TOP 10: COMIC BOOK GAMES OF THE LAST GENERATION (SO FAR)

Over the past week or so, Comic Book Video Games has broken down the big news stories and releases from what is now effectively the last generation of consoles. Now it’s time to crown the top ten titles that graced the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One thus far. Technically speaking, both consoles are still being supported, but like it has been with all generational transitions, the expectation is that they’ll cease to get any meaningful software soon enough. Should something come out that’s worthy in the next year or two, it could very well steal a space for any of the titles that will be discussed.

Cross-generational titles are permitted, like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes that came out on things like the PS3 and Xbox 360 and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales that’s also on PS5, however remasters, like Deadpool or the Batman: Return to Arkham compilation pack, are excluded. This list is meant to reflect the games that helped to shape and define the last generation.

With that out of the way, let’s start things off with:

10) BATMAN: THE TELLTALE SERIES/THE ENEMY WITHIN

WHY 10?: If you want to get technical, these are two games, but as they make up one saga, much like in a television or streaming series, you can count them as one.

DC has so many characters at their disposal that are getting so little love in the video game space that it’s criminal. Superman for instance hasn’t had a console game all his own since 2006’s Superman Returns, while another member of DC’s Trinity, Wonder Woman, still hasn’t gotten her own title even after the success of her first breakout film. Meanwhile, there’s so much Batman content that it has become some what exhausting.

via SuperheroVG YouTube

It’s for that reason that Telltale’s take on the character was so refreshing that it can make even a cynic appreciate the Dark Knight once more. Bruce Wayne started his journey to become Batman after he witnessed his parents murdered in front of his eyes, vowing from that day forward to stop tragedies like that from ever happening again. What if the Wayne’s weren’t all they were cracked up to be though? This was the hook that keep you coming back for each episode of Batman: The Telltale Series and its sequel, The Enemy Within, which itself featured a clever flip on the Harley/Joker dynamic.

Like much of Telltale’s output since the first season of The Walking Dead, their Batman series was light on gameplay other than walking around, selecting dialogue choices and hitting correct prompts in quick-time events. With Batman’s rogue’s gallery and the characters trademark gadgets, Telltale got very creative in how they framed action sequences and they became thrilling to watch, even if all you were doing is hitting a button every now and then.

Who knows if Telltale 2.0 will ever return to their Batman saga, but at the very least they made it such that players can still experience both seasons of Batman after they got them back up on digital stores.

9) DISNEY INFINITY 3.0

WHY 9?: You might think it strange that the edition of Disney Infinity that mostly pushed Star Wars over Marvel would get the nod over the superhero centric Disney Infinity 2.0. The reason for it though is that the Marvel content found in Disney Infinity 3.0 was just that much better and something every lover of the comic company owes it to themselves to play.

The sole Disney Infinity 3.0 play set, Marvel Battlegrounds, was a superb fighting game that owes much of its design to Capcom’s terrific Power Stone series from the Sega Dreamcast. Bringing in every Marvel character released up until that point, Battlegrounds was something you could sink hours into, especially if you had friends to play with, which is more than what could be said of the short, and somewhat derivate, trio of play sets that made up Disney Infinity 2.0.

On top of that, Disney Infinity 3.0 introduced the Toy Box Speedway expansion game. Though not as content rich as something like Mario Kart 8, it was a highly enjoyable kart racing game that featured tracks not only from Marvel, but also Disney, Pixar and Star Wars. For now, this is the closest anyone has ever come to a Marvel racing game and it’s a great proof of concept for anyone who wants to run with it.

Playing Disney Infinity 3.0 on consoles is difficult now as you have to track down not only the game but all of the accompanying toys to go with on. Provided you have a PC that can run it, the Gold Edition is still available for purchase on Steam. It allows you to access everything in Disney Infinity 3.0 at a reasonable price while also helping to keep your shelves free of clutter.

8) BATMAN: ARKHAM VR

WHY 8?: When Sony released their consumer priced PSVR headset in 2016, they knew they needed a killer license to help move units, and hot of the conclusion to the Arkham series a year prior, there was perhaps no better fit than Batman.

Developed by Arkham series creator Rocksteady Studios, Batman: Arkham VR isn’t particularly long – just completing the main story while only take you 2-3 hours – but what’s present is unforgettable. Starting out as a young Bruce Wayne witnessing your parents death, with Joe Chill coming so close to your face you swear you can smell his breath, you’ll eventually have a giddy smile on your face as you pick up the Dark Knight’s cowl and literally become Batman.

Set between the events of Batman: Arkham City and Arkham Knight, Arkham VR has you venturing out into Gotham City to solve a murder case. Arkham VR is all about experiencing its story, so it won’t get spoiled here, and while you’re not engaging in brutal, hand-to-hand fights and movement is limited to teleporting to set points, you still get to play with all of Batman’s wonderful toys and dive more into the detective side of the character.

