The gaming industry unfortunately seems to have moved away from the world of relentless movie tie-ins, where it didn’t matter what a film was about, as some developer somewhere could find a way of turning it into a video game. Sure, most of them were a bit crap, but there’s a golden few games that managed to actually be pretty good to play. Better still, some movie tie-in games were actually better than the films they were based on.
While there are a good chunk of great movie tie-in games out there, like Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game, GoldenEye, Spider-Man 2 or Toy Story 3 (one of these things is not like the others), the films they were based on were also fantastic, so don’t be surprised that they’re not appearing on this list. However, we’ve managed to compile a list of 10 games that went above and beyond the source material, which have been ranked in no particular order. Here’s 10 movie tie-in games that are better than the movies themselves.
Alright, look. Listen. The Warriors is one of my favourite films ever, so this isn’t to say that the film is bad. It’s an absolute classic that still holds up today, but Rockstar’s 3D brawler from 2005 is just that little bit better. In fact, it’s hard to call The Warriors just a simple tie-in, as it feels like a genuine accompaniment to the plot of the original film. Only about 25% of the main story covers the film’s plot, with the rest dedicated to The Warriors establishing themselves as a worthy gang in New York’s seedy underworld.
The action of The Warriors feels like a massive street brawl, but in the best possible way, with players able to batter goons using their fists or whatever they can find lying around on the floor. While the gameplay is stellar, The Warriors’ true value comes with the fact that it explores a world that the film barely scratches the surface of.
The film hints at the various gangs that occupy New York, but The Warriors game gives a more in-depth insight into New York’s vibrant population, growing an already interesting world and characters even further.
2. World War Z
Developer: Saber Interactive Publisher: Saber Interactive Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One (Switch release coming)
Say what you will about the quality of the World War Z film, which many have over the years (it was a decent zombie thriller, at least), but if nothing else, the film spawned the release of a great co-op shooter that’s become something of a hit for Saber Interactive. With multiple DLC releases and even a next-gen re-release coming soon at the time of writing, there’s going to be more World War Z in the future too.
Instead of one main character like the film, the game takes its cue from the excellent World War Z novel, with you and up to three other players controlling different characters across the world trying to survive waves of infected looking to make your life a living hell.
The game might take a few liberties with the infected themselves, considering the heaps of special infected you can encounter, but there’s more fun to be had here than with the film, that’s for certain.
3. The Matrix: Path of Neo
Developer: Shiny Entertainment Publisher: Atari Platform(s): PC, PS2, Xbox
While the first Matrix film is practically a masterpiece of cinema, the other two films leave something to be desired. The Matrix: Path of Neo expands on the series, putting players in the shoes of The One, re-enacting the prophesied hero’s journey through the original trilogy.
Playing as Neo, you’ll experience the events of the first three films, only with some additions and changes here and there. The training programs are a bit more in-depth, while sections with The Merovingian are longer and weirder, which might not be for everyone. Still, Path of Neo improves massively on the films it’s based on by scrapping the trilogy’s ending entirely in favour of a weird boss fight against a giant, mecha Agent Smith.
It’s amazing how deep the rabbit hole goes.
4. The Punisher
Developer: Volition Publisher: THQ Platform(s): PC, PS2, Xbox
While less of a tie-in and more of a licensed game, The Punisher was still somewhat related to the world of the film, as it used the same font, the same version of the Punisher logo and even brought lead actor Thomas Jane back to reprise his role of Frank Castle. While the film itself is a corny action flick that’s entertaining in a B-movie sort of way (worth watching for John Travolta hamming it up alone), The Punisher game from Volition leans a lot harder into the edge of Punisher as a character, which is arguably even more entertaining.
Set in New York, as opposed to the film’s West Coast setting, Frank is already years into his role as The Punisher, which lines him up in the crosshairs of the various criminal factions that call New York their home, including the Gnucci crime family, the Russian Mafia and the Triad.
As The Punisher is a comic book property, all the action is turned up to 11, with noted characters like Iron Man, Black Widow, Nick Fury and more turning up along the way.
5. Ghost Rider
Developer: Climax Group Publisher: 2K Games Platform(s): PS2, Xbox, PSP
This might not be something that a certain Nicholas Cage obsessed Vulture will want to hear, but the Ghost Rider movie is a bit naff. The performances are weird, the plot’s not great and while the special effects look nice, it’s a far cry from the pinnacle that Marvel movies have now achieved in recent years. It’s a shame though, as the Ghost Rider game deserved all the love and attention instead.
