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Five in-game deaths that actually made us sad

Game: Mass Effect
The deceased: Ashley Williams

20 hours into this epic sci-fi RPG and we found ourselves with a decision to make. Mass Effect is a game that's all about decisions and at the time we didn't realise it was actually of the 'life or death' kind. Seems a bit stupid now, but we just didn't see what was coming. Two loyal crew members - Ashley Williams and Kaiden Alenko - were each stuck in hopeless predicaments, both pinned down by enemies at different locations.

Despite the game spelling out pretty bloody clearly that we could only rescue one of them, we thought it was just the usual empty threats. One of those inescapable jaws of death moments that would - somehow, probably very heroically - arrive at a happy ending with everyone reunited for high-fives and hugs. We made our choice. We decided to rescue Alenko, thinking that obviously we'd somehow miraculously save Williams' backside as well. It didn't quite work out like that.

After an explosive skirmish and a penultimate showdown with the game's alien antagonist, a cut-scene kicked in and we were whisked to safety. B-B-B-But we haven't rescued Williams, we thought with a dawning realisation that the game maybe wasn't bullshitting us after all. Sure enough, the next shot showed our ship hurtling into space away from the planet and - BOOM - a blinding flood of nuclear white saturates the screen as a warhead explodes. And that, we figured, really was an inescapable jaws of death moment for Williams. Check out the whole episode of sadness on the movie...

 

We didn't realise quite how fond we'd got of Williams until she was gone. Since rescuing her at the start of the game, we'd invested a lot of time in developing her character. Williams' death felt like a real loss. In fact, it was so insufferable, we reloaded to our last save point and made the fatal decision again. This time deciding that Alenko would be the one to get vapourised in the nuclear blast. We hadn't been bothering with him for the whole game - he'd never once been in our party - so we really didn't care about signing his death warrant. Sorry Alenko, but them's the breaks.

Game: Call of Duty 4
The deceased: Sgt Paul Jackson, Captain Price (?), Gaz, Sgt Griggs (?)

One of the greatest games of all time and an absolute master class in emotional warfare. From start to finish Call of Duty 4 delivers emotional impact like a sledgehammer to the guts. Despite the game's high body count, its portrayal of death can be so powerful, so provocative, that at times it left us shell-shocked and thoroughly depressed. It elicited the same kind of gloomy despair we might get when watching a particularly harrowing war movie, in fact.

The opening sequence taught us in rather brutal fashion that developer Infinity Ward wasn't scared of shocking the player by killing them dead during scripted moments, but nothing could have prepared us for the fate that awaited us when we took control of US Marine Sgt Paul Jackson. You can see how Jackson bites it in the movie below.

When we crawled out of the downed helicopter, felt Jackson's heartbeat grow weak in our hands and watched helplessly as the screen faded to white, we felt chills down our spine. We actually shuddered. Maybe it was because we had bonded with Jackson as he - we - frantically fought our way through the chaos and dust of a Middle Eastern hell hole. Perhaps it was the powerful image of a mushroom cloud towering over the scene of complete devastation and the resonating futility of it all. Whatever it was, it left us with a lingering sense of intense despondency and sadness that stayed with us long after we'd left the game.

And, masochistic to the end, Infinity Ward hit us where it hurt the most at the game's final showdown, making us watch in horror as everything went completely shit-shaped. Had Gaz been built up as one of the most likeable characters just so it would hurt even more when he was executed at point-blank range? Does Captain Price - who we'd played as earlier in the game - and Gaz - who pulled us to safety - even survive? Pretty much the antithesis of a happy ending. Watch the whole traumatic ordeal below. WARNING: this video contains scenes of graphic violence.

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106 comments

  • embyrz - December 31, 2013 11:35 p.m.

    AERITH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • phoenixwright13 - June 25, 2013 9:48 p.m.

    (SPOILER ALERT!) What about Augustus Sinclair and Mark Meltzer and... yourself in Bioshock 2?
  • RaenefEclipse - May 25, 2011 4:22 a.m.

    !!!SPOILER ALERT!!! What about Jak's dad at the end of Jak 3?
  • RogueHippie130 - May 24, 2011 12:23 a.m.

