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

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  • switch22 - February 21, 2011 10:06 a.m.

    I teared up a little inside. *sniff*
  • humpiedumpie - February 21, 2011 10:32 a.m.

    Damn i wish Shadow of the Colossus came to Xbox...i really want to play that game! :( Even though i know the ending
  • speno93 - February 21, 2011 10:32 a.m.

    very funny article thought i would never enjoy a Meikelham photoshop again (Max Payne bedtime story= hilarity)
  • spulungkin - February 21, 2011 10:40 a.m.

    Watch "Reign Over Me" starring Adam Sandler. First good use of videogame in a movie...
  • Rascanuvols - February 21, 2011 10:48 a.m.

    No James and Mary/Maria Sunderland? I don't think it get's more disastrous than that.
  • Games_Radar_DaveMeikleham - February 21, 2011 10:53 a.m.

    @Rascanuvols Dang. That is indeed a good suggestion. Unfortunately, the all seeing eye of GamesRadar overlooked that one... either that, or I just completely forgot about Silent Hill 2 while writing this.
  • chrisat928 - February 21, 2011 10:59 a.m.

    Am I the only one who sees nipple on Mona?
  • Clovin64 - February 21, 2011 11:01 a.m.

    I knew Shadow of the Colosus would have to be #1. I'm aching to play it again for the 6th or 7th time, but I'm determined to wait for the HD version before I play this masterpiece again.
  • cj12297 - February 21, 2011 11:01 a.m.

    But i thought meikleham died!!!
  • DinklemanDog - February 21, 2011 11:16 a.m.

    You will be missed, Meiks.
  • b-dog1991 - February 21, 2011 11:21 a.m.

    What about Red Dead? That was one hell of a romance that didn't end all purddy. Although that list was pretty much spot on, damn the number 7!
  • WrathLord03 - February 21, 2011 11:36 a.m.

    I stopped myself from watching Shadow of the Colossus' ending because I'm still waiting for the remake. And as much as I want to watch that video, those moments are ever more powerful after having built towards them. Good list, would have liked to have seen the Silent Hill 2 one because I know nothing about it and if it's not on Gamesradar, it just ins't worth reading!
  • liamcullen - February 21, 2011 11:56 a.m.

    Meikleham! You're alive !!!
  • peace4me - February 21, 2011 12:39 p.m.

    Whao where did you get the picture in the shadow of the colossus entry? I want!
  • AuthorityFigure - February 21, 2011 1:01 p.m.

    Hate is what makes a good game. Ganon's hate for Link, (not Link's love for Zelda), Niko's hate for lawfulness (not his love for Roman), Marsden's hate is what drives RDR, and so on...
  • KnightDehumidifier - February 21, 2011 1:15 p.m.

    Zero and Alia, or for those who don't remember, "WHAT AM I FIGHTING FOR?!"
  • Odis - February 21, 2011 1:20 p.m.

    Without the need to watch the whole end of Shadow of the Colossus again, just through the beginning and music, I'm tearing up... I want it for a console I own T_T.
  • 8bitBaby - February 21, 2011 1:28 p.m.

    you know the whole time dom was acting up over his special lady he constantly pulled me out of the game when he would start acting up. stupid dom is stupid.
  • Yaro - February 21, 2011 2:06 p.m.

    The ending of Shadow of the Colossus will stay with me forever.
  • Japanaman - February 21, 2011 2:10 p.m.

    If you ask me, MGS2 and 4 just about had the most disastrous romance in video game history. Raiden's like "I love you, but I don't love myself. I'm just a killer who can never be loved. I had myself transformed into a tool of death." And his girlfriend is like "I still love you cyborg killer. You have a son who needs your proper raising." And he's like "I do? How can I help." And a bunch of IT guys are like "We'll make him sofer, slower, weaker, lamer." and transformered him into "Manequinn Man" in order to live a barely normal life with his family. "Daddy? Can you feel my touch?", his son will soon ask.

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