The 10 Best Games Based On Movies

trololololol

I had twin criteria for this. The first was ‘is it a decent game?’ and the second ‘does it meaningfully evoke the spirit, themes or characters of the movie in addition to having Quite Good Guns And Graphics?’ The second saw quite a few games which would otherwise qualify ruled out. This year’s Mad Max, for instance, was an agreeable murder-romp but it’s much harder to argue that it nails the desperation or oddness of the films it’s based on. Star Wars: Battlefront, meanwhile, is an OK online shooter with marvellous graphics, but it’s too mechanical to ‘feel’ like Star Wars once you get beyond the spectacular presentation. Ah, ‘feel’. That’s the thing, isn’t it? Does a movie game make you feel like you’re a part of that movie’s wider world, or is it just wearing its skin?

It’s that question which most informed this list. I don’t disagree that there are, in some cases, better games-based-on-movies if ‘game’ is the foremost criteria, but these, in no particular order, are the ten games which most understood and even grew my appreciation for their subject matter, rather than simply piggy-backed it. (Additional FYI: I decided not to include any superhero games, reasoning they’re really their own thing rather than innately movie-based).

This article has a sibling: the 10 best games based on books.

10. The Chronicles Of Riddick: Assault On Dark Athena

It would have been a well-received dark sci-fi stealth-action game in its own right, but by also being so heavily built around Vin Diesel’s titular anti-hero and the world of violence he came from, it succeeded on two fronts. Riddick – and remember this was after Pitch Black but before the Chronicles of Riddick movie made the character a faint laughing stock – is a brutal and uncompromising man. Not necessarily immoral, but certainly not walking a traditional hero’s path. This gave him – and you, the player – a rare license to be a complete prick to anyone he encountered.

Whereas other shooters have to hand-wave mass slaughter as an act of necessary heroism, Riddick is just being Riddick, a violent ex-con surrounded by far worse men, killing or being killed and not having to rationalise it in any other way. Add to that some robust combat and the sort of stalking panther stealth later popularised by the Batman: Arkham games and you’ve got a tight character study of a compelling pulp character, not simply a shooter starring a vague approximation of Vin Diesel’s face.

Read more: Jim’s 2008 retrospective, our favourite stealth games, Wot I Think: Chronicles of Riddick

9. Aliens versus Predator Classic 2000

There are many games which bear the Aliens vs/versus/v Predator name, most confusingly one which came from the same studio as this one some ten years later, but Rebellion’s 1999 tri-protagonist shooter remains the standout. I’d also name it the best Aliens game full-stop (although Alien is a slightly different matter – see ‘honourable mentions’ for more on that). The key here is intensity, both in the mounting dread of stalking through dimly-lit corridors with the knowledge that something far more lethal than you could wait around any corner (or drop from any ceiling), and in the back-to-the-wall, teeth-grinding desperation when combat is in full-flow. It is Aliens – but, most remarkably, this overwhelming sense of danger is present no matter which species you play as. Running your brutal but spindly xenomporph into the line of sight of a marine’s turret is as terrifying as a Marine finding himself cornered by bugs, or Predator realising his box of tricks is spent as he stumbles into a hive or outpost.

AvP is also admirably plot-light: it accepts that we know these characters and their dynamics, and lets us get on with living out the menacing fantasy of it. You don’t need to care about anything beyond ‘am I going to survive?’ In a time when even Alien co-creator Ridley Scott is determined that we for some reason have to know exactly where a big mean space-bug came from, there is much to be said for cutting lore to the quick.

Read more: my own retrospective, focused on an iconic skirmish level, our favourite FPSes ever

8. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

For the avoidance of doubt: I consciously differentiate games based on the Lord of the Rings novels from those based on Peter Jackson’s movies, because they’re profoundly different (to the point that Tolkien’s estate has effectively disowned the movies). I don’t say that as any kind of purist – I haven’t been particularly interested in any incarnation of Middle-Earth since I was in short pants – but only because the books are long, quasi-historical journeys whereas the movies are primarily about action and spectacle. Shadow of Mordor is absolutely the latter. It is profoundly stupid, because it is, essentially, pro wrestling. But it is pro wrestling based on those innumerable sequences in the various Jackson films when a hero character has a short-lived rivalry with a recurring but unnamed Orc.

