We live in a world where superheroes and comicbook culture are just about everywhere we go and everywhere we look. For the better part of the decade, the once niche genre has changed the face of movies and entertainment becoming the ubiquitous juggernaut it is today.
In the realm of videogames, things aren’t quite the same. For the longest time, licensed games based on superheroes of popular comicbooks have largely been heartless, mediocre cash grabs or dime-a-dozen, generic garbage. In the recent years however, several standouts have been bucking the trend and starting the whole superhero renaissance all over again in a brand new frontier.
Here are five of those games:
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One
NetherRealm’s Injustice 2 is arguably one of the best superhero fighting games out there today. The game took its revolutionary predecessor’s roots and improve upon them producing a dynamic, refined, and above all, fun-to-play experience featuring our favorite DC Comics characters. Injustice 2’s extensive roster combines 28 of your favorite characters from DC: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn are all accounted for as well as some lesser known oddballs like Blue Beetle, Atrocitus and Swamp Thing–The DLC has even included Sub-Zero, Hellboy and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of all things!
We finally get to answer the age old question of: Who would win in a fight between Aquaman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
On top of all that, both Injustice games feature unique, full fledged, narratives guiding the in-game universe. The games’ excellent story is legitimately well-written and well-executed appropriately setting an interesting backdrop to the titanic superhero battles. The game’s narrative is so good that the comicbook tie-in to the games are still easily one of the best DC comic titles on the catalog to date.
Lego Marvel Superheroes
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC Xbox One, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, Android.
A lot of people overlook the Lego superhero games due to their cutesy aesthetic and overall simplicity. THOSE PEOPLE ARE WRONG. Those people have missed the best, most complete, ensemble superhero game to date with the original Lego Marvel Superheroes.
Born in a time before movie studio disputes fractured the Marvel roster, Lego Marvel Superheroes features unlockable characters from virtually every corner of the Marvel Universe. The game features Avengers, X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, The Defenders, Inhumans and more interacting and getting along to save the Universe from the threat of Galactus in a unique stand-alone story.
In addition, the game’s masterful execution of the open world hub of New York city is an absolute treat. Roughly based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe fused with comicbook mythos there’s a wealth of iconic locales characters and vehicles lying around to discover and unlock. Players will have a blast just running around as their favorite superhero exploring the city seeing what they can find. You want to ride on Ghost Rider’s flaming bike and go up to the X-Mansion? Go for it! You want to fly up as Human Torch and visit Avengers Tower? Flame on! You want find out if Iron–Man is faster than the Blackbird? Let’s go bub!
You want to run around Central Park as Iron-Man, beating people up and collecting ice cream cones off the ground? Do it! And this time without the police report!
One of my favorite moments with the game was when I tried recreating the “Icing” scene in the original Iron-Man movie by flying straight up as far as I can go. Before long, I saw a strange silhouette high up above hovering over me. As I came closer, I realized that it was the SHIELD Helicarrier! I exclaimed with overwhelming glee at the discovery and began flying around it spotting areas I’ve seen in the movies. This cool attention to detail as well as many other little ones has cemented Lego Marvel Superheroes as one of the best Marvel games I’ve ever played.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Developer: Raven Software
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Wii, Nintendo DS, Microsoft Windows, Windows Mobile
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is an extremely peculiar case. As the oldest entry in this list, XO: Wolverine was released when games of its ilk–licensed movie tie-ins– were largely the aforementioned soulless, cash grabs. It doesn’t hurt that the movie that it was based on was critically and commercially panned as one of the worst superhero movies when it came out.
It still is BTW. We’ll never forgive you for this 20th Century Fox.
Yep. All the signs pointed to X-Men Origins: Wolverine being a massive disappointing failure. X-cept, It wasn’t.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a quick and vicious looking action game that manages to capture the violence and savagery of our favorite cannuck. As Wolverine, you fight with an assortment of strikes, slashes and execution moves using his signature claws and abilities. However, to balance out Logan’s healing factor, the game introduces a mechanic where you have to retract his claws, leaving you relatively defenseless if you want to regenerate HP.
