5 Movies That Could Be Adapted Into Unique Games

Basic Instinct

Of course, if you’re going to make an erotic thriller into a game, you can’t ignore the film that made the genre mainstream. Basic Instinct is a far more, eh, basic concept for a game, the story of a police detective becoming sexually involved with the woman who is the only suspect in the murder he is investigating. So it isn’t too difficult to steal from L.A. Noire, focus the game on a single case, and toss in some great nudity for kicks. Basic Instinct the film even has its own interrogation sequence, just one that is far more dramatic and eventful and includes our femme fatale showing her vulva to the camera.

Because I very much believe in the power of replayability, I would prefer to keep Basic Instinct: The Video Game short, though longer than the average L.A. Noire case. The movie has all the content you need, in fact, with two crime scene investigations, an interrogation, an encounter with the masked killer as s/he takes down someone the detective is trying to work with, and an exciting car chase up Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. I think if we take what director Paul Verhoeven and co. gave us and throw in some variability and fail states (allowing our detective to die at the end, for one), this could be a, ahem, tight experience that encourages multiple attempts from the player, without any of that feeling like an overwhelming prospect.

Silver Linings Playbook

I talk a big game on the Twitters about how somebody should try to make a romantic comedy game, but trying to figure out how to do one without mixing it with the action genre is a challenge. But then I think of Remember Me. As frustrated as I personally was with that game, its hook mechanic, in which you enter a person’s memory and tweak small things in a scene to create a desired outcome, is a pretty killer concept for a sort of god game. (More on that shortly.)

Remember Me’s hook is tailored really well for a story like Silver Linings Playbook. Pat (the main character) might be right at home with the criminal triumvirate of Grand Theft Auto V (I think Michael would see in him a kindred spirit), but in this more grounded universe (our own), he is actually trying to make himself into a functional member of society. Unfortunately, estranged from his wife after nearly killing the man she was having an affair with, he lives with his parents while he attempts to work out his issues. That’s not always the healthiest environment. He eventually find some solace in the company of Tiffany, who is similarly neurotic in the wake of her husband’s death.

When I refer to this as a god game, I mean in the sense that the player will not control any character, but rather will be an unseen force in the plot. Think of the memory remix sequences from Remember Me, but over an entire movie’s worth of scenes, with no other gameplay mechanic. It wouldn’t be as simple as moving objects around a room, though; the god (player) can subtly influence all the characters who interact with Pat and Tiffany (though they’d be beyond reach). (Editor’s note: A concept similar to this one is actually being realized in The Novelist, an upcoming indie game on Steam Greenlight.)

The kicker here is that while there will be goal outcomes — like Pat coming to terms with his divorce, winning the climactic bet over the dance competition, having Tiffany and Pat initiate a truly productive relationship in which they are actually able to help each other work through their baggage — the player won’t have unlimited attempts at working a scene. You make the decisions you think will move our heroes in the right direction, and then live with how it goes. Adjustments can be made in real time or while a scene is paused, and there will be indicators, such as a mood meter for Pat, that help judge the success or failure of your actions. No rewinding, however.

Patriot Games

With the death of Tom Clancy, I had to include something from him. Sure, we’ve had our fair share of Clancy-branded games, but none of them are particularly close to the flavor of one of his stories. Patriot Games would be an excellent way to rectify that.

In the film, protagonist Jack Ryan gains a personal nemesis when he saves the British secretary of state for Northern Ireland from an assassination attempt by some Irish Republican Army dude. In the process, one of the attackers he puts down is Patrick Miller, whose brother, Sean, takes this very personally. Sean is captured and put on trial, and Ryan testifies against him. Though Sean is convicted, his brothers in arms free him as he is being transported to prison, and the terrorists flee the country. At this point, however, Sean decides that he’s pissed enough at Ryan that he is going to take some of his comrades to the U.S. of A to kill him and his family.

