Video games have always been influenced by movies, but over the past few years, this influence has grown significantly. I’ve always been a fan of both media and while I definitely like classic movies and classic games, I also enjoy when one borrows something from the other. Below you’ll find a list with some of the best cinematic games or those games that could have easily been movies.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
Uncharted is like playing a 10-hour action film and while some people have complained about the game and compared it to other “power fantasies,” I definitely don’t have a problem with jumping off planes, shooting dozens of people, investigating caves and witnessing explosion after explosion. The Tomb Raider reboot also used this formula to craft a fantastic action game, but while Square Enix’s game is terrific, Uncharted did it first. If you really think about it, playing Uncharted is like playing Indiana Jones, Tin Tin and Jurassic Park all at the same time.
Like Half-Life represented a revolution back in 1998, BioShock Infinite did something similar when it came out in 2013. But while the original BioShock was a terrific title, I believe Infinite is superior in pretty much every aspect. The ambitious custcenes, hidden loading times, convoluted story that deals with mature themes (including Racism, Americanism, Religion, Elitism, Cultism and Fate) amazing dialogues and likable characters make Infinite a game worth playing.
For all intents and purposes, Heavy Rain feels and looks like a film. Back in the day, the game got a lot of flack for some unconventional ideas and use of cliches, but it’s hard to complain when the technical aspect is so terrific, when the storytelling is so good and when the characters are so well-crafted. It may not be for everyone, but Heavy Rain is definitely an essential game if you like cinematic games.
Beyond: Two Souls
Like Heavy Rain, some people think Beyond is an interactive movie rather than a game and while I completely disagree with that statement, I certainly understand why anyone would make such comparison. Beyond: Two Souls gives you that feeling that you’re watching a movie or a TV series, but it also makes you feel like you’re important to tell that story. Some people might find this distracting or simplistic, but I think this is the best of both worlds.
Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes
Director of the Metal Gear Solid series Hideo Kojima has always stated his interested in directing films and while that hasn’t happened yet, he has always crafted games that could easily be movies. Some people might complain about the long cutscenes in the Metal Gear franchise, but artistry in those videos is definitely outstanding.
The Last of Us
I often think about games and if they have artistic merit or not. That’s a long discussion and one that needs to be had with a lot of other people, but regardless of how I feel about video games as art, if I ever have to show someone the ability of games to share emotion, to break new ground and to do something really rare and special, I’d probably give them a copy of The Last of Us.
Mass Effect can be compared to some of the biggest science fiction franchises in films, including Star Wars, Star Trek and Avatar, to name but a few. The painstaking attention to detail in this trilogy, the amazing visual effects, fantastic voice acting, the massive universe and the well-crafted story and characters are a sight to behold.
If you want a cinematic experience leave it to Rockstar to create something worthy of Hollywood. With L.A. Noire, the developer/publisher did something truly special and a game we’ll be talking about for years to come. The state-of-the-art motion technology, the incredibly crafted city of Los Angeles, the painstaking attention to detail in every little thing and the amazing voice acting are some of the elements that are part of L.A. Noire and without any of them the game would feel contrived.
Grand Theft Auto V
The Grand Theft Auto series has always been influenced by films. GTA III is similar to the Godfather, Goodfellas and Carlito’s Way, Vice City to Miami Vice, San Andreas to Boyz in the Hood and GTA IV to Snatch and Heat. Since the developers love films so much, they definitely pay a lot of attention to the setting, characters, dialogue and mission design. It might not be perfect, but Grand Theft Auto V is one of the closest thing we’ll get to a movie.
If I had to choose only one game that feels like watching a movie, that certainly be Half-Life 2 (or the Half-Life series in general for that matter.) The most surprising thing about Half-Life is how you truly assume the role of protagonist Gordon Freeman and how you don’t leave that perspective until the credits roll. Even when you find yourself watching cutscenes, you’re still doing so from Gordon Freeman’s perspective.
Honorable Mentions: God of War III, Batman Arkham, Sleeping Dogs, Halo and Tomb Raider (2013)