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The Best Video Games Based on Movies: ‘Goldeneye,’ ‘Alien: Isolation,’ and More

The jump from the silver screen to the console has yielded many great games.

Movies based on video games tend to not be very good, ditto games based on movies. Every so often, however, there are exceptions made all the more satisfying by their rarity. These date back decades, from the Sega Genesis version of “Aladdin” that many a kid played in the early ‘90s to the “Chronicles of Riddick” shooter that was better than the movie itself, and continues to this day.

Moving from the silver screen to the console seems to be easier than the opposite route. Here are the best video games based on movies:

5) “Shadow of Mordor”

“The Two Towers” and “The Return of the King” had a more direct link to the One Trilogy to Rule Them All, but “Shadow of Mordor” offers a far more immersive sense of what it’d be like to actually traverse the darkest corner of Middle Earth. Slinking through Mordor and hunting down Uruk-hai is every bit as fun as you’d hope, as is switching between human and wraith modes; the game’s Nemesis system, which involves a hierarchy of warchiefs that ensures you’ll always have worthy foes to battle (or, even better, bend to your will) is one of the cleverest gaming concepts in years. Several games have been better in recent years, but few have been more enjoyable.

4) “The Thing”

Anyone disappointed by the 2011 prequel starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead (read: everyone who saw it) would do well to check out this survival-horror game, which functions as a sequel and deftly captures the paranoia of wondering who’s invisibly transformed into the Thing. So spooky and stressful that this writer had difficulty actually finishing it way back when, “The Thing” picks up where John Carpenter’s sci-fi classic left off (and even features a voice cameo from him), with a mix of third-person-shooting action and a way to test which of your squadmates aren’t what they seem. That goes both ways, however — if you begin acting in a way they don’t like, your would-be friends will eventually turn on you.  

3) “Goldeneye”

If you’re a gamer of a certain age, you probably can’t even count how many hours you spent playing the best James Bond game ever made with your friends. Still the gold standard for multiplayer first-person shooters, “Goldeneye” influenced endless imitators that tried (and most often failed) to replicate its sleek, addictive gameplay; like the “007” franchise itself, it somehow felt vintage even as it brought the series in new directions. 

2) “Alien: Isolation”

It isn’t just that this survival-horror game captures the “Alien” aesthetic better than its predecessors — it’s that it captures the vibe of its source material better than any other game ever. It also proves that the many “Aliens”-inspired first-person shooters, some of which were quite good, were adapting the wrong movie. “Alien,” at its heart, is about claustrophobic horror — something “Isolation” captures perfectly, not least because you can’t actually kill the xenomorph that spends the entirety of the game hunting you. That means you’ll spend a lot of time running, hiding, and attempting to simply survive.

1) “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic”

“Knights of the Old Republic” tells as compelling a story as any actual “Star Wars” movie, so much so that it’d probably make a better standalone film than several that are actually in production. Darth Revan is among the franchise’s most compelling characters, not least because the choices you make in this sprawling role-playing game actually affect his (or her) potential redemption arc; the reveal of Revan’s true identity is one of gaming’s most memorable twists. Also: you literally get to Force Choke people, sometimes in the middle of conversation. Who wouldn’t turn to the Dark Side for that?

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