Wow, back here again. I was just rooting around when, from beneath an inch thick layer of grime, this long forgotten run of articles appeared. It’s like I’ve just found the Jumanji board after it’s years of lying dormant, or the last great Sonic game perhaps. Either way it’s about time I blew the dust from it’s cover and began to give it life. I shall begin this process by pouring oodles of fresh drivel over it’s crusty exterior, as you can see, I’ve already started.
Anyway, let’s have a re-cap. The idea is to look at the flip sides of gaming history. As we know only too well, for every Gears of War there’s a Quantum Theory, the Gandalf the White epicness of a game like Skyrim is countered by the clumsy, shuffling skeletal figure of a Venetica and of course for every solid, punch packing, nectar sweet, honey dripped, jaw dropping, ground breaking slice of gaming’s genius there’s a Kinect game hovering above waiting to happily piss down on the parade. Anyway, you get the gist.
One change this time round though, rather than delivering three moments and then forgetting about the whole thing for months I’ll attempt to deliver once a week on one section of gaming’s glorious past and present.
Throughout this article, if you hadn’t already noticed, I will ramble and spew nonsense, I will veer from the path and forget almost every point I was hoping to put across and by the end there’s a good chance we’ll both wish I’d just left well alone and stepped away from the article, but in the meantime let us begin.
In part one I looked at the console’s outside beauty and otherwise, games controllers and gaming hero’s. In part two such topics as the feelgood game, peripherals and voice acting we’re dealt with. So we’re do we kick off part 3?
How about this?
BEST MOVIE TIE-IN
For a long time it’s felt like an unwritten rule of games development that any game released on the back of a movie has to be complete and utter garbage. It’s as though in some shady boardroom meeting it was felt the right approach for the latest Batman/Avatar/Pixar tie in game was to throw the rulebook out of the window, forget about depth, gameplay and that vastly over-rated fun thing and go straight for the jugular or in these cases, the wallet. So long as the latest hero adorns the front cover this one will be a unit shifter you can bank on that. Come Christmas morning there’ll be a whole lot of disenchanted kids ploughing through the latest bore-fest unleashed upon us by money hungry games companies and bought by unknowing parents. Don’t do it Mums and Dads. Don’t kill Christmas.
Anyway, back on track, because it’s not all doom and gloom. There is a chink of light in this dark abyss of gaming grotesque. Along the route of missed chances there are some very nice ‘movie tie-in’ drive thru’s at which to feast on the delights that are produced when a tie-in is done right.
Now of course the movie game goes back a long way. There are millions of unsold copies of ET buried in the New Mexico desert from way back in 1982. So for this category I’ve decided to just go off the last two generations of console, just from the point the Xbox entered the fray and the Dreamcast was a distant memory.
So who are the contenders?
Well, you do have to dig a little through the memory banks to try and find a tie-in game worthy of mention but dig I did and thankfully managed to unearth a few gems. X-Men Origins: Wolverine for example. Not a stellar release by any means but it did at least deliver a solid backbone of adventure and enjoyed a good scrap. The game, while never groundbreaking did at least provide a few hours of mindless arcade style fun. Then there’s the Lego take on things, Lego Star Wars is simply brilliant, Lego Harry Potter, Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, both excellent games, Lego Batman also does the business, in fact Lego rarely screw things up and their take on the big movie’s always entertains and leave players smiling. Also, contrary to many I did actually enjoy King Kong. Butnone of them hold as dear a place for me as the top dog of gaming tie-in’s. That place belongs to one of last gen’s surprise hits, the superb Spiderman 2.
Having been dealt hand after hand of lacklustre movie based games and left with a overwhelming bad taste in my mouth concerning the whole game/movie market it was with half-hopes and apathy that I placed the Spidey 2 disc into the tray of my Xbox. Then the magic happened. At first I thought: “No, this can’t be true, It’s merely drawing me in, the crappiness will show itself in a minute.” But the ‘crappiness’ stayed away. Spiderman 2, with it’s adrenaline racing web swinging and non-stop, super fluid action had single handedly re-ignited my own flame of belief in a genre I had believed to be beyond hope. It wasn’t down to the story or even Spidey himself, rather it came down to the simplest of things, Activision had cared about quality. Their sandbox Spiderman game truly showed gamers what could be done with a movie tie-in if the right amount of care, time and effort where put into it.
WORST MOVIE TIE-IN
And now we have a myriad of choice. I feel almost brain swamped just thinking about this category, fleeting images of Indiana, Potter, Batman and Transformers whizz past, E.T. laughs manically from a bygone age like the mad genius who plotted this most heinous of crimes to gaming, Marcus Fenix and Nathan Drake cross the street to avoid these unclean atrocities and I shake my head in regret as I scan my own collection in which some of these villains reside.
Let’s just get this done. Harry Potter! Come on Down! It’s shameful that such a rich and varied wizarding world as that of Harry Potter has been so poorly represented in video games. Lego aside, the Potter games have been by and large woeful. Great characters and potential all overlooked in favour of mundane fetch and carry gameplay and weak magical combat. The Deathly Hallows games attempt to bring Kinect into the mix but it still fails to lift the game beyond the realm of boring while the level of repetition reached in The Order of the Phoenix is enough to send the sanest of players to the asylum, a hollow gibbering wreck. Then come the Pirates. Of the Caribbean that is. Again, Lego aside, we’ve seen another rich fantasy world reduced to the most ridiculously simple and boring of games. Awful combat, shocking duel scenes and pointless platforming, is that really the best we could hope for? It seems so. Avatar, Clash of the Titans, Star Wars, Fantastic Four, Narnia, Watchmen and the Pixar gang are all offenders in this category as are numerous others but again, there needs to be a winner, or should that be loser?
Step forward then the villain of the piece, the metal monstrosity known as Ironman.
Here we have a game that is so poorly executed it almost feels broken. It’s a game that instills the belief in the player that this was in fact created by a group of low end work placement kids who’d rather have been sat in the park smoking crafty cigs and necking White Lightning and, to be honest I wish they had done instead. If the world had been spared this godawful attempt to bring a great movie to the gaming masses then we would all be a smidgeon happier. What’s wrong with this game, you say? Everything. The controls are sluggish and unresponsive, the combat is dull, the graphics are bland and the levels of frustration Ironman can deliver are overwhelming. A third-person shooter of epically bad proportions, if you come across this in the local Game shop, turn around slowly and walk away, far away, far..far…away.