Throughout the years, violence and gaming are words that have become practically synonymous, largely in part to the medium receiving so much criticism from worrisome parents, ignorant politicians, and wannabe psychologists. And while it is an undeniable fact that game developers have churned out some pretty graphic content, it leaves us to wonder: which games are the most violent? Today, we count down the Top 10 Most Violent Games. Some of these games use violence to tell a story, and others just take the idea and run with it. But all are filled to the brim with blood, gore and plenty of dismemberment.
10. Resident Evil 4
Gamecube & PS2, 2005
The Resident Evil series is at the forefront of the survival horror genre, and is well known for its zombified gore and grotesque creatures. But one entry sticks out as the most violent (and possibly the best in the series): 2005’s Resident Evil 4, originally a Gamecube exclusive. The game is more violent than other Resident Evils for a variety of reasons. For starters, unlike in previous entries, the enemies aren’t mindless zombies, but crazed European villagers. They talk and move like real people, so killing them is automatically more violent than slaying a zombie. But what’s really violent about RE4 are the many manners in which hero Leon Kennedy can be killed. Highlights include a boss fight in which a beast that looks something like a cross between a scorpion and a fat guy cuts Leon in half with a scissor-like appendage on its tail, before lifting his severed legs into the air in triumph. There are of course the hooded goons who can decapitate Leon with a chainsaw, and the giant insects who can melt his face off with acid. But what really stuck with me was a quicktime event scene in which Leon and Krauser duel with combat knives. If the player does hit the button prompts fast enough, they’re treated to a Saving Private Ryan-style sequence in which Krauser slowly drives his blade into Leon’s heart. It’ll give you nightmares, but hey, that’s what Resident Evil’s for.
9. Fallout 3
The Fallout series has been hailed for its engrossing story and cutting edge RPG gameplay, but what a lot of critics and bloggers often fail to observe is just how damn violent it is. Fallout 3 is the prime offender, with a combat system called V.A.T.S. that allows you to target different parts of an enemy’s body. This means legs, arms and even heads will often be blown off and sent spiraling across the landscape with more force than seems physically possible. Throw in the “Bloody Mess” perk, and now enemies will occasionally explode in a shower of blood and eyeballs that’s simultaneously satisfying and desensitizing. And don’t forget the “gore bags” Super Mutants will leave lying around D.C., which are filled with, what else? Human body parts. Oh, and did I mention the “Cannibal” perk, which allows the player to feast on the bodies of dead humans? If that’s not violent I don’t know what is.
8. Condemned 2: Bloodshot
The original Condemned was a decent survival horror game and launch title for the Xbox 360 that took a risk by presenting its tale of a city overrun by vagrants and serial killers in first person. Its sequel was a much better and more refined game that in my opinion, breathed new life into survival horror, and was criminally overlooked. It’s also really, really violent. The main gameplay basically involves roaming the creepy corridors of derelict buildings and killing hordes of drug addicts with hand-to-hand weapons and the occasional firearm. The execution moves the player can perform when an enemy is stunned are particularly gruesome. The first game only allowed you to perform a handful of pretty basic moves like headbutts, punches and neck-breaks. Bloodshot upped the ante by implementing environmental kills. Players were now allowed to smash an unfortunate junkie into practically any piece of geography in the game. A particularly grisly takedown involved smashing a foe’s head into a mirror or window, and then watching as he clutched his bleeding face and the many glass shards imbedded in his flesh. The kill that really stuck with me however, involved shoving an enemy’s head into a doorjamb and then smashing it until he was dead. Brutal, but effective.
7. Aliens vs. Predator
This reboot of the classic FPS series was a bit of a letdown, but it is one of the goriest games I’ve ever played. Playing as a human will only provide you with a lot of green-tinted Alien and Predator blood, however playing as one of the two titular extraterrestrials allows you to perform some of the most hardcore stealth executions ever. Aliens can poke their victims’ eyes out with their pointy tails, or impale them, causing the poor bastard to vomit blood. They can also use their classic bitey mouth-within-a-mouth for a sweet POV takedown that fills the screen with blood. But the Predator gets the truly ridiculous kills. These include ripping a human’s head and spine out of his body before caressing it lovingly (as any good Predator would), or just taking their heads off with one clean swipe of the wrist blades. Like so many of the games on this list, AvP was almost censored in Australia, until SEGA won an appeal.
6. Gears of War
Xbox 360 & PC, 2006
I’ve got two words for you: chainsaw gun. If there’s any one aspect of Gears of War that makes it one of the most violent games out there, it’s the series’ staple weapon of choice, the Lancer. Ripping your foes in half with its attached chainsaw may be one of the most satisfying experiences in gaming, but it’s also one of the bloodiest. Blood sprays on the screen as both you and your enemy scream, and then just like that, his torso topples off and the deed is done. Performing this act on the alien-esque Locust isn’t all that bad, but when playing as said beasties in multiplayer sawing into the Cole Train can be a tad more disturbing. The game’s amazing graphics make the carnage all the more realistic: when performing headshots you can actually hear the pop and see your target’s skull explode into tiny fragments. Shooting someone at close range with a shotgun turns his body into a bloody, unrecognizable pulp. It’s definitely one of the more violent games out there, but for whatever reason, that’s part of what makes its multiplayer so fun.
5. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Grand Theft Auto has had its fair share of controversy since the first title was released in 1997, with many opponents and parents groups calling it the worst game ever made and a detriment to the very fabric of society. While I’d beg to differ, there’s no denying that the series is basically swimming in blood and violence. Though the graphics and animations of the most recent entry, GTAIV, make previous titles look like they were made for the Commodore 64, in many respects earlier games were far more violent, particularly Vice City. Everyone knows you can sleep with a hooker and then beat her death, but what really sets Vice City apart is the diversity of weaponry. GTAIV really toned down the hand-to-hand combat and vehicle gaemplay from previous games, limiting you to pretty much just knives and baseball bats. Vice City however, allowed you to slaughter innocent bystanders with katanas and chainsaws, allowing players to channel their inner Scarface. Decapitations were plentiful, with victims clutching at where their heads were a moment earlier before collapsing to the ground. Headshots with guns would also often cause heads to explode, something that was also absent from GTAIV.
4. Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat—the original gaming controversy. So violent was this iconic fighting game that Senator Joe “Droopy Dog” Lieberman himself took it to court to help rescue America’s youth from its depravity. And to be fair, no child should play this game. At the time, this was the bloodiest game out there, thanks in large part for the series’ signature “fatalities.” These range from Johnny Cage literally punching somebody’s head off, to Kano ripping a dude’s heart out like the villain in Temple of Doom. In hindsight, many of these takedowns were utterly ridiculous, to the point that they weren’t as violent as they were silly. For example: Sub-Zero tearing out his foe’s spine and Scorpion breathing fire and turning his enemy into a crumbly ash skeleton. Maybe if Lieberman had had a sense of humor he would have seen what made Mortal Kombat so great. Fatalities would only get more over the top as the series progressed, such as Liu Kang turning into a dragon, and of course, the Babalities. Footage of this year’s upcoming reboot insures even more bloody goodness.
A.K.A. the “snuff film game,” Manhunt was clearly designed by Rockstar with the sole intention of inciting controversy. Unlike most of the games on this list, the violence in Manhunt is violence for violence sake. The plot is paper thin, with an escaped convict being tasked with hunting down and executing gang members for a shady film director. Weapons include your standard machetes and axes, and more disturbing armaments like plastic bags and piano wire. There are three levels of executions, with the third level being almost too gruesome and intense to watch. The added effect of viewing these murders through the grainy filter of a camcorder makes the experience all the skeevier. A former Rockstar employee even later admitted that many members of the development team felt “icky” about the game and that they were “crossing a line.” The game was banned in Australia, New Zealand and Germany, and the 2007 sequel ruffled even more feathers due to its Wii motion control support. Using your Knunchuk to mimic strangling a guy? Yeah, that’s gonna upset some people.
2. God of War III
The God of War series is known for its brutal combat but it wasn’t until the final installment that the violence really became truly ludicrous, thanks to the impressive graphical capabilities of the PS3. Though much of the violence is directed at mythical Greek creatures, it’s so lifelike and graphic that at times it’s almost sickening. God of War practically invented the Quicktime Event, and there’s no shortage of them here. With just a few taps of the thumb Kratos can disembowel a chimera, its innards spilling out like so much silly putty, or rip out a Cyclops’ eye with his bare hands—that’s right—his bare hands. Two of the most graphic scenes involve more human-like gods: Helios, god of the Sun and Poseidon, god of the sea. Kratos twists Helios heads until it tears off his body, probably one of the most realistic displays of gore ever to grace a console. More disturbing is the death of Poseidon, which in an interesting twist, is depicted in first person, from the god’s perspective. Players execute button prompts and then watch as Kratos beats the crap out of Poseidon before gouging his eyes out—all in first person! If there’s any one reason to get a PS3, it’s probably God of War III, and not just for the gore—it’s just an added bonus.
1. Dead Space 2
The newest title included on this list, Dead Space 2 is undoubtedly one of the most violent games ever made, and as far as I’m concerned the most violent. Though much of the carnage is directed towards hordes of the monstrous Necromorphs, some of the most disturbing moments in the game are the numerous death scenes for protagonist Isaac Clarke. Like any good horror film, Dead Space 2 is chock full of gore and dismemberment, and it’s all the more horrifying when it’s happening to the hapless bastard you’re controlling. Isaac can be decapitated, split in half and worse, with each enemy type having their own unique execution animation. The Puker grabs Isaac, rips his helmet off and releases a torrent of, you guessed it, puke, onto Isaac’s face. Isaac, his visage now burned with acid, doubles over and wretches pink goo until he collapses. Gross. Even worse is the Tripod, which shoves its claw into Isaac’s mouth as his eyes go wide with horror. The most graphic death scene, and the one that solidifies Dead Space 2’s place at the top of this list, comes during the final boss fight with the Marker. If Isaac lets evil Nicole get too close to him, the game cuts to Isaac committing suicide. But not just any suicide—suicide via shooting yourself in the head with a Javelin gun. Dead Space 2 has really impressive facial details and animations, but in this particular scene I kind of wish it didn’t. The way the javelin dislodges Isaac’s jaw was a little too realistic for comfort.