Top Ten Most Violent Videogames Of All Time

   28/04/2009 at 15:49       Richard Horne       17 COMMENTS.
There have been numerous videogames over the years that have courted controversy for the extreme violence they portray. Yet ironically, the types of games in question are typically labelled 'mature' in very deliberate inverted commas because they're usually anything but. And in actual fact, the word mature when applied to a videogame these days, generally means it will be loud, raucous, obscene and aimed at giggling teenagers who like nothing more than abusing all and sundry over Xbox Live with their racist and homophobic insults. But then occasionally, a game comes along that pushes the boundaries and uses violence as a very deliberate vehicle for delivering its narrative or subtext. Only very occasionally mind.

The point is that violence can be humourous and comical, it can be hard hitting and affecting and it can also be visceral and downright gratuitious. And videogames allow us to experience, interact and often initiate extreme violence safely and responsibly - though that might well be an oxymoron.

And so in keeping with the theme of 'mature' games journalism, let's break down the top ten most violent videogames.


10) Mortal Kombat

Midway's Mortal Kombat series is perhaps the original poster boy for the anti-videogame brigade with its vicious fatalities and brutally 'realistic' aesthetics. And its release in 1992, alongside the much more cartoony Street Fighter series saw it condemned for its potential harmful effects and ability to desensitise its players to the extreme violence on display. The negative reaction actually forced some distributors to water down the game and re-release it with much tamer fatalities and white sweat instead of red blood.

Of course Midway had the last laugh with future versions of the game that contained 'animalities', 'babalities' and 'friendship' moves and the series went on to sell in its millions, no doubt boosted by the negative press.

09) Soldier of Fortune

I remember the original Soldier of Fortune game being a mediocre, middle-of-the-road first person shooter that ticked all of the right boxes but ultimately failed to deliver a particularly memorable experience. Except of course the way it allowed you to pretty much maim and dismember any of your enemies. Even going to the extent of having bloody stumps and bones sticking out of flesh after a particularly violent rampage with a shotgun.

08) Gears of War

American History X stands out in my mind for one scene alone - the infamous curb stomp. That un-necessary act of extreme and lethal violence made me sick to my stomach and has haunted me, and no doubt countless others, ever since the film's theatrical release. And I'm under no illusions that Epic's Cliff Bleszinski was equally affected by it, as it was so blatantly implemented into Gears of War's multiplayer.

In fact, the following video, in addition to highlighting said attack, perhaps demonstrates my original point about 'mature' videogames and the audience they attract far better than I ever could with words. Just watch and err, enjoy.

07) Carmageddon

Long before Grand Theft Auto corrupted our kids with its own take on open-world vehicular violence, Stainless Games' Carmageddon and sequel Carpocalypse Now were incurring the wrath of the Daily Mail on a daily basis. The aim of the game was either to win each race the traditional and some would say boring way, or by eliminating all of your opponents and anyone that happened to be minding their own business safely on the pavement. In fact, the game actively encouraged you to mow down the hundreds of pedestrians and innocent bystanders by rewarding you with a score multiplier for successive combos. The main characters in the game were Max Damage and Die Anna and the first game in the series was famously banned in the UK by the BBFC until all blood and gore was removed.

06) MadWorld

The most recently released game in this list, Platinum Games' MadWorld on the Wii attempted to hide its violence by painting it in a glorious stylised black and white veneer, but the bucket loads of crimson blood that regularly washed over the screen soon put paid to that. MadWorld encourages you to use your imagination and your surrounding environment to devastating effect with the handily attached chainsaw, conveniently positioned booby traps and spiked freight trains combining to great effect. The fact that you use the Wii Remote and Nun Chuck to physically mimic the on-screen actions further reinforces the violence.

05) Condemned: Criminal Origins

Monolith Productions' Condemned was one of the first games in the FPS genre to get the feeling of hand to hand combat just right - in fact a little too right. The way its kicks, punches and flails connected was hugely visceral and satisfying and the accompanying sound effects served only to add that extra, no pun intended, punch to proceedings. And the game's dark visuals, un-nerving atmosphere and claustrophobic environments meant it imbued you with a certain sense of kill or be killed and that survival instinct made every attack all the more gratifying.

04) GTA

Never far from the media spotlight, RockStar International's Grand Theft Auto series is typically used as the scapegoat in the whole 'videogames are bad' argument. And for obvious reasons. The freedom offered by Liberty City means it's up to you as a player how much wanton destruction you want to cause and the fact that in GTAIV it's all rendered in glorious high definition with the best physics engine yet means it's the most realistic violence simulator yet. So they'd have you believe.


03) Manhunt

RockStar International's Manhunt is probably even more infamous than its stable-mate GTA. Featuring numerous gruesome executions and all manner of vicious weapons, the game encouraged you to track down your enemies and murder them in a cool and calculated manner. But that infamy is most likely down to the fact that the game was implicated by the media in a murder - a fact later discounted by the police - but not before numerous websites, newspapers and news programmes had run wild with the scandal and in effect, done all of RockStar's marketing and advertising for them and for free.

02) Thrill Kill

Many of the games in this list were initially banned but then eventually later released once the controversy surrounding them had died down. But one game that never saw a release was Paradox Development's Thrill Kill.

Developed for the PlayStation 1, this 3D brawler saw numerous disturbed characters fighting to the death - most notably Belladonna, a murderous dominatrix who let out an orgasmic moan upon finishing off an opponent.

Thrill Kill was never actually banned, but its original publisher Virgin Interactive was bought out around the time the game was being completed by Electronic Arts, who deemed it too senselessly violent to release under their portfolio full-stop. Bootleg copies are available on the internet if you know where to look.

01) The Punisher

Volition Inc's The Punisher on PlayStation Two and Xbox was an action game starring the Marvel Comics vigilante and is a game that was completely off my radar - and I imagine a lot of yours' too. It received mixed reviews upon its release in 2005 and somehow escaped the media frenzy that surrounded many of its aforementioned counterparts.

It's not a game that I ever imagined would be even in this list, never mind holding onto the top spot, but well, I'll let the videos do the talking.

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