HD collections continue to be this generation’s safe bet. Toss in classic games with a visual update and you have instant success. I, for one, love this idea now that backwards compatibility has gone the way of the dodo. Ubisoft has already delivered the Prince of Persia updates, and now, it is time for Sam Fisher to get his time in the spotlight. The original trilogy redefined the stealth genre, as well as lighting in games. Now, all these years later, we get to find out if it holds up and what improvements have been made to these classic stealth titles.
I am not going to dive too deep into each game, but a quick synopsis should do for those unfamiliar with the franchise. The first game was a technical feat when it was released, showcasing the power of the original Xbox. The lighting effects and stealth gameplay combined to create one of the most unique experiences on the console, and it is still heralded as one of the best in the series. The second game, developed by a completely different team, added some refinements, but lost the overall appeal of the first game. Finally, Chaos Theory is considered the pinnacle of the series, featuring the best single and multiplayer offerings by far, which brings me to my first big gripe.
This entire collection is sans any of the online modes that made it such a mainstay on consoles so many years ago. I know some players were playing Chaos Theory well past the time the latest game released. The innovative Spies versus Mercs mode from Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory are gone, as are the highly addictive co-op missions from the latter. This really brings the package down, as these were one of the biggest draws to the later entries in the series.
As far as graphics are concerned, the first two games don’t hold up so well over time. They showcase an HD coat of paint, which only brings out some of the flaws with the dynamic lighting. The frame rates also take a massive hit, especially when the quintessential 3D effects are factored in. Chaos Theory, on the other hand, looks fabulous and still remains one of the better looking games of last gen. The new HD upgrade has really brought out just how amazing this game looks, both now, and when it was released.
As far as a package goes, there really isn’t much here. These are straight up HD ports with no extras outside of the inclusion of 3D. It is also worth noting that you are greeted to a massive install with the Blu-Ray version of the game that takes up to 20 mins. All of the games run in 1080p, and that is about it. I did find myself struggling with the original game without the option to invert my camera movement. Yeah, I am one of those guys, but you try playing opposite just once. It can be disorienting.
If you can forgive the exclusion of online, this trilogy is still more than worth picking up if you have fond memories. Chaos Theory still stands up as one of the best games of last gen, and the other two are nice for nostalgia if nothing else. I just wish more care had been put into bringing these classics back. Sam Fisher deserves better, and in the end it feels like he was cheated on his HD remake.
Review copy provided by publisher.