Will there be any decent movie tie-ins this year?

On the hunt for one of gaming's rarest beasts

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Ghostbusters on C64, Aladdin, Goldeneye, Riddick: the list of great movie tie-ins is barely longer than Russell Crowe’s temper. What chances, then, of even seeing a few good ones during 2009? Can the year that sees Barack Obama’s inauguration, a Michael Jackson comeback, and a Star Trek movie that doesn’t suck, prove that anything is possible?

What's it about?
A team of chain-smoking nerds and campus hangers-on goes into business as New York’s only supernatural pest-controller. It gets more than it bargained for, though, when a shape-shifting god brings terror to the city.

Any chance of it being good?
An extended original cast returns for some hit-and-miss voiceover work, and the action veers between clumsy boss battles and sub-Gears Of War run-and-gun. Rubbish then? Not necessarily.

The new plot weaves gracefully through the movie’s favourite haunts, bringing spooks like the Librarian and Mr Stay Puft back from the dead (by which we mean 1980s lunchboxes). The positron colliders look and feel right, while ghost-trapping involves a neat tug-of-war with real world physics.

What’s more, the developers seem to get it: they know the movie’s as much about New York and its people as dazzling poltergeists. What that means for the game is unknown.

What's it about?
Alan Moore’s seminal comic about hero has-beens, conflicted supermen and outlaw vigilantes hits the big screen thanks to Zack “300” Snyder. An army of fans holds its breath (but not its tongues) to see if every nuance and period detail has been preserved. A bitter legal battle over distribution rights, meanwhile, means that all release date bets are off.

Any chance of it being good?
Erm... Let’s put it this way: if you’re expecting a Yakuza-style detective story where the streets run thick with pastel-coloured intrigue, think again. However, if you’re happy just mashing X, Y and X against hordes of identical thugs and gangsters, as if in some breezy arcade port from the Dreamcast era, then maybe this downloadable slice of backstory is for you.

Given precious few months to come up with something, Total Overdose developer Deadline Games seems so awestruck by the source material that it’s done absolutely nothing to upset its fans. Except, that is, turn in a cheap and dreary brawler which tackles none of the issues fans would expect.

What's it about?
Natural born killer Richard Riddick continues his tour of the galaxy’s nether regions, this time captured by ruthless pirates who turn their victims into black-market slaves. Not a direct tie-in as there’s no upcoming movie, but a continued extension of 2004’s rollicking The Chronicles Of Riddick.

Any chance of it being good?
The greatest movie tie-in since Goldeneye gets a bumper update of enhanced original and new sequel. If you missed Escape From Butcher Bay on PC and Xbox then here’s your chance to see what all the fuss is about. Twice.

Developer Starbreeze, one of the hardest-working studios in games, has cut no corners in bringing the game visually up to date, ensuring fresh and unique content for the 10-hour Dark Athena campaign. That’s 20 hours in total, none of which should be missed. With a typically assured turn from Vin Diesel and Hollywood-grade performances all round, this is your dead-bang tie-in-of-the-year.

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