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What better setting for a sci-fi flick than the underwater city of Rapture? The sights, the sounds, the plasmids, the imminent death around every corner... Bioshock has all the makings of a tentpole blockbuster. Can you imagine our protagonist running into one of those creepy Little Sisters and her Big Daddy guardian for the first time? Now that's an action set-piece dying to be filmed.
There was a Bioshock movie set to be released around ten years ago, with none other than Gore Verbinski directing. Unfortunately, plans fell through, and the Bioshock film has sunk back down into the depths of development hell.
A game so rich and atmospheric that it should have been adapted to the screen years ago, it seems a Fallout TV show will finally see the light of day on Amazon Prime. Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan (the team behind HBO's Westworld) are set to exec produce the series, which might have already wrapped filming if not for this dang worldwide pandemic.
For those not in the know, Fallout is a video game franchise that started with the isometric gameplay of 1997 and continued on into the gorgeous first-person 3D RPG shooter it is today. Set in a bombed-out America post-apocalypse, the tech and decor of Fallout date back to the '50s, when the nukes started flying and everyone locked themselves into bunkers. Decades later, and depending on the particular game entry, the player emerges to roam and solve the world's problems, of course.
Halo, Microsoft's landmark exclusive sci-fi shooter has been ripe for development into a film or show since its inception in 2001. Since then, it's been licensed, unlicensed, scripted, torn to shreds, and flushed back into the various stages of development for years.
But, the good news (hopefully)! After its most recent setback, due to Covid, a Showtime series produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment is back on track. If by some miracle, things don't fall apart again, fans will soon see Spartan Master Chief and his glowing AI companion, Cortana, fighting off hordes of aliens amongst the great halos in the sky. No, not Heaven. Outer space.
4. HORIZON ZERO DAWN
Now HERE’s an apocalypse that’s never been seen on film or tv before - one where giant mechanical dinosaurs and animals roam the Earth, killing off the human population. To give away the reason for these creatures’ existence would be a huge spoiler. Needless to say, our heroine, Aloy has more than enough grit and charisma to carry the viewer through a big-screen adventure.
5. DEATH STRANDING
This movie’s practically in the can already. The mo-cap of star Norman Reedus is so lifelike and pitch-perfect, he may be able to sit the filming out. Another post-apocalyptic game (Yes, another one.), this one has a deep, dark plot involving death and spectral enemies that make venturing into the world somewhat hazardous. The science-fiction involved beyond that is so convoluted and spoiler-filled, it’s not worth going into. Needless to say, Death Stranding is an epic, emotional adventure that deserves a good adaptation. As long as they leave out the hours upon hours of just riding around making deliveries.
6. THE LAST OF US
This almost universally beloved game contains a story and characters stronger than most of those we see in theaters and on TV. Yes, of course, it's about the apocalypse, but it's the relationship between traumatized, battle-hardened Joel, and Ellie, a young girl he's charged with transporting across the country that is truly the beating heart of this game.
Fans have been foaming at the mouth for a TV or movie adaptation for years, and it looks like it's finally happening. HBO is turning the saga into a series and has hired two of its very own Game of Thrones stars to headline as the indomitable duo: Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. This will absolutely be HBO's next big thing.
7. THE VANISHING OF ETHAN CARTER
Here's one that's a little more obscure, but the tale of a missing 12-year old boy and the paranormal detective searching for him is ripe for the screen. Set in a sleepy town in Wisconsin, the protagonist's search turns up terrible secrets about the denizens of the town, and about Ethan's abusive family. But the real jewel in this potential feature is a twist ending more shocking and emotional than that of The Sixth Sense.
8. UNTIL DAWN
This game is practically a movie already, starring fantastic mo-cap work by recognizable actors including Hayden Panettiere, Peter Stormare, and Academy Award winner Rami Malek. The story starts off simply enough, with a group of friends vacationing at a secluded mountain lodge. But the mystery of a missing sister, sightings of strange creatures, and a killer running amok quickly take the proceedings into horror territory. The graphics and acting are so good, you could probably just watch a stream of the game and pretend you're in a theater.
