Welcome to another installment of Forgotten 3s where we break open the video gaming scrapbook to look at some past titles that may have slipped your thoughts. This time we’re going to raise a glass to the three best games based on a movie. While movie tie-in games are notoriously bad and often rushed to retail sometimes a few diamonds can be found in the rough. The common thread to the list though? No games were released any time close to that of the original film. Take note Hollywood!
3) The Thing, 2002
John Carpenter’s The Thing was a claustrophobic sci-fi horror title about a group of arctic based scientists stranded in a base infected by parasitic lifeforms that take over control of their hosts. The movie almost begged to be made into a video game as it covered the familiar gaming territory of aliens, guns, and flamethrowers. On a more simplistic note, the movie took place within the very small confines of an arctic research station which made it easier to adapt to the video game medium than other more sprawling settings.
A full two decades after the release of the film The Thing, a video game of the same title was released on Xbox and PlayStation 2. The game was a direct sequel to Carpenter’s film and was a mix of suspense and smatterings of action as you had to deal with which of your fellow scientists might be infected with the parasite and therefore posing a danger to you. The pacing of the third person psychological thriller game was excellent as you uncover the horrors that unfolded in the original movie often revisiting many familiar setpieces etched in movie goers nightmares. The combat was also truly visceral with heart-stopping gunplay, worries about ammo and yes, plenty of flamethrower action. Controlling multiple scientists and playing a bit of a cat and mouse game with the parasite makes this title worthy of being named as one of the best games based on a movie.
2) The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay, 2004
Vin Diesel sure has a soft spot for the visually augmented intergalactic criminal Riddick. Appearing first in 2000’s Pitch Black, Diesel portrayed Richard B. Riddick a criminal with a notorious past marooned on a planet infested with creatures that consume people in the dark. The film was followed up with The Chronicles of Riddick four years later and then Riddick in 2013. Pitch Black had the feel of a suspense or thriller title as he had to navigate between objectives in the dark where the threat hid and the relative safety of the light which repelled the creatures. Subsequent outings focused more on Riddick as an action anti-hero.
Shortly before the release of the second film in the Riddick series came The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, released on Xbox and definitely one of the best games based on a movie. Although the gameplay was a relatively far departure from any of the movies on which it was based, it did a wonderful job of capturing the feel of the Riddick universe. Escape from Butcher Bay was one of the strongest, and under-rated, titles to ever appear on Xbox. The stealth mechanics were as good as Splinter Cell, the action approached Halo and the NPC interactions mirrored Morrowind. In fact, it was the time spent exploring the characters that inhabited the Butcher Bay prison that made the game great. They offered cunning quests that most RPGs could only hope for and diverse opportunities to explore the prison where Riddick was held. Add to that environmental kills that were revolutionary at the time, great robotic sentry enemies and an engrossing story and the Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay is not only one of the best games based on a movie, it is also one of the best games to appear on the Xbox.
1) Blade Runner, 1997
Everyone has surely seen Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece Blade Runner starring Harrison Ford as a detective hunting rogue replicants in a near future Los Angeles. The movie had an incredible visual style of its own that depicting the darker sides of future LA and is instantly recognizable, holding up over the past 35 years. Add a memorable score, a top notch cast who would go onto to Hollywood fame and searing indictments on the pitfalls of technology and genetic manipulation Blade Runner and you have an instant classic. These types of films though do not typically translate well to the video game genre.
It was, therefore, all the more surprising that the game Bladerunner would top the list of best games based on a movie. The point and click adventure featured a different detective in a similar position as Harrison Ford’s character in the film. The majority of the game involved examining crime scenes in the wake of a replicant on the loose. One of the coolest parts of the game was taking photographs of the crime to the police station to analyze them for visual clues using some slick computer skills. The game also leaned heavily on the actors in the film to reprise their roles and lend their voices to the game. This was critical as the sweet vocal work of Sean Young, James Hong and others brought immediate credibility to the story and atmosphere of the game. In short, the game’s success and place topping the list of best games based on a movie is that the game created a perfect balance of familiarity with the source material while developing its unique story with new characters.
If you felt that The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay was a bit of a stretch since it was based on Pitch Black than an honorable mention goes to 2008’s Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy. The game’s fight sequences were cutting edge with amazing environmental takedowns.
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