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13 Best Superhero Games of All Time

August 19, 2018
18 min read

As with any other superhero property today including comics, movies and merchandise, videogames too sell like hot cakes on a Sunday afternoon, but they have been in circulation probably ever since the advent of the digital age. They may not have been available to us at the comfort of our couches and on next-gen consoles, but if you are a 90s kid like me, probably older, there is a good chance you may have ventured upon an arcade gaming machine, the essential gaming device in the days of yore, and a holy altar for the gamer in you when consoles weren’t all that commonplace. Videogames have come a long way since then, with makers developing more immersive ways to involve the gamer as technology enables them, and the superhero genre is no far behind. We all love superheroes so much, watching them perform humanly impossible feats and be the light of good among all else in this world, and the one thing better than watching them do it, it’s doing that yourself, even if virtually so.

Videogames, especially RPGs, unlocked an arena wherein the player got to BE Batman, or Spiderman, or Wolverine, fighting criminals using their superhero’s special skill set. Sure, fantasy and action games allow that too, but these are characters I have grown up with, and there is frankly nothing more awesome, at least in the moment, when you suit up and go fight the big bads. Admittedly so, my choices in the list drift over, or are askew a bit to the games starting from the fifth generation of consoles, primarily because I have always felt RPGs to be the more immersive gaming experience, and also because, well, I happened to be there around the same time! So, without further ado, here are the top Superhero games ever inspired from DC and Marvel characters. You can play these games on Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, iPhone, online, or PC.

13. Deadpool (2013)

The ‘Deadpool’ videogame is exactly what you’d expect it to be: funny, violent, and relentlessly breaking the fourth wall to crack up the player in the middle of a fight. Without a doubt, the funniest game on the list owing to the reputation of its protagonist, it feels much more like a sandbox or playground of sorts set for the character, never really raising the bar in terms of story or combat. The fighting with the Katanas too, impressive at first, gets quickly repetitive. Luckily for us, some of the jokes are hilarious and well placed, and the overall graphic interface design and comic book feel of the caption feel really sets the vibe of the game as a laid back, relaxed outing, as it should be for Deadpool. The voice acting is great too and you are lucky if you played this game when it originally came out, because now, I just keep reading the captions in Reynold’s voice, he has owned Deadpool’s persona to his credit more than I could have imagined.

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12. Lego Marvel Super Heroes (2013)

There are some games that you play just to take your mind off stuff, or to shut down and lay back for a while. It does a gamer a world of good to realise that not all games are supposed to be deeply affecting, mind blowing experiences, and Lego Marvel Super Heroes is just that, with a good bit of added fun, and the added (or reduced?) dimension of it being in Lego is just as fantastic. The game brings together some of the best known faces in the Marvel roster, much like another game in the list, and has them fight Dr. Doom in an easy to follow through story mode. The trademark Marvel jokes add to this already lighthearted take, never to the point of overkill, while essentially retaining unique abilities of major Marvel players, which is fun to play with. Eventhough Lego Batman is all the Lego rage, for all the right reasons though, give this game a try. It is a pleasant surprise, one that I plan to indulge in for harmless fun numerous more times.

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11. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Uncaged Edition) (2009)

‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ is everything that the movie is not, and it does that triumphant in the blood and guts of the victims of Wolverine’s rage. The game literally uncages the character and allows players to go berserk with Wolverine. His fighting is raw, vicious, brutal, and sometimes too gory to stomach for a regular player. In that, it works more as a hack and slash game along the lines of God of War, although sans the brilliant story. It even has a rage meter that fills up with subsequent slashes and later allows players to unleash the monster in Wolverine, akin to the comic book likeness of the character, as he tears up enemies in half, impales them through spikes, and pushes his claws through their skulls. The game has some flaws, the major one being the short lived story mode, it remains a guilty pleasure of a game that I mostly revisited just for the ‘hack and slash’ part of it. The fights between Wolverine and Sabretooth (Victor Creed) were especially well scripted and immensely, brutally fun to play.

