** Metal and video games go hand-in-hand. Over the years, many video games have failed to capture metal’s spirit, its celebration of violence, its commentary on the unjust, its ability to wallow in depravity, its wild-child temperament, its imagery, and the razored voice of its brotherhood. Well, we’ve singled out five video games that understood metal and all its vagaries and tenets. Read on (and play on, if you have them!) as we celebrate the video game industry’s Top 5 Most Metal Video Games Ever. And, anything with KISS in it is NOT metal. Fuck KISS!
5. Guilty Gear XRD (Arc, 2014)
Over the years, Japanese super-fighter (button mashers rejoice!) Guilty Gear has pleaded to the metal gods for inspiration. While it’s not the vs. fighter genre that makes it metal—the amount of in-game action is almost distracting—it’s the character names or character names that are inspired by metal gods. Axl Low = Axel Rose; Chipp Zanuff = Chip Z’Nuff; Ky Kiske = Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske; Slayer = Slayer; Millia Rage = Meliah Rage; Testament = Testament; Venom = Venom; and Kliff Undersn = Cliff Burton. Plus, the soundtrack was metal-inspired. Guilty Gear XRD was a difficult title to find in most stores (brick and mortars only carry the main titles), but it shouldn’t stop metallers into Street Fighter, Samurai Showdown, and other 2D fighters from maximizing the combo volume to 11!
4. Guitar Hero: Metallica (Activision, 2009)
The rhythm game genre has pretty much faded. But back in 2009, Guitar Hero was massive. It represented the next wave of interactivity with video games as we knew them. Well, after several iterations of Guitar Hero, metal legends Metallica got their chance. Now, this was a year after Death Magnetic stunk up the shelves and reminded metalheads the great ones weren’t so great any longer (well, that was the product of St. Anger), but Guitar Hero had little choice but to pick thrash’s most visible act as their game mascot. The game itself was no different from other Guitar Hero titles. Just the difficulty was slightly higher. Metalheads got to pluck 28 Metallica songs, while the rest of the 20+ titles were Metallica picks. While this game is dated now, a game chock full of thrash, punk, hard rock is, well, metal.
3. Shadows of the Damned (EA, 2011)
What happens when you mix perverted Japanese game creators with a violent, prurient theme? Shadows of the Damned. Essentially, a Resident Evil meets, uh, Parasite Eve-type title gone previous gen (PS3, X360), with barrels of profane situations and loads of jokes about flatulence, sex, and other disgusting topics. Most of the time, Shadows of the Damned is fairly linear, but throughout Goichi Suda (Lollipop Chainsaw) and Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil) are aiming right for the crotch of teenage/twentysomething dudes who delight in sex, violence, and the goo that oozes out of all our holes.
2. Dante’s Inferno (EA, 2010)
Visceral’s take on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy isn’t metal per se. The soundtrack isn’t metal. The plot isn’t distinctly metal (though metal’s taken loads of inspiration from Alighieri). There are no characters modeled after metal musicians. So, why is Dante’s Inferno on the list? Apart from the gameplay, which is responsive and fun (a la God of War), it’s the levels, the backdrops, the enemies, and the overall vibe. Dante’s Inferno is one of the first video games to actually make you feel like you’re descending down into Hell. Each level is lovingly designed to be as disturbing and as blasphemous as possible. Metalheads, with a penchant for a solid action-adventure with ridiculously great graphics and evil vibes, will do well to check out Dante’s Inferno.
1. Brütal Legend (EA, 2009)
No video game in the history of gaming has courted, appealed to, genuflected to the altar of heavy metal quite like Tim Schafer’s excellent action-adventure title, Brütal Legend. The game’s main character, Eddie Riggs (voiced by Jack Black), battles his way through hordes of scary enemies using his axe and Flying V guitar. But that’s not what makes it metal. It’s the premise. It’s the in-game character Riggs (a wink, wink to renowned cover artist Derek Riggs) meets, like Lita Ford, Lemmy, Rob Halford, and Ozzy Osbourne. It’s the soundtrack, featuring 100+ licensed songs by real bands. We’re talking Angel Witch, Dark Tranquillity, King Diamond, Manowar, Brocas Helm, Enslaved, and the list goes on and on. In all, Brütal Legend is a fun, spikes-up game that every metaller with a nerd twist needs to play.