Admittedly, Ghost Rider is a pretty sloppy copy of other action games of its ilk that were released around the same time, most specifically Devil May Cry and God of War. Players controlling Ghost Rider would perform huge combos, earning style points for doing so, and would basically spend 6-8 hours killing demons.
It’s not great, but fun combos are always more enjoyable than a naff movie. Plus, Blade was an unlockable character, making Ghost Rider potentially the best Blade game ever made.
6. The Room Tribute
Developer: Newgrounds Publisher: Newgrounds Platform(s): Web Browser
Alright, I’m stretching the limits here on what constitutes a tie-in considering that flash games from Newgrounds are hardly official releases, but my god, The Room: The Game, or The Room Tribute is such a brilliant take on one of the most infamous “so-bad-it’s-good” movies out there. The Disaster Artist is a brilliant insight into the production of The Room, but if you want to see someone’s take on the actual film’s unresolved plot points, The Room Tribute is unmatched.
A point and click adventure game, players experience the events of The Room purely from the perspective of Tommy Wiseau. Uh, wait, I mean Johnny. Such a good actor. Anyway, The Room Tribute includes new content like Johnny working at the bank, the news that San Francisco was hit by an earthquake, or if you collect all the spoons lying around, you’ll experience the revelation that Johnny is actually an alien sent to study human culture.
Clearly, the research has been working.
7. Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay/Assault on Dark Athena
Largely lauded as one of the best games related to a movie property, Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay redefined the first-person stealth action genre on the original Xbox.
Playing as Vin Diesel’s iconic character, you’re trying to escape an inescapable prison, using your strength, superior stealth and hunting abilities and more than just a little bit of wheel-greasing in order to do so.
While Escape From Butcher Bay is brilliant in its own right, Assault on Dark Athena is even better, as it remasters the original game’s campaign with updated graphics and animations. On top of that, the game includes a new campaign that sees Riddick stealth killing guards on a spaceship instead of a prison.
A change is as good as a break, I guess.
8. Ratchet & Clank
Developer: Insomniac Games Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Platform(s): PS4
A game, based on a movie, based on a game is a bit of a head scratcher to come to terms with. The only other game that springs to mind aside from this one is Street Fighter: The Movie – The Game, though it’s a bit of a toss-up on whether or not the movie or the game is actually the worst of two evils. However, at least in the case of 2016’s Ratchet & Clank, the clear winner is obvious.
It’s the game. The game wins.
Half a movie tie-in and half a soft reboot for Ratchet & Clank as a whole, the game sees the iconic duo teaming together for the first time, again. Along the way, the two will join the Galactic Rangers, travel across multiple planets and save the universe in the process. The story’s not exactly stellar, with the general feeling that some bits are missing in the middle, but the gameplay is up there with Insomniac’s best.
9. Alien Resurrection
Developer: Argonaut Games Publisher: Fox Interactive Platform(s): PS1
Whether or not certain Alien films are good or not is a contentious subject at the best of times, so we’re not wading into that right now, but it’s pretty safe to say that Alien Resurrection isn’t the most fondly remembered film in the franchise.
Just any kind of positive legacy would make the Alien Resurrection game better than the film it’s a tie-in of, and fortunately the PS1 game from 2000 certainly clears that low bar. In fact, it clears the bar by a wide margin, as it’s now considered one of the founding fathers of the FPS genre.
Alien Resurrection revolutionised the genre by using two sticks instead of one, with the left stick controlling movement while the right stick controlled aiming. With our modern sensibilities, those controls don’t sound all that revolutionary, but back in the year 2000, it was mind-blowing enough for GameSpot to call Alien Resurrection’s controls “its most terrifying aspect”.
Then Halo launched a year later and the rest is history.
A remake of one of the most celebrated films in history, Peter Jackson’s version of King Kong certainly had a lot to live up to. Whether or not you think it lived up to those expectations is for you to decide, but the game is another bag entirely.
Turning the story of love and giant monkeys into a first person shooter with occasional monkey platforming is certainly one of the more enjoyable yet sillier movie tie-ins you can get your hands on.
Spending most of your time playing as Adrian Brody’s character, Jack, you’ll explore Skull Island and do battle with the island’s various lethal residents. In between, and honestly not as much as you should for a game with him on the box, you’ll play as King Kong as he batters some of the bigger creatures, until you end up in New York throwing cars at people. In one of the oddest choices in tie-in game history, you can even change the classic ending so that King Kong returns to Skull Island, alive and dominant.
It’s daft, but it was an easy 1000G on Xbox 360. You can’t say that about the movie.
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