Tired of dark fantasy and science fiction games flooding the market? One can only swing so many swords and blast so many lasers before it all starts to feel mundane. But rest easy, dear reader, because there exists another genre that can quench your thirst for heroism: the superhero game.
Like their movie counterparts, superhero games can be super cheesy when executed poorly. Most of them are designed to appeal to those who grew up reading the relevant comics, but the genre has shifted in recent years. When executed well, these games transcend their superhero wrappings and become standalone games worthy of praise.
Here are a few high quality titles that you should play at least once.
Batman: Arkham City (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, WiiU)
In 2009, Arkham Asylum revitalized the Batman gaming franchise with its enthralling story, engaging gameplay, and ability to exceed all expectations in nearly every way. Many considered it to be – and some still do – the greatest superhero game ever made, a claim which is backed up by its Guinness World Record for “Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever”.
And then comes the sequel, Arkham City, which surpasses it in many ways.
Everything about this game screams “high quality,” from the immersive worldbuilding to the carefully planned character progression that makes for an easy yet engrossing learning curve. The graphics are beautiful, the mechanics are crisp, and the narrative remains as gripping as ever.
The Batman franchise is a force to be reckoned with. In line with the successful movie reboot by Christopher Nolan, the Arkham series has proven itself as more than just a great superhero game. It’s one of the greatest games of our time, period.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (PS3, Xbox 360)
UMvC3 is the culmination of every Marvel vs. Capcom fighting game. Every iteration of the franchise experimented with gameplay mechanics in different ways, making gradual progress with each title, eventually coming to a climax in this close-to-perfect game.
As the name might suggest, the roster is comprised of characters from the Marvel universe as well as Capcom’s other gaming franchises. Think of it like Super Smash Brothers in that sense, though that’s where the similarities end.
You play as a team of three characters. Swap between them, build up energy, unleash dazzling super moves, and immerse yourself with the awesome voice acting and catchphrases that embody each personality. It’s fast-action fighting like never before.
Is there room for improvement? Of course. But in terms of fun factor and eye candy, UMvC3 hits all the right notes. It’s an exhilarating game to play solo, with local friends, over the Internet, or even just to watch. That’s how good this game is at captivating players.
DC Universe Online (PC, PS3, PS4)
What game comes to mind when you hear “superhero MMORPG”? Probably City of Heroes. True enough, CoH revolutionized an MMORPG market saturated with fantasy titles (Ultima, EverQuest, and World of Warcraft) by injecting a dash of superhero flavor. It’s sad to say, but CoH ended its run back in 2012.
For those of you who still have the itch to be a superhero in a massively multiplayer setting, there’s always DC Universe Online.
The game takes place in the DC Universe, a setting that isn’t as widely explored as other superhero universes might be (e.g., Marvel). When you create a character, you choose a DC character to be your mentor (e.g., Batman, Joker) which dictates your starting narrative. Most of the game is PvE, though there are optional PvP elements as well.
Perhaps the best part is that DC Universe Online is free-to-play. We didn’t include it on our list of the ten greatest F2P MMORPGs, but it’s definitely good enough to keep you entertained for a good while, especially if you’re a fan of DC comics.
There are so many superhero games out there that cover so many different genres that it would be impossible for any one person to have thoroughly played them all. However, despite the plethora of games available, these titles shine above the rest with their distinguishing features, making them worth a try whether you’re a fan of the genre or not.
If you’re interested in other game genres that are less traditional, why not try these incredible Wild West games as well?
I’m sure there are plenty of superhero games that I missed. Which ones are your favorites? Do you think the genre is heading in a good direction (being more serious) or would you prefer that they return to their roots (comical and cheesy)? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!