作者彙整:Ben Reeves

Control Review – A Heady Power Trip

Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Release:
Rating: Mature
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Also on:
PlayStation 4, PC

When Jesse Faden walks into the Federal Bureau of Control and picks up the director’s handgun, she inadvertently assumes authority over the enigmatic government organization. The director’s gun is a powerful and versatile tool, but it’s also a deception; Jesse’s greatest weapon isn’t the one in her hand, it’s the one in her head. Control gives players access to a host of powerful psychic abilities that are as satisfying to use as they are to watch. So Jesse has the gun, but she doesn’t need the gun. Jesse is the gun.

With games like Max Payne and Alan Wake, Remedy has always put care into telling stories through kinetic action. Control perfectly fits that mold, and it especially excels in its atmosphere. Remedy delivers an eerie, dreamlike experience that is hard to shake off even after you stop playing, and I loved being transported to this bizarrely fascinating world. As you explore the shifting, brutalist architecture inside the Federal Bureau of Control, you encounter an odd cast of amusing characters and interact with several seemingly ordinary objects that hold immense power, such as a mirror that sucks you into an inverted universe or a refrigerator that hurts people when no one is looking at it.

But powerful things are also very dangerous. An aggressive, multidimensional species known as the Hiss are trying to invade our world, and like a champagne cork, the Federal Bureau of Control is the only thing preventing these creatures from spewing into our reality. As you work against the Hiss, you learn more about Jesse’s place in this world, and I enjoyed the slow reveal of her backstory. Unfortunately, the motives of the rest of the cast remain incredibly vague, which leads to a few awkward and confusing plot points. Some of these moments are papered over by the overall strangeness of the Federal Bureau of Control, but they did ultimately pull me out of an otherwise expertly crafted world.

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As mentioned previously, the director’s handgun is an incredibly powerful tool in your battle against the Hiss. This weapon can shift forms, becoming everything from a long-range sniping tool to a crowd-control shotgun. Remedy’s gunplay remains as tight and precise as ever, but the director’s handgun does have one idiosyncrasy: It can’t be manually reloaded. It taps into an unlimited well of ammunition, but every time a magazine runs dry (or if you stop firing for a bit) it takes a few seconds to reload itself. It took me a while to get used to this rhythm in combat, but as Jesse acquires new abilities, managing ammo became less of an issue.

In the end, Jesse’s weapon feels like a secondary tool in combat. Her greatest means of offense is her suite of psychic powers – especially her ability to toss objects around the room. Remedy nailed the feel of telekinesis; picking up objects with Jesse’s mind and launching them at foes packs a satisfying punch. I never grew tired of pulling chunks of cement out of the ground or snatching missiles from the air and sending them back at a group of foes. Almost every object in the environment can become a bullet, and even in the heat of battle, finding something to launch is easy. In fact, you don’t even have to target objects to pick them up. If you hold down the telekinesis button, Jesse grabs the nearest object automatically, which makes using the power effortless and intuitive.

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Jesse has a few other useful abilities in her psychic toolbelt, such as grabbing nearby junk to shield herself from frontal attacks. This shield can even be upgraded to propel debris at enemies. Another neat power lets Jesse mind-control enemies, converting hurt foes into allies. These additional powers are fun to play with, but they pale in comparison to the telekinetic launch, and I had few reasons to return to them over and over again. Additionally, upgrading these abilities is rarely satisfying. While each new power provides a wider toolset in combat, most of the upgrades simply increase your damage output, meaning there were no new combat strategies for me to explore in the late game.

Despite a few drawn-out battles near the end, Control is a complete rush. With the power at Jesse’s fingertips, I walked into every room ready for an amazing fight. When I walked out, it often looked like a tornado had torn through the building. The Federal Bureau of Control is a fascinating place to explore, and I loved every bizarre encounter inside its creaking hallways.

