Of all the Greek gods that get torn to pieces over the course of God of War III, Helios is one of the more satisfying. Not because he particularly deserves it, or even because he tries to trick Kratos into obliterating himself in the Flame of Olympus. It’s because he’s got this faintly arrogant, golden-frat-boy thing going on that makes the more mean-spirited players desperately want to take him down a peg or two.
Above: To be fair, you’d probably be a little arrogant too, if your job was to drive the goddamn sun around all day
What Kratos does takes him down a lot more pegs than that, of course. After shooting the sun god’s chariot out of the sky with a huge ballista, Kratos allows Helios and his horses to be crushed in the hand of a giant, lava-skinned Titan, who then hurls the whole mess into a distant cliffside. He then eviscerates all of Helios’s surviving guards, repeatedly stomps his face, and then slowly, excruciatingly pulls his head off.
Apparently he does this just to be a bastard, because he had two perfectly good blades the whole time. Not that we’re complaining; Helios’s decapitation, with its stretching strands of skin and tearing flesh, helped God of War set a new bar in videogame gore, and also managed to be one of the standout gaming moments of 2010. It’s so incredibly brutal that, no matter how many times we see it, it never, ever seems to get old.
1. A Promise Fulfilled
The game: Duke Nukem 3D
In the end, it could only be this one. Out of all the many, many decapitations games have seen over the years, this is unquestionably the most badass – not just in the sense that it’s raw and exhilarating, but also in the sense that a very bad thing happens, and it involves ass.
Above: Out of bubblegum, perhaps, but not out of ass
There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the fight against the Overlord at the end of Duke Nukem 3D’s second episode. The thing barely even resembles a proper boss, looking more like an unimaginative piece of crap with a huge, toothy head and rocket launchers strapped to its hunched back. However, it’s the threat that Duke yells at the start of the fight – “I’ll rip your head off and shit down your neck!” – that makes this so special. Mainly because, once the thing has been pummeled into submission, he does exactly that.
We’re not about to argue the relative shitting-venue merits of traditional toilets versus messy alien tracheas, or waste any time thinking about just how much Duke must have had to wipe before it was safe to put his pants back on. It made a point, and it helped cement Duke3D’s status as the silliest, most kickass game of its generation. What’s more, this wasn’t just a nasty decapitation – it was the first instance of a game hero defiling a corpse AND taking an on-camera dump, making it something truly historic.
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