The 10 most shocking game moments of the decade

House of the Dead: Overkill | Incest | 2009

Officially the sweariest game ever made, clocking in 189 uses of a work that rhymes with “woodchuck”, Headstrong and Sega’s exploitastic HotD: Overkill also gave us flying mutant cripples, corpses in meat grinders and monsters growing our of other monster’s stomachs. But however hard the game beat the puss-spewing, desensitised life out of anything even threatening to be good taste, the gloriously foul ending still knocked our socks into a different post code the first time we saw it.

By the last level we thought we’d shot our way through every video game taboo ever to upset a disbarred lawyer, but Overkill had saved the best for last in the form of a big slobbery kiss of mother/son incest. Revealing the true villain of the game to be Clement Darling, a prison warden experimenting with zombification in order to prolong his own mother’s life span, Overkill wasted no time in showing us – on camera – just how close some families can be.

His plan in tatters, Clement finally resorted to performing a brain swap between dear old mum and Varla Gunns, the far younger, far hotter sidekick of our heroes. The mum/Varla hybrid then mutated into a Godzilla-sized beast, before eventually being subdued by way of two smoking miniguns.

And the screwed up little man behind it all? He decided that the only way to atone would be to cancel out his entire life by returning to the womb. Given its now oversized proportions, this was entirely feasible, and so he did. Mercifully off-camera this time.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare | Death by nuke | 2007

Call of Duty 4’s move to the modern era didn’t just change things in terms of setting and hardware, it also cranked up the severity of the franchise’s tone. With a properly adult rating at its disposal for the first time, Infinity Ward went all out to depict the uncompromising brutality of modern war and weaponry, making us see and do things that no other game had had the balls to include before.

You were manhandled, beaten and first-person executed during the opening title sequence. You silently murdered sleeping enemies in their bunks. You were allowed to play with an AC-130 gun turret just to show you how easy and detached the experience of killing can be. But then, during a frantic escape at the end of the ninth level, Shock and Awe, it scaled things up horribly.

You get back to the chopper. You get off the ground. You’re safe and you’re out of there. But then the cornered Al-Asad sets off a nuke and levels the city. You get caught in the blast. Your chopper goes down and you wake up in the burning ruins of the city. As you regain control, you think you’ve survived against the odds, as action heroes tend to do. But that notion is just silly.

That was a nuke that took you down, and this is modern warfare, not an Arnie movie. So you die. But the game lets you stay in control until the moment you gasp your last, letting you stumble, hobble and crawl through an uncomfortably protracted demise with only the sound of burning buildings and your own gasping breath for company. You can try as hard as you like to get away, and for a moment CoD4 will let you think you’re going to pull it off. But then you’ll just die, because that was a nuke, and this is what they do.

GTA III | Picking up prostitutes | 2001

Grand Theft Auto III sets itself up right from the start as being a bit risqué. One of your first missions is to pick up a prostitute and deliver her safely to Sex Club 7, with the warning from her pimp to keep your hands on the wheel. That's hardly Sesame Street, is it?

But who would have thought that you would be calling upon the services of ladies of the night in a PlayStation game at will? You can pay a few dollars, have your wicked way with them and even get a health boost above your normal maximum. Neat! But of course it was all too much for the more reserved members of our society, years before the whole Hot Coffee scandal broke around GTA: San Andreas.

You see, for some reason, everyone who's never played the game thinks that the game tells you to have sex with a hooker, kill her and steal her money. It doesn't. But hey - if that's what you did given the choice, look at yourself, not the game.

Sadly the reality is much more disturbing even than those naysayers believed. You curb-crawl for a little while, then wait as a girl gets into your car. You find somewhere quiet off the beaten track to perform your sordid deeds. The car starts rocking. And then… Hold R3 and you can see that instead of doing the wild thing, Claude and ladyfriend are sitting bolt upright in their respective seats, while the car rocks up and down on its suspension all by itself. Now that's shocking.

Dec 29, 2009 

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Forgotten violence and depravity from a supposedly more innocent age

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  • KishouTenpi - August 16, 2011 7:07 p.m.

    SPOILERS BELOW SPOILERS BELOW! Nanako's death in Persona 4? It had me and my friend in tears when we realised she was going to be kidnapped, let alone her death Child death is no laughing matter
  • DrillurSimpson - June 1, 2010 12:37 a.m.

