The line between films and video games has grown increasingly thin in recent years. The phrase, “like a video game” used to be brandished as an insult towards films with more action than plot. But about a decade or so ago, the tide turned, as video games became appreciated for increasingly compelling storylines, and for their use of top-drawer acting talent which made the characters much more believable.
Classic games such as Prince of Persia, Resident Evil and Assassin’s Creed actually inspired films to be made around their franchise, instead of the other way around. Sure, few of these titles did too well with the critics, but audiences just keep on coming back for games-to-films adaptations. Hollywood seems only too happy to oblige them, with more in the pipeline. Call of Duty is earmarked for late 2018, and Tomb Raider is scheduled to be the world’s first video-game-to-movie-reboot in the spring.
A new twist on the convergence of film and games came a couple of weeks back with the release of Planet of the Apes: The Last Frontier, on the Playstation platform. This title sounds like a game, and in a sense, it is a game, since the player gets to choose what the ape and human characters do to a certain extent.
However, the storyline of The Last Frontier is more fixed than the average game allows, the whole shebang last under 3 hours, and the plot itself is set in a timeline between the second and third Apes movies. In this sense, The Last Frontier is more of a fourth instalment in the franchise, only released as a video game, instead of in movie theaters.
Playstation owners Sony are of course delighted with themselves, as releasing this movie on their platform means that Apes fans are almost certain to find themselves buying a console to see the film. The strength of the Planet of the Apes brand is well-known in the industry, with even a slot machine available for fans to play, so it should be no surprise that this particular movie franchise is the first to go down the route of releasing actual content as part of a game.
With the convergence of movies and games entering new territory, and virtual reality slowly but surely entering the toolbox of games developers, it’s going to be fascinating to see what the future of big budget films will look like. Instead of having separate director’s cuts of films with sometimes radically different endings, could we get to the stage of audiences being able to choose what happens next, in their own private viewing?
And what would that do to movie reviews? Are critics going to have to work their way through every possible plot path before pronouncing judgement on the latest release?
Maybe future editions of Star Wars will allow us to see things through the eyes of Darth Vader, as he travels the galaxy, cleansing it of evil rebel forces. Or how about we get the chance to stop teenagers making such comically poor choices of personal safety in horror movies?
The future of film might be a lot more interactive than we can imagine.