My friend Abbie recently got a job over at Larry Flynt Publications. No, not that kind of a publication (but I would totally buy it in a heartbeat) – she’s writing for Video Games Tips & Tricks Magazine. I think the new subtitle of that magazine is actually Please Don’t Go to GameFAQS. Anyway, her beat is writing about movies based on video games, which is a pretty awful genre. That genre doesn’t hold a candle to the reverse, though – the world of movies turned into video games. It started out bad with the insufferable Atari ET game (how I wish that was on GameTap) and has continued getting worse, with a few – a very few – bright spots along the way.

This week is, of course, E3, an event that causes grown men to shirk their job responsibilities to watch streaming video of a new Mario Bros game aimed squarely at 9 year olds. During E3 lots of new titles get announced, and the last couple of days have been a bounty of movies (or movie-like TV shows) becoming video games. And every single one of them sounds like a terrible idea.

The Sopranos – Seriously. A Sopranos game is coming for the PS2 and the Xbox 360. The game will take place between seasons 5 and 6, and you’ll be playing the illegitimate son of whacked rat Big Pussy. Your character starts off the game as a low level kid no one trusts who is friends with AJ Soprano and work your way up to being a trusted member of the crew. The game is being developed closely with David Chase, and will feature the voice talents of most of the main guys from the show, all looking to pad their bank accounts. There’s an interview up with one of the game developers where he’s talking about “missions” and “combat,” and those terms just sound so completely wrong in regards to the slow paced, character driven show.

Heat- How I wish I was shitting you. What’s more amazing is that Michael Mann is apparently involved in the game in some way, which is going to be a first person shooter. The developers are looking to get Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino to do voices (hell, it can’t be any more demeaning than most of their recent film output), and haven’t yet decided whether to make it a prequel or a sequel. The game is being described as “hard core heist,” and will let you be either side of the law. I like the fact that this is a FPS, though, which speaks to what the game people took away from the film’s great script.

Dirty Harry – Clint Eastwood is going to voice Dirty Harry Callahan for a new game that will also feature the voices of Gene Hackman and Laurence Fishburne. I was in California last week and stopped at the dinosaur diner from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, and they have a cool Dirty Harry pinball machine with an attached gun. This is the game that reeks most of synergy, as Warner Bros will be re-releasing the Dirty Harry films in a box set at the same time.

There might be more announcements coming, or that have been made, but these are the ones that caught my eye. It’s interesting to see that so many of the original people will be involved in these games – the money is damn good and the work is damn easy.

The thing is that these games almost always stink (I must admit to being grotesquely, masochistically predisposed to buying movie tie-in games, though). Video game people get really up in arms about the whole ‘Are video games art?’ thing, and these types of games don’t help their argument – they just show how lacking games are when compared to a real artform.

Of course, you could argue that shitty movie tie-in books don’t make all books shitty. But hey, I’m pretty comfortable with my own prejudiced logical fallacies over here.