Admittedly, Patriot Games is the “gamiest” of the Clancy films, as it does have a lot of action. But it provides a really compelling framework that would make it stand out. The ideal Patriot Games game would have you control both Sean Miller and Jack Ryan. As Miller, the player would plan out his various attacks throughout the story: Since this is a Clancy game, we can start with a mixture of GTA V’s broad heist planning, and the original Rainbow Six game’s more gritty approach. Like GTA V, the player could have a couple of caper options to choose from, but could be provided with more specific options for how these plans might play out. And of course, Sean will take part in the attacks themselves.

Ryan’s story will play out in parallel, with player controlling him rather than Sean during most of the combat scenarios, (though some switching may occur mid-mission as in GTA V). Outside of combat, Ryan — a CIA analyst — will attempt to hunt Sean down. To keep this from compromising things, the player won’t have control over or knowledge of the locations of Sean’s bases of operation.

Patriot Games would still be a generally linear story with an inevitable climax. The player would just dictate some of the particulars of gameplay. Though the story must reach a specific climax point at Ryan’s house, how each scenario goes along the way will affect the odds of each side winning the final encounter. Yes, Sean’s group of terrorists can win; The game ultimately is pitting your strategic abilities against your combat skills.

Action gameplay, I should stress, must be far more contained than a normal action game. You won’t be killing thousands of people here. We’re going Actual Clancy, in that we aren’t going to take use the one-man-against-an-army mold. Combat scenarios will instead be akin to those in Rainbow Six but less controlled, and much of the time spent out in the world will be spent, on the IRA side, getting into position for the strike rather than in shooting. Actual fights will be short.

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5 Comments on 5 Movies That Could Be Adapted Into Unique Games


On October 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm

A slow news day I take it Phil.

Films that are made to games should always be avoided, they are never any good. Something is always lost in the adaptation, I am not sure asking for more of the same trash is a good idea.


On October 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm

“Always” is too strong a word, aedelric. Let us not forget the greatness that was Goldeneye for N64.


On October 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm

I’m tempted to rattle off the many great movie-based games from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, but that wouldn’t be a fair comparison. Still, I think Aedelric is being a bit harsh because there’s been plenty of at least decent film adaptations (though the only ones from the last few years I’d say are actively ‘good’ are From Russia With Love, King Kong and Toy Story 3) and, crucially, there have also been some ok games that have been based around famous films but have their own stories, like the Godfather games, Scarface, Escape from Butcher Bay and several Star Wars games, to name a few. That’s the sort of thing Phil’s talking about here, I think – films where (with the exception of Silver Lining’s Playbook, which admittedly I think Phil’s really stretching with as it sounds like it would totally suck balls no matter what the gameplay mechanic was – if you’re going for that sort of ‘story-only’ game, it NEEDS to be an original story or else there’s no justification for playing it over just watching the film) the passage of time is long enough that people will still remember them, but there’s no mad rush to get the games developed and put on shelves before they’re ready to ship because the film’s not current anyway. Plus, they wouldn’t need to follow the plot of the films precisely, they can be sequels or prequels using the same cannon.

I personally would love to see a game or series of games based DIRECTLY on A Song of Ice and Fire, rather than trying to be tie-ins with Game of Thrones. It would be interesting to see someone else’s reimagining of the universe, its characters and its morals.


On October 5, 2013 at 9:10 pm

I’m not going to say Movie games are bad (all of them at least), but I doubt anybody will disagree when I say all the “best of the best” games come from original ideas. I find it more odd that some games inspire movies. Like the halo movie for example (PS why does that movie exist, I mean yea yea milk the market but who would actually like/buy a movie based on a video game that isn’t a documentary of some sort))


On October 6, 2013 at 1:20 am

You are not wrong SupremeAllah, but that is quite a special case, for every Goldeneye or Escape From Butcher Bay we have games like Tomorrow Never Dies, Enter the Matrix and countless others.