Most video games feature weapons of one kind or another. Think of all the first-person shooters and action games you’ve ploughed through over the years: with the hands of countless characters, you’ve wielded guns, blades, flamethrowers, rocket-launchers, grenades … the list goes on and on!
Even in games which don’t revolve solely around fighting – such as RPGs, strategy titles, racers – weapons still often feature: for example, the Final Fantasy series has its fair share of awesome gear, and even Mario Kart features a heavy emphasis on weaponry.
However, given the thousands of virtual weapons to surface over the decades, picking out just 10 is pretty difficult. With that in mind, we’ve gone for creations that linger in the memory and help to bring a unique element to their respective titles.
Now, without further ado, join us as we wander down memory lane and point out all the blood-splattered wonders along the way …
Gabe Logan’s Taser (Syphon Filter)
Okay, we know this is a pretty unlikely choice, but anyone who played Gabe Logan’s first adventure (back in the glory days of the mighty PSX) will remember how great the taser was first time around.
Up to that point, the only other major stealth-based title on the PSX was Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, a beautiful little ninja-simulator; there were swords and bombs aplenty, but nothing quite as cool as the taser. Even Metal Gear Solid, which came along shortly after (with a great range of weapons), offered nothing as fiendishly gruesome as Logan’s handheld body-burner.
Rather than simply shocking bad guys into a stupor, the taser was capable of frying them until they burst into flames. Nothing was quite as satisfying as sneaking up on some balaclava-clad terrorist, firing the taser at them, and holding the ‘fire’ button down until they smouldered.
To help you out, the game often switched to a close-up of the unfortunate villain – a nice feature, especially when you were too far away to enjoy the sight otherwise.
The Hammer of Dawn (Gears of War)
While Gears of War gave us the body-splitting beauty of the gun with a chainsaw attached, it also introduced the Hammer of Dawn: a super-powerful, super-cool, super-iconic weapon that calls down death from above.
The Hammer of Dawn is restricted to outdoor-use only, meaning you can’t employ it to destroy grunts inside (for that, you’re stuck with the aforementioned saw-based blaster, shotguns, grenades, and more). Still, this limitation helps to make it even more special: there’s nothing quite like watching enemies die under that heavenly beam.
This is just one of the many qualities that help to make Gears of War such a beloved series, and if the much-mooted film adaptation ever surfaces (which is looking less and less likely), we hope the Hammer of Dawn makes a cameo.
The Golden Gun (GoldenEye)
If you ever played GoldenEye’s multiplayer mode with your friends, then you’ll understand the power that the Golden Gun affords its owner. With this shiny, no-doubt heavy weapon, gamers become almost invincible: this baby is capable of one-shot kills, no matter where the bullet hits.
This makes multiplayer a different experience for gamers depending on who has the gun and who doesn’t: those with it have a blast, chasing their enemies down through one level after another, capping them with a quick squeeze of the trigger; those without it are forced to think strategically, picking their smug pals off with a well-timed mine or hailstorm of bullets.
There are oh-so many things we remember fondly about GoldenEye, and the Golden Gun itself is right at the top of the list.
The Gunblade (Final Fantasy VIII)
As the follow-up to Final Fantasy VII – one of the greatest, most successful games ever made – Final Fantasy VIII had a lot of expectations riding on it. Luckily, Square Enix delivered another masterpiece, vastly different to the previous game but just as compelling.
One of the coolest parts? Without doubt, Squall’s gunblade. This beautiful, beautiful weapon is, as the name suggests, a canny combination of sword and firearm: with proper timing, the gunblade is capable of shooting while slashing, enhancing the force of Squall’s attacks. Various models are available, becoming more and more powerful as the game unfolds, just as Cloud’s swords did previously.
Not only is the gunblade a strong weapon, it also looks awesome, a strange steampunk-tinged instrument that helps to make FFVIII’s world feel all the more unique.
Lightsabers (Most Star Wars Games)
George Lucas really stumbled onto something with the lightsaber (or ‘laser sword’ as they were originally known): since 1977, these glowing blades of death have remained one of the most iconic fictional objects in the world.
Given the immense popularity of the lightsaber, it’s little surprise they appear in almost every Star Wars game. Sometimes, these are used beautifully; other times, however, less so.