Score: 8.75

Summary: Your greatest weapon isn’t the one in your hand. It’s the one in your head.

Concept: A secret government agency is being overrun by mysterious creatures from another dimension. Good thing you can move things with your mind

Graphics: Character models and animations look a bit generic, but the visual effects on display are -top –notch

Sound: An eerie, hyperactive soundtrack helps establish an unsettling mood

Playability: Remedy’s games have always felt good, and Control is no exception. Throwing objects around the environment never grows old

Entertainment: Control’s intense firefights are fun, but they don’t evolve much in the second half. Fortunately, its unsettling mood and explosive moments more than balance the scales

Replay: Moderately High

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An Expanded Look At Death Stranding’s Gameplay

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Kojima Productions
Release:
Rating: Rating Pending
Platform: PlayStation 4

We all know that Death Stranding is part of the strand genre, but there are still a few mysteries surrounding Hideo Kojima’s next title.

During the Gamescom 2019 opening presentation, we got another look at Death Stranding in action. The game is visual stunning, and the gameplay seems to involve a lot of walking through an open world where you will deliver goods and reconnect the people who live in a fractured America.

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Players can scan the environment and use a variety of tools to explore/traverse an unforgiving terrain. If you fall down you might agitate the baby you carry, which would be bad. When this happens, players must cuddle and bounce the baby to make him feel better. Players will rock the baby by physically moving the PS4 controllers, using its motion controls. However, if you shake too hard the baby will get angry. And angry babies are bad!

We also got a look at another odd mechanic, which lets players pee. I’m sorry, did we say odd? We meant incredible. We don’t know much about this mechanic, but it might be tied to the game’s survival systems, and Kojima said that players would be able to use this pee as a weapon somehow. Additionally, if people continue to pee on the same spot in the world, “Something good will happen.” We don’t know what that means, but during the demo, Sam’s pee made a mushroom grow.

Also, game industry journalist Geoff Keighley is an NPC in the game.

Death Stranding hits the PS4 on November 8, but we should see a lot more next month at TGS. You can watch just the gameplay above, or watch Kojima’s full presentation below.

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Age of Wonders: Planetfall Review – An Empire Forged In War

Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: Triumph Studios
Release:
Rating: Teen
Reviewed on: PC
Also on:
PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Age of Wonders is a long-running strategy franchise, but new entries only release every other blue moon. Age of Wonders III released in 2014. Before that, Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic dropped in 2003. Fortunately, these long gestations give Triumph Studios plenty of time to refine the strategy and pack a lot of tiny features into its robust combat system, and that is evident in Planetfall. This new Age of Wonders isn’t perfect, but its unique strategy-driven battles were worth the wait.  

Previously, the Age of Wonders series dropped players into epic wars set within fantasy worlds full of elven courts and warring dragons. Planetfall warps you into the future; you awaken from cryogenic sleep to build a new empire on a variety of alien landscapes. The setting might be different, but the future remains full of colorful characters. I was impressed by the creativity expressed in every alien faction. The Syndicate is a purple-skinned race of intergalactic traders and merchants who possess powerful psionic attacks. The Assembly is an army of nearly undead cyborgs who see every planet as an organ bank ready for harvesting. And, the genetically engineered Amazons are stealthy warriors who ride dinosaurs into battle. Planetfall’s factions are so interesting that I almost had trouble settling on one at the start of the game.

No matter which faction you choose, you must plant your nation’s flag in the dirt and slowly push your boundary markers across the planet. As with other 4X games (like Civilization), this involves researching advanced technologies, constructing new buildings, and managing your population’s happiness. Sadly, this top-level strategy is a bit stale in Planetfall, and I was rarely faced with interesting choices for what to build or research.

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As you explore your world, you meet other races who send you on missions, which keeps you busy while your citizens churn through your production queue. However, your diplomatic options are limited, and I found it hard to keep the peace. No matter how many favors I ran for other nations or how often I traded with my neighbors, my relations always deteriorated, and I was forced to call in my army. This makes these interactions feel more like you’re only delaying the inevitable conflict, rather than engaging in political negotiations.

