'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare'
'The Bioshock Collection'
'Batman: Return to Arkham'
'Assassin's Creed: Ezio Collection'
There's no shortage of great games to play during the holiday season. Major new releases abound and will continue to arrive right up to Christmas. But underneath that shiny new layer of tinsel, you'll find a number of older ornaments, all polished up for your new tree.
OK, perhaps I stretched that metaphor, but I get excited over remastered games. And this year, there are plenty of reasons to visit some old friends (there I go again).
Let's start with one of the greatest shooters of all time, "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare."
This game redefined how we look at shooters. It features a fantastic story that moved the franchise from World War II to the modern era and multiplayer that offered players a progression system as an enticement to keep playing.
With the release of "Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare," developer Infinity Ward remastered "Modern Warfare" for current-generation consoles.
Not available separately, fans will have to purchase the "Legacy Edition" of "Infinite Warfare." It's worth the extra $20, though, to receive this gorgeous reboot with its dozens of hours of nostalgic but still extremely enjoyable content.
Rather than release remastered games singly, the trend seems to be packaging series together, allowing people to catch up with older entries.
The best of these this holiday season is the "Bioshock Collection." Featuring three of the best shooters ever made — "Bioshock," "Bioshock 2" and "Bioshock Infinite" — as well as all of their DLC, this collection absolutely will not disappoint anyone who enjoys shooters that prioritize story on the same level as action.
The first two games find the player in the ruined underwater utopia of Rapture. You must figure out what went wrong there and what (or who) was left behind.
The third game transports you the other direction, to the floating city of Columbia, a more populated — and twisted — version of man's attempt at a perfect society.
Though the multiplayer content has been omitted (something of a trend in remastered collections) the games do not suffer without it. There's still more than enough here to completely consume your holiday vacation.
Another collection more than worth your time is "Batman: Return to Arkham." Containing "Batman: Arkham Ashylum" and "Batman: Arkham City," and both game's DLC, these games proved to the world that it was indeed possible to make a great superhero game.
Though they play similarly, "Asylum" has a much more contained feel than "City." The first is based completely at Arkham, a contained, almost claustrophobic place filled with far too many of Batman's enemies.
"Arkham City," expands on the concept. The nuthouse got too full, so those wacky Gotham politicians have walled off a portion of the city, allowing the wacko villains to live outside of the asylum's walls.
There are puzzles to solve and bad guys to pummel. And let's not forget all of Bat's wonderful toys.
Even if you're already familiar with the series, "Batman: Return to Arkham" deserves to be played. The polished graphics, silky smooth gameplay, and iconic heroes and villains keep these games nearly as fresh as the on the day they were first released.
Finally comes the "Assassin's Creed: Ezio Collection."
Ubisoft wisely decided to skip releasing a new "Assassin's Creed" game in 2017. The annual schedule had worn thin, and for every great entry — "Black Flag" and "Syndicate" — there seemed to be a sub-par "Assassin's Creed III" or "Unity."
Arguably, the highlight of the series was the "Assassin's Creed II" trilogy.
Set in Renaissance Italy, the game features Ezio Auditore da Firenze, an assassin who cavorted with the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and the notorious Borgias.
Unfortunatly, the "Assassin's Creed: Ezio Collection," wasn't given quite the care as some other remastered sets.
While it does feature three games — "Assassin's Creed II," "Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood" and "Assassin's Creed: Revelations" — less overall effort was made to polish them up for newer consoles. The graphics on the Xbox One version even contains occasional glitches that make some characters look worse than the original.
Plus, all multiplayer has been removed, and while the stories stand on their own, it would have been nice to include that aspect because it is so different than other available multiplayer.
All in all, the "Ezio Collection" features enough great gameplay that those looking to experience Ezio's story shouldn't hesitate to give these versions a try.