The best and worst video game to movie and TV adaptations

Not all video game adaptations can be as good as The Last of Us and Fallout

Detective Pikachu, Sonic The Hedgehog and Assassin's Creed
Detective Pikachu, Sonic The Hedgehog and Assassin's Creed have been adapted for the big screen. (Warner Bros./Paramount/20th Century Studios)

Video game adaptations seem to be having their moment in the sun, with Prime Video's recent Fallout series arriving to glowing reviews across the board. Throw HBO's critically acclaimed take on The Last of Us into the mix, and it's certainly a good time to be a gamer glued to the telly.

Sadly, this hasn't always been the case. Video game adaptations for the big screen and TV have a chequered history, to say the least.

Read more: What you need to know about Fallout

For every The Last of Us, there are at least a dozen bombs like Doom, BloodRayne, or Alone In The Dark that failed to load with audiences or critics.

With that in mind, it's a fine time to assess which video game adaptations have been best and worst, to date.

The best video games adaptations

Sonic The Hedgehog (2020)

Sonic The Hedgehog holding a gold ring
Ben Schwartz voiced Sonic the Hedgehog in the 2020 film. (Paramount)

The gaming series with the high-speed, blue hedgehog has been a gaming favourite for decades but there was much trepidation about a film adaptation, especially with backlash over Sonic’s appearance in the first look trailer. The response was so fierce that Paramount delayed the film by three months in order to 'fix' Sonic's design. It was worth it.

The 2020 film, which starred Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic, along with James Marsden, and Jim Carrey as nefarious Doctor Robotnik/Eggman was a success with critics and at the box office, grossing $320 million. It was followed by an even more successful sequel in 2022, with a third film set to be released in December 2024.

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Justice Smith and Kathryn Newton in Pokemon Detective Pikachu
Justice Smith and Kathryn Newton starred in Pokemon: Detective Pikachu. (LMK/Alamy)

Pokémon is one of the world’s most recognisable video game brands, spawning a legion of titles and finding success in other mediums.

2019’s live-action Detective Pikachu features some of the franchises most recognisable creatures including the titular yellow hero, here voiced by Ryan Reynolds, and saw Pikachu and Justice Smith’s Tim Goodman investigating a string of strange occurrences and a conspiracy in Rhyme City.

The film earned solid reviews, sitting at 68% on Rotten Tomatoes and an impressive $433 at the global box office.

Uncharted (2022)

Mark Wahlberg and Tom Holland in Uncharted
Mark Wahlberg and Tom Holland took Uncharted to the big screen. (Sony Pictures)

The Uncharted games, which have followed Nathan Drake's globe-trotting adventures on multiple PlayStation platforms since 2007, earned legions of fans. Its long-gestating film adaptation finally appeared in February 2022 with Tom Holland in the role of Drake and Mark Wahlberg in the role of Sully.

While not as acclaimed as some adaptations, this is far from the worst-reviewed and has an audience Rotten Tomatoes score of 90%. It proved Holland had star — and box office — power away from Spider-Man, earning $401 and discussion of it becoming a franchise for Sony.

The Angry Birds Movie (2016)

A scene from The Angry Birds Movie
The mobile game Angry Birds spawned two feature films. (Alamy)

One of the largest mobile games of all time, Angry Birds earned its own film adaptation in 2016 and a financial smash, grossing $352 million off a $70 million budget. A sequel followed in 2019, but it failed to replicate the success of the original. The film's success shows the lasting appeal of the games despite a simplistic premise.

Tomb Raider (2018)

Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft in 2018's Tomb Raider
Alicia Vikander took on the role of Lara Croft in 2018's Tomb Raider. (Warner Bros.)

Following two films with Angelina Jolie in the early noughties, the Tomb Raider films were rebooted with Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft in the film loosely based on the 2013 video game reboot.

The film took in $274 million and has a 54% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, proving successful enough for a sequel with Vikander to be green-lit. But the follow-up was scrapped after MGM relinquished the rights, and Amazon is now working on a separate reboot.

