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T1 Countdown: Gaming’s Greatest Assassins

Many videogames revolve around killing. Whether it’s humans, monsters, or giant tomatoes, there is a theme of murder. However, without getting heavily bogged down in the on-going debate, as gamers we know videogame slaughter is fiction and a strong majority of us would never think of replicating what we see on the screen to any giant tomatoes we know. Killing comes in many forms; obviously the slayings in war-based FPS games are different to the humanitarian kill of a zombie. The most prominent form would have to be the assassination. Usually secret and always deadly – to either the target or the assassin depending on the success of the latter – assassination hits are a huge part of human history, and also for videogames.  This month we look at the most lethal, agile, intelligent, and deadly assassins and praise them for their ability to leave us in awe of their cold execution. So with a quick check that there’s no cloaked Italian climbing the walls outside or goggle-wearing agent hidden in the darkest corner, Thirteen1 presents Videogame’s Greatest Assassins.

Number Thirteen – Niko Bellic from GTA IV

In GTA IV you play as Niko Bellic, a 29-year-old Eastern European immigrant. The ex-solider warms the hearts of the many gamers who witness his chase of the American Dream, despite the fact he’s an illegal immigrant, something that is considered a major problem in modern society. Niko needed money in order to support his annoying cousin Roman; however, holding down a legit job was never going to be easy.

One way for Niko to make money was through assassination contracts, which were initiated when Niko answered a ringing telephone. It’s not how Niko performs these assassinations that impress us, but rather the cool-headed way he accepts the contract from the mystery man on the other end of the line, no questions asked, just bing-bada-BOOM!

Weapon of Choice: It’s really up the player, but it’s got to see the use of a RPG in downtown Liberty City.

Number Twelve – Jack from BioShock

Jack is the first in our list of assassins that shares a common problem with several other entries. The protagonist of BioShock has lost his memory and has no idea about his true purpose in Rapture: assassinate the city’s founder, Andrew Ryan.

Through complex and quite scary brain-washing techniques, Jack is like an almost fully-automated slave, obeying every violent order from the slimy Atlas/Frank Fontaine.  In the end Jack assassinates Ryan, but on the order of the latter, because a man chooses, and a slave obeys.

Weapon of Choice: Andrew Ryan’s golf putter.

Number Eleven – The Spy from Team Fortress 2

The deadpan French fighter class from Valve’s epic multiplayer is – if controlled by a skilled player – an assassin to be feared. Often hiding, deceiving, and surprising, the Spy is equipped with sabotaging electronics and other covert tools, the cloaking device being his primary item.

There are numerous videos online of people using the Spy class superbly; search for the one on YouTube of the guy using pictures of half-naked ladies to distract the opposition – it’s brilliant.

Weapon of Choice: The butter knife – instant kill mofo!

Number Ten – HK47 from Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic

Here’s our second assassin suffering from amnesia – well actually his memory core is faulty, but it’s essentially the same thing. Once owned by the Dark Lord of the Sith, HK-47 is an assassination droid who enjoys his relentless and indulgent slayings of organics – or meatbags as he likes to call them.

Often funny with his dry, but very callous, observations/statements/questions, HK-47 can be a valuable member of the ‘redeemed’ Revan’s team. He also shared his number with another assassin – one you might call the greatest assassin of all time, read on to find out more.

Weapon of Choice: It’s up to the player and how he levels the character up, but we’ll say Mandalorian Rifle, just because we can.

Number Nine – Travis Touchdown from No More Heroes

Imagine yourself as an otaku, you live an average life with little to no money, spending your time watching Mexican wrestling and cheap porn – some would say there the same thing (only joking!) – and the only skills you’ve got, other than styling your hair like some sort of anime character, is a few wrestling moves and your efficiency with a lightsaber wannabe.

What would you do? Naturally become an assassin. It pays well, you’re putting your skills to good use, and it makes for great videogame material. Travis Touchdown in No More Heroes did it, and it wasn’t just for the money, he thought he was getting some sexy time too – which he finally got in the second game…score!

Weapon of Choice: The Beam Katana of course.

Number Eight – Goh from Shinobido: Way of the Ninja

Here’s yet another sufferer of amnesia, actually we wouldn’t be surprised if you remembered this guy either. Shinobido: Way of the Ninja is a much underrated PlayStation 2 title that got over looked by many gamers because of the other ninja games surrounding it at the time of its release.

You play as Goh, an Asuka Ninja who’s on a quest to find his memories, however the truth is very revealing and Goh doesn’t particular like what he finds.  Ninja’s are the ultimate assassins, and even though Goh might not be particularly memorable or well-known, the heavily stealth-based missions are a challenge worth trying.

Weapon of Choice: His custom-made Katana.

Number Seven – Rikimaru from Tenchu

Rikimaru is like no other. His stealth abilities are indomitable in the ninja division, his array of gadgets (dog whistles, smoke bombs, etc.) is the equivalent of a Japanese Batman, and his skill with a sword is staggering. The only fault we can find is the sheer difficulty of the Tenchu games. The controls aren’t fluid, the A.I is very unpredictable, and boss fights are tough (though probably average by Japanese standards), so making Rikimaru look cool took a lot of practice.

