4. The Warriors
Rockstar's adaptation of Walter Hill's 1979 cult classic is the rare videogame brawler that strives for more. It demands better moves than Turtles In Time button mashing and goes deeper than Final Fight's simplistic "there's a guy in front of you so murder him" storyline. Of all these games, it's the closest thing to a full cinematic experience. But The Warriors' game adaptataion never gets so arty that it forgets to be a flat-out fun experience. There's all the police car-smashing, citizen-assaulting fun of GTA to be had here - but it's also got that thudding Warriors synth soundtrack and a rich setting populated with fully-developed characters, something the critics who don't really know about this stuff think fighting games can't accomplish. YEAH, WE CAN DIG IT.
3. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay
Nobody knew it at the time, but Pitch Black was a $23 million early rough draft of a sick video game. Four years, a Riddick-specific movie, and a lot of game development later, Vin Diesel's sci-fi proto-Bane peaked as the star of one of 2004's best game. It's the futuristic prison break "movie" that theater audiences never got to experience, with a mix of combat, item-hunting, and chatting up NPCs that plays something like Skyrim with more shivving. And excellent gameplay aside, Escape From Butcher Bay gives the best incarnation of Mr. Diesel's famously hamfisted charms we had until The Pacifier - I MEAN FAST FIVE, FAST FIVE!
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
If ever there was potential to take a great premise for a videogame and make it totally lame and unplayable, it was here. The Battle Of Helms Deep: The Video Game pretty much codes itself - but this is the kind of opportunity game developers regularly let go to waste. Miraculously, they actually made good here. That's really all you need to know if you've never played EA's video game adaptation of Peter Jackson's epic-est epic movie. Have you seen the movie? Or read the books? Or wished Diablo III connected more deeply with the nerdiest aspects of your imagination? Then stop reading and get your PS2 back out. This game lets you hack and slash your way through Middle Earth as Aragorn, Legolas, or Gimli (or even that coward Isildur if you unlock him), which means you'll know which good-guy Tolkien species fights the best by the end of your third playthrough that you happily would have done with the same hero three times.
1. GoldenEye 007
In a lot of ways GoldenEye saved the Bond franchise, which got sidetracked by Timothy Dalton movies and lay dormant for six long years before it roared back with Pierce Brosnan and perpetually-dead-guy Sean Bean. But then there wasn't another good Bond movie 'til Casino Royale, whereas GoldenEye 007 for N64 changed the face of gaming. It was the first truly great FPS for a console, coming from a studio mostly familiar with cutesy animal creatures collecting items, and replaced their usual toolkit with guns, stealth, and Oddjob ("NO ODDJOB!", cries a generation). GoldenEye 007 is the Citizen Kane of shooting your friends in the head. It's why every shooting game since has needed a great multiplayer mode to convince anyone to buy it, because most single-player campaigns can't match the joyful stupidity of busting out all four N64 controllers and playing a Slappers Only round.
In a lot of ways, it was a lot better than the movie that inspired it, even if Natalya was only 10% as smart and 1000% more suicidal in the game than in the movie.