Playing Batman: Arkham VR requires you to own some type of VR headset which isn’t exactly cheap for many, but if you’re a fan of the character, you have to play it anyway you can.

7) MARVEL VS. CAPCOM: INFINITE

WHY 7?: Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is a game that suffered from very poor timing. Not long after its release, Disney would purchase 20th Century Fox, who at the time held the film rights to both the X-Men and Fantastic Four. This acquisition would put an end to the hiatus Disney had placed on both teams in comics, merchandise and video games. 2019’s Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order for example proudly featured Wolverine on the cover, while Fortnite brought in the likes of Doctor Doom, Storm and Wolverine to the free-to-play battle royale shooter.

via IGN YouTube

Losing the X-Men, who effectively kicked off Capcom’s Marvel fighting games with 1994’s X-Men: Children of the Atom, was but one of the many factors that turned players away from Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. Those who gave it a shot though were treated to a wonderful 2v2 brawler that more than honored the legacy of the games that came before it.

Harkening back to the days of the original Marvel vs. Capcom, Infinite reduced the team sizes down from 3 to 2, but in the place of a third team mate was the six Infinity Stones. Granting the power to snare enemies in one place, speed up heavy characters like the Hulk and resurrect fallen team mates, choosing the right Stone became just as important as selecting the right back up. The addition of a quick automatic combo, activated by tapping the light punch button in succession, was also a great feature for new players to look cool and enjoy themselves at their own pace.

Infinite would introduce a story mode for the first time in series history, and while it’s not as elegantly told or constructed as a game that will be discussed later, its absurdity will more than satisfy those who adore both factions if you don’t take it too seriously. If you haven’t given Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite a chance because of bad press, consider giving it a look.

6) LEGO MARVEL SUPER HEROES

WHY 6?: Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One would launch with one of the best comic book games of all time in the form of TT Games’ LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.

Though its gameplay won’t challenge the Dark Souls audience, each level whisks you to one famous Marvel locale after another like the Baxter Building, the X-Mansion, Doctor Doom’s castle in Latveria and Magneto’s Asteroid M base among others. Within them, you use the diverse abilities of the cast to solve simple puzzles and smash objects in the environment to collect LEGO studs.

And what a cast it is! From the Fantastic Four, to the X-Men and the Avengers with everyone in between, there’s very few corners of the Marvel Universe that aren’t touched either within LEGO Marvel Super Heroes‘ campaign or open world Manhattan area.

So much love and respect for Marvel is packed within LEGO Marvel Super Heroes’ campaign, and it almost feels effortless how the team weaved in each hero and villain into its plot. This is extended into Manhattan also. Prepare to lose hours of your life doing races, obstacle courses and a myriad of other side-activities that you’ll never want to ignore because the rewards are always meaningful.

Throughout the last generation, TT Games would come back to the Marvel Universe twice, and while the other outings were entertaining in their own right, neither quite captured the magic that LEGO Marvel Super Heroes did. TT Games has been busy on their latest Star Wars game which is expected to shake up the formula of the LEGO series. Hopefully when they’re freed up again we’ll see them make a return to the LEGO Marvel world.

5) BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT

WHY 5?: Coming off of the excellent Batman: Arkham City, not to mention being an early showcase for the PS4 and Xbox One, Batman: Arkham Knight came with a lot of high expectations and for the most part, they were met.

Arkham Knight’s conclusion offered an earned endcap for the relationship between Batman and the Joker that had been built up over the course of three games, plus a spin-off and an animated feature. However, the identity reveal of new villain touted as an original creation of Rocksteady, the titular Arkham Knight, was quite overwhelming, and if you’re even a moderate follower of the Batman mythos, you could see it coming from a mile away.

Batman: Arkham Knight greatly expanded upon the open world nature of Arkham City, somewhat to its detriment, but the player was never left without something to do while gliding or driving to their next objective. Side-missions featuring famous villains like Two-Face and the Penguin never felt like busy work, and hunting down the likes of Man-Bat, who made their Arkham debut here, were among the welcome new comers.

Arkham Knight’s most divisive feature was the inclusion of the Batmobile. When used for the purposes of solving puzzles, it became a welcome new tool in Batman’s arsenal, but there was also points where it felt needlessly shoehorned into certain sections, such as a boss battle with the likes of Deathstroke. Overall though, the vehicle had a great design and its ability to shift between a high powered racing vehicle to a battle tank allowed the developers at Rocksteady to get a lot of use out of it.

Before it launched, news arrived about Batman: Arkham Knight’s post launch DLC plan. While missions that allowed you to play as characters like Harley Quinn, Nightwing and Robin were brief distractions at best, it also had a chapter where you could finally control Batgirl and ended strong with worthy send offs for villains like Mr. Freeze and Ra’s al Ghul.

As is the issue with many AAA video games today, Batman: Arkham Knight was stuffed to the point of excess, but the good in it far outweighed the bad. Endings are a tricky thing to pull off, and Rocksteady offered a fine conclusion to their Batman saga.

