Blow up the world
There are few universal joys quite like the rush you get from completely and utterly destroying something. It's why Edward Norton punched Jared Leto in the face a dozen times in Fight Club. It's why people spend hundreds of dollars to buy expensive gadgets on launch day then throw them at the ground in front of dozens of heartbroken onlookers. It's often why we play video games - so we can fulfill our most destructive urges while staying out of jail.
Some games let you build up an entire world and take it apart brick by brick. Others are filled with tons of explosives and breakable objects. And the real special ones let you demolish entire structures and watch them topple to the ground. Either way, these games provide some of the most satisfying ways to break, blow up, or otherwise destroy everything in sight.
Prevent ultimate destruction by causing it in Blast Corps
Back in the '90s, Rare was one of the greatest studios around, and Blast Corps was one of its best games. It's based on a simple premise - a giant truck seemingly packed with every last drop of the world's supply of nitroglycerin, plutonium, gunpowder, and gasoline is on a collision course with ruin, and it's up to you and whatever vehicle you can get your hands on to keep it from blowing up. So yes, in order to prevent ultimate destruction, you have to destroy everything. Makes sense to me.
Whether it's a set of explosive barrels, some innocuous crates, or a random barn, everything blows up real good. And you have a vast array of machinery to enact your brand of destructive carnage, from bulldozers, to dump trucks, to flying mechs that ground-pound and uppercut objects into oblivion. Part action, part puzzle, but always satisfying, Blast Corps is a demolitionist's delight.
Wreck a fancy hotel in Ghostbusters: The Video Game
Remember that scene from Ghostbusters? No, not the one where Dan Aykroyd dreams about getting frisky with a ghost. No, not the one that heavily implies that Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis just had sex. I'm talking about the part in the hotel where our trio of misfits finally get their big break and catch their first apparition. How fun would it be to just wreck house with a proton pack? Well, thanks to Ghostbusters: The Video Game, now you can.
The first level is pure fanservice, as you revisit the Sedgewick Hotel to hunt down a bunch of ghosts - only this time, you get to raise hell and destroy everything in sight in your quest to prevent mass hysteria. Chandeliers, paintings, furniture - all will fall to the might of your proton beam. Don't be shy - you're not going to get billed for any damages. It sets the scene for a game filled with environments just waiting to be blasted. Just don't cross the streams.
Smash everything and use it as a weapon in The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction
For a guy with the word 'smash' in his catchphrase, The Incredible Hulk hasn't really had a game live up to his signature acts of wanton destruction. But all of that changed with Ultimate Destruction, an open-world game filled to the brim with tools of annihilation. There are so many things for The Hulk to grab, throw, and otherwise wreck that he's basically running around like a kid in a candy store. A volatile, explosive candy store.
From the word 'go', you're basically given carte blanche to run around open environments and tackle objectives how you see fit. Break a car in half, crush it onto your hands and use the car bits as steel boxing gloves. Run up the side of a building, leaving pockmarks in your wake, and launch into a helicopter. Ultimate Destruction puts you in the shoes of a living wrecking ball, basically making it the best superhero game ever made.
Grab everything that isn't nailed down in Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2 is a physics wonderland, a playground of see-saws, breakable boxes, and launchable buzzsaws. It blew our faces clean off of our faces when we played it ten years ago, and even now, the gravity gun is a total blast to use, letting you rip objects off of the walls and throw them at your hapless foes. And it doesn't get much better than the spooktacular sandbox found in Ravenholm.
What once was a fairly standard (if best-in-class) first-person shooter now becomes a survival horror game, complete with an over-abundance of face huggers and a distressing lack of supplies. Only now, you have a gravity gun, and it because your ultimate tool of improvisation. Grab a buzzsaw off the ground and slice those zombies in half. Or pick up an explosive canister and lob it in a group of 'em. Ravenholm is filled with tons of breakable objects, volatile barrels, and Rube Goldbergian traps, and whipping them around with the gravity gun is still satisfying to this day.
Pretend you're King Kong in Rampage
King Kong may have invented the 'giant monster' genre, but Rampage actually let you be the ape. Or huge lizard. Or multi-story werewolf. Rampage is all about destruction, as you and your monster buddies move from city to city, levelling skyscrapers and eating helicopters out of the sky. Methodically chomp on innocent bystanders as they poke their heads outside of their windows, or quickly take out the building's supports and watch it crumble into dust - the choice is yours, as long as you've got enough quarters.
Other games might have brought kaiju destruction to a three-dimensional space, but there's something captivating about the purity of running from side to side, slowly climbing up buildings, and punching them to the ground. Plus, Rampage takes the whole 'ripping out of your clothing into a disproportionately large monster' thing to its au naturel conclusion.
Shape the world as you see fit in Minecraft
Minecraft may seem like an odd inclusion on a list filled with shoot 'em ups and explode-athons, but hear me out. It's certainly not filled with gratuitous violence and realistic physics systems (though, if you're not careful, those creepers will blow you to kingdom come). But what it does seems almost more ambitious - it lets you build the world as you see fit, then dismantle it piece by piece.
It's the ultimate crafting game, letting you chop down trees and carve into mountains, and turn their constituent parts into houses, tools, and even works of art. And the best part is that, as long as you have the proper equipment, you can mine just about anything. Turn on creative mode and fly to the highest heights or the deepest depths, and take the entire world apart one pixelated brick at a time.
Slice and dice through everything in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
I was wondering why it took so long for somebody to let The Force off its chain and chase after the neighbor kids, but I'm so glad someone finally did it. The Force Unleashed lets you get in touch with your inner Sith, allowing you to launch, blow up, or otherwise decimate pretty much anything you can think of - and it's as amazing as it sounds.
The Force Unleashed gives you your first taste of power by putting you in Darth Vader's black military boots, letting you unleash hellish fury on the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk. Blow open massive wooden gates and watch the splinters rain down, cut trees into toothpicks, and pick up and launch Chewbacca's buddies off a cliff (sorry!). But it doesn't stop there. Eventually, you'll take control of Vader's apprentice and learn a whole new array of explosive abilities - like grabbing a Star Destroyer out of the sky and slamming it into the ground. Is it over-the-top? Yeah. Is it stupid? Totally. Is it fun? You bet your nerfherding butt it is.
Level enormous man-made structures in Red Faction: Guerrilla
Of course Red Faction is on this list. What started as an average shooter with some terrain-deforming ideas, Red Faction didn't fully come into its own until its third outing. It was cool to be able to blow up pretty much any wall or other obstacle that stood in your way, but its gameplay was too linear, its options too limiting. With Guerrilla, you're not funneled down corridors - instead, you're given a whole planet to destroy.
While Guerrilla doesn't let you make a dent in the surrounding terrain, it does let you take out entire goddamn buildings if you're so inclined. Just grab your sledgehammer, take out a few supports, and blammo - that three story building is now lying in pieces on the ground. And it's not just buildings. Cover can be blown away with a well-placed grenade, bridges can be levelled with a few rockets - pretty much any man-made structure can be turned into so much debris with a good smacking. It never gets old.
Sometimes you just want to watch the world burn. These games let you do it without leaving the house - or hurting anyone. That's the important bit. How do you like to live out your most destructive fantasies? Let me know in the comments below!