After yesterday’s rather worrying Mass Effect announcement, the idea of cinematic videogame adaptations tends to play on the mind a bit. With that idea firmly in hand, here’s a list of ten games I think would make fantastic film.
The BAFTA-winning videogame that came out in 2007 involves a city at the bottom of the sea, a protagonist with memory loss, and some of the best world-building narrative techniques known to man. Lauded by critics and gamers alike, it was a fantastic ten-odd hours of set-pieces, gun and DNA-changing action and full of explosive, atmospheric combat. It’d be perfect for adapation, if you ignore the fact that the protagonist doesn’t say a word throughout – though it’d be a nice change, wouldn’t it? Not to mention the fantastic twist near the end – I ruined it for myself accidentally and never quite got over it.
- Grim Fandango.
One of the best role-playing titles in the history of the genre, in my opinion, and also the title that happens to be my favourite in videogame history. It tells the story of Manny Cavalera, a travel agent in the afterlife who goes chasing across the underworld after a woman given the hard version of the road to heaven and salvation. Hilariously dark humour and a brilliant art vision (based on 20s gangster films, Mayan architecture and the paper-mache dolls for the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico) combine to draw people in. It’d all be CGI, that’s a given – but the end result would be a priceless piecing-together of the brilliantly funny cutscenes. In fact, can’t we just splice them together and release it?
- The Sims.
This seems like a bad idea at first, but bear with me. Imagine The Sims but combined with The Truman Show. One Sim, finally realising why time keeps speeding up and slowing down, and why furniture and new areas of his/her house appear and disappear without warning, breaks out of the game and heads to the EA offices demanding an explanation. It’d be an interesting psychological experiment, and something that could work given a good enough cast. I’d say possibly Willem Defoe as the head of the design department, and Shia Lebouf as the Sim in question. C’mon, he’s innocent and stupid-looking enough.
“What? It’s been done!” I know it has, but it was done horribly by the look of it, and failed to capture the terror of the game’s concept and design, not to mention the atmospheric music, though I will give them credit for casting The Rock and having a first-person-shooter (FPS) aspect to one scene in particular. Let me pitch it again; a marine on Mars, stationed with a contingent of scientists and fellow marines, is suddenly isolated when a portal to Hell is opened on the Red Planet. Cue possessed marines, daemons walking around with fireballs and guns, and of course, the BFG (Big F****** Gun) 9000. It can’t fail. It did before, though, so we’d have to be careful.
- Halo: Combat Evolved.
Anyone who wasn’t absolutely glued to their news feeds when news of Peter Jackson being tied as director to the Halo movie is lying to you. Master Chief, superhuman warrior in amazing armour (who never reveals his face – a chance for a stuntman-only protagonist? Finally!) tears around a space-construct in the shape of a halo, trying to stop a collection of evil alien races before they destroy the universe. Add to that an evil, secret race of body-possessing creepy-crawly things and you’ve got the setting for a great action movie that combines fanastic set-pieces with jaw-dropping scale and the horror of fighting off the possessed undead. It also means the voice actor for the Chief will get a chance to reprise his role.
- Half Life (trilogy).
I say trilogy, I mean when Valve get their bums in gear and release the final third instalment to the PC-shooter franchise that reinvented the entire genre. The first title tells the story of Gordon Freeman, a physicist caught in a battle between humanity and a dimension full of dominant aliens and fearful technology who has to fight his way out of the compound where the experiment took place. He doesn’t speak, either, but one of the fantastic things about the game was the fact that you knew what he’d said without seeing his body language – the characters’ reaction to his movements gave it away nice and subtly. I’d shoot it first-person, me. As Gordon Freeman? Hmm, that’d be a toughie, but Hugh Laurie wouldn’t do a bad job. The potential for sequels is also there, but Half Life 2‘s two following add-on episodes would probably have to combine, making it a quadrilogy.
- Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.
Now, a lot of film and game enthusiasts are going to be baffled by this – it’s a game that takes cues from action cinema and relies on a linear path structure alongside some brilliant dialogue, good characters and great set-pieces. But for the benefit of my argument for its cinematic adaptation, consider this: aren’t you tempted by the idea of sitting back and watching all of this crazy stuff happen? It’s a fantastic roller-coaster of collapsing buildings, gunplay, adventure – essentially, everything National Treasure wanted to be, but messed up on by casting someone as loveable as Nicholas Cage in such a rugged, Indiana Jones-esque role.
- Eve Online
There’s a lot of MMO titles out there right now, but most of them are copies of existing fantasy universes, and would draw far too close to the fantastic Lord of the Rings film trilogy (love it or hate it, you just can’t deny its box-office magnitude and quality of interpretation). Eve is a bleak, space-based universe of politics, economics, drama and betrayal, set against a backdrop of epic battles between fleets of starships, piracy and rampant crime. In fact, the game’s development team have their own on-staff economist, it’s so complex, and major frauds and thefts committed by players are documented in gaming news as political events – it’s all real people, and would make for a fascinating adaptation. In fact, a particular example of theft and con-manship would combine to make a great film narrative.
- Zelda (any).
I’m not taking it back. Any director brave enough to go live-action and take Link, Zelda and their world of action, adventure, puzzles, economy, politics and spirituality onto the silver screen deserves a medal if they do it well enough. It’d be CGI-heavy, that’s a given, but so deserves to be taken on-board by a major studio. Especially if Link is played by an actor who closely resembles the mysterious, charming, quiet swordsman himself. Any ideas for casting? I’d wager child actors would be a better option, personally, as Link’s latter-day titles have pitched him as such, and would be a smart side-stepping of casting stereotypically over-sexed female roles.
- Anything but Super Mario.
I mean this honestly, and passionately. The Super Mario Brothers film was something I saw in the cinema at the age of five, and it blew my mind. It was essentially Super Mario Bros. meets Bladerunner, and it couldn’t have worked better. The actual game is about jumping around after boxes and onto small, ugly monsters – essentially a working day at Toys ‘R Us. But the bizarre interpretation of the game’s enemies (small goombas became eight-foot brainwashed thugs, Bowser became a colossal T-Rex) made for spellbinding viewing. If anyone ever adapts Mario’s universe into something closely resembling the game, I’ll still prefer this. It was a disaster at the box office, but with Bob Hoskins as Mario himself, you couldn’t think up anything more entertaining.