Combat is where Planetfall shines. The early turn-based battles are slow, but you can always auto-resolve a combat, which is a great way to skip low-risk encounters that don’t deserve your attention. Once I had built up a sizeable army, I had the most fun getting my hands dirty, issuing orders on the battlefield. Each faction has their own unique set of units and offers their own twist on the action. For example, the dwarf-like Dvar are fond of explosives and heavy tanks, while the Assembly rush at their enemies in hordes and can even resurrect their fallen comrades. And, since you can have multiple armies join a single battle, some of my biggest encounters felt truly legendary with over 40 units ducking in and out of cover.

Your armies develop complicated team synergies. The insectoid Kir’Ko have a hive mind that gives them defensive buffs when they are positioned near each other. Other hero units are collected by completing various missions, and these specialized commanders are some of your most stalwart soldiers. As they fight, they level up, allowing you to pick from a range of upgrades that boost their ranged attacks and give them special immunities.

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Basic units don’t have hero upgrades, but they can be equipped with mods that do everything from apply status effects to their attacks, let them to heal other units, or even allow them to phase through obstacles. I love the freedom this provides and how two identical unit types can be spec’d for different specialties. This flexibility gave me an endless number of choices on the battlefield so I never felt short of tactical options to work my way out of a jam.

Age of Wonders: Planetfall takes several turns to get moving, and newcomers might feel overwhelmed until they gain their bearings, but Triumph Studios’ newest strategy offering is full of fun, creative ideas and each faction is worth taking for a spin at least once. Building a sustainable empire and managing a happy populous takes some grunt work, but they are really just stepping stones to Age of Wonders: Planetfall’s epic firefights.

Score: 8

Summary: Planetfall’s strategy systems are complex and routine, but managing your armies is the fun kind of complex.

Concept: Turn the fantasy-themed 4X series into a sci-fi romp with stellar action

Graphics: These alien creature designs are fun and the overworld map looks great, but the randomly generated battle environments are repetitive

Sound: The sweeping soundtrack is generic and the stilted voice acting detracts from Planetfall’s otherwise interesting worldbuilding

Playability: Planetfall’s strategy systems are complex and routine, but managing your armies is the fun kind of complex

Entertainment: Overworld missions keep the action moving, but the XCOM-like turn-based combat is the real star

Replay: High

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Replay – BlackSite: Area 51

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How would you start a game about aliens? Would it be with an epic set-piece where a giant alien destroys a town? A moody, claustrophobic crawl through an alien-infested labyrinth? Or would you do like Midway’s BlackSite: Area 51 and feature nearly an hour of generic military shooting through brown environments? They’re all good options, I guess.

Join Andrew Reiner, Jeff Cork, Leo Vader, and Ben Reeves as they drive through a desert looking for aliens. We certainly have a bigger reaction to the creatures than any of our in-game squadmates.

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Dr. Mario World Review – A Spoonful Of Sugar

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Release:
Rating: Everyone
Reviewed on: iOS
Also on:
Android

Tetris gets the most love of all the Game Boy puzzle games, but when Dr. Mario released on Nintendo’s portable system in 1990, it chewed through its fair share of batteries. Nintendo has revisited its virus-crushing puzzle game several times over the years, but now that the series has migrated to mobile devices, Nintendo has flipped the concept on its head. Now pills slowly float toward the top of the screen, but this is only the first of many new features that make Dr. Mario World one of the most notable entries in the series.

Like previous incarnations of Dr. Mario, you eliminate all viruses on a board by matching them to rows of multi-colored pills. In World, you get to choose how many pills to toss out and when, and you can hold onto pills after you’ve thrown them to prevent them from moving. I appreciated this new slower pace, which allows plenty of time to plan an attack. At the same time, Dr. Mario World still offers frantic moments; after making a match, you can move any free-floating pill pieces and use them to make new matches, and the resulting scrambles are exhilarating as you work fast to make the most out of your limited stock.

