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Splinter Cell
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Movies & games
Ninja TurtlesThere seems to be a new tendency making itself felt throughout the gaming industry in recent times: the movie based on a game. The reasoning behind it cannot be easily refuted, since due to the growing popularity of the gaming market other business sectors suddenly become aware of the fact that one can make substantial profit out of selling games. So if millions of players experience virtual adventures in front of their screen at home, it's only natural that they are inclined to experience similar adventures on the big canvas of a cinema, aren't they?
Tentative beginnings:
Mortal KombatHowever, this tendency didn't emerge only a few days ago but dates back to the 1980s. Even then tentative links between movies and computer games existed. More and more successful movies found their way from the cinema to the PC or console at home, although in most cases with considerable delay. In particular the software house Ocean developed a whole range of computer games at the end of the 80s and beginnings of the 90s that were based on popular Hollywood movies. In 90 per cent of the cases, however, the quality of these programs did in no way come up to the gamers' expectations, eventually resulting in bad sales figures.
In 1989, Lucasfilm Games (now LucasArts) proved that software companies could do a great deal better than that by releasing Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade to their action-packed movie of the same name. In 1994, LucasArts caused once more some fuss as they published the all-time classic Indina Jones IV - Fate of Atlantis without producing a movie that accompanied it. Whether there will ever be a movie to the game is far from certain. Some time ago, rumours had it that Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford had taken up negotiations about a fourth Indy movie - but they haven't been confirmed yet.
Questionable results:
Tomb RaiderThis is all the more disappointing since only movies of questionable quality have made it into the cinemas so far: e.g. some successful video games, such as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles or Super Mario Bros., losing most of their original charm in the process. The former beat'em'up Mortal Kombat even starred Christopher "There can be only one" Lambert, but it didn't benefit from its protagonist in the least - story and production were simply too crude. Surprisingly, the game even made it to its own TV series.
Today's boss at Digital Anvil, Chris Roberts, is responsible for one of the greatest hypes in recent times. Having virtually reinvented the classic space opera with his first Wing Commander in 1991, the succceeding installments became increasingly lavish. Part 3 and 4 of the series focussed heavily on cinematic cutscenes with the Star Wars hero Mark Hamill as an additional appeal, alarmingly neglecting the aspect of playability and gameplay. Convinced of his abilities as a director, Roberts dared jumping from the screen to the canvas - and failed. Only a few WC fans wanted to see the film, whose sole plus point consisted in its computer animations.
Light at the end of the tunnel:
Final Fantasy VIIThe most famous heroine ever to appear in a computer game, Lara Croft, sparked off another debate about the issue. After the announcement that there is to be a Tomb Raider movie, one rumour topped the previous one over the question who should act as Lara Croft for months. Supposedly, Demi Moore, Jennifer Lopez and ex Lara model Lara Weller were taken into account, but in the end the recently awarded Oscar winner Angelina Jolie got the job. Simon West ("Con Air") is to direct the movie. But even with a well-known director and protagonist some doubts remain whether such a project can be adequately realized at all. Previous movies have shown the difficulty of transferring computer games onto celluloid.
Despite the growing symbiosis of film and computer - what may work with pixels on the screen, often appears undeliberately ridiculous in the real version and with real actors on the canvas. Maybe the planned Final Fantasy movie will succeed where everything and everyone else before has failed. The movie that will be completely animated by computer grahphics might be the beginning of a new era in game-based movies. In any event, the first steps towards an interesting future in computer gaming are taken.
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