The 5 Best Superhero Video Games of All Time

Superhero video games are often rushed to coincide with the releases of their corresponding movies. As a result, video game adaptations of comic franchises are notoriously hit-or-miss. For every Batman: Arkham City, there are at least five Superman 64s. And while we could go on and on about such humorously bad games, we wanted to take a moment to praise the titles that truly made us feel like we were our most beloved heroes. Below is our list of the best video game adaptations of comics.

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

While the first Spider-Man film tie-in was received poorly, we think it has a certain nostalgic charm. However, even without the nostalgia factor, Spider-Man 2 is an objectively good game. Activision borrowed Grand Theft Auto’s open world formula and allowed players to roam freely through a surprisingly accurate rendition of New York City, sprawling with side quests that keep the player occupied even after beating the game.

What’s most impressive are the game’s simple, yet effective swinging mechanics, which are probably the most realistic of any Spider-Man game to date. As a kid I spent hours just swinging through the city, the game’s missions almost being secondary to the free-roaming elements. 

Granted, the combat system was a bit clunky, but the Spider-Man 2’s positives far outweighed these minor setbacks.

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (2005)

Unlike many of the games on this list The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction was not a film tie-in, which may have contributed to its quality. As the title suggests, it was pure dumb fun, allowing the player to smash anything and everything. Featuring open world gameplay, the player can be as destructive as possible, leaving the entire city in ruins if they so choose. How many other games allow you to throw a car at a helicopter? Put most simply, this game is therapeutic.

Also, since the game did not have to follow the narrative of a film, it was able to be more true to the Hulk comics’ vision of the character. While not overwhelmingly profound, the plot is engaging. Missions can tread on the difficult side, but for players seeking a challenge, this is certainly not a negative.

While it was met with favorable reviews, Ultimate Destruction didn’t sell as well as it should have. We can only hope that one day this game gets the recognition it deserves.

Batman: Arkham City (2011)

It is safe to say that Batman: Arkham City set the precedent for all superhero video games that followed it. It is the closest any game has come to making the player feel like they themselves are the titular hero.

By the time of its release, open world games were commonplace; however, Arkham City’s use of the formula was unique. Its sandbox is teeming with thugs and side quests, never leaving the player without something to do. Similar to Spider-Man 2’s brilliant implementation of swinging, the player-friendly gliding feature makes it easy to get lost in exploration of the gritty city.

The villains in Arkham City range from those we’d expect (Joker, Penguin, Mr. Freeze) to those who never really received much mainstream attention, including Hugo Strange, a character we never fully appreciated until playing this game. Hell, even Calendar Man makes a cameo appearance. 

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

You may be shocked to see X-Men Origins: Wolverine on this list, especially considering that the film off of which it’s based is one of the worst Marvel movies. In this article, we deservedly ripped into the film off of which this game is based. However, this is one of the few instances in which the game is better than the film. Much, much better in fact.

While Origins’s plot may be subpar, it’s not exactly the game’s appeal. Often compared to God of War, the game features an excellent combat system. It allows for over-the-top gory (aka fun) kills. While on the topic of gore, it is devilishly entertaining watching our hero’s flesh tear and regenerate after taking damage. While it may be a small detail, it was rightfully appreciated by players.

The game also features immersive level design, absolutely trumping the film’s monotonous locations. If there is anything positive to say about the film, it’s that it birthed this gem of a game.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (2011)

We thought we’d close this list with a bit of nostalgia. While Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is the most recent installment of its series, the game takes everything that we loved about MvC as kids and modernizes it. We’ve got tag-team fights, an array of both well-known and lesser-known characters from both the Marvel and Capcom universes, and—for the first time in the series—3D graphics. Still, even with its revamping, it maintains the vintage arcade feel of its predecessors.

Think we missed something? What are your favorite superhero video games? Let us know in the comments below.



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