Video games based on movies have a long history of being terrible. But there are a few licensed games that don’t just ride the coattails of successful films, they actually expand and add to them. Here are 12 video games that picked up the torches for stories started on film.
“The Thing” (1982)
John Carpenter’s 1982 horror movie finds a group of scientists trapped in an Antarctic research facility with an alien threat that takes over and imitates them. The film ends with awesome ambiguity: MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Childs (Keith David) staring each other down, neither sure if the other is actually a horrific alien in disguise. Though “The Thing” got a 2011 prequel, there was no answer to the 1982 movie’s final question on film.
“The Thing” (2002)
The video game answered that question when American soldiers return to the camp to find out what happened and face off lots more aliens on the way. They find Childs frozen but apparently human, and MacReady (also human?) comes to the rescue in the end. The game‘s story wasn’t as inspired as the film’s, but it did manage to introduce a system that made characters distrustful of each other, and of the player, forcing you to constantly wonder if your companions were really monsters waiting to pounce.
There are plenty James Cameron‘s sequel to Ridley Scott’s classic “Alien” puts 57 years between the two movies. The original film saw a group of what were essentially space truckers accidentally picking up a deadly organism after investigating a distress call. At the end of the movie, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), the lone survivor, goes to sleep hoping someone will pick her up.
“Alien: Isolation” (2014)
“Alien: Isolation” takes place between the first two “Alien” films, jumping 15 years ahead to tell the story of Ripley’s daughter Amanda. She hunts for evidence of what happened to her mother and her crew, but the search for the Nostromo leads unlucky salvagers to accidentally bring the original alien back to a space station full of people. Amanda discovers the creatures haunted both Ripley women as she fights to survive.
Before there was the all-women reboot of “Ghostbusters,” fans hoped for a sequel to the original and its sequel, 1989’s “Ghostbusters II.” Rumors floated around of a “Ghostbusters III” for years before Harold Ramis‘ death in 2014. A third film in the original continuity was not to be, but that doesn’t mean there was never an attempt.
“Ghostbusters: The Video Game” (2009)
The closest thing to the long-awaited “Ghostbusters III” is a video game. Most of the original cast returned to their roles, and Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd helped with the story and script. Players joined the team as a “rookie” fifth ghostbuster, revisiting locations from the movies and exploring a story that continues the first two films.
“The Chronicles of Riddick” (2004)
Vin Diesel turned his character, Richard B. Riddick, from director David Twohy’s sci-fi horror film “Pitch Black” into a franchise with “Chronicles of Riddick.” The murderer-turned-anti-hero got some intricate backstory as he battled a death-worshiping, planet-invading space cult.
“The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay” (2004)
Vin Diesel worked closely with developer Starbreeze on “Escape from Butcher Bay,” a prequel “Pitch Black.” Diesel and Twohy worked on the story for the game, which fills out Riddick’s backstory with the prison break discussed in “Pitch Black.”
“The Matrix Reloaded” (2003)
When the Wachowskis prepared their two sequel movies to 1999’s “The Matrix,” they created an experience that included several media. “The Animatrix” was a series of short films that filled out the story of the world, for instance. The movie also left some things untold with side characters Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Ghost (Anthony Wong) that could be filled in with the tie-in video game “Enter the Matrix.”
“Enter the Matrix” (2003)
Players took part in the story of “The Matrix Reloaded” by taking on the roles of either Niobe or Ghost. “Enter the Matrix” is full of live-action scenes with the actors, directed by the Wachowskis, that make look and feel like a full expansion of the movie.
“The Warriors” (1979)
Gangs from all over New York attend a giant meet-up where Cyrus, one of the gang’s leaders, proposes that together they outnumber police and could take over the city. When he’s assassinated, the innocent Warriors are blamed, resulting in a night of brawling as the gang fights its way back to its home on Coney Island.
“The Warriors” (2005)
“Grand Theft Auto” developer Rockstar Games created a game based on the 1979 cult classic “The Warriors,” and it’s notable for its fidelity to the original movie. It brings back the original cast to voice their roles again as the Warriors fight their way across New York, and expands backstory of each of the gang’s members.
