This month, we dared to ask our writers to talk about their “favourite” movie game tie-ins. Prepare to smile, have awful flashbacks or consider yourself lucky that some of these are hard to pick-up these days and miserable that some are harder to track down.
The Battle for Middle Earth II is an excellent RTS game that takes its design and aesthetics from my favourite film series, The Lord of The Rings. Elves, men and dwarves are playable for the ‘good’ and on the opposite side, you can spread the evil with Mordor, Isenguard and the Goblins, each faction with their own unique troops and some special characters you will recognise from the films.
It’s a brilliant strategy game that allows you to see Middle Earth as you’ve never seen it before. Players have the opportunity to see a well recognised story in more depth and with different perspectives.
Hugo Weaving once again voices Elrond and this works well – the game is heavily based on the films, and feels like another addition to them. But it’s not just the films. Battle for Middle Earth 2 delves into the lore and history of Middle Earth beyond what is shown in the films. The main quest line follows Glorfindel the elf and his journey during the War of the Ring, including skirmishes to the North and around Middle Earth that makes the player appreciate that the events of the films and books go beyond the Fellowship.
It’s a safe bet for both film and book lovers as it balances out information perfectly and is delightful to play.
Pro tip: Play as Mordor and watch empires crumble when you have four flying Nazgul to decimate everything.
Ah movies and video games. Sometimes they manage to hit the mark – surprising us all with how well they capture the atmosphere of the movie. Others manage to miss the mark with a thunderous clap of despair. One that managed to hit all the boxes and make me grin like a Cheshire Cat was Spider-Man 2.
Developed by Treyarch this has been for me, the best Spider-Man game to ever grace a console. It had a fairly open Manhattan to fully explore – loads of side missions to tackle. It also followed the film quite closely. The combat was fun and furious and the most important part – you felt like you were Spidey, web swinging from building to building. Oh and the web slinging is the most accurate I’ve ever known, thanks to one simple change. You had to actually hit the buildings with web before being able to swing everywhere! Previous games always allowed you to just press the button and you’d seem to web swing into thin air.
It made me feel alive and that I was Spidey! No other Spider-Man game has ever come close and for me this is the benchmark for all Spidey games.
Racing games have never really been my cup of tea. As always though, there are a few exceptions to this rule. I love Grad Theft Auto: Vice City because you’re actually encouraged to crash into things and run people over (although I’m not sure it even technically counts as a “racing” game…) and I love Crazy Taxi because, well, because Crazy Taxi. But neither of those games come to the sheer joy that is Star Wars Episode I: Racer.
This game is by far the best racing game I have ever played and it is by far the best movie tie-in game I have ever played. For me, Star Wars Episode I: Racer is the closest thing I can get to recapturing that giddy mixture of awe and adrenaline that I felt when, as a ten year old, I sat down and watched The Phantom Menace for the first time. This game is a direct link back to my childhood and playing it still holds that same heart pumping thrill that it always has.
Whether you’re dodging futuristic mining equipment, skidding over icy landscapes, or being plunged into antigravity tunnels, this game has it all, and throws you at them all at breakneck speed. Simple to control, but difficult to master, the game is immersive and explosive and a whole lot of fun to play. Like I said earlier, racing games have never really done it for me, but this one is on a whole different level. The main reason for this is because it doesn’t really feel like a racing game. It feels like a podrace, and as stupid as that sounds, it makes all the difference. When you’re podracing, you feel like a little kid again, and that’s a magical feeling.
And I’m not the only one that feels this way. After twenty-five years, Star Wars Episode I: Racer still holds the record for the best-selling sci-fi racing game. It’s the undisputed king of its genre and it’s a testimony to just how thrilling The Phantom Menace really is.
Not only was GoldenEye the best Bond film, I absolutely loved the GoldenEye 007 game. It was probably one of the only reasons to get a N64 early in the console’s cycle and it had a fantastic multiplayer. Heck, it was the first person shooter that I compared other first person shooters to, and none were as good.
The single player, whilst not meant to be the definitive experience, still holds quite a bit of fun. Especially if you play with some of the cheats. There’s just something extremely satisfying about setting off remote mines behind enemies in slow motion. Or about shooting a rocket from Bond’s head. Or from shooting an enemy in the leg, and then the arm, and then the leg again, and then the torso, and and and (all while the enemy health is whacked up on the 007 mode).
But the real shining star was the multiplayer. I remember many insisting No Radar on multiplayer, and you just know there was that kid that used to know exactly where you were as soon as you spawned, go there and execute you with superior fire power. Heck, it was the first time I remember having options such as “you only live twice”, “license to kill” and teams as gameplay options.
But part of the reason it worked really well, is actually because it followed and even expanded on the existing film’s story. Admittedly they chopped and changed a few things, but overall it still worked. Good movie, good game – it’s a rarity.
Out of all the films that are mentioned here, I think it’s safe to say that Wolverine’s first solo outing was far more widely panned than Phantom Menace. And yet the tie-in game X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Uncaged Edition was considered to be some of the best brainless fun that you could have on your Xbox 360 in the summer of 2009.
Very loosely following the plot of the film, the game decided to take a far more obscure route through the film’s story and introduced elements that were never referenced in it. But that was fine, because you got to run about as Wolverine, slicing and dicing-up enemies in ways that were brutal and completely unrealistic. And if the damage being dealt to opponents wasn’t enough gore for you, then Logan’s varying levels of flesh depending on how much damage he’d taken was a also a grim yet satisfying sight.
It wasn’t a pretty game, but generally it was fun to play. What’s strange is how the combat felt quite a bit similar to Batman: Arkham Asylum despite being made by different developers under different publishers. Wolverine was released before Bats.
I prefer the game to the film, because it knew its plot was pretty convoluted, even by X-Men standards. And while fighting your way through it is one of its most fun elements, it includes one of the most frustrating boss fights to ever occur in a tie-in game. Seriously, how did the film make the reactor fight look so easy?
I think a distinction should be made between direct movie tie-in games, and those games which expand upon the world of a film. The first of those, the direct tie-ins, are the ones that get released around the same time as the film, tell a similar story, and usually share the same title. Things like the recently released Amazing Spider-Man 2 game.
The other kind, the world-expanding kind, are games which exist in the same universe as a film, maybe sharing locations and characters, but tell a different story. They don’t have to share the release date of the film and, more often than not, come out many years later. Knights of the Old Republic is probably the best example.
I think the idea this week was to pick one of the first kind, but I can’t think of a single one that doesn’t suck. It’s inevitable – they’re rushed to meet movie deadlines and they only exist because “money” – so the majority end up soulless and bad. I’m sure good ones do exist (GoldenEye is a classic, right?) but I don’t think I’ve ever played one.
The other kind, though, often turn out pretty good. There’s a ton of fantastic Star Wars games, Star Trek does good space-games (editor’s note: except for last year’s tie-in game, which is one of the worst ever made), there’s some great Lord of the Rings stuff, and that Riddick one is meant to be better than any of his films. There are still failures of course (Colonial Marines, anyone?) but the success rate is a lot higher. My recommendation this week is to seek out these kinds of movie games, but avoid the ones based directly on films.
But that’s cheating, so let’s go with… um… Fix-It Felix Jr. from Wreck-It Wralph. It’s just like in the movie!