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10. Spider Man 2 (2004)

Oh! The sheer amount of nostalgia that flows along with this one! Getting back from school, and rushing to get crashing on my PS2 to swing around New York, those were the days. Musing aside, this has to be one of the best games to be made as promotional material based on a superhero movie, and the reason for that is because it is precisely so much more! Hailing from the era of the Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire Spiderman films, the game retains the original voice cast from the movie, which is a big win, and is consequentially based on the best film of the trilogy, and possibly the best Spiderman film of all time. The game, up until that time with the sort of technology perceptively available, perfected the combat, combos and especially the web slinging for traversing the open world as players have always wanted to with Spidey. The story is an added plus, only being loosely based on the movie, and allowing Spidey to fight way more villains than the movie does, including Rhino, Black Cat, Mysterio, and ofcourse Doctor Octopus. While the Spiderman game for PS4 has ably dethroned this sixth generation console darling, but for what it’s worth, it has held its head high as it passed the baton.

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9. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (2006)

As the title already gives out quite aptly, this game is the ultimate crossover between close to 200 characters from the Marvel Universe, although the number of actually playable ones (and the ones the player is able to easily unlock) are close to a mere 10% of that number. However, what Marvel does best are teamups and the sheer joy of watching your superheroes come together to form a team of four between which the player can cycle in-game is an amazingly giddy delight. The first teamup the player is given to play with includes Thor, Captain America, Spider Man, and Wolverine, and thereon, as the story progresses, the player occasionally has the freedom to choose his team of four superheroes too. A common complaint with this format of games is that while the player has the choice of a teamup, it never really allows single character abilities to develop as much, and the mounted camera and traversing through the game may be a little confusing to get through for players accustomed to first and third person perspectives. All that, while persisting with the format, is inconsequential in front of a game that has excellent combat despite the drawbacks, and an exciting story with Dr. Doom as the main villain. Then ofcourse, there is the added thrill of tagging in Spider Man when Captain America doesn’t feel enough, or calling in Black Panther when Iron Man has low health! I felt a childlike rush sifting through the missions, and that is a true victory for the game.

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8. Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013)

‘Injustice’ is probably the brainchild of somebody who thought highly of the combat system in the Mortal Kombat games, wondering why our superheroes in the DC universe couldn’t square off that way; and for that alone, they can’t have enough of my respect.

Superhero arcade games have been around for long than we can imagine, but honestly, the real winner in ‘Injustice’, and a standout from other superhero arcade games is the story. Don’t get me wrong though, the curation of players for the roster, their distinctive likenesses and moves, and the fighting styles and graphics are all kickass and praiseworthy, but the story is where it outdoes all arcade style fighting games. Having arguably, the best story and cutscenes among all the games on this list, ‘Injustice’ cashes in upon the years long battle between Superman and Batman as more than individuals, as distinct ideologies in themselves, and divides the Justice League into two factions: The Regime (headed by Superman) and The Insurgency (headed by Batman). It did indeed showed us that all it really took was one bad day. If the guys at WB just ended up making a film out of all the ‘Injustice’ cutscenes itself, they might be able to find themselves a way out of the current mess they’ve made out of the DCEU, it’s that powerful a source material, and that really is saying something.

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7. Batman: Arkham Origins (2013)

Easily among one of the underrated games of our day and age, ‘Arkham Origins’ may not be as explosive as ‘Arkham Knight’ or as profound as ‘Arkham Asylum’ or ‘Arkham City’, but it holds its own in telling the story of a younger Batman, much like a year one story, while still retaining all the elements of what made the first two a success.

