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Top 10 games better than the films they were based on

Games based on films don't always require a lobotomy to erase the memory of playing them, as these titles prove

We love our films here at Expert Reviews – almost as much as we like our games. That’s why we always wince when a game carries a tag line such as “based on the film”. It’s essentially code for. “You’ve just wasted forty quid, chump.”

Thankfully, this unwritten rule isn’t always true – there’s a small minority that somehow managed to break the curse and actually surpass the film on which they were based. We’ve listed ten of the most memorable below.

Before we start, we have to mention a special situation where we really wish that a film had been based on the game: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis.

For Indy, it all went wrong around the time he Nuked the Fridge in the Crystal Skull. Other blindingly unforgivable issues in the fourth film included Aliens, rope swinging and Ray Winstone. It could have all been so much better, if Speilberg had taken a few cues from the superb Fate of Atlantis game.

Point and click artisans LucasArts threw all their experience at the game, combining gorgeous graphics, the excellent SCUMM gameplay system and some devilishly difficult puzzles. The signature LucasArts sense of humour made it an absolute joy to play, and the story itself would have translated perfectly to the silver screen. Oh, what could have been…

10. RoboCop 3

The original RoboCop was a brilliant satire on 1980s American culture, but the franchise quickly went downhill with two inferior sequels. RoboCop 3 was the worst offender, recasting the starring role, introducing robot ninjas and jet-packs, and generally having a nonsensical plot that had none of the original’s witty charm.

However, the inevitable game that followed was much better. Terrible SNES version aside, the Amiga’s Robocop 3D was the definitive release. A campaign mode that included driving and shooting, a mixture of 2D and 3D graphics and some incredibly challenging gameplay, it was definitely a better experience than sitting through the film. Not played it yet? You have 20 seconds to comply.

9. Street Fighter: The Movie

OK, this is a bit of a cheat, as the film was itself inspired by a game, but stick with us.

Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game. Not only is it a mouthful to say, but it’s also terrible. It is, without doubt, the worst entry in the series. It might have used the same engine as the fantastic Street Fighter II, but it switched out the hand drawn sprites in favor of digitized characters from the film. The gameplay might not have been dramatically different, but it still sucked.

However, the fact that it makes this list is an indication of just how bad the film was. The warning bells should have started ringing when Jean Claude Van Damme was cast in the lead role, but production rolled on anyway. A terrible script, non-canon characters and campy action sequences doomed the film to failure. It was also the late great Raul Julia’s final film before he passed away, forever tying his name to this abomination.

8. Hudson Hawk

Hudson Hawk was such a bad film, its catastrophic box office failure nearly ruined Tristar Pictures. The combined might of Bruce Willis, Andie MacDowell and David Caruso – that’s right, he of CSI Miami YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH fame – couldn’t save the surreal slapstick action comedy.

Hudson Hawk You know he’s cool, because he’s wearing sunglasses indoors. So damn cool…

Luckily, the franchise wasn’t a complete loss, as the side-scrolling platform game it spawned was actually pretty fun. It was no Super Mario Brothers, but the cutesy characters, primitive stealth mechanics and varied locations made it great fun. We’d much rather sit down to play this than have to watch the god-awful film again.

7. Alien 3

After Aliens all Alien films were terrible. In Alien 3 the decision to kill off key characters and a troubled production meant cinemagoers were left disappointed when it finally saw the light of day. Sensibly, developers Probe Entertainment decided to ignore the plot of the film, instead putting Ripley back where she belongs – in a maze of tunnels and corridors on board an Alien infested space ship.

Each level was huge, filled with constantly spawning Aliens and creepy captured prisoners, who have to be freed from their bonds before you can proceed. Even with a trusty M41-A pulse rifle in hand, there were plenty of tense moments between you and the final boss. Our favourite part? The fantastic 8-bit soundtrack.

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