Warcraft (2016)

A scene from the film Warcraft
Duncan Jones directed the film adaptation of Warcraft. (Legendary)

World of Warcraft has an ardent fanbase, so expectations were high for the 2016 film of the franchise — Warcraft — directed by Duncan Jones of Moon fame. The film was a modest success at the box office, raking in $439 million, and was clearly a hit with fans boasting a 76% Rotten Tomatoes audience score.

A planned trilogy will sadly never see the light of day.

Halo (2022 to present)

Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in the Halo TV series
Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in the live-action Halo TV series. (Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+)

The Halo series has been a key title for Xbox and anticipation was high for the Paramount+ series. It earned strong reviews after debuting in February 2022, with a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a second series aired in March 2024.

The Witcher (2019 to present)

Henry Cavill as Geralt in The Witcher season 2
Henry Cavill played Geralt in the first two seasons of The Witcher. (Susie Allnutt/Netflix)

While mostly adapting the book series, it is worth mentioning the success The Witcher has found on Netflix.

The series has proved to be one of the streaming giant's most successful IP grabs to date, spawning two seasons, another two on the way, an animated prequel (The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf), and a live action spin-off (The Witcher: Blood Origin).

The Last of Us (2023 to present)

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us
Critics lauded Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey's performances in The Last of Us. (HBO/Sky)

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsay star as two survivors forced to make it on their own in HBO's take on The Last of Us — and expectations were high. The video game upon which it's based is widely regarded to be one of the most daring, enjoyable and cinematic releases of recent years so it was with bated breath that viewers hit play on this big-budget TV translation.

Thankfully, we needn't worried. While Pascal and Ramsay took viewers on Joel and Ellie's journey across a fungus-infused wasteland, the series wasn't afraid to take touching detours, with a love story featuring Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett sending viewers reaching for the tissues. With a season series in the works, the future is bright for this one — despite its dystopian subject matter.

Fallout (2024)

Fallout (Prime Video)
Fallout (Prime Video)

Fallout is based on one of the most successful video game series of all time so when word got out that a TV adaptation was in the works, fans were rightfully anxious. Luckily, the winning streak started by HBO's The Last of Us seems to have cross-pollinated over to Prime Video, as early reviews of this post-apocalyptic adventure series are just as cheery.

Set 200 years after a Nuclear end-of-days scenario, the inhabitants of this scorched wasteland are weird, wonderful and — if reviews are to be believed — entirely watchable. In fact, Fallout has already clocked up a glowing Rotten Tomatoes score, making it another hit for this side of our list.

The worst video game adaptations

Assassin's Creed (2016)

Michael Fassbender in the Assassin's Creed movie
The Assassin's Creed movie was a disappointment at the box office. (20th Century Fox)

The Assassin's Creed franchise has been a mammoth success for Ubisoft since 2007, with clear cinematic potential. A film adaptation with Michael Fassbender in the lead was released in 2016, but the elements that have made the games so adored weren’t entirely present, and it returning poor box office results of $240 million against a $120 million budget. Any sequel plans were promptly axed.

Netflix announced a live-action series, an animated series, and an anime series were in development for the platform in 2020, but none have seen the light of day so far.

Ratchet & Clank (2016)

Ratchet & Clank in the 2016 film of the same name
The animated Ratchet & Clank film earned torrid reviews. (Alamy)

One of the recent video game adaptations, you might be forgiven for forgetting that there was a film adaptation of the long running adventures of mechanic Ratchet and sidekick Clank.

The film grossed just $14 million off a $20 million budget and earned pretty torrid reviews. On the plus side the game of the film itself was a success.

Resident Evil (2022)

Ella Balinska as Jade in Resident Evil
Netflix cancelled the Resident Evil series after one season. (Netflix)

Where Netflix enjoyed success with The Witcher, it found unable to repeat the success with its Resident Evil series. Previously adapted as a long-running movie series starring Mila Jovovich, the series aimed to be a more faithful adaptation of Capcom’s long standing survival horror series.

The series earned middling reviews and Netflix ultimately cancelled the show after just one season.

Fallout is streaming on Prime Video now