Briefly, we are lead to believe that this one scarred or maimed monster is a stand-out threat compared to all the thousands of others that are dispatched in an instant, but 15 minutes later he’s been killed in some sort of setpiece and we’ll never think about him again. It’s how the absurdly long LOTR and Hobbit films built drama into their absurdly long battle sequences, wherein we needed to see named characters in peril and reappearing super-threats. Mordor’s structure is pitched, breathless battles against endless cannon fodder interspersed with harder fights against some tougher Orc with a weird face, and with whom you are entirely preoccupied with beating for a few minutes. Then he’s gone. And repeat. It is just like the films. As is the fact that the hero’s powers slowly escalate from ‘quite good in a fight’ to ‘amazing magical death-machine.’ JRR would howl until the world crumbles if ever he played it, but it absolutely nails what the movies tried to do.

Read more: Our favourite action games, are open world games living up to their potential?, playing Mordor with perma-death on

7. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Most Star Wars games try to recreate just a certain section of Star Wars – the lightsabers, the space combat, the Hoth sequence – or try and capture a whole damn film into a lacklustre action game. BioWare RPG Knights of the Old Republic – KOTOR to its friends – by contrast appears to have taken a ‘what makes Star Wars Star Wars?’ brainstorm as its starting point. So we get a sprawling tale of destiny and secret identities, planet-hopping and memorable characters, lightsaber battles and space combat, wry romances and Wookie planets. Its age might hurt KOTOR, but if anything it’s trying to do far more than the movies ever did, with more heart and humour, despite using its foundations. KOTOR is Star Wars for (relative) grown-ups – something that only one of six released films came anything like close to. Of course it’s probably non-canon now Disney hit reset on the expanded universe, but who cares? Here’s your Star Wars RPG, usefully untouched by the saga of the sister-kisser and his cheery chums.

There’s a strong argument to be made that the Obsidian-developed sequel, KOTOR II, is the better game, but its infamously unfinished nature means it’s still better played as a follow-up to KOTOR 1 rather than a superior alternative. Fan patches have helped it along enormously, however.

Read more: Bastard of the Old Republic, a diary series in which John is a bastard, in the Old Republic, our all-time favourite RPGs, why Star Wars makes for better games than films, why Bioware games’ morality can be very, very silly

6. Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis

This is, I suspect, the one which’ll most have you lot demanding that I’m carried off to the stocks. It is also, however, the paradigm of what I’m talking about – evoking a movie’s spirit, rather than just its visual contents or main action beats. Operation Genesis is Theme Park with dinosaurs, and a fairly brief, more kid-orientated take on Theme Park at that. But’s it’s also that facepalm ‘why didn’t anyone think of that sooner?’ Jurassic Park adaptation. You build the park. You run the park. You fill it with exciting prehistoric wildlife which simply should not exist. You are convinced it is an efficient and safe park. Even though it contains gigantic carnivorous lizards from millions of years ago. A butterfly flaps its wings in Beijing and the weather changes in New York. Or a velociraptor escapes its cage and causes untold chaos.

Operation Genesis is a John Hammond simulator, essentially. It’s delightful. You build the perfect mousetrap, but at some point it inevitably goes wrong because what you are trying to do is entirely absurd. Age and smallness keep it from achieving true greatness, roaring to an anti-climactic halt all too soon, but for a few precious hours it’s very much ‘holy crap, I’m doing Jurassic Park!’

Of course, everyone’s conception of Jurassic Park is completely different in light of this year’s dumb-as-a-box-of-newborn-pterosaurs sequel. I’ll save that particular old man grump for another day.

Read more: my own retrospective of Operation Genesis

On page 2 – games 5 through 2, including ones which will probably make you swear at me.

89 Comments

  1. Laurentius says:

    Not really a contest here, Lucasarts SW games topple everything in this department.

  2. GameCat says:

    Honourable console toys games mentions:

    Parasite Eve 1 & 2 – great games, although not really faithful to source material, they just share some basic plot ideas and title.

