Next gen is less than a month away and on the PlayStation side of things there’s no doubt which game is leading the way for hype – Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Everything we’ve seen on the game from the gorgeous looking streets of New York City to the exciting addition of Spider-Cat has me convinced that Miles Morales can live up to its impressive predecessor.
What really got me thinking though was how little of a surprise all this is now. What I mean is just the announcement of a Spider-Man game automatically makes me think it’s going to be high quality and a likely contender for game of the year. The same applies to the recently announced Gotham Knights, as soon as I see those DC and WB Games logos I know I’m in for a treat. It wasn’t that long ago though that having a superhero on the cover of a video game spelled bad news..
As always you can check out the video version of this article in the link below if you prefer.
I still have nightmares of the god awful MCU movie tie-in games for Iron Man 2 and Thor. Both of which were broken messes that should have never seen the light of day… yes I do have the platinum trophy for Iron Man 2 but ignore that! Oh the shame..
They weren’t alone though, for years we were subjected to horrible movie tie-ins where only the best of a bad bunch would be classed as ‘good superhero games’. The likes of Spider-Man 1 & 2 on the PS2 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine are remembered fondly by fans but the reality is that if you go back to those games, they aren’t great. They had half decent gameplay and inoffensive visuals for the time, add to that the fact they were comic book heroes and that was enough for people like me. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few exceptions to the rule like Marvel Ultimate Alliance but these were hardly the AAA game changers we see today.
Then in August 2009, Batman: Arkham Asylum changed everything. Asylum was a proper third person action adventure with spectacular gameplay mechanics, top quality visuals and it’s own unique story that was not shamelessly tied into a recent movie release. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill did reprise their roles as Batman and Joker but you’d be sadly mistaken if you thought for a second this was anything other than its own stand alone adventure. Critics and fans alike loved it and there was no going back.
Rocksteady’s sequels – Arkham City and Arkham Knight only solidified the series as one of the all time best gaming trilogies and made the idea of DC or Marvel ever going back to cash grabbing movie tie-ins almost an impossibility. After seeing what can be done with superhero licences, the game was changed forever. Marvel would soon follow up with Spider-Man on the PS4, a game that arguably may have never seen the light of day had Rocksteady not led the way with Arkham Asylum.
The biggest proof that we’ve turned a corner is the huge lack of cheap tie-ins in a world where comic book movies are bigger than Jesus. The fact we never saw any sort of cheaply made Avengers Endgame game shows that Marvel just aren’t willing to take a risk of releasing a game like that in this brave new world of AAA superhero titles, it would just be a disaster.
However it’s not been entirely plain sailing. As is often the case in this industry, with unrivaled success comes massive greed. The Arkham trilogy, the two Injustice games and Spider-Man all did fantastically well and made a lot of money, so it wasn’t a shock when we found out that the Square Enix Avengers game would be a mostly online focused live service game.
Released earlier this year, Marvel’s Avengers has been a controversial ride. Ditching the single player action adventure style that (bar injustice) has been a mainstay in the superhero games revival, Avengers hit us with repetitive and buggy online missions and a money grabbing marketplace for kitting out your favourite Avenger. It was met with mostly disappointment from the fanbase and is largely seen as a failure. The developers even came out recently to apologise for the way the game launched and gifted us some in-game currency to spend as an apology… *facepalm*.
With all that being said, Avengers isn’t anywhere near the shambles of what we were dealing with a decade or so ago. In my review I still gave it a 7/10 and praised it for a well told story that was still original and a lot of fun. Yes it’s a step in the wrong direction in my opinion and a misstep that Rocksteady look destined to repeat in Suicide Squad, but it’s a far cry from the £50 priced Thor: God of Thunder. If you try and claim that Avengers is unplayable then you’ve clearly not wasted your time trying to fix the broken camera as you clumsily fly into objects in God of Thunder.
The long winded point I’m trying to reach with all this rambling is that we should really stop and take a moment to appreciate what we have now. An entire collection of incredible Batman stories only found in video games and our very own Spiderverse on our PlayStation. Sure Avengers isn’t the greatest example of what studios should be doing with these lucrative licenses but when I think back to my options a decade plus ago, I’ll take it.
I’m excited to see what a new generation of consoles will mean for comic book licenses going forward, maybe we’ll see titles outside of DC and Marvel get some love. Imagine a video game based on the Umbrella Academy or The Boys, yes please! Either way I can’t help but feel we’re in good hands now and this world of high end superhero games will likely grow and grow much like they have in the movie world.. just keep them separate please.