Written by Jose Gonzalez
While I started gaming in the SNES/Sega Genesis era, I didn’t become molded into a gamer until the Nintendo 64/PlayStation 1 generation of gaming.
While I chose to go with the N64 and my brother chose the PlayStation, I still shared experiences on the console once I got my own, granted it was the PS One mini variant. I played anything from sports games to RPGs and adventure games when I had the PS1 (sadly, I never got the chance to play the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy or the original Tomb Raider games). With the exploration of remasters and remakes coming to the PS4 and the PS2 on PS4 section era containing its’ selection of games, the old guard isn’t being phased out as quickly as you think. If I had things my way, here are at least 5 games and/or franchises from the PlayStation 1 era that I think deserve the remaster/remake treatment on the PlayStation 4.
5.) Driver & Driver 2
Released in 1999 and 2000 respectively, Driver and Driver 2 were two games that for their time, were special. In both games, and the mainline franchise, you played as John Tanner, a hard-nosed NYPD undercover cop who had smooth hands behind the wheel and an affinity for catching bad guys. The first game tasked you with meeting a contact in Miami named Rufus to infiltrate a gang of criminals led by Castaldi, a ruthless crime boss withholding deadlier intentions of eventually killing the president.
You engage in a variety of missions from pick-up-and-go, to going to point A to point B and delivering a car without damaging it too much. The ability to have some choice in the game is one of the things that made it special, even if every mission led to the same major plot points across four major cities; Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City.
While attention to detail wasn’t the game’s strong suit, what the game did right was in its’ gameplay. Handling of cars thanks to the dual shock controller made driving easy and fun and engaging story to see what would happen next. The other thing that set this game apart from the others in the franchise was that you never saw or heard Tanner outside of the cutscenes which added to his mystery.
Driver 2 upped the ante to its predecessor. Released in 2000, Driver 2 took the foundation of the first game and improved on it. Now you were able to get out of your car and explore on foot, even if you moved at a snail’s pace. Tanner returns, but free of the shackles of the NYPD as he and his partner Tobias Jones track down leads involving an informant named Pink Lenny and rival criminals Vasquez and Solomon Caine along with his personal hitman Charles Jericho. Like the first game, you go to four major cities but this time, only two are in the U.S. and the other two outside the U.S. which are Chicago, Havana, Las Vegas, and Rio De Janeiro. The game would be the only in the series to span across two discs thus having two cities on one disc and the other two on the other disc.
The cities look lifelike to their realistic counterparts as even an Easter egg included a baseball stadium in Chicago akin to Wrigley Field. Vegas has its own personality as many landmarks like Treasure Island and Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino are included. The developers worked hard to give the cities their own distinct personalities this time unlike the first game where it felt like you were driving in design circles as every city there looked almost the same except for a few detailed differences like the hilly roads in San Francisco or every mission in L.A. taking place at night and 90 percent of those in the rain. Another cool Easter egg saw a replica bus from the 1994 film Speed pop up in the first mission in Rio. The actual mission variety themselves is dumbed down in place of a focused storyline, engaging characters and a pretty awesome soundtrack if you ask me, but I do give the developers credit for adding in tailing missions, even if they were few and far between. They mixed up the gameplay and set it apart from just driving and smashing cars. The cutscenes in Driver 2 were remarkable for their time as they looked movie-like which made the story that much more engaging to players. While the series declined, the first two games would have iconic missions like “The President’s Run,” “Find The Clue” and “Chase The Gun Man,” all that made the game a tough but rewarding grind.
4.) The Die Hard Trilogy
The Die Hard Trilogy had something special going for it at the time of its’ release. It was three games on one disc, which at the time I first played it, I didn’t think it was possible, even if I only owned the greatest hits version (I hated those green labels but that’s another rant for another day). Having three games on one disc meant you couldn’t have the same kind of game for each film, so each game had to have a distinct personality, and they indeed did. You played out all three Die Hard films (at the time there were only three) in unique ways.
In the first game, you played it like a third-person shooter killing a certain number of bad guys and racing throughout the level to find and disarm the bomb located within that level. If you succeeded, you moved on, but if you didn’t, it was game over and you only had a certain amount of time to find the bomb for every level. What made this special was that each level had a unique design to it, even if the goal was the same. Every few levels, you would be transported to the roof to kill bad guys and save as many hostages as possible which broke up the repetitive gameplay of exploring levels, killing bad guys and disarming bombs.
