"War. War never changes." While we don't hear those iconic lines from Ron Perlman, we do get to hear the familiar crooning of The Ink Spots' "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" played over the aftermath of a nuclear fallout. Adapted from the video game series of the same name by Bethesda Game Studios, we follow Lucy (played by Ella Purnell), a descendent of the survivors who took refuge in fallout bunkers aka Vaults, as she venture out of her place of safety into the Wasteland once known as Los Angeles.

We're in the golden age of video game adaptations. While it's an adaptation for the online streaming platform Prime Video, the trailer looks like its staying faithful to its source material. Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, the showrunners for Westworld, are helming this adaptation. We see the Vaults and its inhabitants; the Brotherhood of Steel; plenty of Vault Boy bobbleheads (is the series setting up an easter egg hunt for the viewers?); a lot of retro goodness; a trusty canine companion and ghouls. Well, a ghoul played by Walton Goggins. We saw no indication of mutants but according to Bethesda Game Studios producer Todd Howard, who directed various games in the series, the series is set in the same continuity as the game. So, we may see the appearance of mutants or even Deathclaws.

Walton Goggins is the Ghoul

But the one thing that we saw that was really encouraging—the wry humour. Evident in the games, there's humour in a devastated future. And why not? A little laughter helps get you through the bad times.

So, for those who are waiting for the next Fallout game, the Prime Video's series will scratch that itch. It's expected to be released on 11 April, one day earlier than it was previously announced.

War never changes. And in this context, maybe it's for the best.

Fallout will be released only on Prime 11 April.

Thanks to a leak, video game company Rockstar Games, released its long-awaited trailer for its upcoming Grand Theft Auto 6. This time our open-world is set in Leonida (GTA's version of Florida), where Vice City (GTA's version of Miami and also the huge locale in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City) is featured.

We follow Lucia and her unnamed partner as they make a living wage... by engaging in a stick-up. And given the nature of this game, they would probably dip into other less-savoury activities that would cause your mom to cross herself. With Tom Petty's "Love is a Long Road" playing, the trailer shows all the glories that are pulled from the headlines of actual Florida. Let us count the ways: an alligator in a swimming pool; twerking on the roof of a moving car; a police raid; an alligator in a convenience store; a strip club; an irate elderly woman holding a claw hammer in each hand... Leonida is the most Florida that Florida has ever been.

The game will be released on next-gen platforms. Specifically the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 (sorry PS4 and Xbox One users). This move makes sense given the graphics we've just seen from the trailer. But according to a presser given out by Rockstar Games, GTA 6 will skip out on a PC version. It's not an unusual move for the company given their MO for its previous games release. Games like GTA IV, GTA V and Red Dead Redemption 2 gave priority to console releases. PC ports came at a very later date.

At least, we get to play the game next year when it rele-

Ah, damn it.

Well, at least we can soak in the trailer while we wait.

Spider-Man 2. SONY

The anticipation is palpable: Spider-Man 2 is set to swing onto the PlayStation 5, promising to be bigger, bolder, and even more thrilling than its award-winning predecessor. The buzz is hardly surprising; the game has been put together by Marvel and Insomniac Games, the who previously built iconic franchises like Spyro and Ratchet & Clank. Insomniac was ultimately acquired by Sony after the huge success of the first Spider-Man game, and since then has been diligently at work on the sequel.

But what can fans expect from Spider-Man 2? We caught up with Bryan Intihar, the creative head behind the series, to delve into the narrative depths, gameplay innovations, and the vision driving this eagerly awaited sequel.

Spider-Man 2 (left), Bryan Intihar (right). SONY

A big highlight about this game is certainly the Venom symbiote bonding with Peter, stripping him to his abilities, but at a cost. Can you delve into the challenges this bond presents for Peter?

Bryan Intihar: The symbiote story has always been significant for any Marvel or Spider-Man fan. Its portrayal over the years has resonated with many. Given that this is technically our third Spider-Man game—following Spider-Man and then Miles Morales—we aimed to take our characters to uncharted territories.

Emotionally, we approached the symbiote as a metaphor for addiction. This perspective isn’t solely about the impact on Peter, but also on his circle of friends and family. It’s a narrative that pushes Peter into unfamiliar territory.

