Popcorn Partners: Games to Play After Seeing the Summer's Biggest Movies
With Memorial Day in the rearview mirror, it's a fact that summer's already started. Another fact: Lots of the movies this summer will have tie-in games associated with them. Take our advice and do not play them. Though the tide is turning (see the Riddick titles), the clich? about games tethered to movies and other non-game media sucking hard is still mostly true. However, odds are you're going to walk out of a darkened theater all excited to play something that feels like what you just saw. Allow us to play matchmaker and point you at games that should keep your cinematic buzz going. (Warning to the plot-sensitive: Spoilers ahoy!)
You're gonna see: "Star Trek"
J.J. Abrams' reimagining of the beloved television space opera charts Captain Kirk's earliest days as a cocky rule-breaker at Starfleet Academy and shows how Spock, Uhura and the other members of the original Enterprise crew came to serve together against a mysterious, marauding Romulan threat.
Then you should play: Mass Effect
As in Gene Roddenberry's brainchild, Mass Effect features exploration of faraway planets, interspecies romance and laser-gun battles galore. Players will interact with various alien races while trying to stop an ancient mechanized species' plot to destroy all life in the universe. Depending on how you play Commander Shepard, the lead character in BioWare's action role-playing game can be as impulse-driven (that's a little engineering pun there) and maverick-y as Chris Pine's Captain Kirk, or as chatty and diplomatic as William Shatner. Expect even more universe-spanning action and melodrama in the upcoming Mass Effect 2.
You're gonna see: "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"
Hugh Jackman vaulted into superstar status playing Marvel's fast-healing mutant, and returns to the role of Logan as the secrets behind his past get revealed. Learn about the how and why of his adamantium skeleton, his service as a black-ops agent and the source of his lifelong feud with Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth. Oh, yeah, and a lot of killing gets done.
Then you should play: God of War
Like Logan, Kratos' violent battles find their fuel in past tragedies. Unlike Logan, his games boast epic stories and compelling characters. The Wolverine game uses the God of War franchise as a template, but lacks its epic scope and mythological heft. Both antiheroes rip people in half, but it's the pale blade-wielder from Sparta who manages to combine plot and action into a gripping experience over the course of games like God of War, God of War II and God of War: Chains of Olympus. God of War III looks to raise the blood-drenched bar even higher.
You're gonna see: "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3"
John Travolta's holding a entire subway train hostage in the Tony Scott-directed thriller. In the remake of the 1974 classic, Travolta makes life hell for a train dispatcher played by Denzel Washington. Washington must negotiate a ransom with Ryder (Travolta's character) before he starts killing passengers. Suddenly, the morning commute with Loud-Talking Crazy Guy doesn't seem so bad...
Then you should play: Grand Theft Auto IV
When it comes to gritty urban crime drama, Rockstar Games' most recent entry set a new standard for videogames with its chart-topping debut last year. Set in a sprawling faux New York City, GTA IV tells the story of Niko Bellic, who's trying to leave his blood-spattered past in the "old country" behind. Falling into a life of intimidation and easy money makes that lot harder. The GTA series' trademark car-jacking and gunfights look better than ever, and the Lost and Damned downloadable episode gave players a new character with which to wreak havoc. With the newly announced episode The Ballad of Gay Tony coming later this year, it looks like GTA IV will be holding gamers hostage for a while longer.
You're gonna see: "Public Enemies"
With Johnny Depp and Christian Bale playing notorious criminal John Dillinger and FBI agent Melvin Purvis, this Depression-era period piece sports some serious acting chops. Dillinger's daring bank robberies and jail breaks earned him infamy and made him a hero to the downtrodden masses. Style maestro Michael Mann's behind the camera for this one, so "Public Enemies" should offer slick visuals and tense cat-and-mouse moments when it debuts on screens this summer.
Then you should play: Mafia II
Okay, so this sequel to the bestselling PC game doesn't hit consoles and computers until early next year but the upcoming 2K action title aims to transport players to the idiosyncratic underworld of another era, just like Mann's movie. Set in the 1940s and 1950s, the missions in the gorgeous crime experience might require more than an itchy trigger finger as stealth and subterfuge come into play, too. And talk about drama: The lead character has to hide his life of crime from his dear old mom. Dillinger didn't roll with the Black Hand, but we think it won't be long before you sign up to become a made man once you get a gander at what developer Illusion Softworks is cooking up.
You're gonna see: "Inglourious Basterds"
Quentin Tarantino's been brewing his version of a World War II movie for many moons, but it's finally seeing the light of day. Led by Brad Pitt's Lt. Aldo Raine, a secret Allied strike team made up of Jewish-American soldiers looks to disrupt the Nazis' death grip on France by brutally dispatching the German occupying forces. Tarantino's known for creating intense, over-the-top violence and morally bankrupt characters, so "Basterds" won't be the war flick where the heroes are paragons of virtue.
Then you should play: Battlefield: Bad Company
Like the Basterds in Tarantino's latest, Private Preston Marlowe and his buddies are technically the good guys in the spin-off of EA's venerable Battlefield franchise. But, with a squad comprised of screw-ups who happen to be trying to abscond with enemy gold, the members of Bad Company won't be winning any medals for valor. The massively destructible environments and darkly humorous plot from last year's first-person shooter may be set in the modern day, but Bad Company should please any movie buff wanting to walk through the absurdity of war. A sequel's been announced, so more amoral mayhem will be coming across the horizon soon.
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