Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Feature: 7 Video Games That Allow You to Be a Complete Bastard

By Sam Graham

One of the reasons people like video games is for the tension release that comes from operating in a world outside the moral constraints of the real. Can I slice that Hodor of a man sitting in front of me in the cinema in two? Or better yet, can I tell the customers at work what I really think of their problems?

No, but I can cruise around San Andreas with a bazooka, eviscerating old people and blowing shopkeepers away even after they've given me their cash.

My point is, despite the rules of a game, you are free to as you please. You can make Sonic as slow as you want, you can make Mario go left, Ezio can stay on the ground, and even when he does leap off a building, you don't have to jump towards a haystack if you don't want. Should you decide, the concrete is good enough for him. After all, it's not your neck being snapped.

Even so, despite the rules, goals and constraints a game may throw at you, there are some that allow you (even if they don't condone it) to be truly cruel to either the NPC's, or your fellow man. In no particular order (apart from number 1) the levels of bastardry in these games range from cheeky shenanigans, to biblical genocide; but rest assured they mostly involve some form of murder.

7. Fallout 3/ Fallout: New Vegas (2008/2010)

Well, firstly, you can nuke Megaton in exchange for a dank room in an old bloke's decrepit hotel. If that wasn't bad enough, there are several characters you meet who are dumb enough to sidekick up with you. Those poor, misguided fools. They bring their own quests problems and add a layer of depth to your adventure through the wasteland... In theory. Realistically, they're a pack mule to carry your spare power armour and all those tin cans you horde for no reason other than you're an obsessive freak.

Companions aren't indestructible however; a fact they learn pretty quickly when we come across a pack of Deathclaws and I tell them to wait there while I ditch them. And there's that one kid in Fallout 3 (Sticky) that usually finds that the way to Big town is not East of Little Lamplight like he thinks. It’s on the receiving end of a Powerfist, then having his corpse 'fatmanned' to bits.

6. Demon's Souls (2009)

While the Souls games are already bastards in their own right, wiping the floor with the uninitiated, and forcing veterans to keep their guards up; the PvP system provides endless opportunity to be a massive dick to other players. Whether it’s waiting in a tight corridor, then spamming Area Of Effect attacks, or being that arsehole who only ever goes for the backstab, the possibilities are very versatile. The original Souls game though; that one set the bar so high that the others simply haven't managed to beat it.

Anyone who has played Demon's Souls will know what I'm talking about as soon as I mention the Tower of Latria. For those of you who haven't, the big boss fight for the Tower of Latria is known as the Old Monk, and he's fairly solid. The bastardry of the Old Monk however, comes from the fact that if someone invades your game while you're in the final section, they become the Old Monk instead. They become the boss, and to pass, you have to defeat this guy who will almost certainly suffer less lag than you do.

And God help you if this sadist comes packing the Scraping Spear, because while it won't do as much damage as you'd think, its designed to break your armour and weapons and leave you standing there feeling impotent and pathetic like a virgin at a Top Shagger competition. Repairs cost a lot, and changing weapon mid-fight is suicide. Once your kit is busted you may as well let him finish you off. Continuing to fight at this point would be like playing as the Maddie in the McCann Family Tournament Fighter.

5. How to Be a Complete Bastard (1986)

OK, so this one's a bit obligatory, because of the name. This old Spectrum and Commodore 64 game was based on a book by Ade Edmondson (Eddie from Bottom) and is one of the many great things that came out in 1986: Cobra, Aliens, Master of Puppets, me. There's supposedly an objective, but when a game allows you to rifle through people's pockets, get drunk, eat condoms, and encourages you to fill up your wee-o-meter and fart-o-meter, it's academic really.

Apparently all you have to do is convince party guests that you're a vile wretch of a human that should never consider breeding as a hobby. Being a 30 year old game, it looks like the inside of a large intestine and the controls are as unresponsive as trying to play Contra without using your fingers. Let's face it though, How To Be A Complete Bastard is pure novelty. Beyond its eye-catching title, there's not much there. Once you've devoured your way through an entire pack of johnnies and pissed yourself in front of strangers, there's really nowhere else to go in life. There are better games in the C64 library.

They should remake it today though, if just to see how many millenials it can 'trigger'. It won't be hard. Just have the game be a picture of a man laughing. I'm sure they'll write their own narrative as usual.

4. Fable (2004)

In 2004 when this game was released, I was a teenager, so while not playing games, I was busy trying to get laid; A feat I didn't accomplish right away. So, imagine my utter dismay when I failed to bag some fantasy maiden poon on Fable at the very same time. Can't score in real life, can't score in Fable: way to go, dude. You can give a woman every gemstone you've plundered, bow, curtsie, laugh like a maniac and warcry until you're blue in the face, but the frigid bitch just won't put out.

So, doing in-game what I couldn't do in real life, I took out my sword and slaughtered everyone in the village, Anakin Skywalker-style. An entire village laid to waste all because I was a chaste teenager who could lob fireballs. In response to this, the game did nothing. Nobody talked about it. Nobody ran from me. They just carried on calling me Chicken-Chaser like nothing happened. Granted, the devs might not have anticipated my lust-fuelled murder spree, but if they really wanted to make it immersing they should have made a 'wank off' button.

