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Hey Xbox One X, the Power You Need is Hulk - Making a Case for an Exclusive Hulk Game on Microsoft's New Console
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 05:58pm 25/07/17 | Comments
With Sony snagging an exclusive Spider-Man title from Insomniac, and no standalone Hulk movie at all on the MCU horizon, we explore why Microsoft should lock down an exclusive Hulk game as a flagship release for the Xbox One X...

Yeah, we know the Xbox One X is the most powerful console ever built. Microsoft won’t let us forget. But PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Pro now have Spider-Man -- an exclusive point they closed out their E3 showing with in their press conference. And it’s a big deal because this is normally a space set aside for Sony big guns such as Kratos, or Nathan Drake. And still sure, that might not seem like much, but there’s a bit behind this that gives Sony a bit of a leg-up over their rival: Spider-Man is still technically a Sony Pictures exclusive, the PS3 launched with Spider-Man movie font emblazoned across it and, importantly, in the absence of any new Batman: Arkham games -- adding that there are no other ‘Triple-A’ superhero games on the immediate horizon, either -- Spider-Man fills an important gap. It also stands as a return to exclusive platform love from developer Insomniac Games for the Sony faithful.

So yeah, it really is kind of a big deal. (Even if we’re convinced we need more evidence.)

Arguably one of the best standalone cross-overs featuring these two, ever

Hypothetically, the Xbox One X should then launch with its own superhero game, given just how popular that genre and space -- in media outside of comics -- has become. So who should it be? (And yes, we’re aware there’s no time for a ‘magic’ Triple-A game to be developed between now and November, but play along anyway.)

To be honest, Microsoft would be wise to ignore the following: Doctor Strange, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America and Iron Man. Actually, that last mention might be a stretch, because an expansive Iron Man game could be awesome, but it would have to be handled *just* right. And we’ve left out DC here given Warner Bros. Games wouldn’t likely lock any of their IP to a single platform. But we digress.

So, if you’ve made it this far you already know we’re alluding to a Hulk game as an exclusive for the Xbox One X (headline, duh). And we have reasons. For one: He’s green and Microsoft -- for the Xbox brand -- loves green. So there’s that. But there’s also this power they keep talking about under the hood of the Xbox One X, and Hulk is “the strongest one there is”, so you know, that also fits (and we’ll expand on that in a moment). The other factors, however, revolve around both timing and the knowledge that Marvel is simply steering clear of a new standalone Hulk movie, electing instead to just include him throughout The Avengers, and within Chris Hemsworth’s Thor cinematic world, as revealed gloriously in this trailer, and then more recently, this trailer from SDCC.

Adam Kubert's Incredible Hulk run with Peter David remains a fan-favourite

Why he won’t get his own flick is beyond us, though the last movie really wasn’t great (but this writer does rate Ang Lee’s Hulk), but again we’re digressing.

So on that no solo movie front, he’s a perfect candidate for his own game. People want to play as the Hulk, fans are screaming out for some sort of Planet Hulk or World War Hulk expansion beyond the Funny Pages they read, and in games either -- or both -- would easily make sense. Then there’s that ‘power’ we’ve been talking about. Any Hulk game in this day and age would need destructibility up the wazoo. It would need to be either open-world or, at the very least, sandbox. And you’d need to have a visual parade the likes of which the gaming public has never seen -- we’re talking Dale Keown, Liam Sharp, Adam Kubert and Leinil Francis Yu visual levels of Hulk, in interactive form.

It’s no secret we’re concerned about Crackdown 3, but what Crackdown 3 has in its favour is the aforementioned destructibility. And it’s not just baked into the disc, they’re instead using Microsoft’s Azure servers to help craft complex, dynamic algorithmic destruction from the Cloud. It’s beautiful, really, but feels lost on the Crackdown brand in the grand scheme of things. Imagine a World War Hulk game where you can just unleash on a digital New York as the Gamma Ray Man who was cast aside by those he thought he could trust. Tricked expelled to space to have your craft go off course via a wormhole intergalactic highway and wind up on a planet beset by slavery and brutal gladiator games; a planet where you would not only shift its archaic values and change the course of its future with your irradiated blood, but also impregnate that future with your own powerful, unique seed after finding a new love in your would-be-Queen Caiera…

Planet Hulk is easily one of the most popular Hulk stories of all time

Okay, we might be spoiling Planet Hulk and World War Hulk at this point. But referentially, it’s a near-perfect place to begin. So who could do it justice?