“Jaws: The Revenge” (1989)
By the time the “Jaws” franchise got to its fourth film, the frightening great white shark was somehow specifically targeting the family of its one-time nemesis, Chief Brody (Roy Scheider). Once you’ve got a monster shark going after literal, premeditated revenge, where do you go from there?
“Jaws Unleashed” (2006)
In “Jaws Unleashed,” you don’t play as the poor residents of Amity, New York, as they fight to get their beach back — you play the shark, bent on eating a variety of corporate folks as they try to set up an oil refinery near the island. Not a great game, but a funny take on the killer shark idea generally.
“Hard Boiled” (1992)
Chow Yun-Fat starred in director John Woo‘s final Hong Kong movie, “Hard Boiled.” The story follows hard-drinking gun-slinging Inspector “Tequila” Yuen as he battles Hong Kong gangsters, and while rumors of a sequel bounced around Hollywood about a decade ago, a film follow-up never materialized.
John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat teamed up again for “Stranglehold,” the official sequel to “Hard Boiled.” It attempts to translate Woo’s “gun fu” or “bullet ballet” aesthetic from his movies into a video game format. With another sequel to “Hard Boiled” apparently never materializing despite some rumors around 2009, “Strangehold” remains the only official continuation of the film’s story.
Based loosely on the comic of the same name, “Wanted” sees white collar office drone Wesley (James McAvoy) suddenly finding out that he’s from a long line of super-killers. Recruited by Fox (Angelina Jolie), he’s brought into the fold of assassins who try to control the flow of human history.
“Wanted: Weapons of Fate” (2009)
The James McAvoy-Angelina Jolie action movie “Wanted” never got a film sequel, but the story was continued in video game form a year after the movie’s release. Jimmi Simpson of “Westworld” fame provided the voice for McAvoy’s character Wesley, with the game bringing more assassins from around the world for him to battle while it fills out the backstory of his father from the movie.
“From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996)
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s movie “From Dusk Till Dawn” starts out as a crime film before taking a hard left turn to become a gory vampire flick. It’s become something of a cult classic, spawning a pair of movie sequels and even a series.
“From Dusk Till Dawn” (2001)
Before the film continuations of “From Dusk Till Dawn” was a video game that directly followed the events of the 1996 film. Although it doesn’t employ the likeness or voice of George Clooney, it does follow his character Seth Gecko as he fights off a hoard of vengeance-seeking vampires, this time on a tanker ship for some reason.
“Scarface” chronicles the rise of Cuban immigrant Tony Montana (Al Pacino) from street thug to cocaine kingpin. He’s also incredibly paranoid and violent, gunning down friends and family members when he perceives them as turning on him. All of it catches up to Tony in the end, when a kill squad sent by rivals takes Tony down in his mansion.
“Scarface: The World is Yours” (2006)
What if Tony Montana survived the climactic, cocaine-fueled battle in his mansion at the end of 1983’s “Scarface”? That’s where the 2006 video game comes in. The game features Pacino’s likeness for Tony but not his voice — the actor believed his voice had changed too much over the years, so he personally selected Andre Sogliuzzo to take over the role. Other original cast members, including Robert Loggia and Steven Bauer, voiced new characters in the game.
James Cameron sequeled Ridley Scott’s “Alien,” jumping 57 years into the future. Instead of a small crew encountering the aliens, a whole colony is taken down and Ripley accompanies a group of marines to the planet to find out what happened. Most of the marines are killed, and fans were famously disappointed when survivors Newt (Carrie Henn) and Hicks (Michael Biehn) were killed off-screen in “Alien 3.”
“Aliens: Colonial Marines” (2013)
Like “Alien: Isolation,” “Aliens: Colonial Marines” adds more story between the existing “Alien” films. The game focuses on the marine rescue team that would have come to save the characters from the film. Of course, the marines find more aliens, plus human bad guys from the Weyland-Yutani corporation, just to make exceedingly sure the game completely misses the point the movie was making. But it does ret-con “Alien 3” to save Hicks from his untimely off-screen death, so it’s not all bad.