    Alice in Wonderland on Nintendo DS – surprisingly good metroidvania platformer with ICO-like elements based on that terrible, terrible Tim Burton’s butchered piece of bull’s diarreha with the same title.

    • Koozer says:

      Obligatory: Goldeneye on the N64.

      Now with that out of the way – all of the Star Wars: Rogue Leader games do a glorious job of making you feel like a Rebel pilot. Many evenings were spent shooting the shield generators of Star Destroyers in my B-Wing while my brother fended off TIEs in his X-Wing.

      Star Wars: Bounty Hunter also did a great job of putting you in the rocket-powered shoes of Boba Fett. Walking through a bustling Coruscant scanning people for potential bounties, or jet-packing up the side of a highrise to avoid security never got old.

      • Dachannien says:

        Obligatory: Goldeneye on the N64.

        But does it meaningfully evoke the spirit, themes or characters of the movie?

        SEND SPIKE

  3. Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

    100% agree with JPOG. One of the best god games ever, and one so much in need of a sequel/remake/spiritual successor.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    I’ve been rewatching portions of the Battlestar Galactica remake recently, and as I watched, I couldn’t help but think that a game based on it could be really good.

    Personally, I’m envisioning a space combat approach — either Wing Commander fighter style, and/or Homeworld RTS style — with mission interludes being spent on-foot inside Galactica, and maybe (if it doesn’t defocus things too much) some on-foot exploration / combat as well.

    Of course, it could also very easily be done absolutely horribly and become e.g. a Cylon corridor shooter. So I’m not holding my breath.

    • MisterMumbles says:

      Someone obviously hasn’t heard of Diaspora before. ;)
      link to pcgamer.com

      • KesMonkey says:

        A short but amazing game, especially when used with a TrackIR and HOTAS setup. Would love to play it in VR. :)

        • Tiax says:

          I did about a year or two ago, it was as awesome as you might imagine.

          Can’t wait to try it on the new Oculus.

        • karthink says:

          I played Diaspora with a homebrew head tracking setup (wiimote) and it blew my mind. This was before the Oculus Rift, Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen, mind.

    • Premium User Badge

      magnificent octopus says:

      The board game is, in my opinion, a really excellent adaptation of the series. It gets the paranoia of not knowing who to trust down really well (One of the expansions, Pegasus, also captures the long, grinding despair of a long battle a bit too well. Which is why we always skip the New Capria bit).

  5. Jokerme says:

    No ET. I feel cheated.

  6. wilynumber13 says:

    Did The Warriors game by Rockstar come out on PC? That’d probably make my list if it did. Definitely on my list with console games included.

    • Platina32 says:

      Aah, I was wondering why it wasn’t on the list, but it was only on consoles. Gooed game, though!

    • rabbit says:

      last time i checked (5 years ago maybe?) it hadn’t come to PC , much to my disappointment

  7. GWOP says:

    I have absolutely no clue as to why, but whenever I come across Chronicles of Riddick on TV, I end up up watching the whole thing.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      maybe you’re a Conan the Barbarian fan and subconsciously know you’re watching a space-Conan film?

  8. Jeht says:

    Indiana Jones and the Holy grail,
    Willow (nes),
    According to my friend, The Goonies 2 (nes).

  9. Gobser says:

    Well STALKER is not directly based neither on book (Roadside Picnic), nor the movie (Stalker). The atmosphere of soviet antiutopia is inspired by them, sure, but nothing else. The name itself was made more for marketing amoung russian players. The book lacks action as well as the movie (no nuclear disaster (aliens? nobody knows) nobody ever hurts anyone, even with fists, no monsters, only Zone’s border patrols. There are only anomalies, which are way weirder and mysterious). Actually, movie is so loosely based on the book, that saying the game is based on either is not a mistake, but more of a lie.

    • GameCat says:

      Stalker is a great example of how different media can tackle the same theme in very different ways.

      In every of these 3 works we have stalkers, exclusion zone made by some very strange and unknown accident filled by not less strange and dangerous things and the mythical artifact that, some say, grants wishes.

    • whitebrice says:

      I think it’s reasonable to suggest that the games took strong visual cues from the film. In addition ss GameCat argues, the Wishbringer is another element found in all three. Note that in the film and the game’s canon, whether the protagonist makes use of it in the end is left ambiguous.

