For whatever reasons, comic characters have always had a tough time translating over to video games. Due to my love of both, this has always bothered me. A recent exception has been Batman: Arkham Asylum, which has shown that it is possible. I recently ran through some of the "heavy hitters" in my "Marvel Characters In Video Games - Part 1" blog to see how I think they could or couldn't work, but now I thought I'd take a look at the second-tier characters...
Avengers, Fantastic Four, and X-Men
These three teams feature prominently on the list, but because I've already covered them in Part 1, I won't repeat myself here.
Black Panther might be able to hold his own in a game, but with his powers being "enhanced senses", he's not much different to Daredevil, who being the more popular character, would make the better choice for a game.
I see Bucky as more or a side-kick, so would be more likely to make an appearance in a Captain America game than have his own.
I think Cable would absolutely suit his own game. His speed could allow for some cool F.E.A.R.-like bullet-time battles, and his cybernetic arm would make for some nice "special moves". He's also known for his usage of various futuristic weaponry, and the fact that he's from the future could come into it with some time-travel plot pieces.
Falcon is more of an auxiliary character to Captain America, but his list of abilities could actually make him an interesting character to play. He can naturally understand and speak telepathically with birds, which I'm sure could have many uses in a game. Also, his costume allows him to fly and has a mask that gives him sight in different ranges from night vision, infrared, magnification, and 360 degree. I know he's not very well known, but why should that stop anyone buying it if they actually made it well?
Ghost Rider has actually had his own game, but as with all movie adaptations, it sucked... bad. It gathered a massive 54% on Metacritic, which is a shame really, as he has some pretty awesome abilities that I think could be cool in a game: He has the Penance Stare, which would obviously only be used on your final target, and could make for a cool cinematic ending to the fight; his cool chain that can grow in length, transform into other weapons such as a spear, and spin fast to be used as a drill; he has complete control over fire, he can generate and project Hellfire in massive amounts and manipulate it in anyway he likes; t hen there's his bike, which is super-fast and can even travel vertically or across water; and the one that I took most notice of, is that he can travel between Earth and Hell at will, which I'm sure could be used to some very cool effect. Now I'm not even a Ghost Rider fan, but I think there is a ton of potential right there!
Iron Fist and Luke Cage
I've added Iron Fist and Luke Cage together because they both featured in their own series together, and also, I just think they would make an awesome game duo. Obviously it would be some sort of beat-em-up, but if you were able to switch between either at will, or have a second player co-op, I think it would be great fun, hailing back to the days of classics such as Double Dragon.
Although Hammond is a robot, I think his like appearance to Johnny Storm would simply confuse people, and Johnny is more known anyway, so any developer would just simply go with him.
Despite currently having 650 appearances, I don't think that many non-comic-readers would have heard of Patsy, or even her alter-ego, Hellcat. I know I hadn't before researching this blog. With her abilities being mystical-based, she would probably serve better within a Doctor Strange or Defenders game perhaps.
The Surfer has featured in many games, but only one of his own, back in the NES days. I think the problem with him having his own game is that, 1) He can fly, even to space, which means he would have to be limited somehow, which would then take away from the feeling that you're playing as him, and 2) His powers are almost limitless, so again, you'd have to constrain them somehow. Being able to go anywhere and do anything would not make for a very interesting game, and as I mentioned, if you limit his scope somehow, then players/fans will not feel they are getting the complete "Silver Surfer Experience".
I think a Ms. Marvel game would suffer the same draw-backs as a Superman game. Being super-strong and being able to fly have not fared well for old Supes in the gaming world, so I doubt Ms. Marvel would be much different.
War Machine is more of an auxiliary character to Iron Man than a stand-alone, and has even featured in several Iron Man games, so I don't really think he would warrant his own game.
I think the stand-outs of this list for me were clearly Cable, Falcon, and Ghost Rider, but do I think they will ever star in their own game any time soon (discounting the appalling Ghost Rider game), I would have to say... no :(
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I've seen several MvC3 "wish lists" around, but I thought I'd ask something a little different. Not only do I want to know who you would most like to see that hasn't already had a turn, but what moves you would give them?
