It’s the early 2000s and the world has just been blessed with the releases of the GameCube, PS2, and Xbox. This is the new wave of gaming, with improved graphics and game mechanics pushing new boundaries 80s kids could only dream of. Super Smash Bros Melee, Halo, GTA III, Silent Hill 2, and Call of Duty were all in their infancy, soon to become the foundation of modern gaming. The days of Pong and 8-bit gaming are over. What came next was an unexpected development: video games based on movies.
Because of the leaps and bounds gaming took, movie producers decided to take advantage of this booming new media industry. It’s not like video games based on movies didn’t exist in the 80’s or 90’s, but now major studios were taking a shot at the idea, expanding their stories and giving the reins to the player. The early 2000s were the boom of video games based on movies. Lets take a look at the best of the decade!
Lord of the Rings: The Third Age – 2002 – GC, PS2, Xbox
Lord of the Rings: The Third Age might have been the first major video game riff off of a movie, tying its own narrative into what was released on the silver screen. The plot of the game was created to run parallel to the movie trilogy. At major plot points, canonical characters in Tolkien’s universe would join the cast of characters to take down major bosses that pop up in the party’s way. Gandalf would appear to help the party in the Mines of Moria, Legolas in Helms Deep, and Aragorn in Pelennor Fields.
Lord of the Rings: The Third Age is played through a conditional turn-based combat system like Final Fantasy X. Each character is given a spot on the turn queue, which is influenced by unique stats like speed or combat conditions like stuns or slows. Exploration was through a third-person perspective, and players were given an indicator to determine if a combat encounter would trigger. Individual characters would level up, and the player could customize their armor and weapons equipped. It was a standard RPG that didn’t reinvent the wheel, but was pretty to look at the time and felt authentic to the Lord of the Rings experience.
The Warriors – 2005 – PS2, PSP, Xbox
The Warriors game got remastered for the PS4, so there’s an updated port with proper graphics. Buy it. It does the movie justice and even expands on its story in a natural way. The Warriors was a 1979 cult masterpiece, and a great timestamp for New York City. Can you dig it?
Made by Rockstar Canada, The Warriors delivered a well-polished beat ’em up game that mimics the playstyle of earlier Grand Theft Auto games. The Warriors was true as a video game based on a movie, following exact plot points while exploring the origins of the gang members. The combat is rather simple, and the simplicity is a nice touch, not having to cycle through fifty billion weapons like other games. The game felt fluid 15 years ago, and still holds up today with its remaster.
Also it felt super satisfying beating The Orphans up. They were probably the most annoying part of the movie, and their leader looked like Ross from Friends.
King Kong – 2005 – Literally everything available in the early 2000s
Jack Black’s video game debut shockingly wasn’t Brütal Legend, and is surprisingly in one of the best video games based on a movie of all-time. Peter Jackson’s King Kong followed along with the plot points, had amazing graphics for its time, and the voice acting was phenomenal since the game kept the on-screen talent of Jack Black, Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, Colin Hanks, and Andy Serkis. That cast is pretty surreal for a video game. On top of that the gameplay was engaging and the enemies were terrifying. Ubisoft had no right to pop off like that.
King Kong‘s combat was simplistic but satisfying, making the player feel vulnerable but never panicking to find a weapon. Seriously, spears were everywhere. Find a flame, you got a flaming yeetable spear. The NPCs were fairly useless, but at least they were decent meat shields for the flying beasts, millipedes, and other monsters that wanted to kill you. Also at the time, playing as King Kong was pretty epic.
It’s too bad the game won’t get a remaster, because it would look and feel pretty amazing with the advancements gaming has taken in the past 15 years. The King Kong video game was also low key better than the movie by quite a bit.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – 2003 – Xbox, PC
This game was so good that it became canon in the Star Wars universe. While the plot had nothing to do with the movies, Knights of the Old Republic was based off the Star Wars universe, so it’s technically a video game based on a movie.
The plot of Knights of the Old Republic is movie quality. The game easily could have been an entire TV series aired on Disney+ or a blockbuster trilogy. The writing was beautiful and the characters were compelling, making the alignment of good vs evil an actual decision that led to differences in plot points. Players got to pave their own path and would be satisfied with whatever route they chose.
The companions had a substantial amount of depth, and an abundance of personality. Jolee Bindo at his surface was a grumpy old man with funny quips, but if the player dug deep enough, they could learn about his troubled past and how his wife tried turning him to the dark side. The game had it all, whether the player wanted to work for that story or not.
While this article looked at video games based on movies, Knights of the Old Republic deserved a movie based off this video game. The twist came out of nowhere. The character development gave major growth as the story unfolded. The flexibility of the story didn’t discriminate based off how the player created their character. This RPG was years ahead of its time, and it’s rare to find a game that matches up to this standard. BioWare hit it out of the park with Knights of the Old Republic as it’s up there with one of the greatest games of all time. The sequel is insanely good too.
BONUS – Shrek 2 – 2004 – GameCube, PS2, GBA, PC, Xbox
The Shrek 2 game is the peak of gaming. Without reviewing the actual evidence, it’s a safe assumption that there hasn’t been a better game. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Shrek 2’s simple yet complex. Each mission contributed to the Shrek lore that its cinematic universe craved. Could the movie have truly progressed without a Three Blind Mice escort mission or Lil Red dummying Fairy God Mother 1v1? I highly doubt it. The Shrek 2 game was also so impactful that it almost put Mike Myers in retirement, as the video game’s voice actor had such a chokehold on its audience, it left Myers unsure if he’d ever live up to that legacy. It took several playthroughs for him to realize that the game was about self-love no matter what you think of yourself and your inadequacies. If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?
Shrek 2 is also a game of self-discovery, as players witness the first hand struggle of identity crisis, with Shrek and Donkey undergoing a procedure to change their genetic DNA. It makes one ponder over the unreasonable modern beauty standards determining what’s desirable in a person. Shrek 2’s video game was like an onion; there were so many layers.