The Top 7… disastrous game romances

5. Isaac Clarke and Nicole Brennan

Definitely not living happily ever after in: Dead Space 1 and 2

If there’s one lesson to be gleaned from EA’s survival horror games – aside from if aliens ever invade Earth, it’s to harvest our spleens, not make peace – it’s that hallucinations ain’t fun. During the course of Isaac’s adventures on the Necromorph-plagued Ishimura, the suspiciously badass engineer is spurred on by the thought of a reunion with his girlfriend. Popping up at several points during the hellish nightmare, she provides Clarke with aid that helps save his skin… and several vital organs.

It’s not until the end of Dead Space we find out the grizzly truth: she doesn’t exist.


Alright, that’s not quite true. While developer Visceral Games pulls a partial Fight Club on the player, Nicole at least used to be Isaac’s other half. Well, before she took her own life when faced with the prospect of turning into a Necromorph, that is. Instead of being aided by his girlfriend, Isaac was instead actually being manipulated by an alien artefact called the Marker, which created the visions of Nicole.

Above: And they would have made such a handsome married couple, too

Why their love is doomed from the start: Because she’s deader than fried chicken.

Unbeknownst to those who enjoy necrophilia, functioning romantic entanglements actually need two living people to work. As much as Isaac might like to retire to a cosy space colony with white picket fences and live the rest of his days with the girl inside his head, he’d have a better chance at a fulfilling relationship with one of those peek-a-boo Necromorph bastards.

Above: Seriously, one of those peek-a-boo bastards

In the original, he could at least take solace in the fact his visions of Nicole weren’t going to make his head implode. Sadly, that’s not something that can be guaranteed in the sequel, when a monstrous dementia takes over him, causing Isaac to confront an increasingly homicidal apparition of his dead missus. Never mind, though, eh? At least he’ll always have the emotionally-crippling, mentally-scarring memories.

4. Dom and Maria Santiago

Definitely not living happily ever after in: Gears of War 2

For a series that’s seemingly more interested in rendering virtual veins on ridiculously ‘roided up forearms than luuvvvvv, Gears of War has a number of surprisingly touching back stories. None more so than Dom’s tale of love, loss and 10,000 grieving press ups. Marrying his childhood sweetheart Maria shortly after having their first child at the tender age of 16, the Santiagos led a happy, fulfilling life. As every Tom, Dick and Carmine knows, though, happiness and contentment in games is boring like watching emotionally available paint dry. So of course, everything promptly goes to the shitZOR.

Above: Not the couple’s happiest time

When the pesky and really shooty Locust finally announced themselves, as they rose from their subterranean hell holes on Emergence Day, Dom’s family paid a heavy price. Not only did both Maria’s parents die, but the couple also lost both their children in the ensuing tragedy. Man, and here we were thinking Gears’ only emotional layer was shouting about giant worms sinking cities in the gruffest tone imaginable.

Anyway, the loss of their children drove Maria quite mad, and more than a bit manic depressive. She became so gripped by loss and grief she eventually left Dom, disappearing four years after Emergence Day. Sadly, when Dom is finally reunited with her years later, Maria has already received the worst sort of makeover, after being captured and worked to breaking point by the Locust.

Above: As we said, not the most fetching makeover. Why does this sort of shit never happen on Oprah?

Why their love is doomed from the start: Because underground-dwelling aliens are dicks.

Upon discovering the whereabouts of his wife, Dom infiltrates the concentration camp where Maria is imprisoned. So deliriously happy at finally seeing his other half after years of searching, he becomes delusional. So much so, he sees his wife in a healthy state, even though the reality is more akin to a cross between Eva Mendes and one of Zelda’s hugging zombie a-holes. With her mind hopelessly lost, our burly COG hero decides to put Maria out of her misery.

