5 Films that Deserve Game Tie-Ins (but will never get them)

March 3, 2010 § 2 Comments

Movie game tie-ins suck, there’s no two ways about it. Development teams are given mere months to bring a project to completion, their control over the IP is minimal at best, and they have to suffer all the trials and tribulations of film editing, which at times can eradicate, weeks of work. A message will be passed down from upper management, “Hey,” they’ll say, “Remember that water level you spend days programming, modeling, texturing and testing? Well they cut that scene from the movie.” This development environment is so hostile one designer who’s had to work on such projects remarked that the best game developers are completely unknown to gamers, because these are the people that manage to pull an average game out of a project that should be utter garbage.

So let it be known that I’m under no illusions here. If these films were given games to their name, if some studio went out of its way to buy up the rights, and then put something out, it would almost definitely be awful, and would likely sour your memories of the original.

Don’t let this deter you though. No one ever let reality interfere with their ‘What if?’s before. Just think about it, if these games were made in the way we’d want them to be made, they’d be awesome.

Blade Runner

I’ll admit right off the bat here that I’m not a huge fan of the original. I blame coming to it too late, having watched the reams of imitations over the years which have taken everything from the original, modernised, and then repackaged it. By the time I reached the original, the Blade Runner film itself, I wasn’t watching the real movie, I was watching a flashback, something I’d almost seen before through the eyes of all the film makers who’ve since taken inspiration from it.

So the film for me personally, not so much.

But the world.

Oh the world is stunning. A bustling metropolis as tall as it is wide, unexplainable fashions, and crimes so fantastical you can’t help be amazed. Of course I want to be a blade runner, I want to have my own flying cop car, landing anywhere I damn well please. I will not be Harrison Ford, I will not spend my days investigating a single set of clones that are running amok, but I will see him, I will be in his group, his precinct. I will do the everyday detective stuff that is only hinted at in the movie, and then I will become corrupt.

Yes I will become corrupt. I will engage with the criminal underworld, ferrying clone parts around the city in my cop car which will – did I mention this before? – fly. I want to solve crimes, not by shooting everyone in the room, but by chasing people, by running across impossibly high rooftops, leaping into my flying cop car (yes my FLYING cop car!) and chasing them through skyscrapers filled with more people wearing stupid, but undeniably cool outfits.

It’s hard enough making an open world game with two axis of exploration. Alex Ward of Criterion Games summed the problem up perfectly when he said that for a standard game you have to build an engine that can render ‘x’ amount of environment, but in an open world game you need one which can render ‘x-squared’ amount of data. The player can change direction at any time, and the game needs to be ready to cope with this. Following on from this logic ‘x-cubed’ amount of environment would mean a huge amount more work, and make no mistake about it, if I’m going to play a Blade Runner game with my flying car, I want there to be as much to explore upwards as there is to explore across.

So the world will be too difficult to do justice, and once you’re willing to compromise on the world, why are you even bothering to make a Blade Runner game at all? There’s also the problem that after all this time there might not even be a sufficient audience for such a game, but then I wouldn’t really be in the target demographic anyway so who cares what I think?

Serenity/ Firefly

Let’s forget for a moment that an MMO based on the cripplingly short lived television series turned sci-fi flick has already been announced. That was over five years ago, and it’s the future now, and us cool future people are having too much fun with our hover trousers to care about anything those dotcom fat-cats might have said all those years ago.

Much like Blade Runner, any aspirations to play a Firefly-based game revolve around one thing. We all want to be Captain Mal. Let’s face it, he’s ruggedly handsome, doesn’t take crap from anyone, and even has time to own his own space-ship. He’s Nathan Drake before Nathan Drake existed, but cooler, because yaknow…spaceship?

Other things about the series add to the awesome video game vibe of course. The ship Serenity is a magnificent beast, and the crew members Mal flies with are so conflicting and memorable that you can’t wait to sit through hours upon hours of dialogue trees to find out all about them.

Discounting ‘Serenity’ the fact that the plot of Firefly was episodic in nature would make the transition to level-based gameplay much less jarring. Many episodes even come tantalisingly close to showing what a video game could make of the universe, with train heists, robberies, and spaceship chases that should have every gamer salivating.

It will never happen of course. It seems studios have learnt their lesson with Firefly, the TV show never got the ratings it needed to stay afloat and the film barely covered its relatively small budget. Putting the quality of the products to one side it’s hard to see why a publisher would look at the franchise and think a big budget release would be a good idea.

Oh and let’s not forget that Uncharted 2 has already been made.

Stay tuned for Part 2.
The posting of positive comments may or may not hurry the posting of the second part.


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