Superheroes have been in video games for ages now. At first tied into cartoons and movies, video games have gone on to give popular superheroes new epic stories and even foster entirely new heroes. Whether it is the Marvel Universe, DC, or something completely different they found an audience in gaming and always will. With the latest superhero game, Injustice: Gods Among Us, out next weekend, we look back at some of the best video games to feature super-powered people.
#10. Spider-Man 2
It’s pretty rare for a movie tie-in game to be any good, but leave it to the Call of Duty: Black Ops makers at Treyarch to break the mold. Spider-Man 2 improved upon its predecessor (and its celluloid companion) by adding in some of Spider-Man’s lesser known, yet undeniably cool villains, such as Black Cat, Mysterio, The Rhino, and Shocker. However, the best part about Spider-Man 2 was the open world aspect of the game. Slinging yourself from building to building, discovering the many side quests, and earning “hero points”, set the web-slinger’s game apart from his movie, giving Spider-Man 2 the power to stand alone.
#9. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Before Phase One was a twinkle in eyes of the Marvel Executives, the exhaustive roster of fantastic characters were brought together to take on the diabolical Dr. Doom and his equally lengthy list of accomplices. Ultimate Alliance allows four players to co-op their way through an epic plot to defeat Dr. Doom, travelling everywhere from underwater to outer space. Using the same set up at the popular X-Men Legends titles before it, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is a well crafted arcade-style brawler that showed off its long list of characters before Hollywood would dare touch them. Just watching the opening cutscene should help you remember the fun this game had in store.
After a bio-electrical device wrecks a chunk of the metropolis Empire City, Cole MacGrath finds that he has been gifted special powers. However, after the explosion a plague starts to ravage Empire City’s populace. Blamed by his girlfriend for the death of her sister, and by the masses for the plague, Cole is outcast by the survivors in the quarantine. FBI Agent Moya Jones promises to aid Cole if he finds a missing agent in Empire City. Featuring a large world to explore, filled with scenarios that test Cole’s powers and influence the game’s Karam system, Infamous set a gritty, yet fresh tone to the super hero game.
#7. City of Heroes
City of Heroes may not have been the biggest MMO to date, but in a time when the Sword-and-Sorcery bit was getting abused in the MMO world (it still is), City of Heroes was a breath of fresh air. Featuring a wonderfully in-depth character creator, City of Heroes was a deep and rewarding MMO that would start players in either Paragon City or Rogue Isles, depending upon their heroic or villainous nature. Lasting for over eight years, with constant patches, upgrades, and expansions, City of Heroes was the definitive superhero MMO.
#6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle: Turtles in Time
If you have ever been in an arcade, you have probably seen this wonderful cabinet. Later released on the Super Nintendo, Turtles in Time has zapped the allowance of countless kids, pumping quarters into the machine to spend just a little more time with their favorite hero-in-a-half-shell. In the game, the turtles venture through various time periods, both past and future, battling waves after wave of the Shedders foot soldiers to rescue April O’Neil. Channeling the iconic cartoon art style, Turtles in Time was a four player, co-op brawler that should be part of every kid’s childhood memories.
#5. Freedom Force
Obviously, Irrational Games is known more for it’s Shocks of both Bio and System, however in the early 2000s they also did a little super hero game called Freedom Force. Starring new characters like Minuteman and El Diablo, Freedom Force was real-time tactical role-playing game. Players would control a team of heroes who would defend city from earth-born and extraterrestrial foes, empowered by the mysterious Energy X. Freedom Force created a whole new cast of heroes and is still one of the best single player superhero games on the PC.
#4. Marvel vs. Capcom 3
After you get done trying out some Turtles in Time at the arcade, look for the nearest Marvel vs. Capcom 3 cabinet. When Albert Wesker and Dr. Doom team up to take over their respective worlds, they awaken Galactus, and a greater evil is born. Featuring a cast that ranges from Deadpool to Dante, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is well balanced and finely tuned fighting game that has pumped out DLC content to expand its roster and add to its diversity. Not only does it boast a high rank amongst superhero games, but is one of the most beloved fighting games to date. Just prepare to get owned for a while, there are a lot of great players out there.
#3. Arkham Asylum
Teaming the impeccable duo of Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy, to again lend their voices to the rivalry of the Joke and Batman, the team at Rocksteady began making an unprecedented superhero game. There had been successful superhero games prior to Arkham Asylum, as this list will tell you, but no game had captured the world of Batman, or any superhero, quite like Rocksteady did. After the Joker is apprehended, Batman tails him to Arkham Asylum, suspecting a trap. Sure enough, the Joke takes over the Asylum, letting loose the brunt of Batman’s rogues gallery on the cape crusader. Blending tone, gameplay, and story with brilliant skill, Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Asylum is a must play for any fan of the Dark Knight.
#2. Infamous 2
Cole MacGrath returns to face bigger and badder enemies than before. Sucker Punch brings back the Playstation icon, but gave him a new voice, and slightly different look. This time Cole must face a powerful villain known as the Beast, foretold by the time-traveling Kessler. Infamous 2 gave Cole a different city to explore in New Maris, which is more diverse and alive than Empire City. The game also uses its Karma meter more effectively, eventually determining the player’s ending. Infamous improved on its predecessor in many ways and continued the Infamous franchise in a convincing fashion.
#1. Arkham City
While Arkham City’s predecessor established what a great superhero game should be, Rocksteady most recent effort gave fans of the Dark Knight a game that was truly a masterpiece. Sectioning off a part of Gotham City to contain the escaped inmates of Arkham Asylum, Warden Quincy Sharp arrests Bruce Wayne and tosses him amongst the criminal. Trapped amongst Gotham’s most violent and mentally disturbed, Wayne dons his Batman costume to discover the dark secrets of the prison city, battling his way through a litany of maniacal villains. Incorporating Batman’s allies, such as Nightwing and Catwoman, Arkham City adds even more depth and variation on what was already an impressive formula. Arkham City is a formidable blend of Batman’s various styles throughout the years, from Burton to the animated series to Nolan. Arkham City captures the jumping off rooftops, risking life and limb nature of superhero drama unlike any game before it. Not only a great superhero game, but a game that anyone would–and should– love.
What are your favorite superhero games? What do you feel was left off this list? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.