It is really interesting to see a Gotham that is still grappling with the idea of Batman as a myth or a reality (or a phantasm), rather than a city seasoned to the homeboy caped crusader. ‘Origins’ improves upon the way players traverse through the city, and delves deeper into Batman’s dichotomous relationship with joker. One of the bits towards the end of the game where the players, as the Joker, traverse a funhouse of sorts explaining his descent into lunacy is particularly commendable. The game has Batman face not one or two, but eight deadly assassins drawn to Gotham to kill the Bat, including Deathstroke, Deadshot, Lady Shiva, Bane, Copperhead, Firefly, Electrocutioner, and Killer Croc. Two Face, Penguin, Harley Quinn, Anarky, Enigma, and The Mad Hatter, make appearances too, but his most direct adversary, even indirectly so, is the Joker. The mood and atmospherics of Gotham as a city are much more involving here than any other Arkham game in my opinion. You might want to start with this one if you plan on venturing into the Arkham universe.

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6. X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (2005)

The one thing that makes me love the X-Men even more, apart from their characters and the resounding parallels it has to inclusion in the modern world, is that eventhough they are a faction within a larger universe, it feels like a complete universe in itself, filled with heroes and villains alike, each one of whom have a story to be told. This very fact warrants that a teamup RPG game is essential to the X-Men. In the very rare event of a sequel game being better than the first, ‘X-Men Legends II’ soars and how! The graphics and fighting are a definite plus, and the story is equally engaging. However, the X-Men uniting with the Brotherhood of mutants to fight Apocalypse is the teamup a comic book fan dreams of, and one definite plus from the previous game. While all playable mutants have powers that are amazing to play with, given the vastly improved range of characters to choose from and noticeable improvements in abilities, nothing beats the pleasure of familiar faces, and the Wolverine, Cyclops and Storm coming together for a fight.

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5. The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (2005)

After quite a few Hulk videogames before it, ‘Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction’ finally gets right what is so good about videogames based on The Hulk: smashing stuff to bits, and utilises that to full effect. Let’s face it, the story isn’t something groundbreaking or something that you haven’t witnessed in other superhero videogames off late, but the real reason this game is on the list is that it manages to be a lot of fun even if you decide to take a break with the missions and decide to venture out into the city, just to wreak havoc. As the Hulk, the player gets to make gigantic leaps across a city block at a time, land with a thud, throw civilians into the air or at an attacker, break virtually everything in sight, crash cars together to create steel mittens to fight greater, more powerful enemies, and more. The thunderous sonic clap and other destructive combo moves are icing on the cap. These incredibly fun bits more than make up for a lack of narrative in a few places, (because believe it or not, even that is important in videogames) and it is one facet where it manages to slightly one up even the otherwise far superior ‘Arkham’ series.

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4. Marvel’s Spiderman (2018)

Image result for spider man ps4 gameplay 4k

There was not a shred of doubt ever since the game was announced that it would be knighted among the best superhero games ever made, unless Insomniac, the developers did something irreparably wrong. Thankfully, they didn’t, and the new spidey game is the spiderman game we’ve been waiting for since ages. WIth a painstakingly designed open world mimicking NYC in almost every small detail which is no small feat (not without a fair share of glitches though), the players get to traverse a huge playground: Empire State, Central Park, Times Square, it’s all there and that adds to the games credibility, not without a gorgeous Stark tower decorating the skyline though.

Now, the positives. The storyline is amazing, although not groundbreaking.

The game retains most of the esssence of what makes Spiderman such an endearing character: a kid with powers who feels a moral obligation to do the right thing. In that, the balance between Spiderman’s crime fighting and Peter’s time with MJ, May and at the lab where he works are neatly managed, although his ‘human’ missions may get annoying if occuring in repeated sequences, which rarely happens. As with any good superhero film/game/adaptation, there are downer and dark moments in the game wherein our hero doubts himself and realises he can’t save everyone despite trying, which for me are the best, most defining moments of any superhero outing, and this game pulls them off well, which is a big win win.

However, while the game certainly innovates with the physics of the web slinging and spiderman’s acrobatics and fighting style, which is unprecedented, I do acknowledge that little would have been possible had the Arkham series not done the stealth and perching mechanisms first. That doesn’t, for one second, take away from the game what it does achieve: the sheer child like joy I felt when spiderman first leapt up in the air to swing was in itself, worth the price of the disk. Side note of awesomeness: the game has the Iron Suit from Avenger’s Infinity War that unlocks at nearly the two thirds mark of the game. BRB, still guffawing at when I first deployed the mechanical arms and rained hell upon some thugs.

3. Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)

‘Arkham Knight’ is as stellar a conclusion to a highly successful series of games as it can get, and deserves every single bit of glory it got coming its way. Kevin Conroy and Rocksteady Studios get back together after 2011’s ‘Arkham City’ for this one, and as with the other games in the series, story is its strongest pursuit over anything. Not to take away from the technical marvel this game is, I would also mention that the graphics are top notch, the cinematic cutscenes are brilliantly directed, and the gameplay, combat and movement mechanics reach a summit with this instalment. However, the primary selling point of the game, and the major inclusion in this game is the Batmobile.

Nothing, and I repeat nothing in the entire Arkham series compares with the sheer, unbridled joy you feel when Batman first steps into the Batmobile and the mighty beast of a vehicle roars through the streets, effortlessly tackling and winding through tough junctions and blowing enemies to hell with its canon in combat mode. The design of the Batmobile is especially eyeball grabbing and kickass. As a result of its inclusion, Gotham’s streets and its thugs are much better realised than in any Arkham game, the open world feels expansive, and the distances much more traversable. However, as I have to accept, most of the criticisms regarding the Batmobile were valid too, and that pitiably so, keeps the game from achieving an epic level of greatness. The Batmobile is overused to the point of exhaustion, and while the puzzle solving and gadgetry is clever as ever, it is easy to get frustrated, especially in the final bits of the story mode.

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2. Batman: Arkham City (2011)

The sequel to the absolutely mind blowing ‘Arkham Asylum’, this game tiptoes on the fine line where in moments of inspired greatness, it almost rivals ‘Asylum’, but alas, loses out on the wonder of a first time. ‘Arkham City’ admittedly has better graphics, better combat, and close to five times larger playable area. The plot retains its core strength, with the threat being palpably larger than before. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are legends when it comes to voicing Batman and The Joker, and it is a delight to see them come together once again for ‘Arkham City’. The gadgetry, gear and tactical fighting put the player in Batman’s shoes as much as is perceivably possible. Gotham, here, is gorgeously darker and Neo-Goth. An added plus is Catwoman’s side story that plays out in wonderful contrast with Batman’s, and appreciable detail has been put into her combat style which is also remarkably different from the dark knight’s. The story that has Hugo Strange taking over the extended Arkham City and declaring Protocol 10, while a mortally sick Joker combats the effect of the Titan drug from the prequel, is great, potent stuff, and adds to the immortal lore of Batman as a character and his mythos. All in all, ‘Arkham City’ is a truly great sequel, rare to come by, and an indispensable part of a milestone series in the superhero videogame arena.

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1. Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)

The game that started it all, ‘Arkham Asylum’ is where the revolution in superhero gaming was born. This game and its several remastered versions to-date are living breathing proofs why the ‘Arkham’ series and ‘Arkham Asylum’ in particular are unrivalled in the superhero videogame arena.

In a simple way, superhero games HAD to catch up to the canon technical advancements that the new millennium brought along. However, the reason ‘Arkham Asylum’ scores as the absolute best in its genre is twofold. One, its prime focus is the story mode, and an exceptional one at that, a constant complaint I had with the other superhero games up until now. Two, I’ve got to accept, WB struck gold with Batman as a character. The number of possibilities that the dark knight would allow one to explore, coupled with his large, fairly familiar rogues gallery and his unparalleled popularity as a character and his story, had to mean just the right note for the makers and the players.

‘Arkham Asylum’ is more linear in its approach, and as a result the Gotham it creates is more involving and personal, and the straight up clash with the Joker that is inevitable, feels more personal and gripping as ever. Who would have thought that the key to cracking an absolute superhero experience on console would be in delivering a deeply engaging and involving story mode? ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum’ answers that, and the rest is history.

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