It’s a truth universally acknowledged, that a Real Gamer™ must hate major publishers. None of the big boys escape criticism, whether it’s Ubisoft for its perceived approach to copy-and-paste game design or EA for, well, absolutely everything, really. Activision has oft been a dirty word in enthusiast circles, presumably because it insists on releasing wildly popular Call of Duty titles every year, but while other companies have had a dire generation, let’s give Bobby Kotick and his underlings a morsel of credit for some of its extracurricular activities recently.
The reality is that even if you think first-person shooters will give you cooties, Activision has done a wonderful job resurrecting some of its older brands. All the talk at the start of the generation revolved around whether Sony could wrench the Crash Bandicoot franchise out of the publisher’s cold hard grasp; the discussion was partly fuelled by outright fandom, but also because no one truly believed that the American publisher could do the mischievous marsupial justice in this day and age.
But then Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy released and it was not only bloody excellent, but it also rocketed the franchise back into the mainstream. Now there’s Crash Bandicoot merchandise in Primark of all places, and we got Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fuelled as a result. Sure, there will be some looking to sneer at the release for its delayed addition of microtransactions, but to be fair that title got free updates for over a year – let’s cut the company some slack, shall we?
Need more proof? There was also the Spyro Reignited Trilogy somewhere in the middle, another excellent remake that really did justice to the originals. This week Nintendo announced a trilogy of classic Super Mario titles for the Nintendo Switch, which has the most negligible of tweaks, and will retail for a limited time (!) at full-price. Could you imagine if Activision had taken the same path with Insomniac Games’ trio of PS1 classics?
In fact, the publisher’s remake game has been stellar all generation long. Sorry to mention that filthy franchise again, but despite being described as “remasters”, the publisher actually delivered two full-scale remakes of its PS3-era Modern Warfare titles. And then we’ve got last week’s Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2, which is one of the most lovingly crafted remakes of all-time, maintaining the nostalgic spirit of these legendary late-90s-to-early-00s classics but bringing them bang up-to-date.
And that’s not to mention the upcoming Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, which appears to be an absolutely jam-packed sequel deserving of its name. Sure, there have been some clangers – let’s not talk about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 – but there’s been a helluva lot to appreciate as well. While other publishers have completely and utterly regressed, focusing pretty much solely on big money-spinners, Activision still appears to care about its catalogue of classics.
For that, we should at least give the publisher a little credit.
What's been your favourite Activision remake so far this generation? Are you happy with the publisher’s output over the past few years? Say something nice in the comments section below.