The forever go-to for superhero games for the foreseeable future will remain with Rocksteady, but they’re a Warner Bros. Games property, and so that would never happen. Some key personnel has since departed the studio, so there’s the option of them helping form a ‘supergroup’, if you will, of developers with the right experience, but we reckon anyone taking this on would need to be a bit more established.

The top candidates outside of our love-in with Rocksteady would be the following: Turtle Rock (think of their monsters from Evolve), Remedy (know how to do destruction and powers, and could bring a decent story to the game), Airship Syndicate (ex-Vigil crew, have comics experience and would only really need a big budget to get going, plus Joe Mad!), Relic Entertainment (did a fantastic job with Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine). There are likely many more, but from an immediate Triple-A perspective, any one of the teams mentioned above would be ideal. Equally, timing would be good if they could align with the inevitable (rumoured) Secret Wars movie that will culminate with everything currently taking place in the MCU (and to a lesser extent, within the MNTVU, or Marvel Netflix TV Universe). And see, that’s how we got around that “launch title” gaff earlier, but we just don’t want to have to wait too long.

Leinil Francis Yu arguably knows Hulk better than most artists

So, in short, here’s what’s needed for any such endeavour, ever happening, to get off the ground:
  • The importance of a new Hulk game in the modern era of crazily-powered PCs and consoles, alongside 4K and HDR-ready TVs, cannot be understated. The subpar game-worlds of The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (2005) and The Incredible Hulk (2008) have to be a thing of the past (not forgetting, however, that Ultimate Destruction was actually pretty fun). And with the aforementioned story arcs in Planet Hulk and World War Hulk being super-important to the character, there’s never been a better time to get deep with Hulk. But a good developer and writer could go further: we could look at Mr Fixit-era Hulk, or the more recent series of Hulks that saw him and Banner physically separated from one another, crafting a psychological lean on the character not everyone has been exposed to.

  • Character
  • This one is important, though not everyone may know why. If you’re simply across Hulk being a mindless, destructive green brute with purple pants then you’ve missed out on some great storytelling involving the character for the past many years. He’s complex. There are dad issues that play a hand. He’s been to outer space more than Ripley (and she practically lives there). He’s had more than just Betty Ross as his love interest. He’s gotten smarter. He’s merged with Grey Hulk. He and Banner hate each other beyond measure. He’s been a functioning member of a number of different superhero groups outside of The Avengers… and so on. It’s time the world at large, beyond comics, saw how complex and meaningful Hulk really is. Any such game in the vein we’re talking about needs a smarter Hulk, minus the grizzly bear growls (and purple pants).

  • Technology
  • Half the point of this article is to simply remind Microsoft that a game of this nature, in the climate in which we live with popular-culture as popular as it is now, would be a wonderful flagship release for the Xbox One X. He’s powerful, the console is powerful, he won’t have his own movie, but his sequences in the movies in which he ‘cameos’ are always fan-favourites. And games are always more expansive than movies, so he’d do well among the fanbase to have a new standalone release. It just needs to have incredible visuals, varying landscapes, a destruction model that would make DICE blush with embarrassment and the right kind of fan-service that transcends unlockable comic book covers or character skins.

Make it happen, Phil (and Marvel)

We’ve seen with the Batman: Arkham series just how good comic-to-game development can be, and now Insomniac is having a crack, with Sony right behind them with Spider-Man. The new Thor flick, Ragnarok, is the current MCU buzz and its inclusion of Planet Hulk-esque Hulk is an important reminder of what that series means to the fans, but also how cool it is. But even if it’s not Planet Hulk, or even any of the arc opportunities mentioned throughout this piece, a good, modern and technology-heavy Hulk game needs to happen, and with green on their side, and all that Xbox One X power, Microsoft’s new platform seems like the perfect fit.

Make it happen, Phil.

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