CATEGORIES Action, Classics, Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Cinematical Seven, Comic/Superhero/Geek, Games and Game Movies, CinematicalJust about every big-budget mega-movie gets its very own video game tie-in, from Harry Potter and Narnia to Spider-Man and Lord of the Rings. Used to be that 92% of these movie-license games were grade-A certifiable crap, but we've come a long way since then. (Nowadays it's only about 55%.) One of the newest (and lovably geekiest) trends in video games is the "retro" approach, which is what I call it when someone says "Hey, you know what old movie would make for a great video game? Mannequin!" before heading off to design a video game in which you're required to collect hundreds of dismembered mannequin parts while avoiding the affections of a harrowingly annoying homosexual stereotype and thwarting the nefarious schemes of a bizarrely prissy James Spader.
Fortunately, nobody's gotten it into their head to make a video game out of Mannequin, but there have been some really slick video games based on some really cool "old" movies. But let's get one turkey out of the way first:
7. Jaws Unleashed -- Man was I excited to check this game out. As a huge fan of Jaws, video games, intentional carnage, and the majesty of sharks in general, I figured this game would be a can't-miss melange of high-end mayhem and deep-sea nastiness. Too bad the game has horrific control issues, aggressively irritating camera glitches, uninspired graphic presentation, and an overall sense of "meh." And worst of all, the game's not even a true tie-in: the project began as a game called Sole Predator, but was retro-fitted with the Jaws signature after Universal came on board. Lame.
6. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay -- OK, this one's a cheat because the movie and the game came out in the same year, but Butcher Bay earns an honorary spot, not only because it's a damn good video game, but also because it's ten times more entertaining than the movie itself. The one actually stunned the game critics too, and they're a pretty demanding lot.
5. The Evil Dead Games -- Few fanbases are as ravenous as the Evil Dead collective (just ask Anchor Bay!), so it only stands to reason they'd get a few video games tossed their way. If you added up the best components of Hail to the King (2000), A Fistful of Boomstick (2003) and Regeneration (2005), you'd have one really excellent Evil Dead game. Separately, each have their charms -- but none of 'em are what you'd call brilliant. Still, all three of 'em come complete with the officially licensed voice of Mr. Bruce Campbell.
4. The Warriors -- Take the Grand Theft Auto blueprint, throw a whole bunch of rumble-centric side missions into the mix, and paint the graphics with a decidedly late-'70s brush. Since I adore Walter Hill's 1979 cult classic, I approached the game with a good deal of skepticism. Two weeks later I was cheering when I finished the whole thing. (Weird trivia: Actor Tom Waites provided a voice for the video game, despite the fact that in 1979 he demanded that his name be removed from the film's credits.)
3. The Thing -- Now here was a dicey proposition: Make a game out of a ferociously beloved modern classic -- more than 20 years after the flick died at the box office. Expect barren landscapes, crafty gameplay, jittery jolts, and and handful gooey gore geysers. Heck, John Carpenter liked the game so much -- he even provided a voice for one of the characters!
2. The Godfather -- Another GTA-inspired mega-map game with tons of tough missions, killer weapons, and AI bad guys who actually know how to throw a bunch and dodge a bullet. You'll extort local businessmen, overpower rival mob flunkies, invade backroom brothels, and slowly climb the ladder of respectability in the Corleone family. So yeah, it's mostly GTA with a new coat of paint, but it's paint laced with Brando, Duvall, Caan, Vigoda AND that immortal Godfather music by Nino Rota. It's a game I could have refused (at first), but I'm glad I didn't.
1. Numerous (recent) Star Wars games -- Take your pick: Me, I'm an RPG fan, so I had a ball with Knights of the Old Republic and KOTOR2: The Sith Lords. But then there's the stunningly fun Lego Star Wars, the sequel to which (Lego Star Wars 2: The Original Trilogy) just hit the shelves. (Can't wait!) Then there's the combat-heavy Battlefront series, the surprisingly strong Jedi Knight line, the mammoth Galaxies adventures, and a bunch of throwbacks and prequel tie-ins that have just enough fun to please a wookie. (Fair warning: Avoid the Obi-Wan game as if it were made of bantha poop.)
Coming Soon: Scarface and Reservoir Dogs, both of which will earn heavy rotation inside my old-school Xbox. And I'll leave you with this question: What movie do YOU want a video game of? My vote goes to The Princess Bride. Or Mannequin.
(For some fantastic video game geekery, written by folks who play the things ALL DAY, please do make a stop at one of our sister blogs: the illustrious Joystiq.com.)