Though if we put that to one side for a moment and focus on the brutal efficiency of Rikimaru, his sneak attacks were the most violent executions of the time, and his agility – if controlled by a skilled player – was very affective in keeping the ninja hidden. We bow to the Stealth Assassin, Rikimaru, you’re Feudal Japan’s answer to Solid Snake.

Weapon of Choice: Izayoi – that’s the name of his sword.

Number Six – Sniper Wolf from Metal Gear Solid

Didn’t you know that two thirds of the world’s greatest assassins are women? Well according to Sniper Wolf, that’s fact. However this list proves otherwise since she’s the only female to feature. We’re not being sexist, in actual fact we scoured the web and our personal gaming databases for hours searching for memorable female assassins, and Sniper Wolf was the only we could think off. So why is she so good? Well she has a sniper rifle for starters, probably one of the most iconic assassination weapons of modern times.

Secondly is her commitment, or rather obsession, to killing her targets. She can wait weeks for the right time, and sometimes she’ll even fall in love with her victim in the process – aw, isn’t that sweet? No, it’s creepy. Sure, she may have a cracking cleavage, but she’s a mental case with a powerful firearm. Find cover immediately.

Weapon of Choice: We shouldn’t have to write anything here.

Number Five – XIII from XIII

OK, we promise, this guy is out last amnesiac assassin. XIII is not unlike the Bourne Identity, a guy wakes up without his memory and is accused of assassinating a powerful politician, in XIII’s case, it’s the President of the United States – oh dear. So, while being hunted by the police and numerous other law enforcement faculties, the man, known as XIII, uncovers a conspiracy and a group of assassins called The XX. The group is made up of twenty assassins, and the majority are defeated by XIII. The killer of assassins has to be one of the greatest assassins of all time right?

Weapon of Choice: For us, it has to be the crossbow.

Number Four – Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell

Sam Fisher isn’t a full-time assassin. His missions mainly revolve around reconnaissance and recovery, however he has indeed delved in his fair share of assassinations, and he uses the cover of darkness like no other assassin out there.

His rather fortunate that the places Third Echelon send him have plenty of shadowy cover, otherwise – and I quote Irving Lambert – Fisher would light up like a Christmas tree. By the most recent game, Sam Fisher is an efficient killer; he’s an impossible one man army to be feared.

Weapon of Choice: Darkness.

Number Three – Thane from Mass Effect 2

When recruiting your team in Mass Effect 2, you’re handed the dossier of the Assassin. Nothing much is known about him, though other characters talk about him with great apprehension and dread.

When Thane final shows himself, his entrance is fluid, graceful, and deadly. In-game, he shoots and runs like the rest of them, but his initial appearance is as memorable as any character in BioWare’s epic space opera.

Weapon of Choice: His bare hands.

Number Two – Ezio Auditore da Firenze from Assassin’s Creed II

Ok, so two questions to answer. A) Why did Ezio make it into the list and not Altair? Well, Ezio is an improvement on the original assassin in every way. He’s got more backbone, he’s less two-dimensional, he can swim, and he’s very good with the ladies. Ezio proved so popular that Ubisoft gave the guy another game for the big boys (Xbox 360 and PS3), all Altair got was some poxy handheld sequel – lame.

The second question would be: why isn’t Ezio number one in our list of greatest assassins of all time? Well yes, he may have the best outfit ever, he may be able to scale tall and famous landmarks, he may also have been involved with some of history’s most colourful people and events, and his efficiency with the hidden blade is remarkable (that’s his Weapon of Choice by the way), but the man that beat Ezio to the post is just far better in every way, and that man is…

Number One – Agent 47 from Hitman

There was never any doubt that 47 was going to be our number one. The bald clone is a legend, considered to be one of the greatest and most desired assassins that ever lived. He tops all the over assassins tenfold with his numerous stealth and assassination techniques. He can miraculously fit into any item of clothing and conceal an array of weapons on his person. But these are nothing compared to his calm demeanour and cool-headed approach to his contracts.

What makes the Hitman games so good is the puzzle aspect. Sure, you could run in Silver Ballers blazing, but the fun wears off after two minutes. A real assassin plans his jobs carefully, remains hidden, and executes his targets quietly and quickly, using any and all means available. The puzzle element of the Hitman games makes them terribly fun, and ones worth revisiting if you ever get the chance. With the prospect of a next-gen Hitman game coming out this year, it’s worth honouring Agent 47 for the Silent Assassin he is. Now please don’t kill us.

Weapon of Choice: Fiber Wire, definitely.

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THE BEST AND WORST VIDEOGAME FILMS

Films based on video games are a controversial subject. As fans of both entertainment mediums we’re constantly surprised, terrified, excited, and disgusted when new video game movies are announced. Fans will be intrigued and extremely nervous when their favourite games are tackled by film producers, because more often than not, videogame films suck. However, there does exist a few gems within this genre – but very few. This month we’ve been through hell and back and now we’d like to share our experiences. Originally we were going to present you with just the worst films in this issue’s T1 Countdown and the best films at a later date. But since a decent videogame film is as rare as a copy of the Nintendo World Championships: Gold Edition, we’ve decided to split the list in two.

