VuePoint: Adaptation Part Two

By VuePoint

Greetings fellow gamers! I hath returned from my hiatus as a 21 year old with a significantly weaker liver, but that won’t stop me from writing! In my last article, I talked about movies and TV shows being adapted to games, and how (in theory) a developer could make that work. Now let’s flip it on it’s head – bringing games we love to life on the big screen.

In my eyes, translating a story from a game to a film would suffer from a lack of material to work with. Aside from a few exceptions, the narrative isn’t the main focus of a game. I’m not saying it isn’t important – far from it actually. A great story can elevate a game beyond it’s peers, but fundamentally, we play a game for the game itself, not the story it tells.

Certain titles like The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption and even Dark Souls if you look hard enough into it, have worlds and plots that would translate beautifully into live action. Sure, the story isn’t the main draw of the Souls games, and it’s easy to completely miss it if you don’t look, but once you start diving into its lore, you’ll find yourself in a vast sea of sub-plots, character relationships and other little secrets that are just perfect for an ambitious film maker to build a cinematic world with.

For the most part though, games are there to be played. I’ll be quite interested to see how the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie plays out, as I personally never really pay much attention to the stories in the games. The majority of games use a story in order to tie one action set piece to the next, so the player doesn’t go too long without decapitating a goblin or blasting apart a robot, and this isn’t a bad thing. Take a game like Dragon Age: Inquisition (Unrelated: I just got it from PS+, Deluxe Edition, £65 reduced to £4.99, score). DA:I has a pretty vague story. Aside from the general “hole in the sky, big bad demon” thing, I played through the whole game without really knowing what was going on, and I still enjoyed every second of it.

On the flip side, the strategy of using a weak story to tie together action set pieces has been applied to film in the past, with varying degrees of success. To an extent, this is all Suicide Squad is. I could literally copy and paste what I just said about DA:I to describe that film – “hole in the sky, big bad demon” thing – substitute “demon” for “witch” and we’re golden. But I loved SS (maybe not the best abbreviation…). The fact that the story was generic and straightforward didn’t really bother me.

But then for every Suicide Squad you have a Sucker Punch. I won’t go too much into these, this is a gaming article, not a movie article, but that film starts off with some promise, and quickly begins to drag as the repetitive scenes of girls smashing faceless enemies to loud music happens again…and again…and again…

Sucker Punch felt like you were watching a video game, and when it comes down to it, think about two things. Which would be more fun – watching someone play a video game, or being able to pick up a controller, and take control of the characters in a movie. If you think about it like this, it becomes pretty obvious which type of adaptation works best…at least in theory. In practice, neither side seem to be having much luck. Games that have been adapted from films don’t have the best track record (see last week’s article), and movies like the Tomb Raider films and the Resident Evil films prove that it doesn’t work so well coming the other way either, although with a new Tomb Raider reboot in the works, I may be proven wrong yet.

Now, in the last article, I went into some depth about an MMO set in the Arrow/Flash/Legends/Supergirl universe, and how I wanted to see it happen, and it could be good if done right. Similarly, I’ve had an idea (albeit not as in depth as my last idea) for this article too.

I could easily talk about a movie of The Last of Us, or any of those I mentioned earlier, but picture this instead – a GTA V based Netflix series. Hear me out.

Each episode follows Trevor, Michael and Franklin working a job, holding their territory from rival gangs, and going about their lives. Each episode also features flashbacks based on one of the characters, explaining how they got to where they are now, and showing what their lives were like before they met. It’s a simple concept, and would undoubtedly need more thought about how to make each episode interesting in its own way rather than becoming a repetitive procedural, but hey, I think it has potential right?

At the risk of crapping all over the last two weeks worth of work I’ve done on BearSleuth, I have to say that my overall opinion goes against all of this. I feel like Hollywood is oversaturated with sequels and adaptations now, and so is gaming to an extent. Sure, we get some nice original titles every now and again, but there’s still so much that we’ve seen before. Another Call of Duty. Another Assassins Creed. Another Grand Theft Auto. Another Fallout. Another Elder Scrolls. Another Legend of Zelda. Crash Bandicoot re-mastered.

Don’t get me wrong, some of those are amazing titles that deserve sequels, but I get way more excited at the concept of something original, than I do at a sequel for a game I already know. How’s that for a final thought? I’m actually really interested to know what people think of this, so let me know in the comments all your thoughts about sequels, remakes, adaptations and originality.

Until next week, keep gaming my friends!

…That was this week’s VuePoint!!! Check back on Tuesday for a new BearSleuth Opinion Piece!!!

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