Just like the film Layer Cake proved to the world that Daniel Craig would make a cracking James Bond, so too did Insomniac’s open-world, superhero-em-up game Infamous and it’s sequels show that the developer had the skills to make brilliant games about people with crime-fighting powers. Now the proof is very much in the pudding with the recently released, and rather fantastic, Marvel’s Spider-man.
So, does this mean that we’ll see a slew of great superhero games that understand the nuances of the dual characteristics of people with magical or fantastical abilities? If so, which heroes are ripe for their own open-world, AAA video game? Read on as I pick who I’d like to see get the Insomniac treatment.
Disclaimer: Despite using the word fantastical earlier, there are no references to the Fantastic Four in this article. Sorry Fan-Four-Tastic fans.
There are not many comic book fans who would disagree with the statement that Nightwing, AKA Dick Grayson, is the Spider-man of DC Comics. They were both orphaned; both started out fighting crime in their teens; both have an infinite well of self-determination and courage that sees them beat the odds over and over. The juicier side of Nightwing’s character however is his relationship with Bruce Wayne and Batman. Insomniac could sink their teeth deeply into the ‘worrying but trying to be hands-off’ parent that Wayne became, especially when Grayson became Nightwing and didn’t have a genius billionaire as his fallback. Grayson being lovable and positive juxtaposes Batman’s eternal broodiness, and Batman accepting that Grayson had let his parents’ deaths go, and therefore becoming greater than he could ever be, is one of the most satisfying arcs the character has. He’s Batman 2.0. Mechanics-wise it would be very similar but set in Gotham – instead of catching people’s pigeons you’d be solving Riddler puzzles.
Full disclosure: Ironman is my favourite superhero. Don’t even ask me why. It’s not a very unique or hipster choice, but ever since I saw Ironman with my dad when I was eighteen, I’ve followed the story arc of Tony Stark with great interest. Maybe it’s his way of hiding his true feelings just under the cover of bravado and cockiness, or that he stands with gods and superhumans and doesn’t blink. Either way, a game that explores his character can pull an Ironman 3 and have a lot of missions sans-suit. It shows off his ingenuity and tactical brain, not to mention clever little inventions like the Iron-Hand-Bullet-Stopper-Thing from Captain America: Civil War. And instead of changing suits from a menu like in Spider-man, how about having to call them in from your base, and stall for time whilst your new suit arrives? The fight against Thanos was a constant string of things being pulled out of his hat again and again until he had nothing left, constantly improvising. Sounds a lot like the Spider-man combat to me, and twice as intense.
Everyone knows Marvel’s favourite mutant and metallic-skeletoned superhero. Wolverine would be a great choice for an open world game because he’s never truly got a foot in any camp; neither being beholden to Patrick Stewart and the X-Men, nor to the Avengers. There’s a fair few people who remember the X-Men Origins: Wolverine game that was surprisingly solid, and the latest film Logan had the chops to focus on the character who happened to have metal claws, rather than metal claws that could talk and smoke cigars. Granted it wouldn’t be an open world game like Spider-man because the fastest Logan can go is on Cyclops’ stolen motorbike, nor would he have many gadgets to unlock, since his claws and healing powers are already way overpowered. But I’d love to see the pathos of Logan’s character captured in a Last of Us style linear campaign, with some yellow spandex acrobatic flashback levels thrown in for good measure.
Has there been a game where you’ve had to play as the king before? Okay pipe down Crusader Kings I’m talking about kings who also happen to be superheroes. The Black Panther is a more acrobatic, hi-tech and culturally interesting Batman, with a real identity that just so happens to be running the world’s most advanced nation. I imagine this game to draw a lot from Dragon Age: Inquisition, a game that positions you as part-time political leader, part-time stabby explorer and conqueror. Complete missions to expand your tech and influence, keep your people happy, and then fly off to help the Avengers slap some intergalactic baddies. Then return, only to lose all of your skill tree unlocks when you have to fight a rival for the right to rule Wakanda. Tell me you don’t think that sounds great. Also the choice to either coordinate foreign aid and help black communities in first world countries, or go the full Warmonger route, would be a really cool morality mechanic.
You know what, I think Superman has had a lot of chances to be done right, and he’s blown them all. You can tell me how great he is in the comics all you like, but it’s time to try a different tack. Try Supergirl. Despite rather sadly still being labelled as a ‘girl’, Kara Zor-El is the power equivalent of Superman, being his cousin and a Kryptonian. She can fly, shoot laser beams from her eyes, and fool everyone with an slightly more convincing disguise than Clark Kent. But she would cleanse the palette of people’s recent exposure to Zack Snyder Superman by being contrastingly upbeat, confident and powerful, helping all Earthlings and trying to live a normal life to boot. And from what I can tell she’s pretty okay at that. She can even pay her rent and not get evicted, Peter. So no main story quests to go through rubbish.
Bonus: Captain Britain
Insomniac, please make a game where I can run around London as a human at peak fitness and intellect, in a union jack suit, throwing black cabs at cockney thugs, going on Remain marches down Oxford Street, and having debates with Scottish people about the use of the name ‘Britain’. Please. Thanks to Captain Britain’s suit, he’s a lot stronger than his American equivalent, and he could be voiced by Tom Hardy or Peter Serafinowicz, and record his own series of after-school videos about why you shouldn’t smoke cigarettes or consume too many kebabs after a night out. Although he’d probably have voted Leave…never mind. Captain E.U.?
That’s my top six choices for superheroes that should get the Marvel’s Spider-man treatment. Now if only someone would make a supervillain game…