6 movies that look and feel exactly like video games (but aren't actually based on games)

Why buy a license? These days you can make a video game movie without even the game

3. District 9

What does District 9 take from games? To quote another entry on this list, guns. Lots of guns. Yes, District 9 is a smart film. Yes, it has a whole lot of gritty apartheid metaphor coursing through its veins. And yes, its story kicks with the emotional impact of a wine drinking, poetry writing goth mule. But by great Smith & Wesson, does it ever take delight in its over-powered sci-fi weaponry too.

But there’s an obvious source for District 9’s gun designs. Games. The medium which, above all others, has had the biggest hand in furthering the cause of overpowered sci-fi weaponry over the last couple of decades. You see a big gun in a film or a comic is just a big gun. A big gun in a game however, is a central gameplay mechanic, a vital piece of interactive design which changes the way you play and shapes your whole relationship with the game world . In the shooter genre, imaginative gun design is the key which opens the fun chest, and thus, it has been evolving like crazy ever since the Wolfenstein 3D.

So when a film wants really impressive big crazy sci-fi weaponry, games are a good inspiration. There are decades of creative ground work already done. And that, coupled with District 9 Director Neil Blomcamp’s obvious game-savvy credentials following his involvement with the aborted Halo 4 movie, is very probably why there isn’t a single gun in District 9 you haven’t fired in a game.

There’s a lightning gun just like the one in Quake III, F.E.A.R. and countless other FPS. It even explodes its targets into excessively splattery Quake-style gibs. There’s also a shockwave shotgun that blasts folk around like a leaf-blower, just like the one in Crackdown and Dead Space. And Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time’s frog powered Sonic Eruptor.

Also, there s a gun which uses any object in the vicinity as ammo. It seems to grab and fire its chosen ordinance by harnessing and manipulating gravity. You could go so far as to call it a gravity gun. In fact Valve did when they invented it in 2004.


Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.
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