So the cat’s out of the bag. Christopher Nolan is going ahead with a video game adaptation of Inception. Details are non-existent at this point in time but there’s no denying the fact that if done well, Inception would make one bitching video game. Sitting through all that mind jacking as a passive viewer was entertaining enough but imagine being able to pull that kind of stuff off in real time. That’s the stuff dreams are made of (pun intended).
While that thought is capable of sending thousands into a geek-gasm, I have to step into the shoes of the cynic for a minute and wonder if we really need another poorly made movie to game adaptation. In case you’ve forgotten, or rather chosen to forget, some of the shameless tie-ins Hollywood has accosted us with over the years, allow me to refresh this rather unpleasant memory.
Will they all be playable characters?
Let’s start off with James Cameron’s Avatar since it’s the most recent and the most extravagant example that comes to mind suffering from the classic “fine movie butchered by a terrible game adaptation” syndrome. What’s weird is that Cameron himself was involved in development and no stone was left unturned into making this an interactive masterpiece. If you had the hardware you could even enjoy the game in Stereoscopic 3D. So what went wrong here? For one, gameplay was really boring and repetitive. Instead of crafting something that could be enjoyed by both shooter and RPG veterans, we had monotonous gameplay plagued by terrible framerates and horrible voice acting. Once again something that strikes me as weird as both Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington voiced their virtual avatars.
What? That wasn’t enough for you? Let’s take a step back in time and think of EA’s God awful G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. So I admit the movie wasn’t the finest one ever made, but it was an entertaining summer blockbuster. The game on the other hand was so painful to play, I had to force it down my throat simply because I was tasked with reviewing the monstrosity. Broken gameplay, dated visuals and terrible controls were few of the issues that rendered this game virtually unplayable.
Playing the zero G segments would be badass
Now I know what you’re thinking. “But what about Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay or James Bond: Everything or Nothing?” I would have to agree with you there – those two games did Rock the Casba, and were even better than their movie counterparts in certain ways. But for every Riddick there’s a G.I. Joe, a Fight Club, a Terminator Salvation and a Godfather. So as you can see, the odds aren’t really stacked in our favor. Speaking of The Godfather – why was it that EA, even after procuring official rights to the Godfather license, came up with a terrible video game adaptation while Illusion Softworks (now called 2K Czech) crafted a phenomenal game like Mafia and a sequel without having such luxuries at their disposal?
The only explanation I can think of here, without sounding too rude or blunt is that most Hollywood bigwigs, James Cameron included, cannot make entertaining videogames. They have to understand that both movies and videogames are drastically different forms of entertainment and cannot be treated as the same entity. And it’s not like the studios developing these games haven’t tasted success before. Ubisoft, makers of the Avatar game are the guys behind the highly successful Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and Splinter Cell franchises. Even the G.I. Joe game was made by the same developers behind the clunky yet enjoyable Silent Hill Homecoming. Now I could fill up pages listing successful franchises worked upon by many companies behind poor video game adaptations but it’s safe to assume all of them had their hands tied in one way or another.
The world does not need another Avatar
This is why Nolan has to be really careful that he hands over the reins of development to a capable game development studio. But more importantly he should allow them to take the creative liberties essential in making an entertaining game, while keeping his core content intact. He also has to make sure that the game can stand on its own narrative and not depend on the movie as there are a few people out there who may not have seen the movie. And most importantly, he should avoid at all costs adding to the huge list of disappointing movie to game adaptations. I really don’t think I would be able to handle another one.