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Dr. Mario World currently contains five worlds and more than 200 total levels, and I was pleasantly surprised at how the action evolves. In some stages, viruses are frozen in ice and require a couple of hits before they disappear, while other viruses are locked in cages and can’t be destroyed until you break the lock on another area of the screen. A few stages even shift your focus away from the viruses and ask you to smash blocks to find hidden coins. As Nintendo mixes and matches all these elements, Dr. Mario World begins to feel less like a puzzle game and more like a strategy game, but that isn’t a bad thing. I loved calculating which viruses or objects I needed to attack first and then setting up combos as I crossed my fingers and waited with baited breath for the right colored pill to come my way.

While Dr. Mario remains the title character, he’s now joined by a bigger cast of doctors and assistants. Every doctor has their own unique abilities. For example, Dr. Mario can eradicate the lowest row of viruses on the board, while Dr. Toad eliminates both virus and pills at 10 random locations. Assistants provide smaller buffs, such as boosting your score or giving you a small percentage chance of eliminating a few viruses at the start of a stage. You can bring one doctor and two assistants into any stage; their abilities are incredibly useful, and making good use of them means the difference between victory and defeat.

Unfortunately, like a real infection, some of the additions to this mobile version aren’t welcome. Dr. Mario World is a free-to-play game, which means the monetization is baked into the gameplay. Hearts are a currency you must spend to play a level. If you beat the level, you get that heart back. Otherwise, they replenish at the rate of one every 30 minutes. If you’re playing well, you can continue without consequence. But if you get hung up on a level or have a string of bad plays, you are forced to stop and wait for your hearts to refresh. Of course, you are encouraged to refill those hearts by spending real money on gems, which earn you more hearts. They can also be used to give you more time or pills on harder levels, or redeemed for new doctors and assistants. I’m disappointed that even Dr. Mario isn’t hearty enough to stave off this kind of microtransaction infection, but I only ran out of hearts a handful of times, and I never felt like the pay mechanics were too aggressive.

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Even if you do run out of hearts, you can always play in Versus mode and pit your virus-crunching skills against other players online. This mode features all the same color matching mechanics from single player, but as you match viruses you have the opportunity to attack your opponent by throwing viruses onto their screen. This mode is a nice diversion, and I was happy to be able to play the game when I’d run out of hearts, but I spent most of my time in the single-players worlds.  

Despite the monetization method, Dr. Mario World is a fun puzzle game, and the World moniker signifies that this is more than just another Dr. Mario remix. This is the most dramatic reinvention of Dr. Mario since the series’ inception, and I often had trouble putting my phone down before the battery ran dry. Nintendo plans to update this game with new levels down the road, so this is one flu season I look forward to revisiting.

Score: 8.75

Summary: Dr. Mario World is one of the most notable entries in the series to date.

Concept: Reimagine Mario’s pill-focused puzzler by turning it on its head and adding a host of creative new mechanics

Graphics: The art is cutesy and simple, but it gets the job done

Sound: Most of the music is catchy, but the new stuff is nowhere near as memorable as the classics Fever and Chill, which have been remixed here

Playability: Dr. Mario has always been simple to pick up and play, but this mobile incarnation makes it even easier to drag pills around the screen with only a finger

Entertainment: Dr. Mario World’s new mechanics add a lot of strategic elements to the classic formula, but the series remains as engaging as ever

Replay: High

Click to Purchase

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Replay — Superman Returns

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EA Tiburon is best known for its work on the Madden NFL series, but in 2006 the studio released Superman Returns – a tie-in game to the movie of the same name. Superman 64 gets all the heat for being the worst Superman game, but sadly Superman Returns doesn’t look much better.