      • Gobser says:

        I was sure the concept of being a stalker (maybe The Stalker in the movie) prohibits you from wish fulfillment. You help people have their wish, you test them, but yo never get your wish (see degrading daughter) (strong christian theme, testing by angel, all that). I don’t think it’s said anywhere in the film, but I somehow assumed that every time. Gotta rewatch from you point of view.

  10. malkav11 says:

    Pretty solid list, really, although I would absolutely contend that KOTOR II is the superior game, unfinished ending and all. By quite a bit, even though I liked KOTOR well enough. And I definitely think Mad Max-the-game captures the general Mad Max feel quite well, and some of the aesthetic of Fury Road as well, though it certainly doesn’t have that movie’s intensity or incredibly breakneck pace.

    • Geebs says:

      Meh. KOTOR 2 has wretched scenery when compared to the still-splendid visual design of the first, the gameplay is terrible, half the characters are intensely dull, and anybody who tries to claim the writing is better in the second has conveniently ignored the entire existence of Jolee, Canderous and, especially, HK-47.

      • E_FD says:

        I thought KOTOR2 did a fantastic job with HK-47, personally. Even though it was different writers and a very different tone compared to the first game, they managed to capture his voice perfectly, and gave him some great lines.

        The idea behind how KOTOR2 used Canderous was solid too, even though he ended up underdeveloped and obviously unfinished.

        (Overall, I’d still say KOTOR1 holds together on the whole as a better game than its sequel, but the strongest sections of KOTOR2 feel like they could’ve meshed into a stronger game if they’d had the time.)

        • Geebs says:

          I’m not saying that the writing in KOTOR 2 was bad (although, try talking to the guy with the electric arm without drifting into thinking about doing the shopping), I’m saying that much of the writing and characterisation in KOTOR 1 was really, really good, and that the Avellone fan club tend to forget that for one reason or another.

    • Werthead says:

      KotOR I definitely nails the Star Wars feel and atmosphere far better than the second game. It channels the spirit of the movies with a bit of a darker turn to things and a killer twist, making it more like Empire Strikes Back but it still has that quintessential Star Wars feel to it.

      KotOR II, on the other hand, is an outsider’s viewpoint of the Star Wars universe. Literally, I believe, as Chris Avellone was actually (somehow) unfamiliar with the franchise before contracted to work on it and basically watched all (then) five movies and read tons of the books to try to get into the spirit of things. But you can see it’s a game set in that universe but coming from a totally different moral, intellectual and spiritual perspective than George Lucas. That’s a valid approach and works very well (Matt Stover’s excellent Star Wars novels do a similar thing), but I think it’s a stretch to say that the second game “feels” more like Star Wars than the first.

      The second game is also more intellectually interesting, but it’s also more bruishing and exhausting a game than the first and you have to work harder for the reward. The first game is simply more fun without being saccharine or lightweight.

      • ansionnach says:

        I’d say the second one captured the sense of mystery of the original trilogy. It starts out with the droids and not in a hurry to tell you all at once what’s going on.

        KotOR2 starts out in an inspired way where you control the little droid to fix the ship. The game has that “show, don’t tell” approach of the original films – happy to let its audience soak in the world and decipher its mysteries.

        KotOR on the other hand tells you exactly what to do from the very start: get off the ship and rescue Bastila. There’s way too much boring exposition in the plot. Jolee and HK are the only NPCs who aren’t a complete pain in the arse to talk to (although Mission is bearable), but HK is terrible in combat and can’t be healed by regular means.

        KotOR2’s Kreia is about the best thing that happened to Star Wars since Alec Guinness in the first film. There is an annoying bit where you’ve got to pick a binary choice talking to her about a beggar. Along with the sense of mystery the game shows that he understood what was good about the original films in a way few others have.

        Here’s the Avellone interview on KotOR2. He appears to have loved it as a kid but when they got the project he did his homework on the universe with great results:

  11. PancakeWizard says:

    On Mad Max, I just want to say: Better than Shadow of Mordor, frankly. I’ve come at these games the other way around, and while SoM is a good game, the Nemesis system isn’t really the ground-breaking tactics management I was lead to believe it was. It feels way more tacked-on and gimmicky than I was expecting. I mean, there’s potential there but it’s not really achieved in this game. The game as a whole was just a fun (localised) Middle-Earth romp with some odd UI design choices.

