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Three movie tie-in games stand out

It’s no secret that video games based on movies usually stink.

Many of the best games usually take multiple years to develop, but movie games are rushed along to debut with the film, cutting the game production time in half. But these games are continuously green-lighted because they capitalize on a film’s fan base. It’s pretty easy money for game studios, but the quality almost always suffers.

There have been some notable exemptions like the “King Kong” game, but there are far more crappy games like “Transformers” or “Iron Man.”

However, movie tie-in games have had a strong past few months with three standout releases hitting the market.

Two of those games, “The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena” and “Wanted: Weapons of Fate,” are as much tie-ins as they are partial sequels to the films. The other game — “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” — is an official tie-in to the movie released May 1.

The first two games branched out from where the films left off.

“Dark Athena” follows the forgettable “The Chronicles of Riddick” film, itself a sequel to “Pitch Black.” The game is essentially another campaign added on to the cult hit “The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay,” which is included with the game. “Butcher Bay” was a runaway hit for the original Xbox, and Atari and Starbreeze Studios did a great job of bringing it to the next-generation consoles.

A drawback is that the new campaign just isn’t as good as “Butcher Bay,” which makes its inclusion a saving grace. The multiplayer feature isn’t great overall, but the Pitch Black feature, in which the only light is from the guns, is fantastic.

“Wanted” likewise follows a mediocre movie that, while loaded with stunning special effects, wasn’t very good.

But one of the movie’s central concepts, that with a controlled heart rate one could alter gravity, was probably better intended for a game. The game is repetitive, giving the main character Wesley and his father a chance to run and gun through nine levels. Wesley can bend bullets through the air just like in the movie, adding a cool dimension to a shooting game.

“Wanted” isn’t a great game, but it’s one of the most fun ones to come out this year.

“Wolverine” stands out because the developers made the game every comic book geek wanted. This isn’t a game for children. The X-Men’s resident loner has claws made out of indestructible steel, and those claws cause substantial damage when inserted into flesh.

The comics and movies usually steer away from depicting the violence caused by Wolverine’s claws, but this game went in the opposite direction, embracing it.

The game is repetitive, yes, much like “Wanted,” but it packs a lot of fun. All three games do, which puts them well ahead of most movie tie-ins.

Hopefully this is a trend, but with a full summer movie schedule ahead of us, I’m still skeptical.

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