From GoldenEye to South Park: 10 of the best video games based on films and TV shows

By Luke Holland
Spy games ... GoldenEye 007.
Spy games ... GoldenEye 007. Photograph: Nintendo

GoldenEye 007
(1997) Nintendo 64

While TV shows and movies adapted from games remain, generally, rubbish, there is no such curse the other way round. This seminal James Bond tie-in is the best example, showing that first-person shooters – previously the esoteric concern of hefty PCs – could excel on consoles. Its four-player split screen also taught an entire generation how to swear wholeheartedly at their peers. And to settle it once and for all: Oddjob is too small. Therefore playing as him is definitely – definitely – cheating.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole
(2017) PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC

If that title made you say: “Oh, good grief,” this probably isn’t for you. For fans, however, this is about as faithful as adaptations get: a surprisingly deep RPG (a sequel to the almost as good The Stick of Truth) written and voiced by the creators of the TV show, in which you play a new arrival in the Colorado town drawn into one of Cartman’s schemes.

Make it so ... Star Trek: Bridge Crew.
Make it so ... Star Trek: Bridge Crew. Photograph: Ubisoft

Star Trek: Bridge Crew
(2017) PlayStation VR, PC

Here’s a bit of utter Trek fan catnip: sitting on the bridge of all manner of Starfleet vessels with up to three pals – in VR, no less – pressing important flashing buttons, firing phasers and putting the ship on red alert. A shallow experience, perhaps, but about as perfect as it gets for anyone who’s ever said “engage” as their bus pulls out of the station.

Mad Max
(2015) PS4, XBox One, PC, Mac

A monosyllabic grump wandering post-apocalypse Australia doesn’t sound like the best template for a compelling protagonist. Yet this open-world shoot-and-drive-’em-up is a hoot, doubling down on the off-kilter weirdness of the original movies, filling the wasteland with oddballs, cars and things that go boom.

Alien: Isolation
(2014) Consoles, PC, Mac

A terrifying ordeal in the spirit of Ridley Scott’s original Alien. You play Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda, sharing a spaceship with a very dribbly stowaway. If your motion tracker senses something, run or hide. The third option is a dirty great hole through the middle of the face.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
(2004) PC, XBox

A rare instance of the game surpassing the source material, helped in this instance by Vin Diesel’s Riddick films being quite silly indeed. The smooth-domed growler reprises his role in an endlessly inventive origin-story shooter, as the space ne’er-do-well adapts to prison, breaks out and gets his see-in-the-dark peepers. An equally great sequel, Assault on Dark Athena, followed.

Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order
(2019) PS4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia

The sublime Knights of the Old Republic RPGs may have little to do with the films, but this assured actioner is set between the prequels and the original trilogy. So its tale of a Padawan on the run after the extermination of the Jedi order slots right into canon, with the odd movie-character cameo thrown in. If that all sounds a bit geeky, here’s the takeaway: you fight with lightsabers.

Die Hard Trilogy
(1996) PS1, Sega Saturn, PC

With their early attempts at 3D, many games of the 90s are unsightly to behold. This is no exception, yet it remains a furious and devilishly difficult blast through the first three Die Hard movies, John McClane’s handiness with firearms matched only by his adeptness with a quip.

Web master ... Marvel’s Spider-Man.
Web master ... Marvel’s Spider-Man. Photograph: Sony

Marvel’s Spider-Man
(2018) PS4

Yes, it’s technically based on a comic, but this charming web-deployment simulator sought more than anything to replicate the balletic swoops through Manhattan’s glass monoliths that the movies depicted so wonderfully. It succeeded: you’ll spend hours swinging through its perfectly realised cityscape just for the sheer hell of it.

Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series
(2014) Consoles, Mac, mobile, PC

Telltale’s Walking Dead games leaned too heavily into the graphic-novel source material to be considered true adaptations of the TV show. This, however, was very much a companion piece to HBO’s swearing-near-horses behemoth, transplanting the show’s chilly tone to a harrowing point-and-click adventure. You play as various members of House Forrester following the gruesome events of the Red Wedding, each choice you make lurching the narrative from one direction to another, always leaving the blood – and there is lots of it – on your hands.

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