Just as a reminder, here are the characters that have already been in one of the previous games:
Like many others, I have very fond memories of playing X-COM: UFO Defense, or as it's called here in Australia, UFO: Enemy Unknown. However, my gaming tastes have since changed quite a lot, and I now prefer Shooters, be them First- or Third-Person, so it stands to reason then, that I would ultimately love to see a meshing of the two. I came close, back around 1999, when I learned of an upcoming game called, X-COM: Alliance, that was to be a Rainbow Six-style Squad Shooter (complete with team head-cams). This, however, was short-lived, as only 2 years later, it was being referred to as "still on hold". Recent news has been that 2K Marin are making a new X-COM game, cleverly titled, XCOM, that is going to be a shooter. However, it is set in the 50's, which seems like it will be cool in its own right, but means it is certainly not based on the original. My problem with this is that I loved the original--the aliens, weapons, vehicles, UFOs etc. They were all so cool, and what made the game so memorable in my eyes. Anyway, seeing as it doesn't appear that I'll be getting what I want any time soon, I've decided to write down a few ideas that I think would make a shooter based on the original very cool:
Because the original was squad-based, this would need to be kept, though this is nothing new for shooters, with the likes of Gears of War and Mass Effect. Even those games' cover-system would suit an X-COM game perfectly, being that there was plenty of cover on the "Battlescape". This cover--and the entire level in fact--was fully destructible, though I don't think a Red Faction scenario would really be necessary. Unlike Gears of War and Mass Effect, however, you could switch between characters in UFO Defense to utilise them and their fire-power however you saw fit, which is where the Rainbow Six style would certainly fit better. The game also featured limb damage, which meant that if your leg was hit, you' couldn't move as fast; and if your arm was hit, your aim was less accurate. I know many other games feature limb damage, but I'm not sure the effects are the same. Something else the original had was morale, which if lost, would cause the affected soldier to either fire randomly in all directions, often hitting your other team-mates; or drop their gear and run for the hills. Either way it was a nice touch, and I think would make an interesting addition to a squad shooter. Oh, and the aliens could sometimes mind-control your men, with obvious results.
The original X-COM game was revolutionary in its use of environments. Where ever the UFO landed or crashed on the planet (other than water), the game engine created a level based on various presets, to match that area's landscape. For instance, if you landed in the Amazon, you would be playing in the jungle tile-set, or landing in the Sahara, you would actually be playing in desert. Due to this, I think a variety of landscapes would need to be included in the missions of any remake. Crysis has shown that even dense jungle is now doable in video games, so really there is no reason this could not be done. I would personally love to play an Antarctic level, where you're squad is in the middle of a snow-storm and can barely even see your team-mates around you, let alone some dangerous aliens in the distance. I think that would be scary and tense. The original also had a day/night cycle, but again, this is pretty standard fare in modern games. I liked this in the original, because it made for the use of flares and incendiary ammunition to light the scene. Another addition to "environment" was the aliens' UFOs, which once crashed or landed, you were able to enter and roam. In a shooter context, I can just imagine a large dirt gouge leading up to the half-destroyed hull of a massive, crashed UFO, and having to find a safe point of entry...
Besides the now-standard fare of guns, lasers, and plasma weaponry, the one weapon that X-COM is known for is the Blaster Launcher. This alien rocket launcher was not only able to level half a map, but the missile was fully controllable, meaning your could guide it through doorways, up stairs, out windows, down corridors; it was awesome! I'm sure there are shooters now featuring such a thing, but at the time, it was new and cool and devilishly fun.
The scariest part of the game was surely the aliens. They were all so different and cool in their own way. There were only 11 species, so I'll quickly discuss them, and what made them so interesting:
The first-encountered and most prolific of the races. These guys, though quite physically weak, had Psi abilities that allowed them to mind-control or panic your squad.
The Floaters were also fairly weak, and generally non-threatening, except for the fact that they could fly. Their senses are supposedly enhanced by cybernetics, so in a shooter context, I can imagine them being able to see in the dark, hear faint sounds, and possibly smell pheromones.
The slithering noise that moving Snakemen made was creepy on its own, but these guys were slightly more resilient than the previous two. They were also said to carry 50 eggs each, so I could imagine this playing part in a shooter somehow, even if it was only a side-mission to find and destroy their "nests".
Big and green and strong. I always imagined these guys kind of like the Hulk. Not so much the comic Hulk, but more the slightly-less-bulky Edward Norton-film Hulk. Their senses are also enhanced like the Floater.
These guys are basically eerie floating cloaks. Their scare-factor comes from the fact that they are highly Psionic. They're able to float and "hold" their weaponry purely with their minds. Just imagine what else they might be able to do in a shooter sense. Deflect bullets? Throw objects at you? So many possibilities.
These things are like slow-moving, heat-making rocks, and leave a trail of fire where ever they slide. They would make for very easy targets in a shooter, so I envision giving them extra abilities such as chameleon blending and surface-climbing.
These little pink jellybeans float around wobbily, and can land to fire, mortar-like, globules of powerful acid through the air. It is said that they can detect human brainwaves, so I guess this means they would be able to track you down no matter where you were.
There's not too much scary about this mini-UFO, except for the fact that it has a really powerful plasma gun built-in, and explodes upon death.
Viscous, bipedal beasts whose only means of attack is to charge at you, as fast as they can, and start biting. They are also said to have 2 brains, so I guess this means head-shots wouldn't be as useful.
A large, mech-like robot that carries a very powerful plasma beam.