    Mad Max however was a living, breathing Mad Max universe with amazing car combat, gorgeous hand-crafted environments, and a story that isn’t dripping in cliché.

    Btw, maybe change the title of the article to ’10 best games based on movie franchises/properties’, for accuracy.

  12. anHorse says:

    Big fan of the amazingly dumb Scarface sequel(!) game The World is Yours. GTA style game with a drug dealing focus

    Unfortunately it’s from the ps2 era so I’ve never managed to get the pc version working.

    If nothing else it has the incredibly silly mechanic of swearing at enemies to earn “Balls” which then translates into a few seconds of swearing first person invincibility

    And it had better base building than fallout 4

    • malkav11 says:

      Oh! I’d almost forgotten that Scarface game. It was surprisingly revolutionary in terms of mechanics and really made me feel like a crime boss in a way that GTA never has. You’re not working for other random people, you’re doing your own thing for your own profit. And you get to hire drivers, pilots, assassins and such who work for you instead. Plus the scale of your criminal endeavours build so very satisfyingly, and you even have control over what’s playing as instead of radio it’s a tape deck playing a laundry list of awesome 80s music (or, IIRC, your own MP3s). An early effort by the fabulous folks who made Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and the extremely underrated Prototype games, I believe.

  13. anHorse says:

    KOTOR really isn’t that good and it really falls apart if you know the twist in advance (thanks multiple gaming publications)

    When your game has mods to skip the entire first act it’s probably not a great sign

    • ansionnach says:

      I failed to get past that section so many times. Coming straight from BG2, or even NWN (which at least had strategic combat) it was a real dip in Bioware’s output.

      The twist is obvious from the start. Would have been better if I got to kill all the Jedi when I wanted. Best part of the game is killing Juhani. She chased me around that field killing me for endless hours on hard mode, while I tried to make the others pick her off with ranged weapons. That’s the extent of strategy in KotOR: shields, healing or running in circles. That said, non-bosses are push-overs so the other difficulty levels probably aren’t balanced either.

      Would have been nice if you could kill or ditch people you don’t like. You’ve got this space ship you can fly around the galaxy and for you keep bumping into these people you wish you could throw out the airlock. Especially Bastila. Jolee is about the only character in the game who’s neither annoying nor terrible in combat. I took Mission along as the least annoying of the rest.

      • Geebs says:

        I’d defend Bastila’s characterisation, actually. She’s irritating because her character flaw is insecurity, which she covers up by being patronising, which she tries to pass off as being competent and neutral. That’s the flaw which allows her character to go either light or dark, and is much better handled than, say, Anakin in the prequels.

        Kreia, on the other hand, is a tedious asshole with no real ideas of her own, who covers up her own lack of anything interesting to say by railroading the player into colliding with her monumental passive aggression.

        • ansionnach says:

          Can see where you’re coming from – well reasoned. Suspension of disbelief plays a large part in which side of the fence we fall. I really didn’t like the Kreia episode with the beggar where you were railroaded into a binary choice so she could lecture you about it. I only played the reconstructed version of KotOR2 and I thought that in spite of what she was, she was genuinely trying to teach you about the force. Not long under her tutelage, I decided the valuable lesson she’d thought was to think for yourself and I didn’t much care what she thought after that.

          The music from KotOR2 is remarkable. It should be made into a film, but only with the proper budget. If I were Avellone and Disney came calling I’d give screenwriting a go!

