Superheroes are great at granting us escapism, the fantasy of an ordinary character suddenly given incredible powers, and thrust into an important new role in society. The idea is almost universally appealing, but unless you want to try to win the lottery so you can build your own Iron Man suit (don’t do that) or hang out in a research lab and coax radioactive spiders to bite you (definitely don’t do that), video games are probably the only way you’ll get to experience the superhero lifestyle.
With that being said, here are five games where you can escape to an alternate world…all in the comfort of your own home.
The Amazing Spider-Man
Apparently more amazing than Sam Raimi’s film trilogy, the 2012 Spider-Man movie reboot spawned an associated video game, as they so often do. Set a few months after the events of the film, The Amazing Spider-Man game gave players the suit and powers of the hero, and let them loose onto an open-plan rendition of Manhattan.
There’s a detailed story to follow, but the simple pleasure of swinging through the city is often fun enough.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2
Is Spider-Man not amazing enough for you on his own? Well, team him up with Captain America or Wolverine, and see how their powers combine!
Ultimate Alliance 2 throws Marvel’s best heroes together and lets players build teams out of their favourites. Playing on your own isn’t bad, but grabbing three friends and forming your own squad of classic characters is a dream.
For fans of the comic series, the game’s narrative fits into the Civil War story arc, and branches in a few directions, which provides some incentive to replay the game.
This series isn’t based on an existing comic book, but follows a unique story built around many superhero conventions.
Cole was a regular dude, a bike courier, who just happened to be in the wrong place (a city street) at the wrong time (when a mysterious explosion occurs). He survives the incident, but is granted some unexpected electrical abilities, which he then uses for either good or evil – depending on the player’s choices.
That moral dilemma is central to the game. Many missions can be completed as either good or evil, and secondary quests and other actions can contribute to Cole’s Karma, for better or worse.
Where players place the character on that moral scale, determined by his Karma score, affects how other characters regard Cole, and ultimately, whether he becomes a superhero or a super-villain.
Batman: Arkham City
Have you ever wanted to be Batman? Of course you have. Unfortunately, it’s not a career many people can get into, so you’re better off just giving Batman: Arkham City a go instead.
While Arkham Asylum was a great game, its sequel expanded on it in almost every way. Players once again don the bat-shaped cowl and become the Dark Knight, stalking the… um, dark night, to punish the usual lineup of signature villains, along with an array of general wrongdoers.
While exploring Arkham Asylum was good fun, there’s just nothing like being given a huge, open-world slab of Gotham City to protect, and a huge array of Bat-tools to protect it with.
DC Universe Online
Perhaps you’d rather fight alongside Batman, as a superhero character you created yourself. That’s the dream for many comic book fans the world over, and it’s one that DC Universe Online grants.
The game gives players the opportunity to create their own superhero or super-villain, and pit them against characters created by other players, all under the supervision of some of the most famous comic book icons.
Players choose the costume accessories and colours, as well as the superpowers of their character, before tackling an open-ended world full of dynamic events.
Michael Irvingis a freelance writer, blogger and long-time gamer. He secretly dresses in tights to protect the community of Brooks Reach at night. Just… don’t tell anybody.