Join Andrew Reiner, Ben Reeves, Leo Vader, and special guest Frank Cifaldi as we relive Superman’s open world adventure and explore the worst highway in Metropolis.

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Clarifying Six Misconceptions About Stadia

Google’s Stadia presents an interesting promise. We went hands on with the service when it was reveaeed at GDC, but we got to try it again at E3, and were impressed with how well Doom Eternal ran (in HD only, because 4K isn’t available yet). Thankfully, during our demo, we got the chance to clear the air about a few misconceptions that have circulated around the topic of game streaming.

How will Stadia handle small text and other fine details when users play games on their phone? Obviously, some things won’t read as easily on the phone as they do on a living room television.

The official line from Google is, “We’re working with developers to optimize their game design and experiences for each screen. Stadia games will be responsive to the screens they play on, so things like font sizes will be appropriate per device/screen.” That sounds promising, but we’ll have to wait until closer to launch to see how every game works on phones.

If a user gets banned from YouTube or Google, will they have to worry about losing all their Stadia games?

The official line from Google is, “Our enforcement policy will be separate from YouTube’s. Of course, we will have comprehensive settings for players to control who they are playing with. Our priority is making sure Stadia is a safe place to play, and that players are comfortable and enjoy all of their experiences on the platform.” This sounds promising, but again we’ll have to wait until Stadia’s release to test some of these specific cases.

Can you download Google Stadia games? Sure, this is antithetical to the whole concept, but what if you want to download a game to play it because you won’t be near Wi-Fi similar to how Netflix allows you to download content? Some fans might want this option.

Unfortunately, Google has no plans to support downloading games right now, because Stadia is a data center-driven console that lives in the cloud.

Some rumors have speculated that Stadia could use up to 10 gigabytes of data an hour, which could be a problem for users if they stream games over their cellular network. Are these numbers accurate?

To be clear, Google hasn’t confirmed if users will even be able to steam games over cellular data. If we had to guess, we’d say that this option won’t be available at launch. Users will be able to stream games over Wi-Fi, but Google hasn’t released official statistics on how much data the service will use each hour. A lot of the numbers floating around are based on conjecture (However, this conjecture is based on good data and Stadia’s minimum download speeds).

Will Stadia games have demos?

It’s content-dependent, and largely dependent on developers and publishers, but it sounds like many Stadia games will have demos for the public to try to free.

Enough serious questions. This one is for the kids. Were the icons at Stadia’s announcement an allusion to actual games that are coming to the service?

The short answer: No. Those icons were meant to represent overall gaming genres and weren’t a tease for future projects.


For details on Stadi’a pricing, head here. You can also watch Stadia’s E3 press conference with us here.

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Can You Eat Gooigi? Where Is Wayoshi? And Other Stupid Questions For Luigi’s Mansion 3’s Producer

Release: 2019
Platform: Switch

Luigi’s Mansion 3 is shaping up to be a really solid entry in the franchise. If you want to know more about that game, you can read Brian Shea’s hands-on impressions from the show. However, we also got the chance to speak with producer Kensuke Tanabe who shared his thoughts on the wild world of Nintendo.

What is Gooigi’s deal? Where did that idea come from?

When I first saw the Nintendo Switch system, the fact that you can split the two JoyCons and share it with someone else to play together was such a great thing that we really wanted to take advantage of that for this game. We began to think about how to create that second player. We at Nintendo were kind of experimenting with different ways that we can have two people play at the same time, and one of them was to make a copy of Luigi, so just having two Luigis on the screen. While we were doing that, the team happened to be experimenting with using a goo-like material for ghosts. They were like, “What if we gave them a little more substance and made them out of goo?” And then those two ideas came together.

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What is the goo made of? Is it like Jell-O? Can you eat it?

