Movies have long inspired video game creators. In some cases, developers went too far and turned their games into little more than movies with worse acting. The full motion video games from Sega CD like Ground Zero: Texas and Mad Dog McCree still give me nightmares.
However, other developers struck a smart balance. They were inspired by movies but didn't merely copy them. Instead, these studios fused the story-telling style of their favorite films with top-notch gameplay. In doing so, they created truly unique and memorable experiences:
Uncharted 2The Uncharted series unquestionably owes a debt to Indiana Jones. Each game follows a treasure hunter who can't shave as he races to find some fabled relic before his less ethical rivals can do the same. Said rivals end up beating him to the treasure, but in doing so unleash some kind of supernatural evil that our hero then has to contain. Nonetheless, Uncharted 2 showed that you can tell a great story even while you're biting someone else's style. Nathan Drake's adventure to Shambhala checks off every item on the Indiana Jones checklist (violent autocrats, sexual tension with female companion and daring escapes from crumbling temples) but does so with such verve and skill that Uncharted is now far more than a clone. At the very least, it's now a part-owner of the entire treasure hunting genre.
Sam & Max Hit The RoadDon't let the cutesy graphics fool you into thinking Sam & Max Hit The Road is a kid's game. The adventure game was actually closer in style to a twisted buddy cop movie. Anthopomorphic dog Sam and "hyperkinetic rabbity thing" Max are hired to track down a bigfoot and giraffe-necked girl that escaped from a local carnival. While trying to complete their assignment, the two cause untold amounts of collateral damage. It's surprising there was never a Sam & Max movie because this duo is much more deserving of screen time than a lot of other detective teams out there.
Spec Ops: The LineLike Uncharted 2, Spec Ops: The Line smells like a clone. The setup is pretty much identical to Apocalypse Now. A three-man Delta Force squad is sent into a ruined city to find Colonel John Konrad, a U.S. Army officer who has deserted along with his unit. Still, this familiar story gets new meaning when grafted onto a shooter, a genre centered around mass killing. The Line is as much an examination of why we play games this violent as it is a look at the horrors of war. It's a dark, disturbing journey that you might find hard to shake off.
Heavy RainQuantic Dream has always made games styled after movies but Heavy Rain was arguably their best. The game follows four characters trying to track down the Origami Killer, a murderer who drowns his victims to death with rainwater. The big plot twist gets most of the attention but the truth is there are a lot of great moments throughout the game. The story is as strong during the quiet moments, like a father making dinner for his son, as it is during fight scenes. The game creates heroes we care about and then pits them against a truly unique villain - a feat many serial killer movies simply fail at.
Dead SpaceIt would be dumb to say that Dead Space is better than Alien. It surpasses a lot of other movies in the space horror genre, though. Player's trip through an alien-infested ship has it all: jump scares, crazy cultists, government conspiracies, and some seriously memorable monsters. The Dead Space series lost its way in later games, as EA tried to turn it into a multiplayer shooter franchise in search of higher profits. They should've stuck with the formula established by the first game: a lone engineer fighting for his life against grotesque creatures.