Marvel has had an excellent run with their superhero movies for the last several years. Like many fans, I'm more of a purist when it comes to their comics and choose to ignore desperate grabs for attention like revealing that Captain America is a Hydra agent (WTH?). With so much success on the big screen and several additional movies in the works, I'm surprised that there haven't been more Marvel superhero video games.
While there have been plenty of flops in the past, here's my list of the ten best Marvel superhero games on consoles. Since some Marvel fans are a bit over-the-top, I'm putting them in random order to avoid getting a surprise visit from a disgruntled reader.
The Punisher (THQ, 2004)
Even though The Punisher game was released in the same year as the lackluster movie starring Thomas Jane, they had little to do with each other. Thank goodness, because The Punisher is a really fun game that lets player dish out major damage as the dark anti-hero. Not only does he get to take down a plethora of mobsters with no remorse, but Frank Castle also interacts with other cool Marvel characters, including Iron Man, Matt Murdock, Bullseye, and even Nick Fury.
However, the highlight of this cool game is the brutal interrogation system that offers players the ability to beat information out of opponents. It's even possible to use environmental attacks, such as using a power drill, to help convince mobsters to talk before they get whacked.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Activision, 2009)
This game is based on a movie that is not only so bad that it killed the chance for a string of “Origins” movies, but it also threatened the existence of future Wolverine movies. Fortunately for gamers, X-Men Origins: Wolverine outshines the movie in every way. It features a deep melee combat system that's similar to God of War, with light attacks, heavy attacks, and grabs. I also like how players can lunge forward to close the gap between Logan and his enemies. It's even possible to lunge onto vehicles, like motorcycles and helicopters!
One of the most impressive features is the ability to see the damage inflicted on Wolverine's body and watch it heal itself in real time. Anyone who isn't squeamish should play the “uncaged” version of the game that features additional blood and gore.
Deadpool (Activision, 2015)
While Deadpool doesn't exactly feature innovative gameplay, it does a fantastic job of capturing the oddball personality of Wade Wilson. That's not surprising given that the story was penned by former Deadpool comic writer, Daniel Way. This beat-'em-up game is full of intense action as Deadpool can eviscerate enemies with both swords and guns, and he eventually gains access to outlandish weapons like giant hammers, plasma weapons, and even bear traps.
In typical Deadpool fashion, he frequently breaks the fourth wall to speak to players, and the game even begins with the self-healing mercenary blowing up High Moon Studios in order to force them to make “the most awesome game ever,” starring Deadpool himself.
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (Vivendi, 2005)
Just like the muscle-bound superhero, Ultimate Destruction come out of nowhere to smash expectations of what a superhero game could be. Players take on the role of the Green Goliath in a large, open-world city that's almost completely destroyable. In addition to the cool look of, well, ultimate destruction, this feature also supplements Hulk's massive moveset. For instance, players can smash cars and form them into boxing gloves or turn a radio tower into a makeshift javelin. One of my favorite moves is catching guided missiles and tossing them back at their source or using them to destroy other objects.
I also think the game handles boss fights really well, and I enjoy going up against well-known characters such as The Abomination and General Ross in Hulkbuster armor. It's also really fun to run up walls, jump huge distances, and crash to the ground. This is truly a sandbox game that tosses players into the middle and lets them experiment with a plethora of combat options.
Captain America: Super Soldier (Sega, 2011)
The only game based on the current Marvel universe movies to make it onto this list is Captain America: Super Soldier. I wasn't expecting much when I saw this game at E3 in 2010, but my opinion changed when I first played it. This game received a lot of flak from critics for mimicking the combat system from Batman: Arkham Asylum, but I have no problem with that because every single game on the planet is influenced by other games.
Anyway, Cap can attack, dodge, counter, and stun, but what's really cool is tossing his shield to take out multiple enemies at once. His shield can also block bullets and even reflect them back at the shooter if players time it right. This move makes the patriotic hero seem unstoppable when combined with the versatile combat system. [Definitely one of the best superhero games I've played too. ~Ed. Nick]
X-Men Legends 2: Rise of the Apocalypse (Activision 2005)
While the original was a blast to play, X-Men Legends 2 took team-based combat to a new level. In this complex action RPG, players can choose characters from both the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil to take on the dastardly Apocalypse and his seemingly never-ending horde of followers. Four characters at a time are used to fight a variety of enemies, activate switches and doors, and explore different levels. Even though players only control one character at a time, they can switch to any other character whenever they want.
It's also fun to perform special combo moves using two characters at a time, and super combo moves vary depending on which characters are used. Even more variety is added with the ability to play this game in four-player coop offline, and it's the first one that let players also team up for online gameplay.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (Activision 2006)
It's no surprise that this action RPG plays very similar to the X-Men Legends series because it was created by the same developer. However, lifting the constraints of the X-Men title let Raven Software create the largest roster of comic book characters found in any game at that time. There are over 140 in-game Marvel characters, with 30 playable ones when you include both add-ons.
Some of the features that set this game apart include four different costumes for each character, alternate endings, and bonuses for forming well-known teams like The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, and Marvel Knights. Be warned, however, that the Nintendo Wii version is severely limited due to weird controls and playing the Game Boy Advance version is worse than having to clean and polish Iron Man's armor.
Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (Capcom 2011)
Sure, this is little more than a Street Fighter game that adds characters from other Capcom games as well as from the Marvel universe [Or it's just Capcom characters added to X-Men: Children of the Atom. ~Ed. Nick], but that's enough to satisfy most fighter fans. With a diverse selection of 38 characters ranging from Thor to Phoenix to Dante to Viewtiful Joe, players can find their own answers to many late-night drunken arguments that revolve around “who would win in a fight between x and y?"
Capcom fighter purists may not like the change from four attack buttons to three, but to be honest, I've always thought that too many attack buttons can make combat too complicated. When you think about it, there are four attack buttons if you include the “exchange button” that lets players swap characters during combos, launch opponents into the air, and slam them to the ground. This is one of those team-based fighting games where players don't have to struggle with the controls in order to be victorious. Another plus is that MvC3 is the first game in the series to use three-dimensional characters instead of sprites, which makes it look more realistic.
Spider-Man 2 (Activision 2004)
Loosely based on the Spider-Man 2 movie starring Tobey Maguire, this action-packed beat-'em-up actually captured what it would be like to be the nimble wall-crawler. For starters, it has a great three-dimensional web-slinging feature that lets players travel around the open-world version of New York with style. This game also has a great combo system with numerous 3-button combos, and they're set up in an easy-to-use manner where players don't have to memorize them all.
It's great to combine his web-based abilities with fighting, such as stunning one enemy with a web ball while attacking another or using a stream of web out of each hand to grab the ground and add power to a two-legged kick. I also like how the game incorporates Doctor Octopus as the main enemy but also pits Spider-Man against other infamous bad guys like The Shocker and Mysterio.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (Warner Bros. 2013)
Vicarious Visions broke the character number record set by Raven Software by letting players control a mind-blowing 180 different characters from the Marvel universe. Granted, even though they all have unique abilities, the depth of each character pales in comparison to their comic book versions. Still, each one has a few of their iconic abilities, like Spider-man swinging on a web and Cyclops' deadly optic blast, that sets them apart and adds a familiar feel.
Similar to other LEGO games, players can explore a wide variety of areas while solving puzzles, collecting LEGO bricks, and constructing different gadgets. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is a great game for kids of all ages, and I appreciate novel features like the ability to play as Stan Lee with superpowers as well as side missions narrated by Deadpool (albeit a G-rated version).