(2) Days of Summer
Welcome to the second part of my Juice Box feature: Straight outta Cinema. In case you missed out you can check out the first part here, if only to strengthen your understanding of the continuity.
Warning, SPOILERS for part one of my feature below.
It has been a week of ups and downs, of sunshine and rain but we made it. The great British summer has lasted all of two days but we will persevere. After all, a nation of warm beverage consuming, self deprecating maniacs deserve nothing more than a few moments of warmth and happiness, if only to see us through to the next year until one day, finally we can bask in the radiant financial glow of a mortgage and wait for death in the comfort of our own home.
In some ways the gaming community is not that different. We are at a time in our lives where we are completely ruled by cynicism, doubt and occasional rays of happiness. Some blame video-game developers or corporations, others blame the entitled nature of a generation of gamer’s now gifted with a voice that WILL be heard and with each and every swell of their bellowing on Twitter, the echo chamber fills until the pressure is too much and something has to give. Don’t like a game? Send a death threat or two and rally the troops until the developers addresses YOUR issue. Nicely done!
So pressing on with the feature, games spawned from the unnatural joining of cinema and interactive entertainment can be that rainy day for sure or as i’m about to show you, can be just the ray of sunshine you deserve. Below are those two days of summer we shall never forget.
Believe if you can that once upon a time, Activision and Treyarch were not always the power couple squeezing out wet and screaming mass murder babies, Call of Duty. It was 2004 and a time before they were justifying the deaths of thousands of virtual soldiers whose diversity ranged from brown to Russian and then back to brown again. To be honest i’m sure they were still flogging that Nazi horse but then the only good Nazi is a dead one so we’ll chalk that up to fair play.
Instead, there was a time when they were paired to create the greatest Spider-Man game ever conceived. Following on fast from the success of Sam Raimi’s franchise (before Spider-Man 3 shit the bed) Spider-Man 2 was the game to offer the player New York City on a sticky white batter platter.
What was great about the game at the time was that despite following the beats of every Spider-Man game before it (Mary Jane in danger and a boss battle where Rhino charges into stuff) it offered an insight into the world beyond the film. This was always a pleasure for kids of the time; to be able to experience something outside of the movie they got to see if only to return to school the next day and hold this superior knowledge over the peers.
The combat was fairly tight and made great use of all of Spider-Man’s abilities. The combos were satisfying and the progression felt natural. Swinging carelessly around the city until a blip on the map gave you context for a fight was pretty exciting for the time and offered the player a chance to be the hero they always wanted to be.
The open-world aspect was handled well and gave the player a lot of freedom. Between the story missions were an array of slightly repetitive side-missions, from collecting classic comic books to delivering pizza in line with Peter Parker’s mundane life. Various crimes would crop up as you went and continued to do so well beyond the end of the game which led to hours of replay value.
It was the Grand Theft Spider-Man of its day and it still holds up. Sure it’s a little ugly now but the core mechanics are what made it a success and as far as i’m concerned, that’s all we can hope for as we drift endlessly in a shallow sea of high definition gloss.
Juice Box Rating – 6 Sinister Litres
The Matrix: Path of Neo
The Path of Neo was a concept that you will never see again. Written and directed by the Wachowskis themselves, the Path of Neo took everything you knew about the Matrix trilogy and dared to further enhance the world they had created to the point where they even offered up a brand new canonical ending where you are tasked with defeating a giant city crushing Agent Smith forged from hundreds of Agent Smith’s.
Yep. Because fuck it, why not?
The game follows the journey of Neo and his literal rags to figurative riches story. The Wachowskis did not waste this opportunity and turned the game into a homage to their many inspirations and gave them the much needed resources only available in a game to really bring their ideas to life.
The Path of Neo was a love letter to action cinema that, through the course of Neo’s training (that minute he is in the chair learning EVERYTHING) put you into some of the greatest action scenes committed to film with the likes of the restaurant shoot-out from Hard Boiled to the sublime hand to hand mayhem of the tea house brawl in Drunken Master 2. This was huge for me personally and despite the whacky camera and rigid animations, it was no less fulfilling to take part in. It was a nice touch and great use of certain aspects of the film we would never have seen otherwise.