In Die Hard 2, the game switched over to a light gun game akin to Virtua Cop and Area 51. While you could use a light gun for the PS1, they were difficult to come by, so I stuck to the controller, which while it made things tougher, they were rewarding when you got through a level or acquired certain pick-ups. McClane starts out with his trusty handgun but could also use other pickups and if you were careful not to accidentally kill hostages or were good enough to find pickups like an explosive shotgun, it gave you an enormous advantage of besting the game’s difficulty.
Die Hard: With A Vengeance notched things up quite a bit. Here, you and your partner are tasked with finding bombs throughout New York City but the whole of the gameplay is driving, so how do you do that? You drive over them. Yes you heard me, you drive over them. You were on a timer to find these and defuse them before the entire city was blown to smithereens as it was a cover for the villain’s plan. It became more of an unnecessary chase at times as while you had a compass guiding you, it was easy to get thrown off course especially as you explored parts of the city like the park and the business district all leading up to a final showdown with Simon where you had to use the jump boosts to damage him and take out his helicopter. In every level though, there would be a “boss battle” as you had to take out cars that made things tough as they wouldn’t give you an easy time chasing them down, which I for one appreciated. The game would even throw a curve sometimes forcing you to take down two cars before the timer expired. Thankfully here, if you failed, it wasn’t game over as long as you had continues left, but you had to start the level from the beginning but it could be served as a good thing as it got you familiar with said level. To make things manageable, you could acquire certain boosts for you car like nitro, jump boosts to get over blockades of trucks and an ambulance to provide as a blocker to clear a route.
3.) Metal Gear Solid
To say the original Metal Gear Solid was good is an understatement. This game was and still is a masterpiece in the eyes of most gamers alike. What’s there to say that hasn’t been said about MGS? The story is unforgettable, the gameplay was awesome, the characters, while archetypal, provided a lot of substance to the game and the music was melancholic. As Solid Snake, your job was to infiltrate Shadow Moses, an island hiding a nuclear weapons facility housing the development of Metal Gear Rex. Once you get there, everything isn’t as it seems to be, both DARPA Chief Donald Anderson and ArmsTech President Kenneth Baker die from what seems to be heart attacks as Snake fights against the shadow mercenary force known as Foxhound, led by his twin brother Liquid Snake and attempting to stop Rex from launching with the aid of project engineer Hal Emmerich and Colonel Campbell’s niece Meryl.
The tagline “tactical espionage action” meant stealth as you had to weave your way past infantry and security cameras to get to that next bit of story or the next boss, though I think most of us would try and run and gun but wouldn’t admit it. The boss battles were neatly designed and varied as one battle wasn’t like another (outside of the battles with Sniper Wolf) and none stood out weaker from the other. The story took you on a roller coaster ride of emotions making you feel empathetic for some characters and hatred for others but resulting in a neat package. For example, while Psycho Mantis admitted to burning down an entire village, he claimed he did it to bury his past. Sniper Wolf said she was a tool of the government and that the very same government turned blind eyes to their misery as in her death scene, Emmerich admits his feelings for Wolf as Snake “sets her free.” The game not only delivered top-of-the-line gameplay, but also gave you characters you could relate to on a deep level and a story that’s one for the ages, even 20 years later.
2.) Syphon Filter Franchise
If there’s one game franchise that I can say that got me seriously into gaming, it would be Syphon Filter. With six games under its belt, the franchise made long strides towards revolutionizing third-person shooters with the trilogy on the PS1 being standouts and Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain being something new and bringing familiar ideas to the table but doing so in a spectacular fashion. Developed and published by Eidetic and 989 Studios respectively, the first Syphon Filter released in early 1999 to mostly-positive reviews from outlets like Metacritic and IGN.
Throughout most of the franchise, you played as Gabe Logan, an operative for a fictitious unnamed agency. No knowledge to this day if this meant the NSA, FBI or another Washington D.C.-based organization that Gabe worked for. Your goal was to track down international terrorist Erich Rhoemer and put a stop to his plan of using the Syphon Filter virus to cause worldwide chaos. Throughout the twist and turns of the first game, you discover you’ve been betrayed by your superiors and that your partner Lian Xing was infected with the virus. The war against the government was waged in Gabe’s eyes.
