April’s Video Games Ain’t Fooling With Remakes of Final Fantasy, Resident Evil
So right now, the world’s being impacted by, y’know, that little-known pandemic that’s leaving just about anything and everything subject to delays or cancellations, from tax day and the Olympics to the release of movies and video games. In such a state of uncertainty, it’s possibly now more important than ever to have escapes from the real world that, well, don’t involve leaving the house. While the future of other heavy-hitter games slated to come out later this year has come into question, the excitement of April’s big releases hasn’t been impacted much at all, starting what should’ve been the escalation of noteworthy titles getting released before the next-gen PlayStation and Xbox consoles hit shelves later in the year. Yes, luckily, all this hasn’t stopped players from being able to return to Midgar or Raccoon City this month, so let’s dive in.
Resident Evil 3 — April 3
Remakes tend to get the attention they deserve if they’re treated with care and, in some way, respect the original games from which they were developed. They’re very rarely considered in the running for the best games of their given year, though, perhaps because they are remakes and aren’t considered original pieces of work. Resident Evil 2 broke from that last year, transforming the classic survival horror game into a modernized, intense third-person shooting experience that raked in plenty of end-of-the-year accolades, and Capcom hopes to do the same thing again with Resident Evil 3. Remodeling series favorite Jill Valentine’s story of tearing through Raccoon City, this iteration gives the character an aesthetic overhaul edges her closer to the appearance of a hardened, capable survivor, then tosses her in equally tense and vigorous third-person shooting horror layouts to those from the RE2 remake.
Final Fantasy VII: The Remake (Part 1?) — April 10
Well, it’s finally here. Demand for some version of a remake of the legendary RPG Final Fantasy 7 – either a visual remastering or an actual gameplay overhaul with the narrative intact — has almost as long and storied of a history as the need for Half-Life 3. Despite being teased over a decade and a half prior, in the PS2 era, the folks at Square Enix have been hesitant to follow through with what’s clearly something a lot of people have wanted … likely because there’s such a wide range of opinions about what people actually wanted. They’ve thrown caution to the wind and went down the path of the “full remake”: combat has been altered into a more fluid action-based design, character models and environment layouts have been drastically updated, and everything else has essentially been rebuilt from the ground up with very careful awareness of the familiar, nostalgic touches that fans love. That overhauling, unfortunately, also includes the story structure of Final Fantasy VII, as it has been padded out with new content and sliced up into episodes, with this being only the first chunk of the known story expanded into several dozen hours.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York — April 15
In a time where “choice and consequence” has become a buzz phrase revolving around contemporary action RPGs (Witcher, Mass Effect/Dragon Age, Deux Ex, now Assassin’s Creed), the PC game Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines has maintained robust popularity with a niche, yet passionate fanbase. After the player creates their character in that one, choices made throughout the plot that’s transpiring in its gothic take on Los Angeles heavily dictates the outcome. That game’s responsiveness to divergent storytelling has become a model that RPG enthusiasts point to when others don’t meet expectations, and luckily Bloodlines 2 is finally on the way some time in 2020 … hopefully. Until then, fans on the Xbox One will now be able to get a taste of the World of Darkness in Coteries of New York, essentially a visual novel set in that world that’s interested in the choices and diverging plot threads of its precursors.
Gears Tactics — April 28
Funnily enough, the Final Fantasy franchise taught me never to underestimate spinoffs with the word “tactics” in its title. If the gameplay’s executed well enough, then a tactical game using familiar weapons, gear, and lore from an established franchise can be highly satisfying as an alternate way of enjoying the universe. Whether the intensity of an apocalyptic third-person cover shooter can be distilled in such an environment remains to be seen, but Gears Tactics will be giving it the old college try. Similar in feel to the XCOM series of games, the turn-based gameplay transpires within a prequel to the first Gears of War game, featuring the father of the most recent game’s protagonist and COG soldier, Gabe Diaz. A wide range of movement across the top-down combat spaces and a hefty amount of customization for the soldiers themselves aim to take Gears Tactics a step above their contemporaries..
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered — March 31/April 30
This is one of those times where little more than the title of this game really needs to be mentioned, both to emphasize why it’s noteworthy and where its weaknesses lie. While the original Modern Warfare may have put the franchise on the map as a household name, both due to its campaign and its rampant multiplayer experience, the refinements and improvements put into motion with the sequel, COD: Modern Warfare 2, has frequently earned it accolades for being “the best shooter ever” … some even saying it’s the best game ever, period. While that’s a topic for the hardcore fans of the franchise out there to suss out, there’s no denying its legacy and the experiences many gamers had with the game, which Infinity Ward hopes to replicate with this remastered edition. As the title indicates, this only remakes the campaign and does not contain the multiplayer mode so beloved by its fanbase, though it does include a few extra goodies that unlock in other Call of Duty games if owned. It’s available now on PlayStation and for Xbox and PC at the end of the month.
A few other games of note are emerging in April, notably on the 24th with the multiplayer themed shooter Predator: Hunting Grounds and SquareEnix’s graciously cross-platform remake of Trials of Mana, but one can understand why other games are distancing from Resident Evil and FF7 in April.