Above: <insert your own horrible “Achievement Unlocked” gag>

Credit to Gears 2 for providing such a tender, devastating moment among all the shouts of “BRING IT!” and “I’M THE COLE TRAIN, BITCH!” While the game might still be fully tweaked to ‘Jock Mode’, Epic at least provides one instance of real emotional depth. It’s just a shame love can’t seem to survive in the face of one party being driven insane. In the business they call show, we believe it’s referred to as Old Yeller syndrome… 

Above: See you in Hell, old friend


  • KippDynamite - February 27, 2011 4:53 a.m.

    I could be wrong but I believe the Philosophers Legacy is 100 BILLION dollars.
  • LAKERdynasty247 - February 24, 2011 3:51 a.m.

    The Darkness is such an awesome game.
  • oreopizza47 - February 23, 2011 8:41 p.m.

    Woo-hoo! Return of the spoiler Asian! I don't know why that's so exciting to me... great article though.
  • dalef11 - February 23, 2011 8:28 a.m.

    great article as always, my favourite gaming news sight by far, keep up the good work! in my opinion the saddest romance is mario and peach. Mario finds and saves her then the next F**king koopa steals her.. sigh :D
  • Hecticvoodu - February 23, 2011 12:07 a.m.

    *Raises Hand*
  • AlpineGuy - February 22, 2011 9:42 p.m.

    I definitely agree that James and Maria from Silent Hill 2 definitely deserved to be on here, but this Top 7 was still great overall! Seriously, though...that scene from The Darkness was some serious stuff. Like, I still feel a little choked-up, and I read it yesterday.... Anyway, I think I'll pick up the game next chance I get.
  • FinderKeeper - February 22, 2011 8:39 p.m.

    Don't have a PS3 yet, but I'm going to buy the PS3 slim specifically to play the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus remakes. *eyes start watering* What? Oh, I've been cutting onions... *sniff*
  • nerdemon - February 22, 2011 4:39 p.m.

    You missed your opportunity to put the two main characters from Army of Two, it was just asking for a gay sex scene.
  • UDNTNOME - February 22, 2011 1:07 p.m.

    No companion cube? Gamesradar i am dissapoint
  • philipshaw - February 22, 2011 1:03 p.m.

    I knew Shadow of the Colossus would be number 1, I will miss you Meiks
  • SolidEye - February 22, 2011 10:21 a.m.

    Jackie Estacado's romance was technically a comic book romance. Any one who read The Darkness already knew what happened to Jenny long before the game came out.
  • BlackElement17 - February 22, 2011 2:09 a.m.

    I remember that in Shadow of the Colossus. I burned through my entire grip bar trying to not fall in to that pit. It was an excruciating few minutes
  • Yeager1122 - February 22, 2011 1:33 a.m.

    I really have to play shadow of the colloseus one of these days just hope it lives up to all the praise dumped upon it but im sure it will.
  • Dredgon - February 22, 2011 12:13 a.m.

    How about Commander Shepard and Morinth, one roll in the hay and you're dead!!!!!
  • FreedomPhantom - February 21, 2011 11:40 p.m.

    This made me really sad that shadow of the Colossus never came to the xbox.
  • JLThatshilarious - February 21, 2011 10:55 p.m.

    Phoenix Wright's relationship with Dahlia Hawthorne was pretty messed up.
  • 510BrotherPanda - February 21, 2011 10:18 p.m.

    First, Meiks dies on TRUK last week. Now a Top 7, written by him, shows up on Monday. WTH is going on in the Land of Onion?!?
  • Modroneman - February 21, 2011 10:09 p.m.

    Holy crap I need to play The Darkness. I bought that game when I got my 360 like 3 years ago and havn't played more than 30 mins of it! I will definately have dust it off and give it another go.
  • S0ULEATER - February 21, 2011 9:28 p.m.

    No JENNY god that moment was like the most sad i ever felt from a video game
  • KnightDehumidifier - February 21, 2011 8:39 p.m.

    I just realized, Bionic Commando's wife arm!

Showing 1-20 of 54 comments

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