X O: Wolverine also spices up the combat with its Lunge mechanic. By holding the lunge button, Wolvie locks on to a target then lunges and impales them when the button is released. The incredibly fun move was a great way to cross distances against gun wielding enemies as well as just a cool and stylish way to keep your combo going.
SURPRISE MUTHA–I MEAN, BUB!
X O: Wolverine was a surprising treat to fans of the character that were left disappointed by the sub par movie. Against all odds, developer Raven Software made what is still to this day one of the shining examples of what a good superhero game should be.
Developer: Insomniac Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Spider-Man is far and away the most successful Marvel superhero to have transferred to the realm of videogames. Our favorite webhead has been making videogame gold since the classic Spider-Man on the original Playstation, its follow up Spider-Man 2 on the PS2 and all the way up to the fun but flawed Ultimate Spider-Man games.
Last year’s Spider-Man PS4 by Insomniac Games is probably the wallcrawler’s biggest and best game to date. The game’s combat feels unique, fresh and fun. They’ve also incorporated a lot more of Spidey’s gadgets in the combat which adds a new dimension to Spidey’s fighting style this time as a gadgeteer rather than just a brawler.
But where does he keep them though?!
Spider-Man PS4’s Web-Swinging is also easily the best in the property’s history, incorporating various parkour moves, web-zips and tricks that keep the break-neck pace going smoothly.
Add to that some of the most gorgeous, jaw-dropping graphics and a narrative is equal parts, powerful, exhilarating and evocative. Spider-Man PS4 is the complete package. If you have a PS4 you have the great responsibility to play this right now.
Batman Arkham City
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems
Way back in the 2000’s, Batman games were generic, lackluster beat-em-ups that did little to push the boundaries beyond standard licensed videogame fare. Punching, Kicking, and Batarang-ing thugs would be the common formula in these games with something resembling a boss fight thrown in arbitrarily for mediocre measure. Then its on the next level! Rinse and repeat.
Holy Mediocrity, Batman!
That all changed when developer Rocksteady were handed the cape and cowl and gave us the most influential superhero videogame series of all time.
The Batman: Arkham series revolutionized the way people looked at a Batman game. It broke the proverbial mold and gave us a deep, visceral and engaging approach to the Dark Knight in videogame form. It’s signature free-flow combat was addictive and nuanced enough to keep every fight interesting and rewarded patience and skill rather than mindless button mashing. It’s Predator mode took on the stealth aspect of Batman and highlighted the characters’s methodical and tactical side while also playing with the fear and superstition that unsuspecting thugs associated with the character.
And yes, you can finally hang upside down off a stone gargoyle. Dreams do come true!
Above all else, the tone and feel of Batman and his surrounding mythos is pitch perfect in the Arkham games. The game’s open-worlds and hubs would be littered with tiny easter eggs and nods to events and characters related to Batman but even to larger DC Arkham-verse . You could feel the respect Rocksteady had for the property and it showed in every inch of their games.
Between Asylum’s trailblazing revolution and Knight’s flawed technical brilliance, the second game in the franchise, Batman: Arkham City stands as the series most flawless outing, capturing the magic of all of the above and then some. It refined the original’s combat while improving upon the its downfalls with boss fights and the like. It also introduced a vast open world to the franchise and some incredibly fun gliding/grappling mechanics to traverse it. It’s narrative and gameplay pacing is the series’ best and most balanced, allowing time to explore the new open world while moving its engaging story along at a decent pace. Batman: Arkham City was the first time players could truly act, think and feel like Batman, the superhero its based on and that’s why its stands atop list as the best super hero game you can play today.
Did we miss your favorite superhero game? Let us know what you think in the comments below or on the GG Network Facebook Page!
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