So now, as we apologise up front for any bad memories this list may invoke, we’d like to present to you the T1 Countdown of the Worst and – for lack of a better word – Best videogame film adaptations ever.

BESTBETTER

Number Six – Hitman (Released in 2007; Directed by Xavier Gens)

Not exactly a hit with the critics, but Hitman had fans entertained and impressed by its brilliant portrayal of the stealth-action game series. Timothy Olyphant stylishly played the cold and emotionless Agent 47 in this fast-paced, if not slightly confusing, action flick. Olga Kurylenko co-stars as Agent 47’s love-interest and companion on a violent adventure shrouded with mystery and betrayal.

Despite a few kinks, the plot remained true to the games and it would be easy to imagine this film taking place in the same Hitman universe. Lots of little references and in-jokes augment the film’s faithfulness to the games and fans, such as featuring the voice of Diana and Agent 47’s ability to blend into crowds simply by stealing somebody’s uniform.

Number Five – Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life (Released in 2003; Directed by Jan De Bont)

Lara Croft is the most famous videogame heroine of all time. Apart from her numerous multi-format games, Miss Croft was also the face for Lucozade in the late 90s and more recently for car manufacturer SEAT. Her face has been seen at U2 concerts, in Top Cow comics, and in the 2001 feature film, starring Angelina Jolie, which was universally considered a flop by critics and fans.

Two years later, we were ‘treated’ to a sequel, and the producers had definitely learnt from their mistakes. The film had more of an Indiana Jones feel about it and looked more assured than its predecessor. Exotic locations, tense gun battles, and an adventurous plot firmly wedges this film into our number five slot.

Number Four – Resident Evil: Degeneration (Released in 2009; Directed by Makoto Kamiya)

There was a big debate over which Resident Evil film would make it into our T1 Countdown, but to be perfectly honest, we feel that the films by Paul W. Anderson are just mindless husks made to please the masses and didn’t give the survival-horror series any justice. Resident Evil: Degeneration did the opposite.

Unlike the aforementioned films, Degeneration takes place in the same universe as the original games. A coherent plot, voice actors from the games, and a perfect set-up for Resident Evil 5 all feature in this action-packed zombie epic.

Number Three – Silent Hill (Released in 2006; Directed by Christophe Gans)

If we were to pick a videogame film that wasn’t computer generated and fully captured what the game was all about, then it would have to be Silent Hill. This film had everything the original games had: horror, creativity, emotion, and aesthetic content. The scene where the leading character, Rose Da Silvia, is running through the fog-ridden streets of downtown Silent Hill, is a perfect portrayal of the first three games.

Welcomed appearances of other characters from the series, such as Cybil Bennet and Pyramid Head, alongside a soundtrack created by series composer Akira Yamaoka, make up an exciting and mysterious horror flick. Looking past Sean Bean’s poor American accent and a few changes from the game’s plot and you’ve got one film that would surely make any Silent Hill fan proud.

Number Two – Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (Released in 1994; Directed by Gisaburō Sugii)

Not to be confused as a sequel to the appalling live-action movie (see number six in our Worst Video Game Film Adaptation countdown), Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie was firmly based on the game Street Fighter II – plus it was released months before the live-action tripe. This joy of animated genius has such an engaging and original plot that it’s hard to believe it all came from a stylish fighter game.

Several popular characters get an equal amount of screen time and the fight scenes are outstanding. If you’re looking to get a copy, make sure it’s the 2006 DVD version, because it features the original Japanese soundtrack, which is so much better than the cheesy Grunge/Metal soundtrack that featured on the 1994 English dubbed version.

Number One – Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (Released in 2005; Directed by Tetsuya Nomura and Takeshi Nozue)

Final Fantasy is the biggest video game franchise of all time. It would take an entire gaming life-time to play and understand every single game in the series, because it’s forever expanding. Instead of just having a straight line of sequels from start to finish, the Japanese RPG has sequels within spin-offs within sequels. Making a CGI movie based on the most popular game of the franchise at the time was certainly a clever move by Square Enix. Nearly everyone who calls themselves a gamer has played Final Fantasy VII.

To take a universally loved game and make a CGI film sequel that stays loyal to it is one of the greatest projects any video developer and publisher can undertake. Instead of just stealing a game title along with a few character names and making a terrible film, Square Enix took everything we loved about Final Fantasy VII and made our favourite videogame film adaptation of all time. The animation is stylish, the soundtrack is wonderful, and the plot is a brilliant conclusion to the events in the ever so popular PlayStation game.

WORST

Number Seven – Double Dragon (Released in 1994; Directed by James Yukich)

A hit at home and in the arcades, the video game Double Dragon was a beat-em-up sensation in the late 1980s. Spawning two sequels, comics, and a TV series, the Japanese game has an outstanding legacy to be proud off, with one exception; a live-action movie adaptation.

Released seven years after the first game – not exactly at the height of the franchises’ popularity then – this poor excuse for a movie featured a pitiable script, a belching soundtrack, before TV watershed fighting, undeveloped characters, clichéd bad guys, and nothing to do with the videogame except sharing its title and the names of the protagonists. Some fans claim it is so bad it’s good, but we say it is so bad it’s bad.

