Ring ring. Ring ring. Ring ring. Ah the noise of the insistent phone. Impossible to ignore, often inconvenient to answer: especially in video games. Yes, when you’re knee-deep in killer Nazi robot badgers, you’re sneaking up behind your target after hours of careful infiltration, or you’re just busy doing something more interesting… your virtual phone will inevitably call and totally ruin your day.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of the most annoying phone calls in games. Admittedly, several entries aren’t strictly dealing with 'traditional phones'. Some are radios, some are futuristic implants, some are walkie-talkies: all are utterly infuriating. So, get reading, before someone interrupts your blissful internet-browsing with their inane jibber-jabber…
7. Zeke’s nuisance calls - InFamous
Zeke is a jerk. While I’m sure he was originally designed to be a sparky companion figure for the personality-vacuum Cole MacGrath (star of inFamous), he’s actually just a nuisance. So, it’s no surprise that he calls Cole during some of the most inconvenient moments in the game, to chat about morality and commercial opportunities. Seriously, stop your whining, Zeke.
Perhaps the most irritating call comes when Cole is attempting to defend a civilian supply-drop against some gun-toting jerks. Zeke thinks it’s time to chat about how they can make some money from Cole’s super-powers, while the gun-toting jerks think it’s time to pull out a mini-gun and blast our hero into a bloody mess. “Not now, Zeke. Say, why don’t you take a long walk off a short cliff.”
6. Aiden’s endless chatter - Watch Dogs
While Aiden’s smartphone is a wonderful thing, allowing him to hack the city of Chicago to bend all technology to his will… he still gets plenty of annoying calls on it. Every time you restart the game, Aiden repeats the last phone call he had with whatever asshole he’s currently chasing down. Sure, it’s meant to be a story catch-up device, but it’s pretty annoying.
Worse still, Aiden is one of several people on this list who are inexplicably slowed by radio chatter. Despite being able to hack Chicago’s complex traffic system while driving at 100mph, pursued by five police cars, he can’t even manage a jog when on the phone to his sister. Come on Aiden, there are dogs to watch! Oh, actually, there aren't...
5. You’re ruining my life! - Hotline Miami
“Hello. What’s that? You want me to butcher another building full of assholes and systematically drive me towards insanity for reasons I can’t fully understand? Sure, why not--anything to stop this damn 80s-era phone from making that racket!”
Hotline Miami’s phone calls are the inevitably destructive kind. The ones that you need to answer, despite the fact that you know--in advance--that it’s always going to be bad news. It's a neat twist how you kill the geeks from the phone company (the ones actually making the calls) at the end. See also Heavy Rain, where the Origami Killer takes great delight in using phone calls to torture Ethan Mars, as he drip-feeds the sullen protagonist information about his missing son, Shaun.
4. Stop and talk - Gears of War
Sometimes, story-chatter can be used to fill pauses in the action, conveniently hiding loading gaps with information few people tend to care about. Happens a lot in Gears of War. All of a sudden, the Locust hordes will stop attacking long enough for Marcus Fenix and his buddies to stroll very slowly down a corridor, chatting to some no-mark back at base about some stuff that you instantly forget once you’re allowed to chainsaw dudes in half again.
Thing is, the chats in Gears occasionally go on a little too long, leaving you deep within the next set-piece before Fenix takes his hand away from his ear. “No, you hang up. No you… No… oh hang on, gotta go: someone just shot me in the thigh and I’m bleeding quite heavily.
3. Hey Cousin! - GTA 4
Yeah, you’ve been waiting for this one, haven’t you. While GTA 4’s mobile phone adds all kinds of cool options, like the ability to ring up Niko’s latest girlfriend for a booty-call, it also realistically simulates ‘the needy relative’. You know the one. A brother, or mother, or cousin who calls you endlessly to tell you nothing in particular, or--in GTA 4--invite you to the local strip-club, bowling alley, or bar.
Towards the later stages of the game, you learn to fear the sound of Roman ringing you up and talking about “teeeeteees”, because although you found that stuff funny at the start, it’s beginning to get annoying now. The worst part is that--if you inevitably grow to hate Roman, thanks to his constant need for attention--you probably choose not to help him out at the end. And that leads to one hell of a guilt-trip.
2. Endless exposition - Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear’s CODEC is cool. Changing frequencies to chat to different people at various points throughout the game? Great. The feeling that you’re never alone in the world? Nice. The fact that Kojima uses it to explain every aspect of the Metal Gear universe to the captive player when all they really want to do is get on with stealth-murdering a bunch of soldiers? Not-so-good.
In the original Metal Gear Solid, it reaches the point where you’re chatting on the CODEC for several minutes at a time, as Snake gets routinely lectured on almost everything he sees and does during his mission. “Hey Snake, notice you’re looking at a tree. Did you know that’s a redwood tree? They’re commonly found in northern California and China, and the tallest tree in the world is a Sequoia--part of the Redwood family--and also… Snake? Are you listening? Or are you dead? Snake? SNAAAAAAKE!”
1. Stop calling me! - Dead Rising
Otis, from the original Dead Rising, is by far the most irritating caller in games. He’s the King of Poor Timing, regularly pestering protagonist Frank West with demands at the worst possible moments. Not only does he impose near-impossible missions on the player--by contacting Frank on the walkie-talkie and telling him to save stranded survivors on the other side of the freakin' map--but he’ll often call back seconds later for no good reason.
What’s more, he gets hacked off if you don’t answer your phone immediately. While he’s tucked away in his nice little safe-house, dishing out nuggets of wisdom, and you’re roaming the game’s shopping mall fending off tens of thousands of zombies, he actually has the temerity to criticise you for not bending to his every whim via the walkie-talkie. “Hey, Otis, if you’re so fucking bothered about telling me what to do, why don’t you come down here and tell me yourself. Oh, that’s right, you’re not man enough to do that. Yeah? Well, stay in your little room then! I’m hanging up.”
Oh, they hung up
There you have them, folks. The most annoying phone calls in games. Not quite as irritating as PPI cold-calling, but pretty frustrating all the same. Have you experienced anything more annoying than these calls in your favourite games? Well keep that shit to yourself! No, I’m just kidding. Leave a comment below…
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