When the ESRB was established to rate and label video games in 1994, many thought it was the start of something horrible, a censorship sticker slapped on the face of a burgeoning art form. But, as the catalyst for the whole mess – Mortal Kombat – found out, there was something to the sectioning off of games by age level. And it seemingly gave the giving companies free reign to do whatever they wanted in a game as long as they were okay with that MA rating. Of course the final say comes down to parents on whether or not the label matters, and generally it tends not to. The sales of MA games are still some of the highest in the industry and the violence level continuously increases. To this day, the only mainstream game labeled with the AO sticker was the hackable version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas containing the Hot Coffee sex scene. To which the game companies nod their heads, point noted – violence is okay, sex is not.
The fact that Nintendo even went down the path of mature oriented gaming was testament to the power of the rating. The gaming giant originally wanted to keep it’s fan base family oriented, for children, but when Capcom threw their Resident Evil cap into the ring the whole game changed. So far, the Wii is a fairly clean cut affair, but I don’t expect that will last too much longer either.
Resident Evil 4 – It’s up there on the list of the best games ever made and there’s a reason for it. The fact that it came out first on the Gamecube is ironic if nothing else, but it’s still a gorgeous game and scary as hell. Resident Evil was left for dead years ago, but Capcom came roaring back with the fourth entry, doing away with Zombies in favor of creepy villagers and secret societies, always scarier than make believe. The level of detail when you shoot them down in front of you is second to none.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem – It’s not nearly the most violent game on any of these lists, but it’s surely the most intense. Eternal Darkness is a giant mind game with the gamer and every character in the game. As you play you steadily go insane and the game reacts to your insanity, even turning off the tv on you (but not really) in some instances. The rooms shake, things appear that aren’t there and you forget where you are..all before being torn apart. One of the scariest games available, period.
Killer 7 – Killer 7 is a weird game. It’s supposed to be a weird game and it does it remarkably well. The weirdness of this game though make the creepiness of its antagonists that much more affective. Knowing what it is you’re fighting half the time is as hard as actually killing something and nearly as confusing. The artwork is intense, the villains stranger, and the fact that you have multiple personalities as you play that compete with each other is stranger than everything else.
Resident Evil 0-1 – The B team story of Resident Evil is as intense and violent as the original game and with the gamecube remake of the first game shows the whole thing as brilliantly as ever. After playing the original games in their full glory in the days of the Playstation, going back through and seeing the same scenes only infinitely more violent and vivid is a wonderful experience. And who said graphics don’t matter?