Number Six – Street Fighter (Released in 1994; Directed by Steve E. de Souza)

One of the greatest fighter games ever, the Street Fighter series rules the genre. The games have style and substance. To put it simply; Street Fighter is the coolest games ever made. Unfortunately, the movie adaptation shares nothing with its videogame equivalents. Do you want to know what the movie has? Kylie Minogue.

Along with awful casting, the film has poorly edited fight scenes and a done to death plot. Unfortunately, this was Raúl Juliá’s last film before he passed away; many will remember him in his role as Gomez Addams from the Addams Family. Despite its negative critical reception, Street Fighter was a commercial hit, and it spawned its own videogame adaptation. Think of that, a poor videogame based on a terrible film based on a sensational videogame, it’s insane.

Number Five – Super Mario Bros (Released in 1993; Directed by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel)

Super Mario is one of the most iconic videogame characters of all time, but – unfortunately – he also features in the biggest film flop of all time. Super Mario Bros was the first major motion picture to be based on a videogame, and it stars Bob Hoskins as the Italian plumber and the brilliant Dennis Hopper as King Bowser, who both renounce the film’s existence.

The film was set in New York and has sci-fi and gangster themes, along with a romance narrative between Luigi and Princess Daisy. Despite its failure critically and commercially, it has developed a cult following and was nominated for two Saturn Awards. It’s these two factors alone that keep it from being any lower on our list.

Number Four – Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (Released in 1997; Directed by John R. Leonetti)

It was so difficult to watch this film…again. The first Mortal Kombat film, though well-received by fans, wasn’t easy to watch either, but at least that was quick and painless – like a bullet to the head. However, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation was like water torture, and after 15 minutes we were screaming: “Finish Us!”

An incoherent plot, abysmal special effects, and too many poorly portrayed characters make up this rotten piece of cinema. Forget it!

Number Three – House of the Dead (Released in 2003; Directed by Uwe Boll)

As we now enter the final three, it may interest you to know that these next three films all have something in common – apart from being pieces of absolutely garbage. This common factor is controversial director Uwe Boll, who is infamous for taking videogame titles and naming his shitty films after them.

House of the Dead is a classic zombie shooter that was fantastically resurrected on the Wii in 2009. However, the film is something we wished never rose from the dirt. The film has a B-Movie feel to it, but it’s not the classic zombie kind we’re sure many of you know and love. Avoid this film like you would a group of infectious zombies, or do the next best thing: take a grenade launcher to it.

Number Two – Alone in the Dark (Released in 2005; Directed by Uwe Boll)

Awful, bloody awful. This train wreck adaptation of the Atari owned franchise is by far one of the worst videogame films we’ve ever seen, and we’ve watched some tripe in our time (see number seven to number three). This game only has two similarities with the cult classic videogame series, these being the name of the protagonist, Edward Carnby, dreadfully played by Christian Slater, and enemies that live in the shadows.

The rest of the film is better suited for a Starship Troopers spin-off rather than a film based on a psychological-horror detective game. And if you think Tara Reid’s appearance is enough to make this film worth watching, trust us, it’s not. Some things are best left in the dark.

Number One – BloodRayne (Released in 2006; Directed by Uwe Boll)

It’s a hat-trick for the German director in this month’s T1 Countdown. BloodRayne is an average action-adventure series released for the last generation of consoles and the PC. Its plot is average, its gameplay is average, and its characters – guess what – are average. So, from this ‘in-depth’ analysis, we can clearly see why Mr. Boll was inspired to make a film about this ‘defining’ videogame – obviously we’re being facetious. BloodRayne isn’t just the worst videogame film ever made; it is the worst movie we’ve ever had the displeasure to watch in our entire lives. Amateur costumes, disturbingly inappropriate sex scenes, un-choreographed fighting, and a script so bad that we couldn’t stifle our disbelief at certain pieces of dialogue.

Nominated for SIX golden raspberry awards, including Worst Picture and Worst Director, BloodRayne was slated by co-star Michael Madsen who used the words ‘horrifying’ and ‘preposterous’ to describe the film. Disgustingly, one scene, which had singer/actor Meat Loaf cavorting with some ladies, featured actual prostitutes, who were allegedly paid less than two hundred euros for their part in the film.

If we’ve achieved anything from this T1 Countdown – apart from emotionally scarring ourselves for life – it’s that Uwe Boll should not be given the right to make any more video game ‘related’ films. He should be locked in a cinema that only plays his garbage, has ushers that kick him in the groin every 15 minutes, and serves nothing but vomit covered popcorn in order to pay back the 280 minutes we sacrificed to watch his tripe.

This article was originally published in Issue 20 of Thirteen1

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We’ve all experienced them. The instances when we jump back from the screen. The moments in the darkness when its too quiet that we spook ourselves with our own footsteps. The music reaching an eerie crescendo as we slowly move around the corner. What was that shadow? Who made that noise? Fear takes control, and we witness a scene that truly disturbs and unnerve us.  In the spirit of Halloween, we want to honour these spooky times with our T1 Countdown of the Scariest Moments in Videogames.

