What the Film Industry Can Teach Games

Usually, a movie-licensed game goes something like this: Studio X sells a property to a gamer maker. Said developers then slave away and try to come up with something unique that ties in well with the movie license. Take EA's upcoming Lord of the Rings: Conquest. You can play on either side of the battle for Middle Earth. Think of it like a fantasy fueled Battlefield game. It's fun, it immerses you in the world and ties it all together in a tidy bow. Makes sense, right? But what happens when a movie studio turned around and took a more active role?

Timur Bekmambetov, the director behind Wanted, approached movie-studio brass about an action sequence he had planned to shoot. All it took was a quick demo and Universal producers said, "We need to make a videogame out of this!" At least that's the way that Universal Studios' Pete Wanat tells it.

Without even having a publisher signed, Universal Studios green lit a game that's secretly been in development for more than a year now. And supposedly, should be ready to ship to stores this winter (my guess: around the same time that the movie ships to DVD). But unlike most licensed games, this isn't some bit of recycled bilge. You aren't reliving scenes from the movie. The game starts after the flick even takes place and extends the story from there. "I like to think of it as Wanted 1.5," jokes Wanat. That description doesn't sound so far from the truth as they are working with Mark Millar, the creator, to help bridge the gap between the movie, the game, and bring back in some of the elements from the comic books that inspired it all.

While looking at an early build of the game it looks to convey the frenetic film action. Oh, sure we can focus on the bullet-bending gameplay, the infinitely destructible world (go on, try shooting that pressurized cabin door on the plane to see what happens...) . And the supernaturally fast assassin abilities that have you darting between cover spots like some greased weasel. This game reveals more about Wanted by telling different stories across different mediums. The concept itself is hardly new. Warner Brothers made multiple games to sync up with The Matrix.

 In the past few years, a re-envisioned Scarface came to consoles talking about what happened after the blaze-of-glory filmic ending. With Chronicles of Riddick, we got another grim reminder that space prison life is hell. Heck, as I write this, the original Ghostbusters (I'm talking Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson) are actively involved in the development of game that serves as a sequel to the films. (The game launches this October).

Here's the kicker: these games can go places the movies can't and drag you along for an interactive ride. And now that Peter Jackson is working with Microsoft to make a movie based upon it's Halo series, who knows? Maybe the tables are about to turn. Just don't expect to see a gamepad in your theater seat.

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