4) INJUSTICE 2

WHY 4?: When it arrived in 2013, Injustice: Gods Among Us finally gave DC fans a worthy fighting game to call their own and one to make Marvel lovers envious of to boot. Blending their years of experience working on Mortal Kombat, developer NetherRealm Studios built a game that mixed its one-on-one bouts with a compelling story mode set in a world where a tragedy turned Superman into a tyrant.

Expectations were high when Injustice 2 was announced, and they were met and then some. Its story mode was even better than the first entry, and featured production values that would make large open world games envious. Of course a killer story mode doesn’t matter much if the fighting mechanics aren’t there to back in up, and in that regard, Injustice 2 didn’t disappoint either. Plus, this time around players were given the ability to customize their characters with armor pieces to bring their own sense of style to the roster.

Whether you’re someone who prefers to play this style of game by yourself, with a trusted circle of friends, or online, Injustice 2 offered something for players of all types. Like Injustice: Gods Among Us before it, Injustice 2 would have new characters added to its already packed roster from DC favorites like Black Manta and Red Hood to guest characters like Hellboy and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turltes.

If you play in the Xbox ecosystem, Injustice 2 is now available to download if you’re a Game Pass subscriber.

3) MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN: MILES MORALES

WHY 3?: There have been no shortage of Spider-Man games since the character started appearing in them all the way back in the early 80’s on the Atari 2600. None are quick like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

Miles Morales has everything you love about the best Spider-Man games, giving you an open world New York that’s your playground to swing around in built upon the solid foundation of Insomniac’s first Spider-Man outing. What makes Miles Morales so unique and special though is its main character. By no means a rookie, the player grows with Miles over the course of his first solo adventure, learning his new abilities that lend themselves beautifully to combat and stealth.

The main character is no Peter Parker either, and with this new Spider-Man, the player gets to experience an perspective on the world they may be unfamiliar with. This is felt in Miles Morales’ phenomenal soundtrack that mixes in hip hop beats and tracks into themes familiar from Marvel’s Spider-Man.

Whether you play it on the brand new PlayStation 5, or are still enjoying it on your well loved PlayStation 4, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales earns a place in your library. It’s not as long as some other games of its type, but it does so much with not a lot of runtime, even going as far as to make a point that maybe titles like these should be shorter in general.

2) MARVEL’S IRON MAN VR

WHY 2?: When watching 2008’s Marvel’s Iron Man, its impossible not to look at the scenes where we see the world through Tony’s eyes in his armor and think “wouldn’t it be so cool to be Iron Man?”

That’s the wish fulfillment that Marvel’s Iron Man VR brings to the table. Brilliantly using the PSVR headset and two Move controllers, you don’t merely play Iron Man VR, you experience it. Gone are the days of Batman: Arkham VR where you’re teleporting from place to place, here you’re blasting off around Tony Stark’s home in Malibu and above a helicarrier in flight. Like it was with Spider-Man 2 once upon a time, it can take some getting used to, but after some practice, Marvel’s Iron Man VR becomes a superhero game with no equal.

The faults with Marvel’s Iron Man VR stem from the PSVR platform in that the controls aren’t as precise as they could be, and at times the PlayStation Camera has trouble tracking you’re movement. It’s by no means a perfect game, but it’s also one that dares to be bold and create something that has never been done before. It’s what makes Marvel’s Iron Man VR one of the best comic book games ever produced that truly defines its generation.

1)MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN

WHY 1?: In the year 2000, developer Neversoft showed why Spider-Man is a perfect fit for a 3-D video game by crafting a title that captured what it was like to truly be Spider-Man. As the years passed, other teams would build upon this concept, like Treyarch, who with Spider-Man 2 went a step beyond and built the first ever true to life web-swinging simulator.

Just as Spider-Man swings like a pendulum on his web-line, so to did the quality of his digital adventures, that is until 2014 when they simply stopped coming. No one knew what was to become of Spider-Man’s solo titles until E3 of 2016 when he appeared on stage as part of Sony’s E3 press conference. Spider-Man was not only back, he was now in the hands of Insomniac Games and the publisher responsible for the likes of God of War and Uncharted.

In many respects, Marvel’s Spider-Man is simply a better mousetrap of the years of iterating on what Treyarch started all the way back in 2004. It also suffers from the problem that many AAA games of this type do where at times it can overstay its welcome. With Marvel’s Spider-Man though, Insomniac built a title that can be enjoyed by just about anyone, complete with a story that honors the now over fifty year legacy of the character while still managing to surprise the player with some truly powerful moments.

2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum showed that with the right care and attention, comic book games could stand among the best the industry has to offer. In 2018, Insomniac reminded us of this with Marvel’s Spider-Man.

So there it is, the top 10 comic book games of the generation released up until this point. Agree? Disagree? Feel free to comment below or reach out on twitter @blarcade.

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