As players delve deeper into the game, the bond with the symbiote intensifies and Peter undergoes profound changes. There’s a moment in the launch trailer where Peter exclaims, “You’re not the hero.” It’s hard to fathom Peter ever making such a declaration.

On the gameplay front, this presented a golden opportunity for us to showcase a different facet of Peter. Both Peter and Miles are incredibly powerful characters with their unique superhero abilities.

Introducing the symbiote allowed us to amplify and celebrate the sheer, raw strength it offers. The symbiote, in essence, isn’t just an alien entity. It profoundly influences Peter emotionally and redefines gameplay mechanics. It’s been genuinely exciting for our creative team to stretch our capabilities in narrating Peter and Miles’ story in ways we hadn’t explored before. This shift has dynamically impacted both gameplay and narrative, and that’s what excites us the most.

Spider-Man 2 gameplay. SONY

This is the third game in the series. How has the development process evolved? Were there any lessons from the first two games that have been incorporated into this third instalment?

Bryan Intihar: When we started the journey with Spider-Man 2, we began from the ground up. Our aim with the first game was to showcase that we could craft a compelling Spider-Man experience. The feedback from the first game gave us clear indications of what players loved, and the subsequent message was: “Don’t tamper with what’s already working.” For instance, swinging and traversal mechanics were highly appreciated. So our approach was to enhance it further, not overhaul it.

One of our guiding principles has been to juxtapose the superhero fantasy with a relatable, human story. While we dive into the darker realms with characters like the Symbiote and Lizard, our intent remains to narrate a heartfelt story.

Reflecting on areas of improvement, we realised that boss fights needed more depth. We also wanted to amplify the exploratory elements in the open world. With Spider-Man 2 being exclusively developed for PlayStation 5, it was crucial to harness its capabilities, be it faster traversal speeds, seamless hero switching, or grander set pieces.

In essence, our philosophy was to preserve what’s cherished and enhance areas ripe for improvement. As we approach our ninth year since beginning our Spider-Man journey in 2014, the familiarity and rapport within the team have been invaluable. The core leadership from the first game remains intact for Spider-Man 2, mirroring a seasoned sports team that’s in sync. It’s been rewarding to witness this bond, especially when new leaders emerge and take on added responsibilities. For me, observing this evolution has been one of the project’s highlights.

An annoying trend with video game sequels, is when characters will helpfully “misplace” all the last game’s gadgets (so the developers can spend time giving the character’s new tech to play with). Thankfully, this game doesn’t do that. But did that make coming up with new powers and gadgets that much harder?

Bryan Intihar: It’s a challenging balance. From a player’s perspective, it might seem puzzling when certain capabilities are stripped away in sequels. One reason is the time gap between releases; players might forget game mechanics, and developers sometimes reset to help everyone get back on track. But that aside, our primary focus was ensuring continuity in the characters’ power sets and gadgets.

Drawing inspiration from the comics, we infused a touch of the "Insomniac flair" into the gadgets. While Miles is defined by his unique abilities like bioelectricity and camouflage, we wanted the first mission to showcase both characters with a rich arsenal. We took cues from the comics, specifically the Iron Spider arms, which also harks back to the first game with Otto’s mechanical arms. This led to the idea of Peter adapting that tech, enhancing it, and incorporating it into his toolset. It was essential to ensure both Peter and Miles felt powerful and distinctive, giving players a choice in how they wanted to engage.

As the game progresses, players will see Miles’s powers evolve, intricately tied to his personal journey and his interactions with characters like Martin Lee. Peter’s evolution is also evident with the introduction of the symbiote.

Our objective has always been to make players feel like Spider-Man from the get-go. Every game starts with swinging through New York City because we want players to immediately connect with that exhilarating Spider-Man sensation. When it comes to combat, the emphasis is on delivering that authentic Spider-Man experience with a mix of classic and new tools.

Spider-Man 2 gameplay. SONY

Given the sandbox nature of a Spider-Man game, there usually needs to be a balance between free exploration and structured narrative. How do you approach this balance?

Bryan Intihar: Honestly, we don’t strictly adhere to a 50-50 model. Depending on where they are in the game, players might delve deeper into optional or open-world content.

