Movies and games have a lot of shared property. They often share the same demographics, the same talent and between the two mediums, some of the most poignant and entertaining of arts have risen and some of the most profitable behemoths have laid waste to their competition, earning a couple of kings worth of ransom in cash.
Why in the hell then can they not marry these two industrial giants and get goddamn movie tie-ins right? Every year volleys of films are released that spawn a swarm of unfinished, uninspired, unwanted and frankly horrific cash-ins capitalizing on the success of a film.
But against all the odds, and amongst the crap produced from this unholy matrimony, a surprise diamond in the rough emerges as not only a successful incarnation of the film that created it, but sometimes as a brilliant game in its own right. Here are the top 5 movie-game tie-ins that somehow manage to not be utter shite.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
This title actually managed to become a rare breed and ended up superseding the quality of the film it was replicating. With a fantastic combat system that took cues from God of War, the game offered a kind of limb dismembering brutality synonymous with the clawed crusader that the soft bellied 12A film couldn’t offer. Developers Raven Software were ostensibly also pretty disenchanted with the film, often diverging heavily from its plot, which transpired to be pretty much the best segments of the game. (Honourable mentions for the sentinel boss battle, probably the most epic encounter in any comic book video game, film tied or not.) Still though, they couldn’t shake the horrible mess the film created with Deadpool’s reimagining, complete with ridiculous wrist swords, irrelevant and even more ridiculous laser beam eyes and no mouth. What!?
Peter Jackson’s King Kong
This movie tie-in sat right on the transition from the era of PS2 and Xbox into the previous generation of the Xbox 360. As one of the first ‘next generation’ titles, the game was hailed as a technical achievement for its graphics and sound design. It wasn’t shabby on the gameplay front either, featuring some great ideas including manipulation and exploitation of the island's food chain (spearing small mammals to bait the big scaries), and puzzles involving fire propagation. Its short length and less than impressive third person segments however meant it fell just shy of the promise and potential it projected on that incredible first glance.
Anyone who played the first movie game of this series would be forgiven in forgoing this second attempt by the now Call of Duty laden developers Treyarch, but they would’ve missed out on a surprisingly amazing (and now cult) game. While the original Spider-Man featured a linear, poorly designed trek through a badly modelled new york, with a web-slinger whose webs apparently slung into thin air and who apparently had a phobia of going anywhere near street level, the second let the players do just about everything they couldn’t (and everything they wanted to) do in the first. It had a phenomenal web swinging mechanic that tangibly stuck to buildings, helicopters and just about anything else that would take the weight of a wise-cracking teenage mutate. It also had a massive variety of things to collect, complete and beat to a pulp, but more importantly, it had you thinking you were the friendly neighbourhood creepy crawler himself.
Somewhat an exception in this list with the game being around 26 years late, The Warriors was nonetheless an incredible title that captured the themes and feeling of the film more successfully than any other title in the medium. Somewhat an exception for the developer as well, The Warriors stands as Rockstar's only movie game and their sole effort into the ‘beat-‘em-up’ genre (pedestrians in GTA none withstanding). It fused great combat with extensive environmental interaction, and more importantly an original and pretty fantastic narrative that took players through the origin story of the infamous New York gang and spun a legitimately brilliant tale worthy to be a standalone film in its own right.
You may have heard of this one. This is one of those titles where you can directly track and lay witness to the enormous influence it’s had in changing the landscape of a genre, and arguably an entire medium. It was to first person shooting what Psycho was to horror. Despite dealing with the funky controls offered by the N64, Rareware somehow managed to squeeze a plethora of innovative elements to the genre, introducing stealth, cut scenes, sniper rifles, reloading, hit-location dependent animations and zoom aiming. On top of all this innovation in the singleplayer campaign, with its organic and movie accurate levels and ground-breaking multiple missions system - Rareware created what to this day is a cherished and still often visited local multiplayer, complete with Oddjob’s throwable hat and the abominable golden gun.
And all this from a game made from a movie.
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