Video games are a great way of fulfilling fantasies and for many, that’s becoming their favorite superhero, and multiple video games allow those to do this. Superhero games have been around for a long time, even in the old arcade days. The X-Men arcade game from 1992 has a ton of charm and gives players an opportunity to play as popular characters like Nightcrawler and Wolverine. Since then, superhero games have evolved.
The mechanics and storytelling have drastically improved especially in the 21st century. New games have the ability to tell fantastic comic book stories while giving players the freedom of controlling what these heroes do. Many of these games give players amazing fights and interactions between characters that haven’t been brought to life on movie screens yet. Here are the 9 best video games of the 21st century.
Before Avengers: Endgame, this may have been the most ambitious crossover of all time. Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 crossed Marvel heroes with the great fighting of Street Fighter. While it came out right at the beginning of the 21st century, it has aged very well and continues to be a strong fighting game. It has an unbelievable roster with 56 playable characters.The characters range from fan-favorites like Spider-Man and Iron Man to more obscure characters like Blackheart and Spiral. Fans of Street Fighter can also find enjoyment in this game with characters like M. Bison and Ryu. Even Mega Man shows up for battle. Seeing beloved characters taking on Capcom characters would be enough, but the game goes above and beyond. It brings many unique gameplay elements like being able to tag in other characters mid-game, allowing for more strategic gameplay. The graphics, while not great, fit the arcade-like tone of the game. This is a great fighting game that blends two worlds together perfectly.
Maybe the most forgotten about game on this list, Prototype 2 is an exhilarating playing experience. It’s extremely gory and dark while also offering players almost total freedom. You play as James Heller, a U.S. Marine who returns home only to find his wife and daughter dead after the outbreak of the Blacklight virus. Hellbent on revenge, Heller goes after Alex Mercer, the man who released the virus, only to become infected with the virus himself, granting Heller superhuman abilities.
You then spend the rest of the game defeating enemies and absorbing new abilities along the way. If you’re a true sadist, you can run around the city, murdering people in horribly brutal ways with basically zero consequences. It’s sheer awesomeness if you can stomach the gore. The story itself is still emotionally satisfying and gives players many ways to interact with it. It’s not a traditional superhero game as you have the freedom to tear apart random civilians with no consequences, but you do still end up saving the day at the end. Prototype 2 can be a perfect form of escapism if you want to use your superhero powers in an unlimited fashion.
Before Ryan Reynolds became immortalized as this hero, we had this 2013 game that helped people become more familiar with this character. Deadpool contains every aspect that people love about the character. It’s bloody, immature, hilarious, and features Deadpool constantly breaking the fourth wall. He is always referencing the fact that he’s in a video game while also making fun of video game cliches.
The story sees Deadpool joining forces with Cable and the X-Men to take down Mr. Sinister. Cable and Deadpool’s dynamic creates plenty of funny moments as Cable’s deadpan toughness contradicts Deadpool’s childlike immaturity. The combat itself is really addictive as you can use either swords or guns to mow through an onslaught of foes. If you love Deadpool, this game gives you several hours of being engrossed in his crazy world.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Admittedly, this is more of a South Park game than a superhero game, but South Park: The Fractured But Whole takes the superhero genre to task here. Each character has their own unique superhero persona that they utilize throughout the game. There are several jabs at the MCU and DC that will have both South Park and superhero fans laughing a lot. Of course, because it’s South Park, it’s filled with incredibly dark, immature, crude, and borderline offensive humor that the game isn’t subtle about. For example, the difficulty of the game is based on the skin tone of your character. That type of humor to start the game immediately lets you know what you’re in for. Other than the humor, the gameplay is really addicting. The battles are turn-based where you choose from a variety of attacks and abilities to best your enemies. You will have characters like Cartman, Kenny, and Stan joining up with you as assist characters in battle. You also have the freedom to explore the town of South Park, interacting with the locals and completing various side quests. The story itself may not be as good as The Stick of Truth but the gameplay is definitely improved.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes
There are a lot of Lego video games that could make this list. There’s the Lego Batman series, Lego Avengers and Lego The Incredibles. However, Lego Marvel Super Heroes takes the cake as the best of the bunch. It has everything that Lego video game fans love like plenty of collectibles, millions of coins, and a great sense of humor. The roster is also massive with over a hundred characters. Marvel fans can even control some of Marvel’s most powerful villains like Galactus and Thanos. There is a great story mode and players have the option to free roam as well. Lego Marvel Super Heroes is an incredibly entertaining game with plenty to do.
