Is Nvidia's RTX Remix necessary, or are we polishing rough gaming diamonds back into coal?

Max Payne
Remedy Entertainment har tillkännagivit att de kommer att göra remakes av Max Payne 1 och 2. (Image credit: Remedy Entertainment / Rockstar)

Nvidia’s RTX Remix, a resource platform that allows the modding community access to tools for remastering old titles with ease, has entered open beta and now we’re finally seeing the results. Unfortunately, those results look pretty mixed right now.

There’s been a recent demo showing the 23-year-old game Max Payne with RTX Remix enhancements, a mod that you can access here. Though it looks visually stunning while running on the RTX 4080 – one of the best graphics cards – and using path tracing, performance-wise it’s pretty bad. 

Framerate drops considerably from 1,300fps without the mod to just below 60fps with the RTX Remix mod active, while the graphics card power consumption nearly doubles from 180W to 300W.

Some would argue that because May Payne is such an old title this is par for the course, however, the whole point of the RTX Remix toolkit is to enhance older titles in the first place. If you’re sacrificing so much performance for a prettier face, what’s the point of enabling it, since many older games already suffer from performance issues?

And sometimes the facelift isn’t even worth it, depending on the game. While many older games are technically not as advanced as newer ones, this was often compensated for by creating a unique atmosphere by turning graphical limitations into interesting art design choices that enhanced the title. And other games, like Portal 2, have such an excellent art direction and smart design that redone graphics aren’t even necessary.

That’s not to say that nothing good has come from RTX Remix, with such projects as The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind remaster,  Fallout: London, and Half-Life 2 RTX: An RTX Remix Project, a community-led remaster showcasing what's possible. When fans truly understand the game they’re remastering, they can improve on the visuals without sacrificing performance or the intended aesthetic.

The Max Payne tech demo does not illustrate that kind of care. It sacrifices gaming performance, the very feature that makes a game a game, for a shiny coat of paint. Is that path tracing worth the cost?

The Portal RTX remake, which attempts to fix what isn’t broken in the first place, is no better. The base game, as outlined above, looks incredible and has aged nearly flawlessly. There’s no reason for a remaster in the first place, as it doesn’t refine the graphics or upgrade the performance.

I truly hope that more high-quality remasters like the aforementioned Elder Scrolls III and Fallen London grace the RTX Remix community. But unfortunately, we’ll more likely be getting Max Payne remasters instead.

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Allisa James
Computing Staff Writer

Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.