Comic-book games have gotten the short end of the stick for too long. Usually, the only characters that grace a videogame release are the ones that have been turned into movies, and nine times our of ten, those games are absolute train wrecks. There's the occasional bright spot, like Spider-Man 2 or Arkham City, but a majority of comic-book games are utter rubbish, and the issue is clear: instead of taking hyper-popular comic books and making them into third-person adventure games, developers need to start matching comics to appropriate game genres, and they need to be willing to go deeper than X-Men and Green Lantern.
But we know that all of the developers out there are far too busy to research this. So we've done some of the legwork for them, and come up with a handful of comic books/series ripe for videogame adaptations (and the best way to go about adapting them).
Behind every good superhero, there's a building full of police officers cursing his name. In Batman's case, it's the Gotham Police Department. Gotham Central chronicles the lives of these typical, un-extraordinary cops as they're forced to deal with superhuman villains masquerading around in costumes and blowing up hospitals. It's a somewhat typical procedural cop drama at its core, where the officers need to Law & Order their way around inner-office politics, red tape and crime scenes in order to catch the crook. Except, in their case, the crook is sometimes Mr. Freeze, and the red tape involves the Bat signal.
Gotham Central would make a great game, especially if the developers modeled it around L.A. Noire. The player usually wouldn't come toe-to-toe with supervillians, but they'd certainly see the aftermath: frozen corpses, mutilated bodies, and other distressing situations that most cops don't need to deal with that frequently. Gotham police officers could deal with the occasional shootout during a bank robbery, or interrogation sequences to find their leader's hideout, but they'd be dealing with the Joker's henchmen instead of random nameless enemies, adding a bit more personality to the day-to-day occurrences.
Ideally, you wouldn't be able to screw up interrogations and miss a chunk of the story, like in L.A. Noire, but the game should still have a really cool fail state. If the case is running too long, and it looks like more people might die due to the police's (or the player's) incompetence, the game could make you call in Batman to wrap things up, embarrassing the entire police department by making months worth of work disappear in an instant.
Blacksad is about as noir as it gets. The series, written by Spanish authors Juan Díaz Canales, is set in late 1950s America, and has the titular hero delving into themes relative to the time, like civil rights, racism, the red scare and other ‘50s themes. Oh, and did we mention that Blacksad is a cat? Because he's totally a cat. In the Blacksad universe, every character is an animal, with the stereotypes of the animals being represented in the characters themselves. Lizards are slithery and sneaky, pigs are fat and greedy, and the president is a bald eagle. Get it?
This unique setting would make for a great game, but the tone of the book isn’t one that would be best served with an L.A. Noire-style adventure. Blacksad doesn’t take part in many interrogations, and even if he did, we’re not too sure we’d be able to accurately read the faces of rhinoceroses. Sure, we’d love to try and watch a polar bear’s face to tell when he’s lying, but we’re just not sure how fun that would actually be for an entire game. Instead,a Heavy Rain-style approach might be best, with players investigating situations and exploring areas, with the occasional quick-time-event-heavy segment to make up the action. It would be worth it just to see the fully-realized world of Blacksad come to life. Seriously, we're tired of walking around New York and L.A. - let's get in a shoot-out with a walrus or something. Just to spice things up.
Even though we'd like to see the gameplay mimic Heavy Rain's, we think the developers should take their style cues from the melancholy, analogy-heavy, graphic-novel-inspired grit of Max Payne, just for good measure. Why not L.A. Noire instead? Because while it had "noire" right there in the title, it didn't hold a noir candle to the noir of Max Payne. Noir.
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