        • ansionnach says:

          Oh yeah – I suppose the thing about Bastila that annoyed me was bigger and wouldn’t go away. The game keeps pushing you toward her saying “here’s a woman – love her”. I don’t think it was just the novelty, but the romances in Baldur’s Gate II were much better because there was a lot more choice and they weren’t shoved in your face. I was very surprised at how my in-game relationship with Viconia developed – it was something that just happened. She had plenty of insecurities and your devotion is often be rewarded with nothing but abuse. Maybe I was just younger but it’s a little surprising to think back to then and realise I’ve been in plenty of real relationships like that since. Again, it really comes down to choice in BG2. Perhaps a similar comparison could be made between Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. In the first game you can accidentally end up in a relationship with one of the few you’re pushed towards. There’s a little more choice in ME2 and a lot more to talk about with all of your crew. It’s a perfectly-framed game for how Bioware has forced party members on you since KotOR seeing as you’ve got your back against the wall and are looking for a dirty dozen to get the job done.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Nah, the twist is only obvious if you knew it in advance, but you do start to suspect it once you get through the quests on the Jedi planet. Then again I see you’re one of those people who rates RPGs according to the strategyness or tacticalness or whatever of the combat.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        I wouldn’t argue that KOTOR should be on this list though, it felt nothing like the Star Wars movies although that wasn’t to its detrement. Rebel Alliance is a better Star Wars game than KOTOR by the criteria being used here.

      • ansionnach says:

        I hadn’t read about it before and I saw the twist coming. An RPG can be many things. It’s more than fair to criticise its tactical combat if it has it… and it’s bad. KotOR is pretty uninspired from a world-building point of view, with generic characters and quests, uninteresting dialogue (Jolee and HK excluded) and the already-mentioned combat. The crafting is pretty limited, too. If KotOR2 did something right from a gameplay perspective it was having a fun crafting system. Well, that covers pretty much everything in KotOR. Probably don’t need to tell anyone what I thought of the mini games. So… what exactly was good about it?

      • ansionnach says:

        As much as I’ve criticised the combat of KotOR, it’s much better than what’s in KotOR2. That game was never balanced. Every battle is really easy, even on hard. I rate the second game much higher because at least it hits the spot with its narrative, characters and world. The first one had poor balancing for the bosses, particularly the early ones on hard, requiring silly “strategies” like running in circles or hiding behind scenery. There’s something fundamental wrong with a game’s combat where strategy is limited to having more health/shields than the damage sponge enemies that just come at you. The game’s engine is based on the NWN one. It had decent strategic combat… but they must have removed it when the game moved to console.

      • E_FD says:

        *Spoilers*

        I didn’t guess the twist because Darth Malak seemed like such a lame klutz of a villain that I took it for granted Revan was going to show up as the real main bad guy.

        • ansionnach says:

          Wasn’t Bastila the bad “guy”? I really just did all the other stuff to get away from her moaning. Even if you fight the invisible hand pushing you towards romance she overshares so much you’d swear she drugged and married you without your consent!

  14. quietone says:

    Rocketball, C64 game based on the movie Rollerball. Seriously.

  15. jarowdowsky says:

    Got to agree with Mad Max failing to capture the joys of the film. it’s all very professional but it’s so easy, so tiresome and repetative.

    There’s the core of something great in there but the team just seem to have relied so much on repeating the same tasks to the point where it’s crushing all the joy out of the game.

    Which was the exact opposite to the feel of the movie, a thunderous, startling experience with barely a second wasted.

  16. ansionnach says:

    Cryo’s Dune was influenced by the David Lynch film… and was better than it, too. Maybe it’ll make a list some day…

    Fate of Atlantis is a great pick. One of the greatest PC games ever made and it really feels similar to Raiders and Last Crusade.

    Would probably drop KotOR for the second one as it really captured the feeling of mystery that was in the original films. Much superior from a storytelling point of view and neither KotOR was that great a game, anyway. Second one worked better as an RPG as well. Bioware’s effort started them down the dark path of binary choice and was a pain to play if you looked past the licence and saw the generic, dull by-the-numbers RPG that hid beneath.

    Maybe with a little cheek Mass Effect 2 could slip in as an adaptation of Star Trek, Blade Runner, Aliens and others. It’s certainly far more inspired than KotOR…

    Funny that there really aren’t that many games to choose from – was sure there’d be more.

    • Werthead says:

      I replayed Dune recently, it stands up very well due to the minimalist interface and the hands-off approach to the battles. It’s certainly aged far better than a completely un-tampered-with Dune II.

      Horrendous writing and translation though, but that’s part of the game’s (and Cryo’s) crazy appeal.