The Infamous series is almost flawless. Each installment features plenty of fresh ideas, however, Infamous 2 shines the brightest. The game takes place in a world where people, known as conduits, have developed superhuman abilities. In Infamous 2, you play as Cole McGrath, a conduit with electric abilities who is on a mission to gain enough power to take on an incredibly powerful enemy, The Beast. Infamous 2 is unique because it is best experienced with multiple playthroughs. The game allows you to go down two paths of good vs evil and the story progresses based on the decisions you make. If you choose to be evil, the gameplay may be more fun as you throw cars and terrorize civilians but the ending will be a lot less satisfactory. The game will force you to commit harsh acts against friendly characters but you don’t have a choice since you chose to be evil. If you choose to be good, you will have to play more cautiously, however, the ending will be more satisfying for those vying for a happy ending. The story isn’t too long so it doesn’t take too much time to experience both storylines. Either way, it’s a fascinating experiment where you have to face the consequences of your reckless gameplay.
Mortal Kombat with DC characters? Such a simple, yet effective idea. The violence is turned down a lot but the fighting mechanics are quite similar. While the first Injustice is also great, the sequel has better graphics and much sharper gameplay. It follows the story from the first while adding brand new characters to its large roster. The story is quite thrilling and one of the better plots in a fighting game. It follows the Injustice comics, a rather dark DC story where Superman becomes a murderous dictator. The sequel follows the events after Superman is defeated and Brainiac becomes the new villain. In addition to the already great roster, Injustice 2 also has great DLC with characters like Darkseid, Hellboy, Raiden, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. With plenty of unique abilities for each character, Injustice 2 is a must-play for DC fans.
There have been many attempts at giving players the chance to play as Spider-Man, however, this game from Insomniac is by far the best. Spider-Man allows you to fully embrace being the web-slinger himself as you swing through New York City, stopping bad guys and assisting everyday New Yorkers. The swinging is incredibly gratifying as you fly through the city, using different methods to help you move faster. There is fast travel but the swinging is just so satisfying. The combat is very addicting as you take on swarms of enemies, utilizing various combos and gadgets that you unlock throughout the game. The fights require more than just button mashing because you have to dodge at the right times while looking for opportunities to strike. Players can choose various gadgets and suits that fit their play style. These suits are some that many fans will recognize. You can swing around in the iron spider suit or the suit worn by Tobey Maguire in the Sam Raimi movies.
The story itself is one of the best Spider-Man plotlines in any form of entertainment. It features a massive roster of villains including Electro, Rhino, Scorpion, and Doctor Octopus. The villains make for an exciting tale but the relationship between Peter Parker and Otto Octavius is particularly heartbreaking and tragic. Besides the villains, almost every notable Spider-Man character makes an appearance like Aunt May, Mary Jane Watson, Miles Morales, and Norman Osborn. Even J. Jonah Jameson has a podcast you can listen to while swinging around. This game is the closest we’ll get to actually being Spider-Man and it deserves a lot of praise for not only creating awesome gameplay for players but also engrossing players in an emotionally investing story. This is easily one of the best Spider-Man experiences out there.
Batman: Arkham City
The Batman: Arkham series is the gold standard for superhero games. They all have gritty and brutal combat, fantastic stories, and give players the full experience of being Batman. Out of the four games (yes, Arkham Origins does exist and deserves better), Arkham City remains the greatest. It takes everything great about Arkham Asylum and expands on it.
The game takes place in Arkham, a new city on the outskirts of Gotham where all the criminals run loose. Throughout the game, Batman runs into his massive arsenal of villains who are all entwined in a great scheme. While Arkham Asylum was contained to the asylum, this is an open-world game, allowing you to explore the city as Batman, gliding from place to place and taking on various side quests. There is also a large number of Riddler trophies and riddles to collect and solve throughout the game. The gameplay is fantastic, giving you access to all of Batman’s gadgets and fighting abilities. The boss battles are creative, especially one against Mr. Freeze where you have to come up with unique ways to take him down. What’s also great about this series is that Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise their roles as Batman and Joker, respectively, from Batman: The Animated Series. All of the Arkham games are great but Arkham City is the belle of the ball. It’s the ultimate Batman game and quite possibly the greatest superhero game of all time.
The series also features Lily Rabe and Patrick Fugit.
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