The Top 7… Games based on books

2) American McGee's Alice (2000)

Based on: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)

Not only is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland the oldest source book on the list by far, but it’s also the only book on the list that’s sort of actually inspired by games. Lewis Carroll uses games as a motif throughout the story, from playing cards playing croquet (a game within a game!) to mathematical riddles and word games.

American McGee’s Alice takes the already twistedness of Lewis Carroll’s work and takes it a step further into the outwardly sinister and macabre. Alice explores the question: if Wonderland exists in Alice’s mind, how would it change if Alice went insane? Games and movies that are adapted from books are often criticized for diverging too much from their source material, but Alice’s greatness actually comes from where it diverges and re-imagines the world and characters of Wonderland. From the skeletal outline of the Cheshire Cat to the festering, mushroomy environments, Alice presents a world that feels both new and familiar at the same time.

Above: The Cheshire Cat’s sweet piercing represents Alice’s inner rebellion against her own mortality?

How faithful is it to the novel? Like Parasite Eve and The Witcher, American McGee’s Alice actually takes place after the events in the book. Alice is older, and has gone insane after the death of her parents. The game is full of familiar characters from Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, but they’ve all been heavily distorted by Alice’s mind.

1) Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six (1998)

Based on: Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy (1998)

This one may be a bit of a cheat, since the Rainbow Six game began development while Tom Clancy was still writing the novel, but we had to include it because no other game based on a novel has:

Revolutionized a genre – Rainbow Six solidified the tactical shooter into what it is today. Above all, the gameplay emphasized careful strategic planning and stealth over gunplay. The key to Rainbow Six is realism – one wrong move and a carefully aimed enemy bullet will kill you instantly, so you must plan each move cautiously and carefully.

Above: Planning > shooting 

Spawned a franchise on the level of Rainbow Six – Starting over ten years ago with the original Rainbow Six, the franchise has released games consistently over the years (Rogue Spear, Lockdown, Critical Hour…), and is still going strong with the Rainbow Six Vegas series. 

Paved the way for numerous other franchises and games – The Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon series probably wouldn’t exist if Rainbow Six hadn’t been so huge. And don’t forget EndWar and HAWX!
Made an author arguably more synonymous with games than books – Tom Clancy became famous as an author first (with The Hunt for Red October in 1984), but today more games bear his name than books.

Any one of these on its own would have made Rainbow Six a shoo-in for a spot on the list, but all of it combined means that it had to take top honors.


How faithful is it to the novel? Both follow the same plot, where the Rainbow Six team hunt down an eco-terrorist group that plans to release a mutated ebola virus at the Olympic games to wipe out humankind. However, developer Red Storm actually  finished the game before Tom Clancy was done writing the novel, so parts of the plot near the end don’t match up. The Rainbow team still gets the bads guys in the end though, so it doesn’t really matter.

Dec 14, 2009

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Top 7


  • Ded - December 15, 2009 12:54 a.m.

    Pity, was hoping for Discworld. That was a difficult point-and-click!
  • Cwf2008 - December 15, 2009 12:57 a.m.

    Huh weird why isnt this being displayed proudly on that revolving thing? Anyway games based on books being good...weird
  • michaelmcc827 - December 15, 2009 12:58 a.m.

    Better late than never! Some interesting selections.
  • Usgo - December 15, 2009 1 a.m.

    Unfortunatlely i have only read one of these books. Guess i should pick a couple up, or play the games. YAAAAAAAAA!
  • ATLAS - December 15, 2009 1:20 a.m.

    I really hate your intro to the article. Books take lots of skill to write and aren't primitive. Comparing a book to a video game is like comparing Uwe Boll to James Cameron. It doesn't work. Nevertheless, I have found some books that I need to read, particularly How To Be a Complete Bastard. Seems like a funny book. reCAPTCHA: abysmal NAVYCREWBEATS .... sounds like a horrible wannabe metal band.
  • Ninja-KiLLR - December 15, 2009 1:24 a.m.

    i always wished they would make a game after one of tom clancy's other books "Red Storm Rising" which is one of my favs
  • JohnnyMaverik - December 15, 2009 1:24 a.m.

    "I really hate your intro to the article. Books take lots of skill to write and aren't primitive. Comparing a book to a video game is like comparing Uwe Boll to James Cameron. It doesn't work." ^^ The internetz are serious buisness only -_-
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - December 15, 2009 1:31 a.m.

    @Atlas You've stumbled across one of the many "jokes" that permeate the internet. Between the misspelled strapline and the overly anti-book intro, it should be obvious we're intentionally prodding books because they're unquestionably important. FOR SRS
  • Scotch - December 15, 2009 2:01 a.m.

    i started watching "Alice" on syfy last night and it is awesome!
  • GameManiac - December 15, 2009 2:18 a.m.

    I'll reluctantly admit, books and me don't mix. Books just enter one of my ears and come out of the other (or however that saying works with books). Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six is based on books??? I never knew!
  • CountFenring - December 15, 2009 2:26 a.m.

    This is by far my favorite Top 7 in a while. Dune is my all time favorite book. I take my name from one of the minor characters who is rather awesome after the events of the first books.
  • Gotxxrock - December 15, 2009 2:43 a.m.

    Hate to sound like an apathetic ass, but I have never heard of any of these games (though I've read alot of the books). I'm surpised the Darkness wasn't put in here. ARE YOU SAYING GRAPHIC NOVELS ARE IN FACT NOT BOOKS GAMESRADAR!?
  • Schizo - December 15, 2009 2:51 a.m.

    Weird how an obscure game like Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy text adventure was in two top sevens in the span of 4 months :P And could this mean Carolyn is gonna be on talkradar? :OO
  • wcatdoor - December 15, 2009 3:18 a.m.

    If u think about it bishock wasnt based off a book, but it did contain alot of that book.
  • Spybreak8 - December 15, 2009 4:06 a.m.

    I was going to say something about Dune but then I finished the paragraph haha. Interesting article, good read.
  • nummymuffin - December 15, 2009 5:03 a.m.

    Just fyi the second of the Withcer novels has been translated into english under the title of "The Blood of Elves." I have read it and it's pretty good.
  • CH3BURASHKA - December 15, 2009 6:20 a.m.

    Hugh, I was REALLY hoping for another 'I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream' mention here. I'm still planning on reading that book; it sounded fascinating.
  • Mavarious - December 15, 2009 9:40 a.m.

    Atlas will be indirectly mocked in the podcast.
  • Unoriginal - December 15, 2009 10:18 a.m.

    @Gotxxxrock Allowing the Graphic Novel allows the comics wich would have made the list a lot less interesting
  • rxb - December 15, 2009 2:17 p.m.

    This article was a real page turner.

Showing 1-20 of 49 comments

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