Number Thirteen: Banjo Kazooie – Shark Attack

It’s probably not what you were expecting after that intro, but ten years ago – when we were tiny – we were used to playing fun and adventurous  platform games like Banjo Kazooie. However, we were naïve and not used to developers taking advantage of us.

We saw Treasure Trove Cove and wowed at its golden beaches and clear waters. “Oh look! There’s a Jinjo in the water. Let’s go save him,” we enthusiastically decided. We dived in, and all of a sudden Jaws-esque music began to play. “Huh? I wonder why that music is playing. Let’s get tha-ARGH! SHARK!” Now it’s laughable, back then it was terrifying.

Number Twelve: Metal Gear Solid – Stealth Guards ambush Snake

Stealth games are scary. It’s like playing hide-and-seek in the dark with opponents that want to kill you, so the tension is already high. After a dramatic battle against a Hind D, we find Solid Snake in an elevator. He believes it’s odd that the elevator’s weight limit warning sounded, since he’s the only passenger.

Beep, Beep! It’s Otacon on the codec. He informs Snake that four optic stealth camouflage suits are missing from his laboratory. To really piss on your parade, the elevator’s weight limit is 650 pounds, so it would take up to five people to go over that limit….Oh crap.

Number Eleven: Sonic the Hedgehog – Drowning

Here’s a moment we’ve all shared. That lil’ blue hedgehog is useless in water. He can’t move as fast, he jumps out of control and he can’t hold his breath any longer than 30 seconds.

The moment that countdown starts and the erratic music blares, we frantically search for an air bubble to keep the sneaker-wearing speed freak alive. The search is impeded by his aforementioned inability to move in the water, and the chances are that Sonic will bounce towards the screen…dumbstruck.

Number Ten: Dino Crisis – The T-Rex’s Surprise

Capcom has done a lot for the survival-horror genre, especially when considering their number one franchise, Resident Evil. However, in October 1999, between Resident Evil games, Capcom released a new IP called Dino Crisis. Often described as ‘Resident Evil with Dinosaurs’, Dino Crisis has similar scares to that of its zombie-filled big sister.

One particular moment has the games protagonist, Regina, searching an office, the scene suspiciously viewed through a window. The player decides to leave, however a T-Rex doesn’t want you to. The extinct beast smashes its head through the glass, jaws open, showing those pearly whites.

Number Nine: Dead Rising (Adam the Clown’s Death)

On the face of it, Dead Rising looks like a scary game. Its premise is a shared nightmare – or dream, depends how you look at it. However, it isn’t really that scary compared to other survival-horrors. The boss fights introduce some disturbing aspects to the story, but one in particular provides a pure bone-chilling moment.

Adam, the chainsaw wielding clown, is defeated after attempting to stop Frank West from turning off the shopping mall’s rollercoaster. He falls to the floor dying, and lands on two chainsaws. As the blades begin to cut him in half, he just laughs uncontrollably.

Number Eight: Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem – “Your memory card’s been erased”

A game that fits comfortably in the psychological-horror genre, Eternal Darkness relishes messing with the player’s head. The most intriguing feature on the GameCube game is the Sanity Meter, which causes various effects to occur the lower the meter gets.

While there are plenty of great in-game effects, such as random screams and imagined enemies, Eternal Darkness decided to take a note out of Hideo Kojima’s book and smash the fourth wall. Along with the fake TV technical mishaps, one moment has the game switch into a computer boot up screen, claiming that your memory card has been deleted. “NO! Not my Super Smash Brothers Melee data!”

Number Seven: Sanitarium – Village with Deformed Children

Ever been in a situation where the air you breathed told you something was wrong? Your mind going stir crazy and your throat drying up as you formulate the answer? If no, then play Sanitarium.

Part of this point-and-click psychological-horror is set in a village that seems to be entirely populated by deformed children. As you speak to more of them, a back story is gradually revealed, explaining why they’re deformed, where all the adults went and who this Mother is that they all mention so ominously.

Number Six: Dead Space – Ten-Minute Interlude

No surprise that this space horror makes the list. A lot of the techniques Dead Space uses to scare the player are pretty cheap and standard, and tend to be repeated throughout. Albeit one bone-chilling moment, which has the player go ten-minutes without witnessing any Necromorphs, and it’s this trick of luring you into a false sense of security that EA have executed so brilliantly.

The mixture of noises that accompany this interlude is what makes it so disturbing; whispers, movement in the walls, and the Hunter’s growl. It’s an underrated – and not widely known – moment, but one that had us biting our lips with anticipation.

Number Five: Silent Hill 2 – Pyramid Head

Creating enemies that could only appear in your nightmares, Konami’s Silent Hill 2 is an absolute classic. Our most terrifying moment in this twisted sequel takes place in the apartment building.

The games protagonist, James Sunderland, walks towards the end of a corridor. His radio, which emits static when enemies are nearby, is going berserk, but we can’t see anything in the dark. At the end of the corridor is a wall of bars, moving closer we can just make out a shadowy figure. As James gets as close as he can, his flashlight reveals the figure to be Pyramid Head, stood silently, watching…waiting.