You’re the second person to ask if you can eat Gooigi. [Laughs] It’s probably like gummies so you could eat it. The actual backstory is that Professor E. Gadd extracted a bunch of energy out of the ghost that he captured, and then he accidentally spilled coffee on it, and that’s how the goo was made.

What is the perfect level of creepiness for a game like this? How do you make a horror themed game that is family friendly?

From the perspective of the game designers, we don’t really focus too much on the scary factor. The spookiness factor is something the art team focuses on. For us, our biggest focus is what can we add into the game and what can we do to make it as surprising and exciting as possible. So when the spooky factor from the art side and the surprise and delight from game designer side come together, that creates a nice blend.

Have you been scared while playing this?

[Laughs] Well, we are making it, so we know when something is going to come out, but maybe when we find a critical bug then we’re like “Oh no!”

From left to right: designer Yoshihito Ikibata, some dork, producer Kensuke Tanabe

Would you like to see Luigi in more games?

I would love to see Luigi get to a point where he rivals Mario. I’m constantly pestering Nintendo with ideas for how to bring out Luigi more to make him surpass Mario. I like Luigi more. I kind of prefer a flawed human compared to this superstar hero.

How do you feel about Waluigi then?

Waluigi is something that I’m not in charge of, so that’s hard to say. Are you saying that Waluigi and Luigi should team up? He tends to appear in games where Wario appears. I guess we’d have to make a Waluigi mansion for that.

I know we’re off track, but since there is a Wario and a Waluigi, is there also a Wayoshi? Has there ever been talks in the office of making a Wayoshi?

Yoshi himself is everything, so I don’t know what that would be like. Maybe his eyes would be like meaner or something. Maybe he would eat stuff and then just spit it out entirely whole. Or would he would be like Birdo because Birdo shoot eggs from her mouth? Is Birdo Wayoshi? Maybe.

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We Play 2019’s Most Anticipated Games… In Dreams

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Why wait? Play tomorrow’s hottest games today … in Dreams. Join Leo Vader, Kyle Hilliard, and Ben Reeves as they hunt down some amazing fan creations based on Halo, Final Fantasy, Borderlands, Luigi’s Mansion, and Pokémon and then put them to the test. Could this be a glimpse into the future?

No. But we still think it’s a fun video. 

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The Top 10 Marvel Games Of All Time

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order releases July 19, but if you’re itching to jump into the role of one of Marvel’s legendary heroes there are already a number of great Marvel-themed games on the market. In honor of our Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 cover story in the June issue of Game Informer, we’ve assembled the ultimate list of Marvel games every comic fan should play.

10. X-Men 2: Clone Wars

Genesis • 1995
The X-Men seemed like the biggest superheroes in the ‘90s. Young fans around the country dreamed of being one of Marvel’s merry mutants, and Headgames’ co-op friendly side-scrolling action game helped scratch that itch. Players control Beast, Cyclops, Gambit, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, and Wolverine as they travel across the world on a mission to destroy the Phalanx virus and save everyone from becoming techno-organic slaves. Each hero has their own unique set of powers, which aided them in combat and affects how they traversed the environment, further encouraging replay.

9. Marvel Strike Force

iOS, Android • 2018
As an agent of the Special Tactical Reserve for Interdimensional Key Events (S.T.R.I.K.E.) you are tasked with assembling a squad of heroes to protect the planet from an alien threat. But who are we kidding – we don’t love Marvel’s turn-based mobile game for its plot. We love amassing an ever-growing roster of some of our favorite heroes (and villains) in the universe. Strike Force’s turn-based combat features just the right amount of strategy, and chasing that slow unlock of new characters is incredibly addicting.

8. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

PS3, PS2, Xbox 360, Wii, PC • 2009
Wolverine is one of Marvel’s most beloved heroes and for good reason: he’s a take-no-nonsense scrapper who can walk off just about any injury. Based on the 2009 film, Raven Software let fans explore Logan’s past while tearing through legions of hapless enemies with Wolverine’s indestructible claws. Watching his body slowly knit itself back together after an attack is endlessly fascinating, and your lunge attack was incredibly empowering. Not only is X-Men Origins a great Marvel game, it pulled off an incredibly rare trick – it’s a game that is actually better than the movie.

