05. The Lancer (Gears of War)
Epic, frankly, does not fuck around when it comes to creating guns. Ever since the early days of Unreal, brash, brainy, brutal firepower has been its trademark. It should have been no surprise that it chose to stamp its mark on the Xbox 360 with a massive chunky assault rifle equipped with an equally massive, meaty chainsaw. Yet it was. So wonderful--shocking, even--was the fearsome sight and sublime conceit of the Lancer that it single-handedly sold the whole concept and vibe of Gears of War immediately.
Either element of the gun would have made it a winner. Its fire is poundingly, viscerally tactile, not in the least overshadowed by the showboating, flesh-devouring bites of its star attraction. But ye Gods, how wonderful it is as a whole package. Taking the traditional shoot/melee dynamic to transcendent new levels, it wraps it all up into one single, neat solution comprising immense risk and reward. Pick off enough enemies from a distance with the Lancer’s long-range, ballistic authority, charge in through the remaining hail of bullets, and your prize is the most satisfying, physical, flat-out angry melee attack ever conceived in a video game. It’s spectacularly cathartic.