Developer: High Moon Studios Publisher: Activision
A game so quintessentially Deadpool that Activision seem to actively hate trying to sell it, Deadpool plays a lot like your standard DMC clone with the humor being its main selling point. It’s not the greatest or most fluid of action games, but if you want to play as a dumbass who makes terrible jokes that are somehow funny, this is your game.
Nolan North’s mouth takes on the role of the Merc with a Mouth in this suitably meta and fourth-wall shattering adaptation. It’s a short experience and ultimately won’t blow you away in terms of revolutionary gameplay, but if you’re searching superhero games that are true to the tone and content of the source material, Deadpool will scratch the itch.
9. Spider-Man 2
Developer: Treyarch Publisher: Activision
If you’d asked us to write this list of the best superhero games maybe just a few month ago, the movie tie-in of Spider-Man 2 would probably have landed right near the top. However, when compared its very recent peer, it really is showing the signs of age. Going from Marvel’s Spider-Man to this is a sure-fire way of breaking your rose-tinted spectacles.
However, for its time, Spider-Man 2 was a revelation. Featuring a huge open world with plenty of things to see and do, it was revered for having the most faithful web-swinging of any Spidey game up to that point, as well as the option to piledriver criminals from the top of gigantic skyscrapers and not kill them. Magnificent.
8. Injustice 2
Developer: NetherRealm Studios Publisher: WB Games
Superheroes and fighting games can often have a bit of a rough ride — Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects is the perfect example of that. However, the Injustice franchise and one you’ll find later in this list nailed the simple ethos of beating the ever-loving heck out of your favourite DC superheroes and also Aquaman.
Injustice 2 has one of the best story modes ever committed to a superhero game with an alternate take that pits Superman as one of the bad guys. With a stacked roster, a deep well of content, and fighting that just feels damn good, Injustice 2 is the best DC fighting game there is.
“With its content-rich Multiverse mode and the boundless possibilities of the gear system, the thrilling Story experience, and the superlative game mechanics under the hood, Injustice 2 proves why NetherRealm are setting the pace for all fighting game developers.”
Effectively sent out to die purely by virtue of being on Wii U, The Wonderful 101 never really received the audience it deserved because it really is — wait for it — wonderful. You’d expect nothing less from PlatinumGames, who also think their game is underrated and would love to bring it to Switch.
A superhero game with an emphasis on teamwork, you must oversee a team of unconventional heroes (a hundred of them, to be exact) when aliens invade Earth. For a simple touchstone, The Wonderful 101 has been compared a lot to Pikmin but on a much grander scale. With your fellow heroes forming into gigantic weapons called Unite Morphs, The Wonderful 101 is a weird and brilliant superhero game. You know what to do, Nintendo.
6. Viewtiful Joe
Developer: Clover Studio/Capcom Production Studio 4 Publisher: Capcom
Much like The Wonderful 101, Viewtiful Joe is another superhero game that didn’t get the love it deserved because of the platform on which it was found. A port from the Gamecube to the PlayStation 2 helped things, but Viewtiful Joe still stands as an underrated gem from an era of “outside the box” game design.
You play as the titular Joe, a lovable nerd who must save his girlfriend after she’s abducted by a movie character through a cinema screen — did we mention that Viewtiful Joe was superbly strange? Primarily a 2.5 side-scrolling beat ’em up, Viewtiful Joe was high on style just as much as action with it still looking marvellous to this day. The minds behind VJ went on to form PlatinumGames, who can pretty much do whatever they like these days — maybe even a third mainline Viewtiful Joe game? Please?
5. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
Developer: Capcom/Eighting Publisher: Capcom
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is the ultimate experience for MvC fans, especially as Infinite so farcically made the series lose its way and put its future in jeopardy. An update on A Fate of Two Worlds, itself the first MvC game to adopt 3D, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 features a strong roster and all the unlikely rivalries that have made the franchise such a hit in the past.
It also plays like a dream and the tag-based fighters of your youth. Whether you want to watch Nemesis take on Wolverine or Deadpool and Spider-Man finally work off their sexual tension with fists, it’s some of the best fan service available for fans of Marvel and Capcom. Plus, the character models don’t look like potatoes.
4. The Punisher
Developer: Volition Publisher: THQ
You’re probably going to baulk at us for placing The Punisher so high up on our list of the best superhero games, but you can just see this as our vanity pick. Playing it now would no doubt ruin a lot of memories, but for its time, The Punisher was a hellishly enjoyable shooter with plenty of violence — exactly what any teenager needs.
High on comic book style and not afraid to branch out into other Marvel properties, The Punisher allows players to unleash terror as Frank Castle almost however they see fit. Using guns is cool and all, but how about beating someone to death with a window or drilling through their eyeball? We’ve no idea if they could even release a game like this these days, but we’d love to see someone try.
The Punisher needs to be readily available on PC, at the very least. Someone give GOG a nudge.
3. inFamous 2
Developer: Sucker Punch Publisher: SIE
A franchise almost inseparable from Prototype, inFamous ending up becoming the more popular and appreciated open world superhero game despite its platform exclusivity. inFamous 2 built on the original game by fixing some of its faults and upping the stakes in a big way, so much so that its PS4 relative isn’t even quite as good.
Featuring the karma system that has sadly been phased out of game design, inFamous 2 actually allowed you to be either the villain or hero of New Marais. Be a good guy, get treated like one by the citizens. Be a bad guy, and, well, let’s just say you won’t be making any friends. It’s been too long since we last saw an inFamous game, but inFamous 2 still holds up pretty damn well despite its age so it’s worth playing to tide you over.
2. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Developer: Insomniac Games Publisher: SIE
When you boil it down to its basics, Marvel’s Spider-Man really isn’t that huge a leap from Spider-Man 2 from the PlayStation 2 generation in terms of how it plays — of course, if we’re talking technically, it’s lightyears ahead. That’s actually a good thing: Marvel’s Spider-Man feels like a throwback to when open worlds were alive and worth exploring, but with added finger guns for good measure.
Web-swinging is better than it’s ever been and there’s so much to see and do as Spidey that you will be playing it far beyond the fifteen hours it takes to wrap up its pretty compelling story. We know we’re not supposed to be so shallow, but Marvel’s Spider-Man is also simply gorgeous and easily one of the best PS4 exclusives around, as well as being one of the best superhero games ever made.
“With all the freedom it gives you to web-sling through New York City and stick goons to walls, Spider-Man for PS4 is the best Spider-Story I’ve had the pleasure to experience, and even on its own is a brilliant game.”
1. Batman: Arkham City
Developer: Rocksteady Publisher: WB Games
A game that has served as the basis of inspiration for so many of its peers (including the preceding entry on this list), Batman: Arkham City completely changed the landscape for superhero games when it was released. You really felt like Batman as you traipsed around Arkham City solving murders and definitely not causing brain damage to the many goons you beat up.
Faithful to its source material while also taking some appreciated liberties of its own, Arkham City is a dream for Batman fanatics with Kevin Conroy voicing Batman himself and Mark Hamill portraying The Joker, as well as many members of the Rogues Gallery making an appearance. Whether it’s the first time or the fiftieth, the innovative combat and city traversal never gets old in what many consider to be the greatest Batman game ever made.
If you want more from the Arkham series, Arkham Knight is a slightly more modern version of City with 90% too much Batmobile, but it’s still a good time. Asylum is where the game series began and is some good linear fun, whereas Origins is where the Arkham story really begins, but eh, it’s not that hot.
Update 17/09/18: Wolverine slashes his way in.
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