Reflecting on our previous titles, we identified a need to elevate the quality of open-world content. In a Marvel game, storytelling is paramount. Our goal was to ensure every piece of optional content offered a gripping narrative, whether it’s a brief standalone quest or a chain of events that build and culminate in a climax.

Furthermore, we aimed to instill a richer sense of exploration and discovery. We wanted to move away from merely relying on UI and waypoints. Instead, we integrated more environmental cues. For instance, after introducing Sandman, players might notice sand clouds in the distance, sparking their curiosity and drawing them into new experiences.

Lastly, we wanted to better integrate the main story with the open world by emphasising the cause and effect. For instance, in the first Spider-Man, after a significant event like the helicopter chase with Mr Negative, the aftermath would quickly vanish. We wanted the effects of such events to linger, making the world feel more dynamic and interconnected. By weaving narrative into the environment and enhancing exploration, we aimed to ensure the main story has a tangible impact on the broader world.

Working with a giant like Marvel must be exciting. How involved are they in the creative process? Do they give you autonomy, or are there specific directives about what can and cannot be done?

Bryan Intihar: This is a question I get asked quite frequently. To be honest, working with Marvel has been nothing short of fantastic. There might be a general apprehension when collaborating with IP holders—this fear that they might be overly protective or restrictive. However, my experience has been the complete opposite. Marvel consistently encourages us to think ambitiously and to be bold.

Many of us at Insomniac are avid Marvel enthusiasts, and we’ve grown up immersed in the Marvel universe. This deep-rooted respect for the brand ensures that we handle the material with care. But while these characters have been around for decades, we believe that fans don’t just want a carbon copy of what they’ve read in comics. They crave surprises while still feeling that the core essence of the characters is intact. Our guiding principle has always been to honour the original DNA of these characters while not shying away from innovating.

Of course, the Marvel team comprises exceptional storytellers and game developers. We’d be remiss not to seek their insights and feedback. So, while people might expect a restrictive dynamic, our collaboration with Marvel has been incredibly harmonious and remains one of the most fulfilling aspects of my career.

There’s loads of new games out at the moment. What sets your game apart from the rest? And, I am going to say you can’t mention Spider-Man

Bryan Intihar: To be candid, my personal game playing this year has been a bit sparse. I’ve set a personal rule for myself: I don’t play other games during a year we’re launching our own. Hence, I’ve only recently begun catching up, I just wrapped up Jedi Survivor and eagerly queueing up Final Fantasy XVI next. The sheer quality and quantity of releases this year are remarkable.

So take this with a pinch of salt, but I’d say one big aspect of our game is the cinematic scale we’ve integrated into an open-world environment. We’ve really tried to inject blockbuster-esque moments, reminiscent of linear game narratives, into our expansive, dynamic world. From the get-go, our game gives players an experience where massive, gripping set pieces seamlessly mesh with the freedom and spontaneity of open-world gameplay.

It might sound a bit audacious, and I hope I’m not overlooking any other game doing something similar, but this blend of cinematic immersion and open-world exploration is something we’re genuinely proud of.

Originally published on Esquire ME

The great Indiana Jones may have left the movies for good, but the legendary archeologist will live on. A much-anticipated Indiana Jones video game will hit our screens sometime in the near future. And the team behind it couldn't feel more perfect.

Helmed by Todd Howard—the Bethesda Game Studios executive producer behind The Elder ScrollsFallout, and most recently, Starfield—the upcoming Lucasfilm game will also be developed by Wolfenstein's MachineGames. So, if you're into massive RPGs and punching Nazis, these are the two best parties to take Indy on.

Legend has it that Howard pitched Lucasfilm on an Indiana Jones game back in 2009. But for whatever reason, it took until now for Disney to work with the Bethesda producer. As he told Esquire intaking on an Indiana Jones game has long been a dream of his. "I am a giant Indiana Jones fan," Howard reveals, mentioning that his first dog was even named Indy. "It can be brought to video games in a unique way. The game is obviously: you’re exploring stuff. It’s about him. So if you’re playing the game, how do you feel that you are indeed playing versus just watching?"

Aside from the recent release of Starfield, Howard and Bethesda are also working on The Elder Scrolls 6 and a Fallout TV series headed by Westworld's Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan. The yet-to-be-titled Indiana James game will arrive on Xbox Series X|S sometime in the near future. Probably as a console exclusive. It has yet to be confirmed whether PlayStation users can play the Indiana Jones game, especially after Microsoft purchased Bethesda for a whopping US$7.5 billion last year. So, you may have to scour the globe and dodge booby traps for the latest Xbox to continue on with Indy's adventures.