    Look on the bright side: Price is still alive. How could he possibly get vanquished while in possession of that epic 'stache of manly British-ness?
  • Recon4165 - May 22, 2011 1:33 p.m.

    Big Bosses death at the end of mgs 4 made me shed a tear
  • hullonotna - May 21, 2011 7:10 p.m.

    One more moment that I would personally add is Captains Price's first death ever in COD 1. Sure the characters weren't to developed but his death on the German ship was shocking especially because it doesn't register right away. As you walk down the ship cargo his dot on the minimap just disappears, and you're left with finishing the mission. You don't realize he is dead as you don't think that he is supposed to die. He just dies like any random AI in the game and that makes it the more tragic because he deserved an epic death. Sgt. Waters statement that Price was a good man and its a shame that he is gone when you jump inot the boat really nails it home and tells you that yep that body from who you grabbed the MP30 actually was captain price. That death put me in shock and made me feel dirty becasue I thought that he died because of a mistake I did. Only after the 2nd playthrough I finally understood that he is gone. :( COD 4 deaths are also deserving the spot on the list, especially Griggs. Seeing that bullet blow a hole in his head as he tried to save me left me speech less. The end came to fast and unexpected.
  • sohaibifikhar - April 21, 2011 5:45 p.m.

    What about mayu's death in fatal frame..???? To think that we we through all that shit in the village just for this.. Although afterwards i realized that it was for the greater good and all... But it was still so friggin sad...
  • MassEffective - March 12, 2011 2:44 p.m.

    the first time i beat mass effect 2 tali and gunt both died... and a little piece of me died too. :(
  • Guardian88 - March 12, 2011 7:27 a.m.

    heres a list of deaths were sad. Im sure everyone will agree. Trish Daily from InFAMIOUS EVA and Naomi from MGS4 Zach, Angeal, and Genesis from Crisis Core Think about it. :)
  • Michael-x15 - March 12, 2011 5:30 a.m.

    If u keep walking in COD, if you go far enough, you can actually hear children laughing and giggling.....brought a tear to my eye...
  • insertdisk - March 11, 2011 10:50 p.m.

    Although choppers death in ace combat 5 wasn't actually so sad to make me cry the aftermath where you have to continue to fight off the enemies regardless was very moving. Not only that but the way your squadmates fall silent except for a few strained grunts as they fight through tears was also great.
  • tifanity - March 9, 2011 midnight

    Um, if I am wrong then I apologize but I could have sworn that Price is alive. He fights with you at the end of Modern Warfare two.
  • greenwolf248 - March 3, 2011 9:49 p.m.

    This list is desperately missing Steve Burnside from RE:CV and Harry Mason from SH3. Both of those deaths made me want to cry.
  • ThundaGawd - January 6, 2011 7:36 a.m.

    What about when Lavitz Slambert died in "Legend of the dragoon"? the interaction between him and Dart was so well done, what with the harmless jokes and teasing remarks during cutscenes. But when they save the King from the prison and lavitz morphs into a dragoon and jumps towards The Hooded Man in a fit of rage, only to have the guy pull out a magical sword and impale Lavitz then calmly walk away, I shed a few tears :,(
  • JosephMichaelConway - November 29, 2010 6:23 a.m.

    What about john marston in red dead redemption.
  • pintofbeer786 - November 27, 2010 9:12 p.m.

    john marston???
  • Overlord153 - November 27, 2010 6:06 a.m.

    I really didn't feel the impact of the ending of COD4 because i killed by the two guys with guns. But come on how is The World Ends With You "death" (I think) not on here. I found myself crying along with Neku.
  • AppleIQ - November 27, 2010 4:02 a.m.

    I thought you would have Eli Vance's death from Half-Life 2 Episode 2 up here...
  • EricGirasole - November 26, 2010 4:48 p.m.

    Emmmmm Aerith in Final Fantasy 7 ANYONE !!!!!!
  • sveini22 - October 26, 2010 8:42 p.m.

    Ghost ?

Showing 1-20 of 106 comments

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