Game developers always try to make their game’s “cinematic”. The honest truth is that there are some people out there making games who actually want to make movies instead. When it comes to science fiction games, there are a few that are even better than the science fiction movies we get in theaters. If more people could make scifi movies as awesome as the five games on this list, we wouldn’t complain as much about how the genre is being treated by Hollywood.
I still vividly remember the first time I played the original Halo. Aside from being a great FPS with excellent AI at the time, it was also a science fiction epic set in a world where one wonders why no film studio hasn’t given someone $200 million to realize on the big screen. The disappointing ending of Halo 2 did really piss off some fans, but a lot of second installments of series do that. Halo 3 came back strong, and the on-going story of Master Chief is still one of the best in gaming and it earns even more points for being a scifi story.
The first two Wing Commander games helped propel the space combat sim genre to mass market appeal and helped make the genre one of the most popular on the PC throughout the 90s. Wing Commander 3, 4, and Prophecy brought in a Hollywood cast and actually made an interactive movie that in some ways was more memorable than the actual space combat gameplay. In fact, aside from the final epic bombing mission on Kilrah in Wing Commander 3; I remember the movie parts a lot more. Both Wing Commander 3 and 4 are available for $6 each on GoG.com, so if you’ve never played them it’s worth checking them out just for the movie. The two games were a thousand times better than the real Wing Commander movie Chris Roberts made a few years later.
Despite a third entry in the trilogy with an ending that was insulting to anyone who spent the time to play through Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, BioWare’s scifi trilogy is worth playing through. They’ve fixed the ending to Mass Effect 3 to make it less insulting and actually give some worthy closure to the character’s stories, so if you pick up the Trilogy release later this year and start off at Mass Effect 1, you’ll experience one of the best interactive science fiction space operas ever.
Visceral Game’s Dead Space series is like living in an Alien movie. Each one has ratcheted up the scale, with Dead Space 1 set on a derelict space ship, Dead Space 2 on a space station, and Dead Space 3 will be set on a planet. One of the strongest points of Dead Space is its sound design. Crank up your surround system, turn off the lights, and keep a change of underwear close. While there are a lot of movies that follow the same style, the Dead Space trilogy would make an awesome film adaptation.
This one may be tough to track down, but it’s definitely worth it. One of the last of the mega-budget adventure games in the 90s, Westwood Studios (creators of Command & Conquer) created the perfect Blade Runner game. You don’t play Deckard, but you explore that perfectly realized future Los Angeles in one of the most impressive movie-licensed games ever made.