Superheros are all the rage these days. Over the last few years they've gone from the pastime of choice for a select few, to worldwide multimedia phenomenons.
For movies this surge in popularity can be attributed largely to the Spider-Man and X-Men films, as well as Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight.
However for gaming there's one caped crusader that has single-handedly pulled the superhero video game genre to the top of the pack, Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Asylum.
With Batman: Arkham City and as well as handful of other titles featuring popular superheroes, we think 2011 might just be the best gaming year yet for superheroes. Here's why...
IT'S WOLVERINE VS RYU IN...
Marvel vs Capcom 3: The games industry is officially a 1990s theme park right now. Fallout is a massive deal again. Quake 3 is making a comeback. Bloody Duke Nukem Forever is actually getting released. And, of course, the 2D fighting game is serious business once more.
Street Fighter is the king, but now the crowning jewel of Capcom's old versus mash-up series is coming back. The more we see of part three, the more we conclude that living in the past really does seem a good idea.
Pitting, as the name fairly bluntly implies, the stars of Marvel comics against an almighty lineup composed of Capcom's own pantheon, the MvC series has always been the drunken frat boy of the Capcom family.
And we mean that in a good way. Loud, bright, brash, and utterly out of control, it's the unchained party animal you head to when you just want to enjoy some spectacular carnage as therapy for that 37th failed attempt at finishing El Fuerte's Trial mode.
Less finessed than SFIV, but just as much fun in its own way and with a different kind of accessible depth, MvC is all about ludicrous special moves, borderline-offensively long combo chains and more juggling and aerial madness than you'd find at a self-help group for overachieving circus performers.
Imagine Blazblue without the need for four arms and a physics degree, and you're kind of there.
Multiplying the excess by three, each match is a six man (or woman, or thing) tag-team affair, during which players can chop and change characters at will, either for tactical purposes or to combine two powerful movesets into one insanely huge combo attack.
In MvC3, if it doesn't fill the screen with flames and sink a small country, it has no right to call itself a special move. This is a game where you'll see the Incredible Hulk punching out Chun-Li, shortly before Iron Man turns up to help out, only to be flattened by a hand-painted wolf god and juggled halfway through space.
The Marvel vs Capcom series is notorious for its packed-out rosters, and the latest lot round out the current list to 26. Top Resi bastard and unironic indoor-shades- wearer Albert Wesker is in, and fighting exactly like a 2D version of him should: i.e, like an insufferable teleporting arse.
Also from the Capcom stable are Sir Arthur of Ghouls 'n' Ghosts fame and Nathan Spencer from Bionic Commando. (Sadly, we're talking about the focus-group-trendy dreadlocked Spencer from Grin's 3D reboot.)
On the Marvel side, Spider-Man is now in (surprise, surprise), and just as springy, kinetic and webzippingly unpredictable as he should be. And on the opposite end of the scale, silver age villain MODOK has been confirmed. He's a giant clunky floating head with robolimbs. Yep, it'll be mental.
CHOOSE YOUR SUPER MUTANT IN...
X-Men Destiny: So the superhero MMO's that we were swamped with a couple of years ago have come to nothing, but Too Human delay specialists Silicon Knights are hoping to go some way towards filling the gap with X-Men: Destiny, the latest console RPG to feature the freakish legion.