The rest of the game follows the story closely and as you progress, it allows you to upgrade your Neo into the master of science-fiction kung fu we grew to… not love but appreciate I guess.
Fighting the agents from the scene at the end of the first film in the apartments was a highlight, as well as the first fight with the Agent Smith clones and so many more to name. On top of that was a section of the game that saw you tracking down other powerful individuals who exhibit powers similar to the one and those fights were always a blast. All of this was tied together carefully with clips from the film, that other less interesting Matrix game and the equally daring Animatrix. I’ll give it to the Wachowskis, they really had a vision that transcended cinema alone.
Juice Box Rating – The One Gallon
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Following a similar path to Neo, The Return of the King video-game was an epic action adventure that let you live out some of the greatest battles in Middle-Earth. Admittedly, The Two Towers nailed the formula first but Return of the King took everything its predecessor did well and expanded upon it offering more depth of customization, a tighter combat system and the opportunity to unlock far more characters to play with.
Once you have conquered Shelob’s Lair as Samwise, the game then lets you retrace his journey as someone a little better equipped to smash those spider-bastards into the ground, like Legolas or even Faramir.
The local multiplayer was at the heart of this franchise and settling down on the floor of your friends bedroom and pumping balled fists was where the magic really happened. Teaming up and slaying the hordes of Middle-Earth was every teenage nerd fantasy of the time, when Peter Jackson’s epic vision ruled the cinematic world and the game served as another fantastic example of exceptional creative use of its license. Clips from the film tied the story together and the epic swell of its soundtrack gave every battle that little bit more momentum.
Thank you for letting me be Faramir and finally making Denethor proud.
Juice Box Rating – 1 ounce to find them, and in the darkness bind them.
Yeah yeah, here it is. GoldenEye.
We all know that GoldenEye is probably the single greatest use of a movie license so you do not need me to tell you why. Still, here I go.
Released in 1997, two years after the sublime and heartfelt rom-com, Waterworld and also GoldenEye the movie, the game would give players the opportunity to step into the pristine black leather shoes of drunk womanizing sociopath, James Bond.
On top of reliving every beat of the hit action movie, the game made great use of its tight shooting mechanics and delivered one of the best multiplayer experiences to date. To be honest the game has actually aged fairly well with the one exception that the controls are fucking mental. Seriously.
However, before the market was saturated with progression based multiplayer shooters, GoldenEye had it down. If you wanted to mix things up, you didn’t spend hours endlessly unlocking aesthetic bullshit and minor tweaks to your nameless grunt but instead you mix up the perimeters of the match itself. Want an all kung-fu chop match with one hit kill and a infinite supply of time? Then do it.
What was so engaging to gamers at the time was that with little to no skill you could just jump into a match with your friends, set it up how you wanted, choose what weapons are going to spawn and then select one of the many multi-layered, complex yet straight forward to navigate maps and you were away.
Seriously, everyone had the same start, regardless of their ability and if they wanted to get better, they learned the maps, found all the secret doors, memorized weapon spawns or even worked out how to spin on the toilet of facility and reenter the vent with a well-timed crouch so that they could spawn-kill anyone unlucky enough to start up there. Dick move for sure but nothing compared to that one friend who took great pride in raining on everyone’s parade as they locked into cock-crushing maniac Oddjob.
You know who you are, you massive cunts.
Juice Box Rating – 64ml
There we have it, my selection of great video-games adapted from movies. Are there any you felt I missed or that deserve a mention? If so, let me know in the comments.
Now we press onward to a few less successful adaptations we can all make fun of as a team. All together now… SHAME… SHAME…
Lost: Via Domus
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Aliens: Colonial Marines
SHAME FUCKING SHAME
Street Fighter: The Movie: THE GAME
Want to publicly shame a terrible adaptation? Please, fire off in the comments and all of us can unite against them. Hell, let’s post death threats of our own! No, just kidding. Who posts letters?