Encroaching on this generation, did modern technology make games based on movies any better? The RetroBear played a few of the more notable ones and shares his wisdom, although you probably don’t need to be an expert to be wary of Star Wars games.

Originally Posted to GameFancier.com on July 30th 2010

Lego Star Wars The Complete Saga

Lego Star Wars The Complete Saga

The decade known as the Noughties (or to any sane member of the general population, the years 2000 onwards) saw as many games released tied into films as there were the previous decade. The quality should have improved, given the capabilities of consoles and handhelds. The last generation of consoles were about to be put aside and we embarked on a new digital age, at the end of which PlayStation would be on mark 3, Nintendo would have introduced us to motion-sensing gaming and Xbox…..well would still be Xbox, just a more powerful version.

Of course we still had the shameless cash-ins we had seen previously, with Disney milking every new film, and any old film, for as much cash as it could. With changes in filming and the ongoing improvements in CGI, games had to look as realistic as possible and more like their cinematic counterparts. You have to move with the times as do consumers, and no one was going to make any half-assed effort at a game – it would be simply left on the shelf next to Blues Brothers 2000 (seriously, why did someone contemplate buying THAT licence?), or March Of The Penguins (really worth owning a DS for).

For this decade I am just going to list the games I’ve played and rate them good or bad. After my experiences in the 90′s, I stepped back from buying licensed games like these. There are only so many times you can get stung, although as we are about to see I was stung a few more times for good measure, but also played some absolute treats:

Alien Resurrection (PS1, 2000) – AVERAGE – Graphically superior to Alien Trilogy and as atmospheric, but you get the feeling the gameplay has been glossed over in favour of the visuals. Still, the opening sequence is very impressive considering the PS1 was on its way out.

007 – The World Is Not Enough (PS1/N64, 2000) – GOOD – A marked improvement on Tomorrow Never Dies which was rubbish. Helped by excellent audio from the stars of the film and good gameplay. Best Bond since Goldeneye, and as good as anything Bond that’s followed it.

Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone (PS1, 2001) – GOOD – I quite enjoyed this seeing as I loathe HP. Great if you like wands, wizards and the like, with a good walkabout and collect type game going on. Nothing outstanding, just a nice little game to play. I haven’t played the others and wouldn’t want to either.

Spider Man: The Movie

Spider Man: The Movie

Spider Man The Movie (XBOX, 2002) – GOOD – Webslinging adventures of the highest order. Like the films, very much going downhill after this entry, but the sheer thrill and delight of swinging through the city for the first time is still a gaming highlight I look back on.

The Lord Of The Rings : The Two Towers (PS2, 2002) – AVERAGE – Yeah it’s better than the first one (as with the film) but it’s really for fans of the books. Full of orcs, arrows and dwarves, which sounds like a night out in Birmingham to me. Aside from whiling away a couple of hours, I still don’t see what all the fuss is about.

The Thing (XBOX, 2002) – GOOD – A prime example of a 20-year old film being dusted off and given the Next-Gen treatment. And didn’t they do it well. Good solid game and well worth a look.

The Great Escape (XBOX, 2003) – BAD – Now take the above and substitute all the praise for slagging off and you get the idea. The theme tune is nice, but that’s where the fun ends. Seriously not worth a look even if you have a Bank Holiday weekend to spare.

The Chronicles of Riddick (XBOX, 2004) – GOOD – Hate the film, love the game. Vin Diesel in easily his best role to date, and that’s saying something. The guy should consider a career in games. Wait a minute didn’t he appear in some crappy New-Gen game recently ? Ah well, back to the drawing board, Vin.

Van Helsing (XBOX, 2004) – BAD – Crap film, crap licence. Who’s going to buy the game of a film which is total tripe ? Is it the games company having a punt – no, this is Vivendi who are owned by Universal, who made the film and therefore all the cash is going into the same pot. Hah ! Revenge for the 1990′s !!

007 From Russia With Love

From Russia With Love

007 : From Russia With Love (Gamecube, 2005) – GOOD – With added Sean Connery and some rather impressive cut scenes. As with The Thing, dusting off an old movie isn’t such a bad idea. Unless it’s Disney in which case you’ll turn it into a platform game.

Star Wars Episode III (PS2, 2005) – BAD – Unimaginative, bland platform game where you have to go round cutting things up with your lightsaber etc. Honestly, you’ll play this for a while, notice you’ve lost a couple of hours but swear you were still on the first level such is the repetitive nature of this game. No matter that it features great chunks of the film in the game; you’re best off with the DVD.

The Godfather (PS2, 2006) – AVERAGE – I waited ages to play this and then found it was nothing more than a GTA rip-off. It’s done well but it’s not that special and wasn’t worth that wait. A game of this film should be frigging awesome. Still it spawned another version and a sequel. Is that a cash cow I can hear mooing?

LEGO Star Wars : The Complete Sage (PS2, 2006) – EXCELLENT– Lego & Star Wars ? Isn’t that your dream childhood rolled into one? It was mine. Quite simply the King of the noughties licences.

And that, RetroBear fans, is where my last full played licence lies. I have played demos of both Iron Man and Watchmen (both boring, repetitive beat-em/shoot-em up type games that hold the attention for a few moments), but that’s it. Who knows what horrors lurked in games made from the Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers franchises (bad ones from what I have read). A fair crack was made of the original Ghostbusters game last year, but it matters not to me as I have lost interest in games of this ilk.

There were good games based on popular film series – Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis for example, where you too can emulate Richard Attenborough and perfect your own fake Scottish accent, limp and dinosaur park of your own. If the only sole purpose of that is to see Jeff Goldblum torn limb from limb. Then again, there are pieces of shit like Die Hard Vendetta and Jaws Unleashed – the latter never should have worked in the first place and didn’t. Wow a game about a shark. I really must run out and buy that.

As we close this chapter on gaming and, in true MGM fashion, walk into a glorious Technicolor sunset, we should be richer for the experience. Not monetarily wise because we purchased most of this crap in the first place, but more so in our ability to spot a shameless cash-in. Remember someone, somewhere played these games so the likes of you and me didn’t have to. Like most things, if you wade through the shit you’ll find the gems, but you’ll also find a fair few nuggets that just won’t go away no matter how hard you flush them. Right, who’s for a game of Shrek Swamp Car Speedway?

Till the next time – Duh, who turned out the lights?