes fall in line with what series veterans have come to expect from the triple-A series. Players run, climb, and sneak through beautifully detailed environments as they mercilessly hunt down targets like they’re lions taking down gazelles. But, if you’re like me, it’s more than gameplay that draws you into the series.

When I fall in love with a game, it’s because the fully realized world also feels like a character. I still adore Grand Theft Auto IV. I miss Liberty City’s storefronts, neighbourhoods, and back alleys as much as I miss Niko Bellic and his pursuit of the American dream. Booting up a game of Assassin’s Creed often feels like stepping into a time machine. The series’ vibrant worlds feel so rich and full of texture that I enjoy pumping the breaks on the mass-murder gameplay and soaking it all up. And doing so at a higher resolution makes replaying the experience even more immersive.

The video game industry doesn’t make it easy for the average gamer to replay the classics. Anybody can turn on their TV and watch a 30-year old movie like Die Hard. Without re-releases, trying to play a decades-old game like GoldenEye 007 on N64 in its original form becomes a real-life fetch-quest. It requires ancient hardware, dusty cables, and shelling out lots of cash. Gamers – especially casual ones – need a more convenient way to play games that are no longer in circulation. It’s when companies start schilling remasters of games that aren’t that old where the conversation gets murky.

It would be great if there were a gaming version of the Criterion Collection. Imagine a respected a company that offered impeccably crafted remasters of classic games that came with premium box art and a host behind the scenes content and developer commentaries. I’m talking about an industry authority that made each release feel like a love letter to each title it releases.

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For now, a gaming Criterion Collection sounds like a pipedream. It requires too many competing companies to step back and do what’s best for gaming culture. And don’t even think about the hardware logistics. It won’t happen anytime soon, but rest assured, the industry will get there. Video games are mainstream entertainment and over time, the demand for vintage titles will only continue to snowball..

Here’s what Ubisoft has to say:

Relive the American Revolution or experience it for the first time in Assassin’s Creed® III Remastered, with enhanced graphics and improved gameplay mechanics. Plus, includes all solo DLC and the full game Assassin’s Creed Liberation Remastered.

Assassin’s Creed III Remastered will arrive on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on March 29, 2019.

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