Number Four: BioShock – Morgue Killer

You know what made BioShock such a brilliant game? Its ability to keep on surprising us. From the plot twists to the enemies, players learned the hard way to expect the unexpected. An entire city built under the sea; Rapture sees some of the most deprived acts ever performed by NPCs.

While searching the Medical Pavilion, Jack stumbles across a seemingly empty morgue. As he turns the corner we see the shadow of someone, who seems to be dissecting a body. He moves in for the kill, but the lights flicker off for a few seconds and when they illuminate, the shadow’s gone. But where? We advise you don’t look back.

Number Three: F.E.A.R – The Ladder Scene

If you buy a game called F.E.A.R, it doesn’t take a genius to deduce that you’re about to have the fright of your life. F.E.A.R is a different kind of game, one that mixes action with psychological torment. With an impressive A.I, Monolith Productions created a first-person-shooter that handles the element of fear delicately. You won’t find monsters jumping out from under the bed here.

What you have is a horror game that gets underneath your skin. Our defining moment has the creepy little girl, Alma, appearing over you as you climb down a ladder. If that wasn’t enough, there’s something else waiting for you at the bottom.

Number Two: Condemned – Mannequins

That’s two Monolith Productions games in the final three. The reason for this is simple; they know how to make your skin crawl. Condemned was a launch title for the Xbox 360, and remains memorable for being one of the most distorted games available.

Our moment takes place in an abandoned shopping centre, in which the mannequins have an unsettling tendency to follow you when your back is turned. It’s enough to reduce you to online shopping for the rest of your days.

Number One: Resident Evil – First Zombie Encounter

In 1996 Capcom released a game like no other. Influenced by games with horror themes such as Alone in the Dark and Sweet Home, the Japanese developer created the very first game to be tagged a survival-horror. We’re talking, of course, about Resident Evil. It should come as no surprise to many of you that this game takes our number one slot, but it wasn’t an easy choice. Resident Evil is a genre defining game, without it we wouldn’t have the great – and poor – sequels it spawned. We probably wouldn’t have any of the games that feature on this list. Though now it may be dated, and plays nothing like the later games, Resident Evil does what survival-horrors are suppose to do; terrify us. The origin of survival-horror comes from the influence of films, books and – even more importantly – videogames. In 1981, Haunted House was released on the Atari 2600, which contained elements found in most survival-horror games, particularly Resident Evil. The game mainly focused on puzzle-solving and evasive action, something which recent Resident Evil games consider as an after thought due to their attention focussing on action. Haunted House also included inventory management and item collecting; a must for survival-horrors.

Making a decision on the scariest moment was already hard enough, and we also carefully considered other games in the series. If we wanted to, we could have filled this list with Resident Evil games, we could have even filled it with moments just from one game, but we didn’t – obviously. The first game makes the cut because it deserves it, it kicked started a genre that still manages to scare us today.

The start of Resident Evil sees the S.T.A.R.S team chased into a seemingly empty mansion by a pack of ‘wild’ dogs. After such a dramatic – and poorly performed – introduction, the team find themselves in a huge entrance hall – its grandeur stolen by the ominous music and bad voice-acting. Either Jill or Chris is asked to investigate gun shots that just sounded. After a quick run through an equally grand dining hall, we find our character in a narrow hallway. Instantly we’re drawn to one end of the corridor, where a squelching sound is coming from. The fixed camera angles obscure the view of what’s round the corner. So we take a deep breath, and move in for a closer look. What follows is a short FMV, revealing a dead member of the S.T.A.R.S team being viscously eaten by a zombie. The un-dead creature, with his back to us, pauses from his meal and he half turns, exposing his decomposing face. This would be the future image for Resident Evil. This scene was so memorable, that in the 2002 remake for the Nintendo GameCube, Capcom matched the FMV perfectly with a reconditioned CG clip.

When we first played Resident Evil in 1996, we weren’t used to such an experience in videogames. This chilling clip of less then ten seconds remains a fond and frightful memory of our introduction to the survival-horror genre, and with that we’d like to conclude our T1 Countdown of the Scariest Moments in Videogames…Happy Halloween.

This article was originally published in Issue 19 of Thirteen1

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It’s been a long decade. Ten years ago we were sat in our bedrooms playing the best games on a Sega Dreamcast, a PlayStation 2, or maybe a Nintendo 64. Oh boy, how things have changed. In the past ten years, the technological advances in videogames have been outstanding. Innovative ideas, such as the Nintendo Wii, have pushed the boundary between player and the game. More importantly, we’ve seen the evolution of the videogame. Videogames allow us to do and see things that we couldn’t possibly do in our lifetimes. They open our eyes to the wonders of the world, the joys and horrors of life, but how far can this interactive medium go? What technical advances will we achieve in the next ten years? It’s an interesting debate, but we’ll have to wait and see, because right now we’re all about remembering the past decade. These videogames are the ones that soaked up all our time, the ones we skipped school and work for. In no particular order, excluding our number one slot, this is our T1 Countdown of the Best Videogames of the Noughties.

