Ah, heavy metal and video games. A slacker’s paradise; at least according to the moral majority. There’s not much else to do whilst we all sit about fulfilling our roles as jobless, pot smoking stereotypes is there? Don’t know about you, but when we’re not cruising in our clapped-out car, headbanging in unison with our mates to Bohemian Rhapsody, we’re sat about in our pants jamming crushing riffs, repeatedly killing things with the mindless mashing of buttons, desensitising our already volume addled brains.
Here then, without further irony, are Hammer’s top ten most metal video games of all time!
10. Iron Maiden: Ed Hunter
Word has it that Iron Maiden are pretty metal. With their iconic talisman Eddie, the band were the first to adopt an identifiable mascot, indelibly impacting the visual culture of heavy metal forever more. Not content with constantly referencing past literary works, the Irons took steps forward into the brave new world of digital storytelling, releasing on-rails shooter Ed Hunter in 1999, in which the player hunted the erstwhile Eddie through landscapes inspired by the band’s classic album covers, and to the galloping tune of their greatest hits. The game wasn’t great, but don’t let Eddie hear you say that.
9. Beavis & Butthead
Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge didn’t realise he was predicting the future when he placed his twisted progeny in front of the TV to pick holes in everyone from Pantera to Faith No More. The original trolls, their successors have taken to the internet in droves. In this adventure released on the Mega Drive and SNES, our beloved morons set out to recover lost GWAR tickets, a tragedy with which all fans of alien penis monsters can identify. Reviews at the time stated that the game ‘doesn’t suck, but doesn’t rule either’; precisely the kind of apathy the boys relish.
8. Kiss: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child
Licky tongued lothario Gene Simmons has not only defined theatrical rock ‘n’ roll with Kiss, he redefined capitalism, such is the shameless amount of merchandise available. You can gulp Kiss wine from your Kiss flagon, whilst sat in your Kiss coffin, protected by a Kiss condom whilst playing mediocre shooter Psycho Circus, in which a Kiss tribute band, imbued with Kiss’s powers (after paying a hefty franchising fee no doubt) set about slaying the demonic hordes of the Nightmare Child. If fatally wounded, players didn’t lose lives in the game, but were instead sued in court for image defamation… probably.
Redefining shooters upon its release as the Xbox’s flagship title in 2001, Halo’s mix of punchy storytelling, intuitive combat and an enigmatic hero inspired a generation. Its sequel was a watershed moment in online gaming, as people took to a then fledgling Xbox live in their droves. For the first time coming together in a gleefully violent death orgy was easy, entertaining bored bands in tour buses the world over. Halo 2’s soundtrack featured lord of the frets Steve Vai, and later, for its remastered edition on Xbox one, new music written by Halo obsessive, Periphery’s Djent maestro Misha Mansoor.
In 1993 id Software ruined everybody’s trousers with the release of Doom, a genuinely scary, ground-breaking first person shooter that updated the trail they had already blazed with Nazi-masher Wolfenstein 3D. Doom defined the FPS genre, and its hallmarks can still be seen in shooters today. Earning its metal credentials for its Satanic overtones, the player – a space marine tasked with closing portals to hell that have opened on Mars’ moons – is somewhat of an antihero in Hammer’s eyes, what with all of the gratuitous slaying of eternal metal ally Satan’s mates he dishes out within the game’s nightmarish techno-maze.
Id Software smashed it again when they released Quake in 1996. An updated version of Doom, Quake had graphics that for the first time rendered real time 3D environments; blocky, polygonal realms of violent suffering that were eye-poppingly impressive. Players explored nightmarish gothic environs whilst perforating Lovecraftian monsters with a (nine inch) nail gun (the ammo crate for which had a very familiar logo on the side), the soundtrack was composed entirely by none other than arch-goth Trent Reznor, a forerunner perhaps for the soundtrack work to follow later in his career; for which we’ve heard he has been moderately successful.
Fallout is a post-apocalyptic RPG that attained success in the nineties with two top-down, open world adventures. Years later the title was resurrected by Bethesda softworks, master craftsmen of the epic Elder Scrolls, bringing a vivid reimagining to legions of new fans. Latest instalment Fallout 4 gives players miles of radioactive wasteland to explore in whatever manner they like, as long as they like hunting mutated abominations with an expansive personal arsenal. With a lethal dose of cold war paranoia and a powerful anti-war message at heart, it’s pretty much like playing an interactive version of Megadeth’s Rust In Peace.
3. Tony Hawks Pro Skater
Metal and skateboarding have always been best mates, perfectly complementary pastimes with a shared love of grotesque artwork. When Tony Hawks came out on the PlayStation in 1999 it was utterly gobsmacking that it, and its sequels, came with a killer soundtrack, featuring cuts from Anthrax, Rage Against The Machine, Motörhead and Suicidal Tendencies, among many others. Before then, games soundtracks could have been fairly considered bleepy nonsense; now here you were grinding 30 foot rails to the Dead Kennedys without having to actually go outside and try and get good at something at the expense of your pathetic carcass.
2. Guitar Hero
For those of us for whom shredding a tennis racket in the bedroom to Slayer wasn’t enough, 2005 brought us Guitar Hero, which gave the player a sophisticated tennis racket substitute with little coloured buttons to frantically stab at whilst trying (and often failing in a spittle-flecked rage) to keep in time with the over-zealous fret athletics of Dragonforce. Several sequels later, Guitar Hero Metallica, on which, *chortle*, its reported that the drum tracks were really easy to play, metalheads finally got to thrash along to all the ‘tallica tunes they’d always hoped for. Oh, and a couple off Reload.
1. Brütal Legend
From the creative mind of adventure game guru Tim Schaeffer came Brütal Legend, in which the player controls erstwhile hero Eddie Riggs, Jack Black in customarily scene-chewing, rawk-god guise, as he set out about saving a fantasy realm rendered straight from all your favourite ‘80s album covers, cleaving demonic hordes asunder with his flying V guitar/axe, lovingly called ‘the Separator’. The game’s cast of voice actors was legendary, featuring Lemmy (RIP), Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and Lita Ford. Also, it has a freakin’ umlaut in the title. Apart from that there isn’t much metal about it at all.