Open world environments have been growing in number ever since the processing power of consoles allowed for game developers to create a world almost as large as they could imagine. Creating a world that feels as if it is a living and breathing entity is one of the most difficult goals in modern gaming. Grand Theft Auto managed to create a world that was a convincing reflection of our own, albeit an exaggerated one. And Rockstar continued to impress with Red Dead Redemption.
With so many third-person action games being released every year, it's impossible for all but the wealthiest gamers to experience them all. So what do we base our decisions on? With graphical qualities becoming almost identical these days, the things that stand out most are storyline, environment design, and combat systems. Even though previously open-world titles (Spider-Man 1, 2, etc.) have recently gone the route of controlled narratives with great success (Shattered Dimensions), the ability to make games bigger and better than in any previous generation of consoles means it's time to think big.
So for this entry, we turn to a comic book character with a great story and personality, an incredibly memorable look, and a combat system that we would die for.
#5. Carnage - Spider-Man
It's hard for any Spider-Man villain to get serious press if his or her name doesn't begin with "V" and end with "enom". While Carnage may be a lesser-known character to the mainstream gamers, believe us when we tell you that he has his fans. If you're familiar with Spidey's symbiotic-suited enemy Venom, then the story behind Carnage will be easy to follow.
During a brief stint in prison, Venom (a.k.a. Eddie Brock) unknowingly left behind his alien symbiote's offspring before escaping. Enter cellmate Cletus Kasady, incarcerated psychopathic serial killer, with a demeanor and appearance modeled after DC's master villain Joker. The symbiote quickly bonds with Kasady, adapting to his maniacal and bloodthirsty nature, and Carnage is born.
Carnage escapes from prison, joining forces with other unbalanced super-villains and taking over New York City. Spider-Man arrives to save the day, but finds that Carnage is too powerful for even the webslinger to subdue. Eventually, Spidey must request aid from Eddie Brock's Venom, and the two join forces to take back Manhattan. The storyline has already been turned into a video game once, with Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage for the SNES and Sega Genesis. Take our word for it that the Streets of Rage-style brawler was an incredibly entertaining game, giving you the opportunity to play not only as Spider-Man, but as the nearly invincible Venom as well.
Why We Need a Carnage Video Game:
Aside from the fact that a slightly more mature and gritty Spider-Man game would be a welcome addition to the franchise, previous entrances have not done Carnage justice. A raving psychopath who makes The Joker look like a clown? Then given the ability to form his body into any shape imaginable, launch deadly projectiles, and spread his symbiote slime across an entire city? That is a villain who deserves his time in the spotlight. Not to mention the layers of combat and potential skill trees available with such a diverse range of weaponry. Add in a good amount of Spidey humor, tempered with the serious nature of the game and we're in unexplored territory.
So far, Carnage has made appearances in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Shattered Dimensions but these have all depicted Carnage as little more than an exceptionally crazed wild animal. They seem to forget the fact that both Spider-Man and Venom were unable to defeat him until they teamed up.
The vision of a Carnage-controlled New York should be familiar to anyone who played the open-world action game Prototype. Here the main character was also able to form his body into a wide range of weapons, and the idea of facing that kind of an enemy terrifies me even now. The look of that game was one of its best qualities, and the New York in that game really did feel like a living, breathing city. With a team of talented writers writing three Spider-Man greats, it would improve one of the areas lacking in Prototype. Add to that the ability to zip around as Spider-Man or Venom, and you'll not only please the die-hard fans, but give some much needed darkness to a franchise that has gone about as far as it can on squeaky-clean crime-fighting.
So the argument for a Carnage game occupies the #5 spot on our list, but likely remains #1 in many people's hearts. With a judge, a world of heroes, and an unrivaled psychopath already included, what could possibly remain on our list in the days to come? How about a space opera that manages to be both weird and mysterious? Stay tuned.