Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Video Games and Marvel

I'm an occasional gamer. I love sandbox games through and through. The mod communities on PC games especially give me all I'd ever want from games whether it's GTA SA mods allowing me to fly the tardis or drive a tron legacy bike, or UT2k4 and its BubbleGum Crisis mods to let me play as the knight sabers and kick some boomer butt. Well almost everything. Even mods have their limitations.

I'm an avid Halo fan, Dead Or Alive, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, GTA SA, among many many other games. Most recently I've become enthralled with Infamous, Prototype, Crackdown and the mac daddy of all sand box games, Saints Row. Yeah I know, it's a crime against calling myself a gamer to not list Arkham Asylum and Arkham City on that list too, but I've not played them yet. (Stoning to commence in 5, 4, 3, 2...)

Marvel has dabbled in this realm with games through Activision and others. They've had some great successes with their Spider-man games this way, but sadly none of their other franchises have reached the level that Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, Ultimate Spider-man, and Web Of Shadows have. Even those were lacking aspects that could have made them better. Overall something has shifted with the games away from this growing awesomeness going more for levels and platforming or Gaunlet inspired arcade action instead of open world exploration and interaction they were once dabbling in.

Saints Row the Third is hitting shelves soon(November 15th!), and with it comes an amazing custom character creation center. Finally an open world game where you can do the most ludicrious of things looking entirely as you want, but also has story using your custom creation. This is the type of game I'd love to see for X-23, hell, really any Marvel character.

I'd like to suggest something amazing. Let Volition Inc. make some Marvel games. Let's see what they could make with their Saints Row the Third expertise and how they could intermingle the tech accessories to power sets from Marvel characters. Stuff that could consist of Iron Man boots or a Darkhawk amulet on X-23, Falcon wings on Captain America, a carnage/venom symbiote on Juggernaut, Thor-like hammers or Asgard weapons for whoever, or whatever other mix and match types you could do from innate abilities to outward tech/organics/mystic artifacts that can enhance a power set. With the massive range of weapons and powers within Marvel, you have a full on sand box arsenal just waiting to be tapped alongside the commonly available real world weapons in games. Volition themselves show a strong aptitude with the obscure and dynamic melee combat to pull it off magnificently.

All that would be left would be to build a massive ever changing world around this concept. Destructable buildings that have interiors, in game clock reconstruction times, and more. Just imagine a game where you have to infiltrate a building for a mission, but randomly the support structures have been destroyed. Do you jump out the window and dive for safety? Do you take the stairwell and hope you can beat the collapse? Is the building falling over so you try to jump to the window of the next? Or do you take the elevator shaft like a zipline to reach the bottom? A game with choice would be key. As your personal city got destroyed and rebuilt the landscape would be ever changing from buildings to construction sites and even debris fields. More and more environment interaction would cater to your choices and play styles or power sets. The debris would add hilarity to situations as the randomest things could happen as any GTA player will tell you. (Personally, I've been killed in that game by falling airplanes, crushed by my own car after I jumped out, and so much more. My personal favorite being when I road a bike atop the Casino Pyramid, fell off it, slid down to the bottom, and stood there for a few minutes wondering where my bike went just to be crushed by it. "Oh, there it is.")

This is the kind of game I want to see. Something on the lines of Assassin's Creed, Saints Row the Third, Infamous, Prototype, Crackdown, and Arkham City all rolled into one. A game where the player has the power to choose what kind of hero they want to be, and how they want to approach every scenario in this open ended world. Whether it be X-23's stealth and strategy, the Hulk's brute force, wolverine's berserker rage, Cap's shield slinging, or spider-man's nimbleness, the power would be in your hands for how you felt like playing that day and how you applied the abilities and evironment to your advantage for whatever you wanted to do. Even if it's just to slide down a building like X-23 does in her X-Men Evolution debut or ride Hawkeye's skycycle.

This is an idea that's grand in size, probably even expensive in what all it needs coded. With the modern console era it is something possible. With a single city game like this, it could be expanded with real DLC. Things like new building blueprints, new devices in Reed Richard's lab that can interconnect worlds, dimensions, and more. So that money invested would in turn create endless profit in the long run.

Think about it for a second. With just minor transitional areas like say a space port, you can have all of cosmic Marvel realms at your disposal. Transitional places like Airports, bus stations, space shuttle launch pads, Reed's lab with dimensional gates, space stations(with of course the DPC's Bea Arthur), Shi'ar teleportation areas in the X-Mansion, Utopia and their teleporters, and more you have an ever growing and infinite amount of DLC potential.

Eventually through DLC it could create a fully organic universe that started as just one city and potentially a country-side. From the skrull planets, to kree, even the shi'ar, Nova Corps ship, the negative zone, Wakanda, Madripoor, Latveria, or GotG's Nowhere you could do anything, be anyone and go anywhere thanks to just simple transitional spots within key areas that make sense within the Marvel Universe.

The drawback? Eventually you'd have no harddisk space left for anything else. It's an idea that needs to be thought out and weighed against the options of storage space, and how to spread it across multiple hardcopy games that can expand on each area and their heroes or villians. Stuff like Marvel Universe: The Kree Skrull war, Marvel Universe: Welcome to the Nova Corps, Marvel Universe: Academy X, Marvel Universe: Utopia (which would include San Francisco), Marvel Universe: Iron Man. Sure it'd add disk swapping as a factor, but wouldn't it be worth it to have one massive cohesive playable universe for you to use the characters you like, or create your own in a world that has mechanics and enviroment interaction done as well as Saints Row the third, Infamous, Prototype, or Batman Arkham City?

It'd break new ground, give multiplayer a whole new draw as every player's universe would be different to each other, and finally bring new meaning to Marvel's catch phrase "Your Universe." You could share what's happened in your world with other players, or share in what happened in theirs. The aspects of interaction would give all new ways to how you handle the different play types. Do you have a shoot out in an office building all Matrix style having Punisher guns ablazing or mutant power based attacks with your team, or do you hulk up or strategicly plant bombs and just trash the building foundation while everyone's inside? In a street chase do you free run across rooftops? Do you hop car roof to car roof? Do you steal a car or bike and have a giant epic car chase? Do you fire up the the Rescue or IronMan armor and fly after? Do you use a skycycle or Shield flying car? The transitions and competitive or co-op nuances are numerous for something always new and cool happening every time you play. It'd create an infinite amount of replay that's all dependant on how you wanted to play, from Iron Man's tech, to Surge's emp, everything would always be constantly in flux and balancing each other out dynamicly with your choices and actions at your disposal.

Everytime I play games like Infamous, Prototype, Crackdown, and Saints Row the 3rd, I can't help but dream of this game line that'll never come to pass. If you see someone online that looks like a Marvel character in Saints Row the Third, that just might be people attempting to live the dream in what's available too.

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