Games and Films- Should Be a Happy Marriage, Right?
Since the early years of the 20th century the film industry has been a very profitable business to be involved in, and over the last few years the video game industry has really climbed the ladder too. It would stand to reason that someone would be able to come up with a really outstanding outing that would bridge the gap between these two massive entertainment industries. Some have tried to do this in many different ways but personally I don’t believe that there is a game or film out there that has succeed.
One great gaming franchise that have tried to do the cross-over is that of the original survival horror games, Resident Evil. Capcom have really made some outstanding titles in the series, but the films have never really lived up to the high standards that their video games namesakes have achieved. So far there have been 5 films in the series, with a sixth in the pipeline. When I watched the first film, I thought this isn’t too bad, as it stayed true to what the games were about and I actually thought that I may be finally looking at a successful cross-over, but as the series has continued the quality of the films has gone down, and they have gone away from the survival horror feel and gone for more of a supernatural action style affair. If the series had a stand alone name and wasn’t tagged to a huge game franchise than maybe they would of seen a bit more success. It also seems that over the last few films, the writers have shoe-horned in some well-loved characters from the game series as a way to reach out to the gaming community and trying to say that are staying true to the original games, this of course hasn’t worked as the people in charge of hiring the actors obviously haven’t played or even looked at any of the games, as the actors are nowhere near true to their digital counterparts. The Resident Evil franchise has been the most successful cross-over from games to films, which in a way says quite a bit about the other attempts out there.
Resident Evil isn’t the only gaming franchise to try to achieve movie success, there have been quite a few over the years, most of which haven’t quite made the grade. Some of these titles include Tomb Raider, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Hitman and Silent Hill; none of which have really stood out in terms of films that we will still be talking about in 20 years. I really can’t see Max Payne being the Godfather of this generation. Don’t get me wrong some of the films based on video games I have watched and sometime enjoyed, but I think part of the problem is they just haven’t been able to live up to the hype generated by the video game they are based on. The only possible way that I can see a decent video game based movie tie-in is to do one on a not very successful game but then of course not many people will want to see a movie about a relatively unsuccessful game, who wants to see a Shenmue Film for example.
Unfortunately, games that are based on films don’t fare much better either. We go to the cinema and after watching a thrilling action movie, we start to think ‘Wow I wish I could do that’ and when a video game is released to accompany the film, we rush to the store to live out our fantasies of saving the world. This in most cases leads to disappointment. One franchise that have tried time and time again to do this is the Spiderman series. There have been 4 live action films based around Marvel’s web-slinger and each one has a game brought out based on the movie. Since the first game in the series back in 2002, the games have steadily gotten better but none have really seemed to live up to what having the powers of Peter Parker would actually be like. The Amazing Spiderman video game, which came out to tie-in with the movie of the same name, came the closest to this out of the four. Rather than taking the story of the film and just retelling it with us in control, it featured a stand alone story that carried on where the film ended. This was a good move as if we have already seen the film we know how it plays out but with a totally new story we are kept guessing. The story was, however, a little weak and didn’t live up to the film, but it does show what can be done.
The only franchise, that (in my opinion) has come the closest is The Matrix. The games themselves weren’t overly great and to be honest neither were the last two movies, but what they did try to do was bring a new way of combining the two entertainment mediums. To go along with The Matrix Reloaded, the video game Enter The Matrix was released. The game focused on two minor characters in the film and showed what happened from their prospective, so while we saw what Neo and the gang were doing in the movie, we got to see what Niobe and Ghost were also doing to aid Zion. This is a very unique way of doing this and I think that again if the game and film were a bit more polished then it could have been a huge deal in bridging the gap very successfully. There was also an MMO based on the Matrix world, that again wasn’t hugely successful, that let us see what happened to the world after the end of the final movie. Everyone who played a part in the series had the right idea when it comes to combining the mediums, it was just a shame that it couldn’t have been pulled off a little better.
All in all it seems that the game to film, and vice versa, industry is just a way of cashing in. No real effect seems to be given. The games and films are just put out as a way of keeping the money flowing from a past success. I really hope that I’m proved wrong and someone does bring out a fantastic series but for the time being I’m not holding my breathe.