Are you excited about The Avengers this weekend? Of course you are! Are you going to play the Avengers video game? Of course you’re not! Sadly, there is no Avengers tie-in game. But don’t let that get you down. There are tons of other Marvel movie games to enjoy this weekend, but you’re definitely going to want to know which ones to enjoy and which ones to avoid. This is the Marvel movie video game report card!
Spider-Man: The Video Game
Coming off two great 3D Spider-Man games for the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Activision and new developerTreyarch created what, at the time, was the arguably greatest comic book/superhero video game ever. In 2002, movie video games hadn’t quite earned the infamous reputation they have in 2012, so it was no surprise that the Spider-Man movie’s video game adaptation was, just like its main character, amazing. The engine used in the previous Activision Spidey games is carried over and enhanced with “next gen” technology, but best of all, the spirit of becoming your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man was magnificently translated. And Spider-Man is among the first of the next gen movie games to show the true potential of how the film’s story can be greatly embellished. Once upon a time Spider-Man was the perfect superhero game, and still remains one of the best comic book games of all time. A+
As great as Spider-Man was, there was still much room for expansion of the game’s scale, and Activision and Treyarch weren’t afraid to make a massive jump into a new direction. Finally, Spider-Man had entered the sandbox environment his character craves. The shining feature of this game was the new webswinging mechanic that allowed players to realistically spin webs between the skyscrapers of New York. Never before was the experience of being Spider-Man ever brought to life so authentically. Spider-Man 2 had become the new standard of movie games, comic book games, and superhero games, and is widely considered, to this day, the best Spider-Man game ever. A+
Never before had I ever looked so forward to a video game. A sequel to the greatest Spider-Man game ever by the same creator who captured lighting in a bottle with their two previous installments was sure to be another disc full of webslinging magic. But sadly, much like the film the game was based on, the series had fallen so far from the grace it inhabited. Spider-Man 3 suffered from a laundry list of glitches and bugs, and in many ways the gameplay had somehow been drastically dumbed down. This game is so cringeworthy it makes dancing Peter Parker seem cool. D
Daredevil was a game that really took me by surprise. As a handheld game, I didn’t really expect much from it, especially with the idea of it ending up as a simple side-scrolling action game with a Ben Affleck Daredevil slapped on the cover. But the entire game really turned out to be the Daredevil game you didn’t really know you wanted. As the Man Without Fear you make great use of your trusty billyclub, radar, and honed combat skills in some very challenging stages. Electra, Bullseye, Kingpin, and other enemies and allies from Hell’s Kitchen appear. As a hardcore Daredevil fan, this game was incredibly hard to put down, though the fluctuating difficulty level may make you want to throw your Game Boy across the room. B-
When this game first released in 2003, it was met with a lot of mediocre criticism. Looking at Hulk from the eyes of someone who may not appreciate the character as much as most comic book fans do, and soley as another video game, it’s easy to understand and agree with a lot of the low marks the game received. But as a fan of the Hulk and getting our first fully realized Hulk video game, it’s hard not to like a lot of what this adaptation has to offer. Smashing as Hulk in a 3D environment is easy to make enjoyable, and for this game, it was. Even the scattered stealth missions as Bruce Banner were great fun, even if only at first. The game has many issues, mainly being overly repetitive, but no one can deny the developer’s good intentions while creating it. Only two years later an even better, more pure Hulk game, Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, was released, making this game look drastically impudent, but there’s still a lot of heart behind it, even if it is imperfect. But still, Hulk is a game for only the most die hard Hulk fans, and after the fun of Ultimate Destruction it starts to fizzle. C-
The Incredible Hulk
Hulk: Ultimate Destruction showed everyone exactly what a Hulk video game can and should be. It’s no surprise that Activision tries to recapture the attitude, excitement, and fun of Ultimate Destruction for their Incredible Hulk movie game, but somehow Activision actually took a great Hulk leap backward with this game. Visually, Incredible Hulk is far superior than its predecessor, but gameplay wise the game is harshly inferior. It’s still open world where you’re free to smash around the city, which we loved so much, but Incredible Hulk is like a cheap knock off of Ultimate Destruction. The details that made UD great, like the huge list of fantastic combat moves, have been stripped, and annoying lazy glitches have taken its place. The biggest crime is that the game actually feels more calm and restrained, losing the out-of-control monster feel that made the last game so great. And unlike Hulk, it doesn’t even offer enough to even give it a shot once you’re done with UD. Even for Hulk fans, there’s little reason to ever play this game. F
Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider, Blade 2, X-Men 3: The Official Video Game, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor: God of Thunder
Yes, I’m consolidating all of these games into one grade, because they all fail and they represent the same ideas that give comic book games a bad name. These games are the examples of games being made with intentions of riding their film versions coat tails and drawing a few extra bucks, rather than being any sort of attempt to bring the characters to life. Each of these games is repetitive, boring, poorly developed, poorly thought out, and simply embarrassing. These games have very few, if any, redeeming qualities, and incite more anger and frustration than they do fun. It’s games like these that are the problem with modern comic book video games. All of these titles receive an F.
Captain America: Super Soldier
Super Soldier is a very interesting example. At its core, it’s a good game, but not for the right reasons. Basically what Next Level did (or tried to do), was recreate Batman: Arkham Asylum. It’s a shame Next Level didn’t have the opportunity (or perhaps the ability) to create something new featuring the First Avenger, but ripping off a great game wasn’t the worst thing SEGA could do after dropping three piles of crap on a game disc. The similarities between Super Soldier and Arkham Asylum are palpable. There’s a lot of dungeon exploring and aspects of the combat are visually parallel. The environments are filled with tons of collectibles to pick up, and that’s usually great for any game, but the problem there is you aren’t collecting anything significant that you’re really gonna care about. For half the game you’re basically Hydra’s maid picking up all their documents, eggs, or whatever crap they’ve left all over their base. But that’s a rather small nitpick. Super Soldier is unquestionably flawed, but in comparison to the other Marvel games, it’s awesome. And anyone who’s ever loved Cap can get a kick out of this game. B
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The trend throughout this list of titles has been great movies with great characters producing mediocre to garbage video games. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the exception to the trend with a really great game coming out of a crap movie. X-Men Origins: Wolverine has a prominent spot on the list of greatest comic book games of all time. For the first time in a video game we got Wolverine at his bloodiest and most fierce form. Everything from the fun, gory combat system, to the details of seeing pieces of Wolverine’s flesh regenerate in real time, this game is a love letter to Wolverine fans and anyone who has ever wanted to shove some adamantium through a jackass’s face. Best of all, it’s fun! And it has all the unlockables and challenges that are always the icing on the cake. Hell, the game literally has a hidden cake to find! Very little could have made this game more perfect for Wolverine fans. A+
There’s way too much to hate about Marvel movie video games, but thankfully what there is to like is a lifetime love affair. It would have been interesting to see what grade the canceled Avengers game would have received, but hopefully it would have been better than half the games on shelves starring the cast of Avengers. As disappointing as it is that we won’t see a tie-in to what could possibly be the biggest and best comic book movie ever, there are still plenty of great games to look forward to, and it’s possible that a dream Avengers game could show up in the next few years. We never saw a game for The Dark Knight, although it indeed existed at one point, but shortly after we got Batman: Arkham Asylum. But it still makes you wonder how such a big game like The Avengers could find itself in limbo, and more so, how executives at Marvel or Disney let it happen. Warner Bros. missed out on potentially millions of dollars in revenue by not releasing a Dark Knight game, and Marvel is finding itself in the same boat. It would be nice to think Marvel has big plans for an Avengers game than could rival even Batman: Arkham City in popularity.
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