7. X-Men

Arcade, PS3, Xbox 360 • 1992
In the ‘90s, arcades were littered with Konami’s addictive side-scrolling beat ‘em up. In fact, it seemed as if arcades were required by law to own a version of this game. But we’re not complaining; we happily throw a few quarters into one of these machines every time we see it. Sure, some of the X-Men’s powers seem misrepresented (Nightcrawler zipped around the screen like the Flash, for example), but we can’t resist the thrill of beating up an army of Sentinels before the epic throwdown with Magneto.

6. Lego Marvel Super Heroes

PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, 3DS, Vita, PC • 2013
Lego games are like potato chips – they’re comfort food. After a long day, they don’t make you feel any pressure to perform; you can just relax and smash objects and enemies into tiny Lego bricks. Hot on the heels of the 2012 Avengers film, Traveller’s Tales and TT Fusion’s exploration of the Marvel universe was a sheer delight. Not only was the roster of characters absurdly massive, but each hero had their own unique set of powers, and hunting through every level for secrets proved incredibly satisfying.

5. Spider-Man 2

PS2, Xbox, GameCube • 2004
For a long time, Spider-man 2 was considered the best Marvel game – if not the best licensed game around. Based on the Sam Raimi film, Spider-Man struggles to keep his civilian and superhero life in balance while battling foes like The Rhino, Black Cat, and Dr. Octopus. Treyarch’s open-world Manhattan was a lot of fun to explore, and the combat was fast and fluid. However, the pièce de résistance is Spider-Man’s swing mechanics, which feel so good that they became the swing mechanics by which all other Spider-Man games were judged.

4. The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction

PS2, Xbox, GameCube • 2005
Few games let you feel like an unstoppable rage machine like Radical Entertainment’s Ultimate Destruction. Hulk runs straight up walls, fashions cars into brass knuckles, bats missiles away like flies, and generally annihilates anything foolish enough to get in his way. The boss battles with nemeses like Devil Hulk, Mercy, and Abomination feel truly epic. Bruce Banner just wants to while away in secret and research a cure for his condition, but the world doesn’t want to leave him alone. We don’t want to leave him alone either, because this combat is so much fun.

3. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance

PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, PSP • 2006
Raven Software’s epic smash fest was the Avengers: Endgame of its era. Building on the X-Men Legacy franchise, Ultimate Alliance takes Diablo’s basic action/RPG loot fest and throws every major Marvel character into the mix. Up to four friends can watch each other’s backs as they engage in some truly wild scenarios, such as protecting a helicarrier from the dragon Fin Fang Foom, freeing the inhabitants of Atlantis from mind-control, and participating in an absurd gameshow on Murderworld. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 has a lot to live up to.

2. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Vita • 2011
The Marvel vs. Capcom series is the only place where you can see Captain America tag team with Captain Commando or Mega Man go toe-to-toe with Iron Man. While we are also partial to Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes, the rerelease of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 struck a perfect balance between combat and its massive roster of characters. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a good reminder that you don’t need a zany story mode when the action is this good.

1. Spider-Man

PS4 • 2018
What else did you expect at the top of this list? Insomniac’s masterpiece was a true contender for game of the year when it released, and Insomniac expertly took all of the mechanics that fans loved from previous Spider-Man games and built on them to create something special. Spider-Man’s combat and web-swinging is the best it’s ever been, and Insomniac tells a gripping story that highlighted Peter Parker’s heroics as well as his alter ego. We could do without the simple stealth moments, but those are easy to forget when the rest of the game is running on all cylinders. The wait for a sequel is going to be excruciating, because we want to see what Insomniac does next with our favorite wall-crawler.


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