Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Superhero Games, Assemble! Part 2

As I started yesterday so shall I go on! Rejoin me now in my quest to assemble a team of Superhero games who's incredible powers in the field of not sucking continue to give us hope that one day we can see a Superhero Game revolution of the Dark Knight/Iron Man level.

That, I want thatSource

 So with no further ado, I give you the final two entries in my Super-team of games.

The Sell-Out

Comics love cross overs, not because of the interesting storylines and moral complexity they can create but because it means there's an opportunity to shove two different markets together and wring them both out for as much money as possible. Of course, this also means that comics love to sell out.

These two factors combine to throw superheroes into some of the most bizarre situations imagineable. Hey, did you know there was a crossover between Eminem and The Punisher? Well there was, behold it's terrible glory.

Yep, Drink it in.Source
Now in gaming we have sell-outs of our own, we call them Tie-In games and as I've allready mentioned they almost always suck. Yet, even here mired in scum and villainy, heroes can rise. Nothing proves this more then the best spiderman game ever made; Spiderman 2.

Remains awesome even in the presence of Nickelback

This is the game that makes other games feel bad and also happens to be probably the game that bests captures the feeling of actually being a Superhero other then the Arkham series. To begin with,you have actual webslinging, new and varied missions (including Mech-Suited redneck militias) and a casual disregard for the plot of the (pretty terrible, IMO) Spiderman 2 film. Add to that a lighthearted tone that perfectly captured Spideys personality and made it remarkably fun, particularly watching my brother try and repeatedly fail to save people from a boat, so what you had was a truly Great Game.

Now, picking a villain for this testament to Spiderdom to face was difficult. Mostly because, as previously mentioned, there are hundreds of terrible, terrible movie and comic tie-in games. 

Yet in the end I found it, a representative of just how bad games can be at making superheroes and how far behind the industry is on this trend when compared to Hollywood. The game, my friends, is Iron Man.

This is a game that fails on multiple levels. Not only did it fail to capitalize on the buzz around a film that reminded everyone Superheroes could be fun as well as gritty but it also failed at making a film about a man in powered armour fighting bad guys.

We have literally built an entire industry around power-armoured men fighting bad guys. If you cannot do that properly then you need to take a good long look at your development team.

The Backup

Now, with every Super-team you have your star players, your Batmans, your Thors;the guys who everyone knows. Behind them are a wide and diverse cast of sometimes quite odd characters who back them up and occasionally get their own moments in the sun. This rag-tag group are the glue that holds the evil-foiling plans together.

Thank you uhh...Camp boots...lightning guy!
Now, when you think of great teams of sometimes random characters in gaming the game that probably first comes to mind, and the one I've picked, is Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.

This is a game that not only featured heavy-hitters Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and Hulk but also slightly more obscure (to the average gamer) ones like Black Panther, Elektra and Doctor Strange. It was also probably the most fun you could have in a coop game for several years, and I still like going back to play it with friends now.

There was a sequel, which was also pretty good, but the silliness that creeps into the storyline towards the end of the 'Civil War' starts to override the fun of punching villains in the face with super-lightning.

It grew out of some earlier X-Men team up games which were also good fun, but what came after was not. Like an evil-twin jealous of its siblings success our next game seemed to imitate it's noble predecessors then tore out everything that was good in them.


It takes a special kind of mind to look at sucessful games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance or X-Men Legends before and decide that while people might 'enjoy' playing as their favourite heroes and using all the signature moves what they'd really love is to play as one of three nobodies with bad dress sense who just get to 'pretend' and be those heroes by stealing their powers.

Yep, that's pretty much what you do in Destiny, use other characters famous powers as one of several incredibly irritating protaganists and to make it worse the better characters are usually just in the corner of the screen doing cool things which you can take no part in.

Gee, thanks Silicon Knights at least now there's a game that makes your slaughter of Norse Mythology look better.

So there we are my friends, a mighty team assembled to fight the forces of evil! Why didn't I mention City of Heroes you ask?

Well, because I don't like MMOs. There, I said it.

Until next time, let us say Skål! and drink together.

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