9. DETROIT: BECOME HUMAN
From the brilliant imagination of game developer David Cage came this sci-fi story of androids subservient to their human creators, and their fight for freedom once the technological singularity occurs. Sure, there have been plenty of apocalyptic movies about mankind's fight for survival against machines, but this tale is depicted through the eyes of the androids, who merely want the freedom and rights owed to all intelligent life. Think 'Humans' (the tv show), but with a larger, more epic world view.
10. MIRROR'S EDGE
Mirror's Edge isn't the most popular game on this list, but it and its sequel have reached something of cult status because of its incredibly original and fun gameplay. Faith is one of a band of couriers that delivers sensitive information and items to those trying to bring down the oppressive government controlling their city. It's a decent plot, but it's really the action that would blow minds in a movie theater. Faith and her compatriots do all their deliveries on foot, using advanced parkour techniques to scale buildings, run across walls, and basically outpace the opposition in any way possible. If you've seen the District B-13 movies, you know how amazing a parkour action sequence can be. Mirror's Edge would take that aesthetic to the extreme.
A game series with a huge following (and for good reason), Borderlands is the definition of gratuitous violence and irreverent humor, all wrapped up into one hilarious, blood-soaked universe. It features a cast of battle-hardened, super-powered Vault Hunters, thousands of different guns, a wide array of charismatic weirdos to bump into, and a sardonic, yet somewhat adorable robot named Claptrap.
This project is in the works at this very moment, with none other than the king of sardonic humor, Jack Black, recently cast as Claptrap. This one will be a movie, rather than a TV show, so let's hope the theaters are able to fully open again before the apocalypse really happens.
12. DEAD SPACE
If you haven't played Dead Space or its sequels, you've done yourself a disservice. Perhaps the best-written, scariest outer space creature feature since the Alien franchise kicked off, Dead Space features thrills and chills that are sure to translate well to the big (or small) screen. The story starts simply enough, with protagonist Isaac traveling to a space colony to find his missing girlfriend. It doesn't take long for things to get complicated, and pretty soon, alien monoliths are being produced, religious fanatics start warring with nonbelievers, and a host of deadly alien monsters gets between Isaac and his paramour. Aliens had a great run, but cinema could really use a fresh sci-fi franchise to make audiences scream. Of course, in space, no one can hear you scream. But in a movie theater, they can, so keep it down for pity's sake.
13. STAR WARS JEDI: FALLEN ORDER
Some would argue that the adventures of young Jedi, Cal Kestis, and his adorable droid sidekick, BD-1 (Yeah, we know, it's getting a bit cliched) across a galaxy pretty darn far away, make for a better story than the recent SW film trilogy. Whether that's true or not (it is), Cal's journey from runaway padawan to full-fledged badass Jedi Knight has earned its place as official Star Wars canon. As such, even non-gamers deserve the opportunity to witness this epic, terrifically told story in some format.
Well, you knew it'd be here, and here it is. Naughty Dog's wildly successful franchise is perfect for the big screen. So perfect, in fact, it's already in production and would have wrapped for a summer 2021 release if not for the pandemic. Starring Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, and Antonio Banderas, the film, of course, follows the archeological, globe-trotting adventures of treasure hunter Nathan Drake, and his small entourage. This has the potential to be Indiana Jones for a whole new generation.
15. MASS EFFECT
Another epic space saga, Mass Effect is a sci-fi lover's dream movie. It's got an original spacefaring plotline, a host of likable human and alien characters, and a fight for the survival of the universe as we know it. But the story told through three hundred-hour games is so richly complicated, that no one seems to be able to write a script that matches the quality of the games themselves. Whatever is going on behind the scenes, we can only hope the crew of the Normandy finds a mass relay out of development hell some time soon.