      • ansionnach says:

        Probably played it around 1999. Thought it was fantastically imaginative and unconventional. The nature of the strategy probably means that there isn’t a lot of replay value (unless you forget what to do, which I probably have). Right after Dune I took a look at Dune II and was surprised to find it was terrible. Red Alert is probably the first good Westwood RTS (or Command & Conquer if they fixed the sandbags bug).

        • ansionnach says:

          Can’t remember much about the writing other than liking how pretty much everyone who met you wondered:
          …could he be the one?

    • Premium User Badge

      alison says:

      Yes. Just, yes. There are a lot of games from my youth i have gone back and played and it turns out i remembered them way better than they actually were. But Dune, Dune is exactly how i remembered it, and it is exactly the style of game i still love today. It’s essentially just a walking sim. Maybe with a tiny little smidgeon of strategy thrown in. What makes the game is the incredible Ad Lib soundtrack (the only game soundtrack i’ve ever paid for) and the beautiful graphics that still have an impact even almost 25 years later. You can just take an orni and fly round Arrakis watching the sunset and sunrise and it is more compelling than a hundred other adapted sci-fi properties that came since. Sure, Dune is the mother of all space opera, and although the film was awful, it still had that bizarre Lynch appeal that made it sort of awesome anyway, so they’re standing on the shoulders of giants here. But Cryo just nailed it. The atmosphere is amazing. The visuals, wow. The music, possibly the best game music ever. Anyone into sci-fi/space opera and desert settings owes it to themselves to check it out.

      • ansionnach says:

        I like your enthusiasm! Maybe Dune will make the RPS list of the most French games of all time? Great atmosphere, art direction, music as you say, réalisation, all that stuff! It’s still utterly unique. Not sure there’d be a point in making anything similar to it but you can always replay it from time to time!

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Yeah I agree, the Dune game was special and another example of a movie game (let’s be clear, the game was of the movie, not the book) being better than the movie itself.

  17. piedpiper says:

    Really funny how shitty both Tron films are and how good the actual game is. I watched them both after playing game and I barely made it to the end. Garbage.

    • anHorse says:

      I liked legacy up until they went to the dude’s philosophy house

      From then on it was rubbish

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      Gosh, that was very incendiary.

  18. shoefish says:

    I kinda understand the reason behind not including Alien Isolation on the list proper, but I think it’s been done an injustice. As far as games that invoke the spirit and feel of a movie, there is simply none better. They nailed the aesthetic, and terror, of the Alien movie, and is also just one of the best games I’ve played in the last 5 years.

    • piedpiper says:

      I agree with every word of this gentleman.

    • Vandelay says:

      I will also agree with you. Disappointed to see it not included, although understand the reason. It is the best sequel that Alien has ever had.

    • Shazbut says:

      Came here to say this. It’s a masterclass

  19. Premium User Badge

    alison says:

    On the Aliens game front… Doom: Aliens Total Conversion was pretty freakin spectacular. I don’t remember much of the later game besides running round air vents and getting attacked by facehuggers (if that wasn’t an inspiration for Deus Ex i don’t even know), but the opening level was incredible. You spent the whole time on the edge of your seat, walking into this abandoned base, spinning round every time an audio clip got triggered, paranoid as hell, expecting the worst, and then… nothing. Nowadays this sort of cinematic suspense is no big deal, but in the time of Doom it was pretty revolutionary.

  20. JamesTheNumberless says:

    Nice to see Fate of Atlantis (which will forever be the real Indy 4 for me) and Tie Fighter on this list, two of the best games ever. But come on Alien:Isolation should at least be above Avp, if not at #1. Tron is cheesy throwaway rubbish, the only good thing to come out of those movies is Ken Perlin’s algorithm.

  21. Risingson says:

    A bit of a random list. Though Indy Atlantis is better, Indy 3 should be here: it’s a gorgeous translation of the movie. Dune is half the book, half the movie and half whatever comes and I love it.

    Alien has had loads of great games based on the franchise: even the Spectrum one was SCARY. The Cobra 8bit game was wonderful, miles better than the movie. The Great Escape was also quite innovative.

    I once dreamt of an adventure game based on Kieslowsky’s “Bleu”. Weirdest dream I ever had.

