Controversy has reigned over video games down the years, undeterred, it seems that games designers and studios are looking to make the next game court the most controversy. After all, any publicity is good publicity! Could this explain why a lot of the most successful games and franchises are all 18+?
While compiling this list, I realised that it’s nigh on impossible to come up with a definitive Top 10. As you will see there are plenty of great games that I’ve had to leave out.
Zombies. Fighting the zombie apocalypse with friends – and total strangers. It could only be Left4Dead. Like fighting your way through a B-movie, Left4Dead provided the tension and action you feel when watching a zombie survival film. Good game on your own, an absolute scream (literally) when playing online. Total strangers shouting “Get off me! Get off me! Aaaaaargh help!” I always had a good laugh playing Left4Dead. Who can forget The Boomer, and the cries from The Witch still give me shivers today.
Another survival horror game but Bioshock was different in that it made you think. Set in 1960 and with a cool retro look, Bioshock is a beautiful game but it also made you feel uneasy, as if there was an undercurrent of terror right around the corner while you uncovered the secrets of Rapture.
The whale-like calls of the Big Daddies and the earieness and eyes of the Little Sisters only added to the tension. The horror of your first encounter with a splicer with nothing to defend yourself with. Bloody terrifying, but bloody good.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
An oldie to add to the list. One of the launch titles for the 360, Condemned courted controversy with its sinister tone and atmosphere, as well as the numerous ways you can butcher someone to death. It’s still very satisfying to tazer a goon running at you, whip their gun out of their hands, blast their face off with it and kick them in the nuts for good measure.
Condemned is generally slow-paced but this only adds to the feeling of impending terror. At times it felt like you were playing through a movie like Se7en, a very dark game with a psychological twist as well as survival horror.
Resident Evil 5
When the demo for Resi 5 was released you knew that this was going to be a special game. I must’ve played the demo countless times before the game came out, and each time I would discover something new.
Resident Evil 5 is a beautiful looking game (what is it about survival horror/zombie games that makes them look stunning?) and the detail on the characters – and zombies – is amazing, that’s if you took the time to look closely while it tried to hack you to pieces. One thing that sticks in your mind about Resident Evil 5 wasn’t the zombies and gore but your stupid AI ‘partner’, Sheva Alomar, silly bint just got in the way.
While the majority of you are probably running and screaming your way through Dead Space 2 at the moment, I thought I’d place the first Dead Space in this list.
The reason that this is one of THE most terrifying games is not because of the blood and gore but because of the whole ambience of the game. The sounds, the atmosphere, it’s pitched perfectly to make the player scared to walk around the next corner. The game plays with your mind more than any other, and there’s nothing more scary than your mind playing tricks on you. Dead Space, I salute you for making me hate my brain.
One of the coolest looking games around. Set in post-nuclear Washington DC Fallout 3 is a stunningly beautiful game (if you like desolate wastelands full of nutcases). Plenty of games today like to offer the player choices but Fallout 3 offered you many, intricate solutions to any given situation. No one person has probably played this game the same way as you or I. There’s no ‘correct’ way to play this game, you make the decisions and you have to live with the consequences. It’s the morality of choice that makes Fallout 3 an outstanding game. Filled with gruesome set pieces and the use of the VATS system, allowing you to follow a bullet and blow a foe’s head (or arm, or leg) clean off in slow motion, can be very gratifying.
Red Dead Redemption
The first 18+ game in this list from the Rockstar stable. Red Dead is a great looking game. While playing it you wonder why this is an 18 game, then you remember this is a Rockstar game and 18+ games are Rockstar’s speciality.
Oh John Marston, you’ve been a very bad boy haven’t you? Amid the dusty desert of the lawless West, our unlikely hero navigates the treachery and 18-rated genius that is Rockstar Games’ imagination. So much more than GTA with Cowboys, Red Dead Redemption is adult as they come. Prostitution, outlaws, smuggling, drugs, sex, violence – it’s all there and rightfully so. This is the Wild West remember, not the family friendly world of John Wayne. Whether it’s popping heads down by the watering hole or cruising for chicks on a horse across the Mexican border, Red Dead is a breathtaking vision brought to life.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Biggest game of all time. Some going as it was only bought by people aged18 or over! Yeah right. Nearly everyone has played Black Ops no matter how old they are.
You all know (or should do) what makes Black Ops an 18 game. Blood, torture, swearing, guns, violence, trying to kill Fidel Castro, punching someone in the face while you shove glass in his mouth, more blood, the odd game of Russian roulette. And a splash of zombies for extra measure.
Gears of War 2
The mighty Gears. Is it really more than five years ago since the first game was released? Time flies when you’re waving a gun with a chainsaw around!
The sheer beauty of Gears of War are the numerous executions at your disposal – all done in a great deal of graphic detail. Being able to chainsaw people in half is one thing. but pummeling a head until it explodes is quite another. There’s a lot of ‘head’ executions in Gears such as stamping on a head, sniper headshots, even playing golf with a head using your shotgun! You can even use your opponent as a human shield and once you’re finished just break their neck and kick them away like a piece of garbage.
Grand Theft Auto 4
The granddaddy of adult games. GTA4 caused more controversy than any other game. Thanks to the Grand Theft Auto series some parts of the media seem determined to blame all of society’s ills on games and in particular GTA4.
It’s violent, it has sex and prostitution, it has drugs, it has smuggling, gun-running. The game is just wrong. But what a game. Graphically glorious, the vistas of the city skyline with the setting sun took your breath away. It was like playing a movie.
But it was the freedom of the city to do absolutely anything you want, whenever you wanted – run people over, shoot people, sleep with a prostitute and then club her to death. This game was very wrong but very, very good. It will be interesting to see what Rockstar will do next with the GTA franchise, just how far are they willing to go to shock people? I’d say very, and I can’t wait.