Every so often, an atrocity happens, somewhere in the world, and instead of trying to figure out what might motivate someone to do such a thing, the media roll out the same old culprit – violent video games. They’ve been blamed for everything, probably unfairly, but it does make you wonder – just how violent are these games? And the answer is – pretty extreme. They may not be the root of all society’s ills, but there’s certainly some disturbing stuff going on in our Top 10 Most Violent Video Games.
10. Soldier of Fortune
This Microsoft game was released on March 27 2000 and later had a PS2 edition as well. As the name suggests, it’s all about being a soldier – a first-person shooter that doesn’t hold back on the realistic depictions of violence. Each person figure in the game has 26 different zones to it, and shooting any one of those will make it explode dramatically. So, a shot to the head leaves the enemy with just a stump of a neck, and the teenage boy’s favorite – a shot to the crotch – will make the enemy clutch his groin before falling over. The detailed gameplay was enabled by the GHOUL engine, and it was the very first game to use that technology but, as you’d expect, the technological advance was opvershadowed by the outcry over the violent content. It was classed as an “adult motion picture” in British Columbia and placed on a “harmful to young people” list in Germany. And it was pretty graphic. But for the weak of stomach, there was an option to turn the gore off. So everyone’s happy.
Carmageddon was an oldie but a goodie, being originally released in 1997, although it’s had a comeback as an Android app in 2013. The basic premise of the game was that you drove around and tried to run as many people over as possible. It was a little hearted game, but certain pressure groups didn’t really see the funny side, and thought it would encourage young drivers to actually hit and run. It was banned in some countries, including Brazil, and heavily censored in others. For example, in Germany the people were replaced with robots and they spilt oil when you hit them rather than blood. The outrage didn’t stop the game being popular though, and there were a number of sequels. The name was even hijacked by the Los Angeles authorities to publicise a freeway closure!
Now, it’s not often that a violent video game is also called beautiful. But that’s what happened with Bioshock, on its 2007 release. It wowed critics with its immersive graphics, depicting an underwater city in 1960. But it had a disturbing aspect to it – the Little Sisters, mutant little girls that wandered about the city, protected only by their Big Daddies. The game gave you a choice – you could kill the little girls and get more points, or spare them and gain less. Of course, you’re meant to do the right thing, but who’s going to sacrifice a top score for the sake of not shooting a child in the face? So, little-girl killing it was then….
7. God of War II
You can always rely on the Greek myths for some good violence, as well as incest, child-sacrifice and other fun things. God of War faithfully recreates this world by putting you in as the new God of War, Kratos and you have to take vengeance on Zeus, the chief God. It starts with death, it ends with death and there is copious amounts of mythological splatter all the way through. Far more fun than sitting through a Classics lesson at school, and is was named as the best PS2 game of all time in 2012. Pity the following 8 games in the God of War series were less than exciting and relied too heavily on overly complex puzzles, rather than cutting off the heads of other deities…
Released in 2003 by Rockstar Games, this game was notorious for its violence, as it followed a Death Row inmate who was forced to appear in a series of snuff films. There were various methods of despatching enemies, but one of the most widely publicised ones was the suffocation with a plastic bag (shown above), and the murders grew more graphic and realistic with every level. The Chicago Tribune said “Manhunt is easily the most violent game ever made”.
The controversy surrounding the game exploded in 2004, when it was implicated in the murder of 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah by his friend Warren LeBlanc. the parents of the victim say that LeBlanc played the game obsesseively, but police later denied there was a link. Initial statements that a copy of Manhunt had been found in LeBlanc’s bedroom were wrong – it was found in Pakeerah’s. Still, there was a campaign against the sequel being released, amid fears that there would be another killing.