Number Thirteen – Gears of War (Released in 2006; Developed by Epic Games)

Let’s kick off this countdown in style. Gears of War is an explosive, vigorous shooter that takes a simple idea and delivers an exceptional game. It has visceral characters, gigantic enemies, and a surplus amount of weapons that go bang, including an assault rifle with a chainsaw attached – brilliant!

The best selling game of 2006, this third-person shooter places emphasis on using its innovative cover system, something which many third-person shooters have incorporated since, it also had a stylish reload system that is often over looked. With a monstrous campaign, an enjoyable plot and a decent multiplayer, Gears of War is the equivalent to an action-packed sci-fi movie with a blockbuster budget.

Number Twelve – Splinter Cell 2: Pandora Tomorrow (Released in 2004; Developed by Ubisoft)

Solid Snake vs. Sam Fisher, it was a huge debate that raged through the beginning of the Noughties after Fisher’s first appearance on our screens. Who is the biggest sneak freak? While Solid Snake may have appeared in a much loved videogame franchise, his tactics of wall pressing and body crawling are no match for the acrobatic skills of the hi-tech ninja, Sam Fisher.

Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow is a huge improvement on the first game, like all sequels should be. Though the objective of the game is relatively the same as the first, Ubisoft made several changes resulting in a more stylish and slick gameplay. The plot is more cohesive, Sam has a few more tricks up his sleeve, and each level requires a certain amount of infiltration tactics in order to be completed. Sorry Snake, but Fisher wins this one.

Number Eleven – Assassin’s Creed (Released in 2007; Developed by Ubisoft)

Assassin’s Creed is a victim of hype. As a matter of fact, this third-person action-adventure is a great game. Sure, it’s not without its flaws, but its achievements are phenomenal in comparison.

Yes, the missions are repetitive, and yes, Ubisoft forgot to nail some of the fundamentals, but they also implemented one of the greatest gameplay mechanics of the Noughties. Parkour, free-running, what ever you want to call it, Ubisoft captured it, and Altair will be forever scaling the highest towers for years to come. It’s a momentous and innovative development in gaming…fact.

Number Ten – World of Goo (Released in 2008; Developed by 2D Boy)

If we were to grant any game the tile of “Indie Game of the Decade”, then all votes would go to this bad boy. This ingenious puzzle game bounced onto our screens towards the end of the decade, and we’ve not stopped playing since. It’s dynamic and stylish, borrowing many themes from Tim Burton in terms of audio and art design.

The sheer brilliance of the game and the professional way it has been developed means it looks and plays beautifully. World of Goo is everything a puzzle game should be; quirky, addictive…and it has lots of Goo.

Number Nine – Resident Evil 4 (Released in 2005; Developed by Capcom)

Before the Noughties, Resident Evil was very much like marmite. People loved it or hated it. With respect, the first games had ungainly controls, fixed camera positions, and very bad voice acting. For the lovers, these elements were all part of the gameplay, for the haters, they were a repellent. Then Resident Evil 4 was released, a perfect example of videogame evolution.

No more fixed cameras, no more illogical puzzles, and – regrettably – no more zombies. Though the shuffling living dead don’t make an appearance, the violent villages that fill their boots are just as terrifying. Resident Evil 4 may have taken the franchise out of the survival-horror genre, but it also taken the series to whole new heights of gaming entertainment.

Number Eight – Halo: Combat Evolved (Released in 2002; Developed by Bungie)

Universally considered as one of the most important games of all time, Halo wowed gamers when it helped launch the brand new Microsoft gaming system, the Xbox. Taking a lot of gameplay aspects from its peers, Halo is a first person shooter with a sci-fi setting.

Surpassing GoldenEye with its multiplayer and having a vast array of weapons, vehicles, and enemies meant that Halo was, at the time, infallible. It broke sale records, won multiple awards, and started the most loved FPS franchise of the Noughties. It even has a successful Machinima series based on it, Red vs. Blue, a must see for all Halo fans. Halo: Combat Evolved began a series that is now legendary.

Number Seven – Guitar Hero (Released in 2006; Developed by Harmonix)

For years we’ve had gaming peripherals that enrich the gaming experience. From steering wheels to the Nintendo Power Glove, and dance matts to light guns, developers are always considering new and exciting ways we can interact with the medium. Welcome to the stage, Guitar Hero –and the word ‘hero’ is very much an understatement.

Featuring a guitar-shaped controller, the Guitar Hero series is known worldwide – and though Harmonix went on to develop Rock Band – it is Guitar Hero that originally rocked our socks off. Playing guitar is no easy feat; it can take months, even years, to become any good at it. Guitar Hero takes a couple of days. Becoming a rock god has never been so easy.

Number Six – The Sims (Released in 2001; Developed by Maxis)

The best-selling PC game in history, The Sims stole away more time then any other game before it. Looking at it objectively and outside of the gaming box, we know that we were wasting our time living a virtual life, but it’s fixating. We couldn’t keep ourselves off it. Then we have all the great expansion packs that followed and the game just got better and better.

It’s hard not to love The Sims, because it’s a reflection of how we live our lives; there was never enough time in a ‘Sim’s’ day to do all the things it needed to, just like real-life – though we’d probably would have had more time if we hadn’t played the game so much in the first place! The technology used was extremely advance for its time; the artificial intelligence was terrific, albeit somewhat dim, and the amount of free will given to the characters allowed them to respond to certain elements by themselves, though player intervention is necessary to stop them from setting the kitchen ablaze or from being electrocuted.

