Movie Video Games – Weekly Recommendations 06/06 – 12/06
Every week I give three gaming recommendations (very) loosely tied to something topical. These recommendations span platform, generation and genre and are all games that I have played, enjoyed and highly recommend. As always, comments are very welcome so please do chime in with any recommendations of your own. Check back each Monday for a new set, and click here for past entries.
Last week SEGA finally announced a release date for the Gearbox (Borderlands) developed shooter, Aliens: Colonial Marines. In development since 2006, it will finally see the light of day in spring 2012 and will be on show at this week’s E3.
Colonial Marines is a follow-on of sorts to James Cameron’s Aliens and takes-in a number of locations that will be instantly familiar to fans. Hopefully it will succeed where the majority of Alien video games have failed, providing an interactive experience on par with the first two movies.
Video games based on movies have a track record almost as bad as films that borrow from games, but there are a few exceptions. This week’s recommended games are all based on blockbuster movies, but they didn’t fall into the trap of aping them. Instead, they carefully selected elements from the source material that lent themselves to the medium, avoiding slavishly recreating characters and scenes.
1. Alien Trilogy – PlayStation, Saturn, PC (1996)
Probe’s Alien Trilogy was one of my favourite games on the Sega Saturn, as it struck a perfect balance between all out action and suspense. A 3D first person shooter, it is a loose take on the events of the first three films that tasks you with leading Ripley through an infested colony and on to an eventual showdown with the towering Queen.
It is a terrifying, lonely and claustrophobic adventure which successfully recreates the atmosphere that made Scott, Cameron and Fincher’s work required viewing. The Doom-like mechanics will feel instantly familiar to any shooter fan and quick reflexes are a must as you move through dark, uninviting corridors and into the occasional larger, open space where you are at the mercy of packs of marauding aliens. The incessant blip of your motion-sensor radar is all you have for company, and it quickly becomes a source of panic as the pause between beeps becomes shorter and shorter as the beasts which stalk you inch closer to their prey.
Despite its dated graphics and some questionable level design, Alien Trilogy retains a sense of overwhelming dread - never more terrifying than when you are left with only your pistol to deal with an onslaught of acid spitting xenomorphs, all teeth and bony limbs. 2000’s Alien Resurrection on the PSX hit many of the same notes, but unfortunately there hasn’t been a quality Aliens game since. Fingers crossed Gearbox can remedy this in 2012.
2. Die Hard Trilogy – PlayStation, Saturn, Windows (1996)
Die Hard Trilogy is one ugly mother, but when it comes to sheer entertainment it’s hard to beat. With three very different games covering the first three movies in the Die Hard series, it offers great value and a huge collection of arcade thrills.
Bruce Willis’ grubby vest is yours to control across the varied and full game modes. Die Hard is a third person shooter and is the weakest of the bunch. You move through a number of isometric levels in the Nakatomi Plaza, rescuing hostages and slaughtering terrorists. Die Hard With a Vengeance is entirely different, being a driving game set in a sandbox-like New York. You must speed across the city in a yellow cab, racing against the clock to find and diffuse a number of explosives, most likely taking-out a few unfortunate pedestrians along the way. But don’t fret, the windscreen wipers will remove the remnants of the unfortunates from both your car and conscience.
Die Hard 2: Die Harder is an on-rails, light gun shooter and serves as the pick of the litter. Dulles Airport is the frantic battle ground where colourful villains jump out from the scenery for your sporting pleasure. Mindless civilians mingle aimlessly amongst the carnage, testing you accuracy and ability to pick out friend from foe. Destructible and explosive items are strewn across the airport, making you feel like a one man wrecking crew, and blood splatters everywhere as you race to avert disaster.
Die Hard Trilogy is adrenaline packed and full of arcade thrills. There have been few better 3 for 1 collections over the years, and when it comes to diversity in a single package, Die Hard Trilogy is hard to beat.
3. GoldenEye 007 – N64 (1997)
I must admit that my inclusion of GoldenEye 007 here is based on a very limited sample. I have never owned an N64 but, like most gamers of my generation, I have enjoyed my fair share of GoldenEye multiplayer fun. In my experience, it was usually played on the console of one of my Nintendo-inclined friends, as it wouldn’t take long for any social gathering to turn into an extended session of deathmatches.
A first person shooter from Rare, GoldenEye has had a huge influence on the genre, succeeding in its incorporation of stealth elements, providing the blueprint for the split-screen deathmatch and setting the standard for the console FPS. Games like Modern Warfare and Halo owe a huge debt to Rare, as they mastered the use of the control pad in an FPS and introduced precision aiming to the console crowd. It popularized the use of the zoomed sniper rifle and introduced context-sensitive shooting, where foes react according to where they are shot.
GoldenEye 007 continues to garner praise and is a staple of video game “best of..” lists. Perhaps it’s time I invested in an N64 and explored it further, discovering if the single player campaign is as good as its multiplayer.