The scariest of all the aliens! These dark, crab-shelled creatures are the fastest of the lot, and not only use their crab-like claws to attack, but are also able to inject a venom that turns their victim into a zombie. Not only this, but if you kill said zombie, a newborn--yet fully-grown--Chryssalid will tear its way out of the corpse, promptly chasing after the first human it sees... which is usually the zombie's shooter.
So there you have just a few ideas that I think would make an X-COM shooter adaptation just a whole lot of awesome!
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For whatever reasons, comic characters have always had a tough time translating over to video games. Due to my love of both, this has always bothered me. A recent exception has been Batman: Arkham Asylum, which has shown that it is possible, so I thought I'd just run through some of the "heavy hitters" and see how I think they could or couldn't work...
The Avengers haven't featured in their own video game since the early 90's, however, this could soon change with the new film coming out in a few years. The big problem here is that films never make for good games. It limits their design and scope too much. Another problem is that with so many characters on the roster, you'd lose the intimacy of character development that I believe made AA such a good game. I'm sure some of the team could feature in their own game:
I can't think of any recent games (good ones anyway) where the main form of weaponry was a bow and arrow, and with all the varying types Hawkeye is known for, I think he would make for an interesting solo game career.
The Fantastic Four have actually had a few of their own games, but from what I've read, they were terrible. I think the team has great potential for a game however, if only the time and passion was input to make it work. With only four characters, you could still have the character building and plot, but their much-different powers could also lend themselves to a wide variety of gameplay.
The X-Men have seen themselves in quite a few video games as well, but I think the problem has always been their numbers. As I mentioned with the Avengers, having so many characters on the roster never allows you to get to really get to know them and you just end up with a brawling action game such as the Ultimate Alliancegames, which can be fun in their own rights, but tend to get tedious quite quickly.
Cap has featured in a few games, but only once as a solo gig. The rest have been team efforts, in which I've already mentioned their drawbacks. Being a rather "normal" hero, I don't think he would make much of an exciting game. It would just end up as a simple beat-em-up I imagine.
Daredevil on the other hand, I think has a lot of potential. I've never been interested in his comics, but his enhanced senses could make for some novel gameplay mechanics. For instance, he could have a "focus bar", which could be used for his senses:
Hearing could be focused to hear distant or quite noises or conversations, or alert of nearby enemies.
Smell could be focused to "see" scents as gas-trails that can then be followed or avoided.
Touch could maybe be used as a sort of thermal "vision" where he can sense heat in his surroundings etc.
There is definitely a lot of potential there. Black Widow has also starred in many DD comics, so perhaps she could be included.
As much as Doc Strange has grown on me recently, I'm not sure about his gaming potential. Sure he has a lot of magical powers and such, but I can't think of how they could be used in ways that haven't already been done to death. Perhaps a game with the other Defenders* would be better?
Hulk is obviously my favourite character, but he has also seen his fair share of video games. Their downfall comes from the repetition of simply smashing stuff. I think the 2003 Hulk tie-in was on the right track with having Bruce Banner "stealth" levels to mix it up a little, but I think they just didn't get them quite right. Bruce is meant to be one of the smartest people on the planet, so if this was incorporated somehow, I think it could work. My best guess is to do something along the lines of Amadeus Cho, where he can "see" equations and use something as simple as a well-placed pebble to take out an enemy. If that was combined with the stealth, I think it would mix up the action quite nicely.
Due to the recent release of the Iron Man films, Tony has subsequently starred in his own video games. Both of these sucked, as movie tie-ins always do. I think they were on the right track with their open-world gameplay, but a change of scenery is not enough to trick people into thinking the next mission is "new".
Namor suffers the same fate as Aquaman. For whatever reason, gamers don't really like being underwater. My best guess is the lack in scenery. Being underwater, even in the best of conditions, only always a visual distance of a few meters, so you never get "background scenery", which tends to get a little boring. On top of this, neither Namor or Aquaman have very impressive powers, so what do you do with them?
I'm not sure if anything could be done with Mr. Fury. He's... just a guy. I don't even understand how he had his own comic series, let alone making it into the gaming world.
Frank Castle has already featured in many video games. Simply being a guy with guns, out for revenge, he pretty much is the epitome of every other video game character out there...
I don't really think She-Hulk could hold her own in a video game. She doesn't have the "screen presence" of Hulk, so would probably best be suited to an Avengers game at best.
I'm not even going to bother with Spidey. He's probably had the most video game appearances out of any Marvel character, and even has a new one called Shattered Dimensions due out soon.
Thor also has his own game due out soon, though being a film tie-in, I have very low expectations. I think, as a character, Thor has a lot of potential, so hopefully I'll be proven wrong.
Seem a little bleak? Of course not! Even though Hawkeye, FF, and Daredevil were the only ones on my list I classed as "potentials", all that means is that it's time for some of the lesser-knowns to step up to the plate. Characters such as Moon Knight, and teams like the Inhumans and X-Force. There's tons of potential if only the video game developers were willing to take the risk.
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