Originally published on Esquire US

See where The Super Mario Bros Movie stands in the long and complicated history of video game adaptations.

If you were a big-ticket Hollywood screenwriter, one of the toughest gigs you could get is the task of turning a video game into a coherent movie. Usually, video game stories are meant to be played and interacted with—not just consumed. It’s why running and jumping as Mario feels amazing... but hearing him talk in full sentences with Chris Pratt’s voice is unnerving.

Most games also tend to run about 30 to 60 hours long—if you don’t get addicted—and reducing all that to a tight 90 minutes is a nearly impossible task. Video games are also inherently ridiculous. You upgrade stats, collect coins, complete quests, and play out an experience unique to what you make of it. It’s something a fixed medium like film can’t even seem to get something simple like Sonic the Hedgehog right. Remember some of his adorable and cool friends like Tails and Knuckles? Well, they don’t even show up until the sequel.

But perhaps most daunting? People love their video games. The characters, the storylines, the visuals: they're all subject to insane scrutiny because you invest your time and energy and 3am. bags of Doritos to be part of these worlds. Now, we have a new adaptation to put under the microscope: The Super Mario Bros Movie. Read on to see where it stands in the long and complicated history of video game adaptations.

15. Street Fighter (1994)

Jean-Claude Van Damme is one of the best action stars Hollywood has even seen, so it was only logical that a guy who starred in dozens of Die Hard clones would eventually get to work with the film’s scribe himself, Stephen E de Souza, on an adaptation of Street Fighter. Outlandish and full of impressive fighting choreography, the '90s film made for an incredibly campy rework of the 2-D arcade fighter. Especially since it (awkwardly) favored the one American character as its lead over its Japanese protagonist. Still, Van Damme can sure kick ass.

14. Pixels (2015)

pixels

Bet you didn't think Pixels would be on here, huh? 2015 probably told you to hate anything and everything Adam Sandler. Well, it's 2021 and we like the Sandman again. Pixels is a loving, if... uneven ode to the arcade classics of the '80s (think: Pac-Man and Centipede). Plus, it stars Brian Cox and Peter Dinklage. And Michelle Monaghan. Yeah. Pixels deserves a replay.

13. Uncharted (2022)uncharted

Uncharted had so much going for it. A genuine star in Tom Holland, who plays the leading adventurer, Nathan Drake. Mark Wahlberg as his co-star. Plus, an apt director in Ruben Fleischerwhose breakout film, Zombieland, is still massively rewatchable. We hate to report that Uncharted is half of what it could've been. Which means that there are still some quips, gargantuan action setpieces, and various acts of Tom Hollanding would seeing. It's just all wrapped up in a film with scattershot pacing and not much character development for its lead.

12. Assassin's Creed (2016)Duel, Games, Pc game, Cg artwork, Screenshot, Action-adventure game, Sword, Combat, Massively multiplayer online role-playing game,

The creative team behind the Assassin's Creed film took the correct approach. Ubisoft, the game studio, decided to snag the creative reins of the project itself and attach a reliable talent who believed in the potential of the franchise. This talent, of course, was budding Hollywood leading man Michael Fassbender. What he did with the film may not have been exactly a box office pleaser, but it was an example of a video game movie that was done artfully, made with a deep, meticulous understanding of the game series’ lore.

11. The Resident Evil Series (2002-2016)

Fictional character,

Say what you will about Paul WS Anderson, but he created a world all his own in the Resident Evil film series. The movies, frustratingly, diverge greatly from the storytelling of the games, but Milla Jovovich has become something of a screen icon thanks to her enduring leading role in them. While they take a lot of liberties with the Resident Evil franchise, the world-building in the films is captivating enough to make these a stand-out in the genre.

10. Warcraft (2016)

Sculpture, People, Art, Statue, Human, Carving, Anthropology, Fictional character,

World of Warcraft is one of the most beloved video game series of all time. Its fan base is large, spanning generations of kids who, in some cases, have been playing it for decades. Duncan Jones’ take on the series showed, perhaps for the first time, what happens when a huge fan of a video game is given the keys to a film franchise. Jones is an outspoken WoW-head, and his knowledge of the series was apparent in this film.

9. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022)knuckles

We hate to say it, but Sonic the Hedgehog 2 doesn't go quite as fast as its predecessor, losing some of wit and charm from the first outing. That said, Ben Schwartz's gleefully chaotic work as Sonic, with a superb Idris Elba added to the mix as the echidna Knuckles, makes Sonic the Hedgehog 2 firmly one of the better films on this list.

8. Mortal Kombat (2021)

mortal kombatSure, the Mortal Kombat reboot was never going to reach the bloody, campy heights of its 1995 predecessor. But it's still a treat for gamers who grew up slicing and dicing back when the fighters were merely two-dimensional.

7. Tomb Raider (2018)

Human, Cg artwork, Screenshot, Massively multiplayer online role-playing game, After Angelina Jolie’s lukewarm take on the franchise in the early 2000s, it seemed like Tomb Raider would never achieve its full potential onscreen. The series itself is extremely cinematic, and, aside from the burdensome exploitation and sexism in the games, it offers what could be a very strong woman-led Indiana Jones-type movie series. In 2018, Alicia Vikander starred in this much darker—and much more realistic—version of Tomb Raider, and she really nailed it.

6. The Super Mario Bros Movie (2023)

super mario brosThe Super Mario Bros Movie is for kids. For. Kids. Please remember that, as you watch one mister Chris Pratt Mario cheese his way through Mushroom Kingdom. The Super Mario Bros Movie doesn't totally have a plot—does any Mario game ever veer too far from Mario-beats-Bowser, anyway?—so it leans on the hits. Meaning: a Mario Kart scene here, a Super Smash Bros moment there, and cameos that'll delight even the crabbiest of trolls. Just enjoy it, OK? Life's too short to dunk on an animated plumber.

5. Final Fantasy: Advent Children (2005)

hair, face, hairstyle, blond, hair coloring, cool, cg artwork, layered hair, anime, bangs,Final Fantasy is another major gaming franchise that has a subculture all its own. For decades, fans wondered how their beloved RPG would look onscreen. Advent Children, the only film on this list that’s not live-action, answered that call in 2005. The imaginative and at times fully bonkers take on the beloved Square Enix series used computer-generated 3D graphics instead of real life actors, and it really blurred the line between film and gaming.

4. Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

animated cartoon, cartoon, animation, cool, selfie, costume, glasses, photography, fictional character, mascot,Listen, if I could give the top spot to "Speed Me Up"—the song of last summer, this summer, next summer, and the summer after that—I would. But my editor won't let me. Instead, props goes to the movie itself, which proved to be a surprisingly fun outing for the blue guy, despite months of production troubles. For better or worse, we'll probably always remember Sonic the Hedgehog as the last movie we saw in theatres before the pandemic.

3. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

ralphOK. Wreck-It Ralph isn't technically a video game movie, in that Wreck-It Ralph doesn't exist as a game IRL. But the film imagines a world where arcade game characters meet up in a digital romper room, leading to a celebration of a film about video games and the bad guys that inhabit them. It's weird. It's wild. It has heart. And a Bowser cameo. What else do you need?

2. Detective Pikachu (2019)

animated cartoon, toy, animation, cartoon, yellow, mascot, action figure, games,Pokémon as a franchise has always been a stalwart: there are the cards and the TV series and the animated films. Oh, and then there's the game itself, which has defined an entire generation. Even with all that, when Detective Pikachu was announced, there was some (rightful) skepticism about what a live-action film starring the beloved creatures might look like. Not only did the visuals deliver, but Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith make the outing a blast to watch. Pokémon Go stream it now.

1. Mortal Kombat (1995)

Fictional character, What is there to say about the Mortal Kombat movie that hasn’t already been said? It’s campy. It’s exciting. It’s dumb. It’s brilliant. The spirit of the '90s is alive in full force in this film, and to this day, the techno-futuristic-cage-match title still stands as the most satisfying video game movie to date. Sure, it may not be the most “high-art” example on this list. But Mortal Kombat perfectly captured the essence of a game franchise, and it cannot be beat.

Originally published on Esquire US

crosschevron-down