3. Diablo II (2000)

I know you're already doubting this one, but hear me out. This one's a personal experience.

So, Diablo 2. Dungeon crawler extraordinaire. The one all the others still get compared to. I was never very good at it, mostly because clicking on something until it dies is a pretty boring concept. Rope in a few mates though and it’s a great way to kill a few hours. Teamwork is key, because the more players there are, the more enemies. It’s worthwhile making sure your whole party are as kitted out and levelled up. Because of this, sharing is paramount.

So what would you say when your team all agree to let you have a particular gem you need to make a weapon more useful and then one guy, upon seeing one, runs over and swipes it? I asked him to pass me it and he said no. I reminded him of the agreement, and of times I've given him stuff he needed. The response was, word for word: “yeah you can have it, but only if I don't pick it up first.” What a shit.

Worst part was, you can't hurt allies in the game, so I couldn't kill him. I couldn't do anything in the real world either, because what would be the justification? “Well officer, he dicked me over in a game, so I stood on his head”. I can see that going down really well. Just like me in the prison cell.

2. The Sims (2000)

We all knew this one was coming. I mean, when you're given control over a life, it’s destined to go awry. This is why I don't have kids. Make that control consequence-free and you open up a Pandora's box of moral philosophy and the dichotomy of Human nature. Playing The Sims is like journeying into the blackest pit of your own being. Everyone I know tells the same story: “Yeah, I tried getting a job and get smart and get promoted and everything, but it’s boring, hard, and takes too long. It’s more fun to set the kitchen on fire and piss yourself.” I feel I've just summed up the meaning of life.

I fell victim to the same thing. I was 13 when The Sims first came out. I did the usual: type 'rosebud' until I'm minted, build massive house, use money cheat again every time the bills come, get bored, lock the kid in his room, sell the door so he can't escape, try to get characters to have sex, then gay sex, then become an alcoholic, cry, die. I was planning my own grisly future.

There was one PC on my street (year 2000 remember) and me and a bunch of other kids all had a house on The Sims' virtual neighbourhood. We made ourselves on it, then whoever was playing it would hang out with the rest of us. One kid on my street, I didn't like so much, so when it was my turn, my Sim invited his Sim to my house. We went for a swim together and frolicked...Then I got out of the pool and used the 'move objects' cheat to sell the stepladder and went to bed, leaving his avatar unable to leave the pool. He swam and he swam all night, and in the morning he drowned. That's right, I pulled a Barrymore.

Unlike Michael Barrymore though, I was smart enough to hide the evidence. I sold the gravestone for $5 then sold the swimming pool, so the whole thing never even took place.

It was a week later when the real life kid realised his Sim was dead. Keeping a straight face there was the hardest thing I'd done. Were I to do this again, I'd just say I popped out for a moment and some Portuguese guy did it. I'd be set for life.

1. Black & White (2001)

It was inevitable that number 1 was going to be a God simulator, because what more freedom is there than being above law, above morals, above choice, above life and death, and above justification for your actions?

Black & White basically allows you to do what you like. You control the literal hand of god as you try to expand your influence either through good deeds and gestures, or through fear and discipline. You have an animal avatar that can help you. It learns through positive and negative reinforcement (stroking its privates, or smacking the shit out of it, to you and me). No greater pleasure did I take than watching a giant orangutan kick a house down, burn it, then eat the people living inside. If he didn't, I had a special discipline in store that I liked to call 'the fitness rock'. And he had to carry that thing all around the island or he got a slap.

I always tried to be good, but it took too damn long. Sending missionaries and impressing rival villages so they'll abandon in their current god and start sucking up to you is tedious. It’s much quicker to kill all the natives, then populate it with your own people. It worked in real life didn't it, North America?

Every deity worth his salt needs a legion of sycophantic followers. They like you when you're kind, they love you when you're mean, that's just what loyalty is. One time I had so many villagers, I'd started an overpopulation problem. There wasn't enough landmass for housing and there were too many homeless. I'd created a stone-age Mega City One. I knew I couldn't fix the problem immediately, and not without drastic action. The current homeless were beyond saving. I could however fix the next generation's problems. So with that in mind, I greenlit Operation: Tory Inferno and burned down the village crèche while all the kids were inside.

The screams were poignant and short lived, much like the kids themselves. My temple went from being a neutral grey to a spiky red, and the fire soon went out, so I had to do it a couple more times just to be sure. No one stopped me though. The villagers didn't stop believing in me. There were zero repercussions for the kiddie-genocide. Nobody said a damn thing. I was free to do whatever I liked. In your face, high school shooters.

If you can think of any more examples of games that gave you free reign to explore your darker natures, feel free to share in the comments and we can all have a good laugh about how much of a monster you are.

Enjoyed this piece? Then 'like' The Crusades of A Critic on Facebook. Sam also has a novel which can currently be viewed here, and features ten times the swears, snarc, and rage of the above piece.