  22. qrter says:

    The The Thing game is awful, really horrible. It has no place on a list of best games based on movies. It replaces the tension of the film with pure frustration.

    • Premium User Badge

      Henke says:

      Indeed. Chronicles of Riddick should be first, and The Thing should not be within a 10 mile radius of this list.

  23. alms says:

    The LucasArts Game Pack or Something, including IJ: Fate of Atlantis, Last Crusade, Loom and The Dig is on sale on Steam until Dec 2nd.

    Other than that, I only read Shadow of Mordor’s entry and it sounded like worst of worst games based on crappiest books I used to read as a snotty kid. Not exactly brimming with admiration, in a way.

  24. tomimt says:

    I’d really recommend you to play Blade Runner again, as it really doesn’t have that many illogical old school adventure game puzzles at all. Most of the time it’s fairly logical crime scene investigation and you can get severl clues by doing things in different ways.

    As far 90’s adventure games go it’s actually pretty modern in the way it handles puzzles. You don’t even have to find 100% of all the clues from the crime scenes, as that’s why the other cops hang there for.

  25. carewolf says:

    Dune 2000?

  26. Sunjammer says:

    List doesn’t even nod to Peter Jackson’s King Kong the Official Game of the Movie (also known as PJKKOGM).

    Ridiculous title aside and barring the final city level it’s a fucking incredible game.

  27. horrorgasm says:

    Wolverine Origins was pretty good. Especially impressive considering how unbelievably shitty the movie was.

  28. rgbarton says:

    Everyone hates on Chronicles of Riddick I don’t understand why its a fun and creative action movie.

    • Kerr Avon says:

      Not everyone. I’m with you, great game. Or least, Escape from Butcher Bay was great, never got around to the sequel yet. Oh wait.. you mean the movie itself? Hm, not sure haha!

    • AyeBraine says:

      I think this is why the author phrased it like this. I enjoyed Chronicles of Riddick, it’s a creative and unconventional movie in many ways (and it’s by the director of Dark City!). But it DID make Riddick into a “faint laughing stock”, as the article put it. He became just a little tiny bit more ridiculous because of that movie, and also more of a “Vin Diesel in goggles”.

      Pitch Black was as intense and tight as it gets, and Butcher Bay was a great development of that atmosphere: dog eat dog, bastards with hearts of gold (but who are really, REALLY, genuinely bastards), everybody dies, no heroes anymore, etc. You can see how it clashes with the operatic hero’s journey from the CoR.

  29. Kerr Avon says:

    Not really a huge Star Trek fan myself but if you’re going to mention Tron 2.0 and other movie tie-in games around at the time, then why ignore Klingon Academy? Who’s with me on this? Obviously nowhere near as good as TiE Fighter but still regarded as one of the best space sims in its day. Surely the main highlight though was Christopher Plummer’s superb acting masterclass as General Chang. No? Just me then? Wait… I see that Starfleet Academy has a GOG release now, so does this mean (the far, far better in all respects) Klingon Academy is finally now on GOG? Or if not, when??

  30. headless97 says:

    I rather enjoyed this article and I’m glad that you stuck to your guns in terms of choosing games that elicited the feelings and themes of their source material rather than just looking or sounding like them. For those that don’t know, there is also an old Errant Signal video on this same subject called Adaptation Consternation.

    What I find interesting is that, while games that use movie licenses are rarely good, there are many genuinely great games that are inspired by movies.

    Ghost Control allows you to manage your own ghost removal service like Ghostbusters. Artemis Bridge Simulator fulfills Star Trek dreams by putting every player at the controls of a different subsystem (helms, engineering, etc) while another player gives orders as the captain. DEFCON was directly inspired by “Wargames'” Global Thermonuclear War. And nearly every WWII game that came out during that overload in the early 2000s took directly from movies like Saving Private Ryan and Enemy at the Gates.

  31. WJonathan says:

    What about the recent Ghostbusters: The Video Game? And honestly, if this is just a list of games that best recreate a movie’s atmosphere, it really shouldn’t have been titled “Best Games Based on Movies.” More than a few of those were very bad games.

  32. geisler says:

    Biodrones gonna Biodrone.