    I was gonna comment but this is 6 months old. ... wasting my time. Still wasting it.
  • batmanboy11 - May 29, 2010 5:20 p.m.

    The first time I was decapitated by DR. Salvador I was so suprised and shocked I almost crapped my pants. The same thing happened with the Nuke in CoD 4: MW but it wasn't quite as shocking.
  • eee - April 30, 2010 5:30 p.m.

    Lol sorry Cepzeu mabye we will be in a real war soon and even though America does not kill civis. would that make you feel better. (sarcastic statement) (damn just a game)
  • eee - April 30, 2010 5:27 p.m.

    Lmao I loved no russian it was awsome ececuting people and watching others crawl to get shot by your buddies. Lol I even used the grenade lancher
  • ryno - January 19, 2010 4:27 a.m.

    pyramid head creeps me out
  • Cepzeu - January 11, 2010 4:43 a.m.

    no russian is really f****n sad. I (being a russian) think that it was the most sad moment ive seen in any videogame. F*** you Infinity ward F*** you!
  • deathrebellion - January 7, 2010 11:41 p.m.

    No nooooo manhunt the torture, the twisted savagery gahhhhh dats one on the worst games i've played (sick worst) and that tune that plays in the background is forever engraved in the back of my skull >_< Dr. Salvador wuz one of THE most nerve cracking enemies EVAR, just hearing the noise of the chainsaws after getting my head sliced for the 1st time wuz soooo creepy , used to keep turning around each sec to see if he wuz behind me XD
  • rocklee - January 4, 2010 4:23 a.m.

    poor leon
  • Romination - January 2, 2010 3:57 a.m.

    i'm calling bullshit of GTA 3. it's like you somehow didn't have a shocking moment left. crap.
  • PiscesIscariot - January 1, 2010 7:58 p.m.

    I laugh at people who think that No Russian will convince kids to go around shooting airports. I for one, laughed my ass off during that scene and I shot everyone I could. Why? Because you don't do that in games. You just don't.
  • BertTheTurtle - December 31, 2009 11:36 p.m.

    I even KNEW about that Pyramid Head thing before I saw it (due to my horrible mistake of reading pretty much everything about the game before I played it) and it still shocked me. Somehow I figured that moment would make this list.
  • GMAN2 - December 31, 2009 8:12 a.m.

    The END to Modern Warfare 2 was by far the most emotional a video game has ever gotten me. It was freakin' awesome.
  • DriveShaft - December 31, 2009 2:38 a.m.

    Hey, Pyramid Head's got needs too? I'd love to see the children x] Evidently I'm the only person who wasnt shocked by RE4 chainsaw <_<
  • mentalityljs - December 31, 2009 1:49 a.m.

    @NotBraze Well said!
  • aguilanthony - December 30, 2009 5:55 p.m.

    I must say I shit myself on the first encounter with chainsaw man in Resident Evil 4. I used two pistol clips on his head, threw a incenidary grenade and then a shotgun to the head and I still died.
  • onewheeled999 - December 30, 2009 5:49 p.m.

    Great article, as always. But I can't help but feel like the first time you see colossus in Shadow of the Colossus should be on this list. That was like the ultimate "Ohhhhh shiiiiit" moment.
  • Ironarm - December 30, 2009 5:48 p.m.

    Good choices, but I would have liked to have seen the whole Raiden in MGS2. That was HUGE! I mean look at the facts...when Kojima showed the demo and trailer at E3 he went so far as to EDIT Raiden out of game and place Snake in his place. Talk about shocking when you popped that game in.
  • WrathLord03 - December 30, 2009 2:16 p.m.

    I think I finally understand how the Australian economy works. Movies have been around for a long time. Games haven't. Therefore, movies are for adults - for example, the Hostel and Saw movies were allowed here. Games are for children. That's why we don't have an R 18+ rating for games. That's why a lot of games that had nothing worse than either Hostel or Saw got either banned or censored here. That's what the Australian government thinks, anyway. Adults play video games too, Australian Government!
  • dreamgor - December 30, 2009 12:09 p.m.

    for once i'm glad the videos doesn't work :( srsly... i don't think i could handle all that