Number Five – The Orange Box (Released in 2007; Developed by Valve)

Five great games all on one disc, The Orange Box is a magnificent display of what Valve’s Source engine can do. First up, we have Half-Life 2 plus the expansions Episode 1 and 2. Episode 2 was the only game out of this trio that hadn’t been released before. Adding exciting environments, encouraging the use of vehicles, and continuing the enthralling plot – including a shocking finale – Episode 2 was a welcomed addition to the Half-Life series.

Then, literally punching a hole in the wall, we’re given Portal. A surprise favourite with most fans of Valve’s work, Portal is a clever and complex puzzle game that was award Game of the Year multiple times. Finally, there’s Team Fortress, a cartoon multiplayer with several character classes offering plenty of options and gaming scenarios. Never before has one disc given us such splendour across five games.

Number Four – BioShock (Released in 2007; Developed by 2K)

The ways stories are told have changed. First-person-shooters didn’t usually ask for anything more than aiming and shooting. Then BioShock came along, and it certainly turned heads. Set in a dystopian underwater city called Rapture, BioShock immerses the player in its mysterious and terrifying environment.

The Eve element, which allows players to inject certain plasmids to gain special attacks, is a tremendous mechanic, and can have devastating results. The way the narrative unfolds is done with such elegance and professionalism, it’s hard not to admire the writers that created this immense back story, detailing the fall of Rapture. A spiritual successor of System Shock, BioShock remains an extremely important videogame of the last decade, because it showed us how a story should be told, and it did so brilliantly.

Number Three – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Released in 2007; Developed by Infinity Ward)

A game that brought more and more people to the world of videogames, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was a global success. When Infinity Ward began the Call of Duty series in 2003, they certainly never knew they would end up developing the most popular videogame of the decade.

Moving out of the trenches and into conflicts fought with hi-tech weaponry, CoD4: MW provided a realistic taste of actual warfare, albeit a little farfetched. But we all know that the real star of CoD4: MW isn’t its action-packed campaign or improbable depiction of warfare, but its multiplayer. All over the world servers were buzzing with activity as everyone was taking a piece out of each other in the many scenarios COD4: MW had to offer. No other game has been played by so many, except…

Number Two – World of Warcraft (Released in 2005, Developed by Blizzard Entertainment)

The most immersive, addictive, and spectacular videogame ever to grace PC screens worldwide, World of Warcraft – or WoW to it’s friends – has severely hindered the social lives of those that play it. Taking over four years to develop, the MMO takes the player into the land Azeroth, a vast mystical realm ready to be explored with evil creatures to defeat.

Its premise, simple. Its delivery, phenomenal. A game of this scale isn’t without its controversy (the whole virtual economy thing), but for any good developer, rattling some cages is a must. WoW’s popularity has grown over the years and has even led to many references in other media, including a Machinima episode of South Park (pictured). The development behind a game as grand as WoW must be dedicated, innovative and extremely talented, and that’s exactly what the Blizzard lot are.

Number One – Grand Theft Auto 3 (Released in 2001, Developed by Rockstar North as DMA Design)

Before we go on, let us take you back to the previous decade. The Nineties, pop music ruled the world and Starbursts were called Opal Fruits, and there was a very controversial videogame out for the PC, Grand Theft Auto. Taking on the role of a criminal, this action-adventure game allowed the player to freely roam across three different levels based on genuine American cities. GTA encouraged players to commit crimes by awarding points for causing death and destruction, stealing and selling vehicles, and completing missions for mobsters. It was a shocking display of violence, and an exceptional videogame. Due to its success, two other games were released, based on the initial overhead view design, albeit Grand Theft Auto 2 had better visuals and AI. And then that was the end of GTA’s reign in the Nineties, and its dynamic approach to crime caused moral panic and controversy, but that was only the beginning.

In 2001, Grand Theft Auto III was released on the PlayStation2, gone was the overhead view, this game was developed with a three-dimensional game engine. The story follows a nameless criminal, the silent type, whose girlfriend set him up during a heist. Destitute and out for revenge, Claude (he was named in GTA: San Andreas) begins working for a number of criminals who ask him to kill, steal, explode, and just cause mayhem within Liberty City. The sandbox element of the game means hours of fun for players who just want to pick up the game for an hour or so. You want that car? Take it. You don’t like that person? Shoot ‘em. It’s a crude and disturbingly close take on crime in today’s America. Controversy is inevitable with a game that asks players to take part in crime. Though it’s clear to any intelligent person that it’s just a videogame and that it doesn’t promote or encourage crime in real-life, it’s understandable why ignorant politicians, journalists, and parents go mad, because on the face of it, GTA III is basically a crime simulator – though we know differently.

Its popularity soared like no other, and its sequels keep on getting better, but GTA III is a significant factor to that success, which is why it’s in our Number One slot. GTA III, top selling game of 2001, a landmark in videogame history, and Thirteen1’s Best Videogame of the Noughties.


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