Movies based on video games don’t have the best track record, but hope springs eternal. Like a persistent player who refuses to quit after getting killed by mobs of enemies on a difficult level, gamers have no choice but to remain hopeful that they’ll get it right next time. Occasioned by the news that “Mass Effect” will soon be adapted, here are 10 other games that could buck the trend and make for great films.
Welcome to Rapture. Ayn Rand’s influence on political discourse may be dubious, but there’s no denying that rational self-interest made for one hell of a video game. Said game is a dystopian nightmare, to be sure, but an immersive one at that. Almost everything “Bioshock” — from its underwater setting to its Big Daddies and Little Sisters — is inherently cinematic, so it’s little surprise that it came close to being adapted once before. Studios, would you kindly get this one back on track?
Praise the sun! The punishingly difficult — and, yes, gloriously incandescent — trilogy is light on story and rich in atmosphere, which could just be the ideal formula for games-turned-films. It’d certainly be a change of pace: The Chosen Undead isn’t a valiant hero so much as a wandering soul condemned to keep forging ahead for lack of any other option. We’d be crestfallen if they didn’t get it right, but but there’s no point going hollow waiting for them to get around to it.
The biggest problem with last year’s “World of Warcraft” adaptation is that the wrong Blizzard game made it to the big screen. Not even death can save you from “Diablo,” whose Prime Evils are constantly at battle with barbarians, necromancers, witch doctors and other unlikely allies whose main commonality is a shared desire not to see the forces of hell overtake their world. Hint at the Secret Cow Level in the post-credits scene and send everyone home happy.
The aesthetic of this long-running RPG franchise is so obviously indebted to “Mad Max” and its sequel that any film adaptation runs the risk of being overly familiar. It’s worth the risk. “Fallout” sets itself apart from other traipses through post-apocalyptia with a mordant sense of humor and endless peripheral details to get caught up in; successfully translating that to film could make for an experience as dark as it is hilarious.
Just because we aren’t exactly lacking for violent movies full of car chases, heists and shootouts doesn’t mean there’s no room on the silver screen for “GTA’s” irreverent brand of action and humor. Whether it’s set in Liberty City, San Andreas or Vice City — or maybe all three? — there are any number of potentially satisfying ways to explore this consistently entertaining world and all the oddballs therein.
One of the most original, memorable games of the ’90s, “Grim Fandango” introduced us to a mild-mannered Grim Reaper making his way a film noir–inflected Land of the Dead. Static environments notwithstanding, its cinematic influences and rich story make it an obvious candidate for a film version. Maybe the (presumed) success of “Coco” will have studios looking for more Día de Muertos–inspired stories?
There’s been a trend, in recent years, of video games attempting to be as cinematic as possible. Often this is to their detriment, but “The Last of Us” strikes the best balance yet — especially its heart-rending prologue, which is already a better movie than most actual movies. The post-apocalyptic game was in development as recently as last year (Maisie Williams of “Game of Thrones” wanted to play the lead), but it went nowhere fast.
The storytelling is so classical in “Zelda” that the biggest risk in adapting it may be the possibility of coming across as antiquated. That fate could be avoided by making the eponymous princess more than just a damsel in distress and emphasizing all those strange details that make Hyrule worth returning to time and again: the music, the time travel, the creatures.
One of the best Westerns in recent memory isn’t a movie — at least not yet. Sandwiched between the two most recent “GTA” games, “Red Dead Redemption” provided so many hours of entertainment that a couple more hardly seem out of the question.
With all the standalone “Star Wars” films in development, you’d think they could spare some love for the best video game in the galaxy. “Knights of the Old Republic” tells as compelling a story as any actual “Star Wars” movie, so it seems like a no-brainer to share the rise and fall of Darth Revan with a wider audience than Xbox and PC afforded it. (Ignore the rushed “Sith Lords” sequel if you must, but try to restore balance to the Force by including Darth Nihilus, won’t you?)