Violent video games have become a way of life. Hell, arguably the most popular video game company on the planet right now – Rockstar Games – is pretty much built around the concept. Still, while most people have accepted a certain amount of violence, there are some games that still manage to get the moral majority types all hot and bothered, and it is these fine games we are here to celebrate today. Sure, the church lady down the street will tell you you’re going to Hell for playing these games, but you already knew that anyway. So feel free to indulge your inner ghoul as we take this trip down memory lane and fondly recall these, nine of the most violent video games ever.
Released in 1986 as a light gun arcade game, Chiller’s entire premise was that you use the gun to torture helpless victims in a dungeon. That’s it. That’s the game. Naturally, the game wasn’t exactly in demand by arcade owners in America, but Chiller reportedly was an arcade hit in several third world countries. So, the next time you find yourself locked in a dungeon in the Congo, just stop to consider that maybe violent video games have consequences after all. And then hope to god your captor doesn’t have a light gun in his arsenal.
8. ‘Mortal Kombat’
You could put either version of the game here. The original deserves credit for really getting the ball rolling on mainstream violence in video games. Prior to its release, most violent video games were basically underground snuff games, like the aforementioned Chiller. But once Mortal Kombat made it okay to rip your best friend’s little computer avatar spine out of his body while everyone hooted and cheered, all bets were off. The reboot of the franchise, in 2011, took things to its logical extreme, upping the violence factor to ridiculous, cartoonish levels and doing its ancestor proud in the process. The new game was so violent that it was effectively banned in Australia, whose Minister of Home Affairs cited “public disquiet on the issue,” which let’s face it, is pretty much a badge of honor for games like these.
The entire point of Carmageddon is to run over pedestrians and splatter their blood everywhere, which seems almost quaint and wholesome now given that that’s pretty much expected from games. I mean, if they remade Sonic the Hedgehog now, it would probably have Sonic running over dudes on the sidewalk. But, when it was released in 1997 no one had really done anything like it before. At least not in such grim detail. The game was reportedly inspired by the 1975 movie Death Race 2000, and it shows. You get bonus points for running over pedestrians and destroying the other cars while you race. It was too much for a lot of people, and in parts of Europe, the human pedestrians were changed to zombies or robots who bled green or black oil respectively, which naturally backfired when the zombie and robot communities took offense.
6. ‘God of War: Ascension’
The God of War franchise has always been ridiculously violent, but God of War: Ascension took things to a whole new level as Kratos continued his war against the gods by killing them all in just about every gruesome way you can imagine. Everything from horrifying disembowelments to majestic decapitations using a beast’s own claws are included in the game alongside such hilariously petty things as slamming an opponent’s head in a doorway. Just like in all of the world’s most respected holy books.
MadWorld lets you run around a Frank Miller looking world with a giant chainsaw attached to your arm and turn everything and everybody you meet into giant blood geysers. The game inspired controversy in Europe, especially in Germany, which makes sense given the German people’s well known love of peace. But the game’s violence really became a source of controversy when it was released for the Wii, which had always had a reputation as being the most family friendly of all consoles. Given the nature of the Wii’s unique controls, this led some hysterical critics to dub MadWorld a “murder simulator.” Frankly, I’m just glad our murderers have proper training now. There’s nothing worse than an unlicensed amateur murderer.
4. ‘Grand Theft Auto’ (especially III through V)
A real life story that sums up the Grand Theft Auto series: I was playing the most recent version of the game using the streetwise Franklin when I happened upon a hobo huddled around a fire underneath a bridge overpass. I crept up behind him, shot him in the back and then watched as he tumbled into the fire and burned to death. Then I robbed him. Grand Theft Auto, ladies and gentlemen.
3. ‘Soldier of Fortune’
A first person shooter released in 2000, Soldier of Fortune broke new ground in the violent arts. It took the game engine from Quake II and then upped the ante by making the monsters human. It then incorporated the infamous GHOUL damage model engine – the first major game to do so – so that you could literally dismember your opponent piece by piece. You could blow limbs off, shoot off half a head… whatever you wanted basically. It was a turning point in violent video games, as the spiritual child of games like Chiller suddenly found itself pointing the way towards the future of gaming. Perhaps a troubling moment for anti-violence activists, but an important victory for cartoon monsters and demons tired of being the bogeymen in games like these.
The Manhunt franchise has spawned numerous outraged op-eds, been banned in multiple countries, and even implicated in a murder. Now that’s some quality violence. It’s been compared to a snuff film, as the game – yet another to be dubbed a “murder simulator” – puts you in the position to carry out multiple executions in the most ridiculous and yet all too real ways you can think of. I mean, you can kill dudes by sneaking up behind them and suffocating them with plastic bags. When a 14 year-old was killed by his 17 year-old friend, who was reportedly obsessed with the game and called it a “psychological experience,” things were kicked up a notch in the controversy department, but that didn’t stop developers from making an even more violent sequel. After all, what is humanity without progress?
1. ‘Postal 2’
The first Postal was a landmark game in the violent video game genre, as it was one of the first to just say to hell with it, hand you a gun and let you roam around town killing people without silly little things like “motive” or “a story” getting in the way. But Postal 2 upped the ante by keeping all of the refreshingly meaningless violence and adding a more macabre element to it. The most ridiculous involves using cats as silencers for your gun. Yeah. The game’s rudimentary story then ends with the main character’s wife nagging him, followed by a single gunshot. Some will suggest that this is all horrible, but since I’m an optimist, I’ll choose to interpret just one gunshot as a sign of restraint. The game is banned in Germany, France, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia, with New Zealand bizarrely drawing the line at the use of urine as a weapon. Then again, I think that sums things up pretty well here.