Most movie-licensed games are a special kind of terrible, but every once in a while you’ll find a gem that salvages the crummy image they’ve cultivated for themselves. That’s not the case here. At best, these are thinly veiled advertisements for summer blockbusters; at worst, they’re gaming’s equivalent of Happy Meal toys – cheaply assembled from hunks of material lying around to capitalize on the fervor of whatever the target demographic is smitten with at the moment. And like those little plastic tchotchkes, if you want the thrill of playing with a relic of your new favorite license, you’re going to have to eat some junk.
It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve finally whittled down a surprisingly robust list of big-screen bombs. We’re counting down the top five worst Xbox Live Arcade movie tie-ins (in no particular order).
5) Watchmen: The End is Nigh
There are few things more fantastically inappropriate when handling a license like The Watchmen than to mash its complexity into a budget beat-em-up. So naturally, to coincide with the film’s hotly anticipated release, that’s exactly what now-defunct developer Deadline Games and Warner Brothers Interactive saw when peering into the future of the license – presumably through bulging dollar signs for eyes. Watchmen: The End is Nigh took source material that’s a subtle criticism on the culture of trusting lone figures and heroes with the sole safeguarding of society, and interpreted it as vigilante power fantasy through the margins of the law against endless waves of bad dudes. Nailed it.
In time, maybe we could have forgiven them for turning Alan Moore’s commentary into a cruel irony by slapping the license on whatever was being developed at the time. We get it. Everyone’s got to make a buck; if you’re handed a hot new license you make that work. But they didn’t. Sure, The End is Nigh looked the part, gussied up with the dark tones and gritty style of the then-forthcoming film, but it was just a shell of a thing – repetitious, unimaginative and boring, even by brawler standards.
Poor AI and almost no variety in enemies or gameplay meant your de facto “heroes” Rorschach and Nite Owl, essentially pummeled their way through a learning-disabled army of cloned thugs for the chance to tug on the occasional lever and wrap it all up with a lackluster boss fight. Not to be outdone by its monster, Deadline Games similarly wrapped it all up by filing for bankruptcy a few short months after the release – which kind of gives its game’s title a whole new meaning.
4) The Expendables 2 Videogame
If you grew up during the ‘80s, or have an affinity for the bloated action flicks that turned silver-screen genetic goldmines like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme into household names, odds are The Expendables at least blipped on your radar. Whether you loved it or hated it, The Expendables was a collective “hey-we’re-getting-the-band-back-together-you-guys” memo from the relics of the Reagan Era. Despite the overt gimmick, it was actually worth a solid watch if only so you could say, “Okay, they got that out of their systems.” But then they made a sequel. Then they made the officially licensed video game based on the sequel.
If The Expendables 2 was the final nail in the coffin for your ’80s action-flick nostalgia, then The Expendables 2 Videogame was the guy at its funeral reciting an awkward nine-verse poem from prepared three-by-five flashcards. If you weren’t sure your last bastion of adolescent machismo was dead, it certainly will be after playing this game thanks to its obligatory mediocre top-down twin-stick shooter loaded with DLC upgrades for the lazy mercenary approach.
There’s not much to say about the gameplay apart from: it’s a cooperative shooter based on the titular mercenaries. You’ll find a ton of explosions, weapons and faceless insurgents/paramilitaries/baddies to shoot and shiv along with three of your buddies. In fact, the best thing this game has going for it is the live-action trailer starring Lundgren and Crews, the latter of which steals the show with his signature maniacal cackle.[springboard type=”video” id=”850759″ player=”xbla001″ width=”640″ height=”400″ ]