One of the greatest uses of the lightsaber is in Knights of the Old Republic: thanks to the tactical, command-based combat system, blade-to-blade fighting is more exciting, more elegant, and more precise than in, say, Star Wars: Battlefront II. This allows lightsaber battles between Jedi and Sith to look just as impressive as in the movies, without the random arm-waving that occurs in some other games.
The Baseball Bat (Grand Theft Auto III)
GTA III was a game-changer for many reasons, and remains one of the greatest entries in the long-running series. While cars themselves could technically count as a weapon (speeding into a crowd of enemies, or even just mowing pedestrians down), there are plenty of others on offer: handguns, sniper rifles, machine guns, grenades … but one of the most fun to use is the humble baseball bat.
Easy to use and in good supply, the baseball bat is surprisingly powerful: one great way to pass time is to beat a rival gangster into a bloody pulp, wait for an ambulance to arrive, stand nearby while the paramedics revive them … and then beat them again. Rinse and repeat.
The baseball bat appears again and again in subsequent games, but its presence in GTA III still one of our favourites.
Proximity Mines (GoldenEye)
Another appearance for the mighty GoldenEye here, and while the Proximity Mine is an obvious choice, it really is one of the most fun weapons to use. The Proximity Mine offers simple, reliable performance: toss it into place, run for cover, and wait for it to explode when your enemy comes within range.
When used properly, these cause instant, explosive death.
Few moments in GoldenEye can raise a grin like coating a wall or floor (or both) with mines, only to watch as your opponent runs right into them, triggering a massive chain-reaction. As that famous blood runs down the screen, you can gloat over your victory … and then wait for them to try the exact same tactic on you!
The Shishkebab (Fallout 3)
Fallout 3 is a classic for various reasons: its open-ended gameplay, its massive free-roaming world, and its character-progression system. However, nobody can deny it also has some eye-wateringly beautiful weaponry.
The Minigun. The Tesla Cannon. The Laser Pistol. To survive the ruins of Fallout 3’s world, you need to make use of every weapon available, from heavy-duty, energy-based beasts to glorious melee weapons. One of the coolest, most unique of these is the Shishkebab: a flaming tool of death that looks as badass as it actually is.
As a DIY-weapon, the shishkebab is made from a motorcycle gas-tank, a handbrake, and a lawn-mower blade: using the fuel to feed the blade’s fire (itself ignited by a pilot light), the Shishkebab is satisfyingly powerful, and, most importantly, great fun to use.
The Cerebral Bore (Turok 2: Seeds of Evil)
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil hit the N64 way back in 1998, but one of its weapons remains one of the coolest, most powerful, most gratuitously bloody ever created. The Cerebral Bore is a wonder to behold: simply lock onto your target, launch it, and watch as it drills into the enemy’s skull. As if that weren’t enough, the Bore then explodes, just to make certain the bad guy can’t survive.
The game itself might not be on many people’s list of favourites, but Turok 2: Seeds of Evil deserves thanks for giving the world such a ludicrously awesome weapon.
Almost Anything you can Get your Hands On (Dead Rising 2)
The Dead Rising games are paradise for fans of zombies. With plenty of time to kill, and an endless horde of undead enemies to unleash your fury upon, this series offers players an almost-unlimited range of ways to make the undead full-dead.
While Dead Rising gave us some terrific weapons, the sequel upped the ante: Bags of marbles. Crowbars. Flower pots. Foam hands (non-lethal). Giant pink chainsaws. Female mannequins. Machetes. Giant novelty cell phones. Lawn mowers. Tomahawks. Fern trees. Tires. Even a swordfish.
Pretty much anything you see in the game can be used as a weapon – this helps to keep the action feeling fresh, exciting, and brilliantly over the top. Laying waste to hundreds of zombies with a lawn mower or a sword provides hours of fun, and makes this one of the most entertaining zombie-based games ever.
Well, that brings our celebration of gaming’s best weapons to a close. There are so many of them out there, lurking in discs, cartridges, and hard drives, identifying the best isn’t easy – do you agree with our choices? Do you think we’ve missed some classics? Let us know!