The sequel followed the same plot, except that you were branded as a terrorist and had to clear your name while uncovering the truth behind the shadowy agency and its intentions for the virus once again dealing with traitors along the way out for their own gain. The third game, while I liked it at the time, I now feel it could’ve been done without, or at least tweaked. Syphon Filter 3 placed you in the eyes of both Gabe and Lian, but apart from a handful of missions, most of the game took place via flashback missions detailing how you got involved with the agency as well as details involving the virus itself. While the third game was considered the weakest in my opinion, it still delivered some variety in its gameplay as well as being able to play as not only Gabe and Lian, but ex-agent Teresa Lipan and medical expert Lawrence Mujari. The level designs for its time were mixed up in what you had to do, depending on what character you played as. For example, as Teresa, you had to infiltrate a compound located in Montana and rescue a family being held hostage by the NSA as you also were looking for sensitive information. As I said, while the third game I think was the weakest, it delivered a major payoff as you discovered who was the shadow behind the agency all along and a showdown with nemesis Mara Aramov.
The fourth game, Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain I think is where the series peaked. The Omega Strain tasked you with creating your own agent as you were a member of the reconstructed agency Gabe once worked for, but now leads with noble intentions along with series regulars Lian, Lawrence, and Teresa. The game gave you a lot of options as far as customization goes and that’s where I think one of its strongest attributes lies. While you started off as a rookie agent with little to no arsenal, you could rank up within the agency, thus gaining access to better weapons and a rewarding experience. It also allowed you to earn commendations from your superiors which in turn gave you access to better weapons. To earn them, you had to complete certain objectives in certain missions.
The game also had replay value as every mission had a solo and a team deadline. Yes, this was the only game in the franchise to support online play for the PlayStation 2 and was a neat feature for its time, and if remade, it could be the standout feature. If you met the deadline and completed all objectives for a set of missions, you unlocked special missions where you got to play as the series regulars and those missions were quite cool to be honest. Even with online play dead for the PS2 version, the game still has a lot of replay value playing solo.
The final two games in the franchise, Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror and Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow were both released for the PSP and re-released for the PS2 but were considered weak entries in the series and I think started the franchise’s fast descent. Whether or not we’ll get a franchise remaster, let alone another game is between up in the air and flat out dead.
1.) Resident Evil 2
To say this is the obvious number one choice is an understatement. While the first game set the standard for survival-horror games, Resident Evil 2 took that standard and surpassed it by a country mile. Originally, Resident Evil 2 didn’t have support for the dual shock controller so the tank controls were still a problem but Capcom listened to its fan base and gave gamers a dual shock version of the game, thus providing a streamlined, but engaging experience for those who played this game back on the PlayStation 1.
In RE 2, you played as Raccoon City police officer Leon S. Kennedy or Claire Redfield. Leon and Claire were both trapped in the city, but with different motives. Claire was looking for her brother, STARS operative Chris Redfield, while Leon was in the city looking for other officers and trying to make sense of the situation involving the T-Virus and the Umbrella Corporation. The main difference between the first game and the second was the “zapping system.” Once you finished one story with either Leon or Claire, you could play the other adventure with the other character but almost everything in the second play through was entirely different and challenging but provided a lot of fun.
The game got a lot of its concepts right. Taken from the first game, the feel of survival is key. With limited ammo and healing items located through the game, you had to plan a strategy of what enemies to kill and which ones to leave alone based on what areas you’d visit more than once. It was challenging but a welcoming challenge as at the ending of the game you were given rewards based on how well you did on factors like how many times you died, saved your progress, or how fast you completed the game. The puzzles were another positive as while they were challenging and required some backtracking, they were fun to do. One of my favorites was having to use cardboard boxes to create a bridge to get one of the police station keys. On a first run, you had no idea what to do with these puzzles and gave you a tough but rewarding challenge as you had to earn every inch of progress. Demanded for a remaster by many outside of my opinion, Resident Evil 2 is a game for the ages that placed gaming on the map and deserves a remaster for the PS4 the most, and even the XBOX One and PC if Capcom ever chooses to get around to doing so.
While these are only my five choices, everyone is free to agree or disagree with me as everyone has different tastes in games.