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Burnout 3: Takedown

In a blaze of glory: 14 games that reward creative self-destruction

Studies in video game slapstick.

By Scott Jones, Joe Keiser, Gus Mastrapa, Samantha Nelson, and John Teti • April 24, 2012

1-2. Stair Dismount and Truck Dismount

Video games are built for slapstick comedy. Most game characters operate by the physical laws of Wile E. Coyote: You can incinerate them, crush them, or drop them from great heights, and in the next scene they’ll be good as new again. The lack of consequences heightens the allure of self-destruction, and a hilarious sub-genre exploits that allure to its fullest. Games like Stair Dismount don’t just reward you for destroying yourself—they reward you based on how spectacular and thorough your self-annihilation is. Made by Finnish visual artist Jetro Lauha in 2002, Stair Dismount was a pioneer in the field. Your innocent character stands at the top of a plain set of stairs. The entire game is played by giving the overgrown rag doll a little shove. The specific nature of death varies wildly based on the position and force of your malevolent push, but the comedy is consistent.

While the guy in Stair Dismount seems like a hapless victim, the character in the sequel, Truck Dismount, is asking for it. This time, the man sits in (or, worse yet, atop) a truck headed for two asymmetrical ramps and a brick wall—the kind of thing auto-industry crash testers might devise after a late night and too many beers.

3. Burnout 3: Takedown

The Burnout series of racing games has always showcased its demolition-derby spirit, and Burnout 2 introduced a “crash mode” dedicated solely to creating massive vehicular pile-ups. But crash mode reached its apotheosis in Burnout 3: Takedown. The objective is, as ever, to hurl your car into a busy intersection at just the right time and place to twist traffic into an apocalyptic snarl. Takedown introduced the nonsensical “Aftertouch” feature, which slowed time so that you could inflict and witness the twist of metal in cinematic (or pornographic) fashion. You can practically see the stunned looks on bystanders’ faces when your gas tank somehow explodes for a third time.

4. World Of Warcraft: Wrath Of The Lich King

With 30 million YouTube hits, various merchandise tie-ins, and references on The Daily Show and Jeopardy!, the failed raid of Leeroy Jenkins’ guild is indisputably the most spectacular death in World Of Warcraft history. But the game itself rarely rewards players for kicking it. Its most self-destructive mission—a quest called “That’s Abominable!”—comes in the Wrath Of The Lich King expansion. It gives players some catharsis after the 10 levels they’ve spent fighting the undead, by letting them engage in a little necromancy themselves. You create and control a “Hulking Abomination,” a massive underworld lardass who shambles around attracting the ire of other undead until you choose to blow your misbegotten avatar up in the hopes of creating plenty of collateral damage. Do it well, and you get the satisfaction of watching corpses pile up around your abomination’s steaming guts. Mistime it, though, and you’re left with a bunch of pissed-off ghouls and zombies that will swarm your character and likely send you to a less glorious death.

5. Every Extend Extra

Only the synesthetic-minded designers at Q Entertainment—responsible for PSP mainstay Lumines and the cult hit Rez—could turn suicide bombing into a beautiful, otherworldly dance. In Every Extend Extra, you pilot an abstract spaceship in a universe  of geometrical light beings. Your only form of defense, so to speak, is to blow yourself up and take as many shimmery foes with you as possible. Luckily, the enemies are a fair bit explosive themselves, so when you blast them to kingdom come, they send off their own blasts, creating chains of destruction. That bright ripple effect is the visual focus of Every Extend Extra and its Xbox 360 follow-up, Every Extend Extra Extreme

6-7. Skate 2 and Skate 3

The “Hall Of Meat” mode in Electronic Arts’ skateboarding series is clearly inspired by the Dismount games, but Skate riffs on the ragdoll-brutality model of its forebears with some welcome additions. The most obvious is the inclusion of the skateboard, which allows players to build up some speed before hurling themselves into compound-fracture hell. Plus, the towering height of Skate’s death dives makes the staircase of Stair Dismount look like a puny tumble. Then there’s the built-in filming feature that, as noted in our previous Inventory about in-game photography, invites players to create their personal Jackass-style broadcasts.

8. The Splatters

The game that inspired this Inventory, SpikySnail’s recent physics-based puzzler takes showy suicide to the next level by turning it into a spectator sport. The goal of each board is to have your bright-eyed, smiling and chirping paint creatures liquefy themselves in order to disarm clusters and bombs. The controls are simple: Aim, jump, and let physics do the rest. The key is using mid-air jumps, successive jumps, and the environment to make the gooey carnage look as cool as possible. Rather than just show off high scores on the leaderboards, The Splatters offers Splatter TV, where players can watch clips from other games to learn new moves or solutions. The titular paint creatures are so cute you might feel bad about sending them to their doom, but they seem to be having such a good time. Plus, there are always more of them ready to die when you inevitably have to try a level over and over again.

9-11. Saints Row series

The criminals of Saints Row—an increasingly over-the-top take on the Grand Theft Auto formula—aren’t too choosy about their criminal activities. Gun thuggery may be their bread and butter, but they’re willing to play every angle, including Insurance Fraud—a side game that has players throwing their bodies into traffic for an instant, presumably court-ordered payoff. The most effective technique is to run like hell in front of an oncoming car and then go limp right before impact. Lucky for you, the citizen drivers of Saints Row are more than happy to play this game of chicken with you; they only hit the brakes when they hear bones crunching in their wheel well. Meanwhile, the on-screen display racks up your litigation jackpot with a “cha-ching!” sound effect. The Third Street Saints gang may have pride, but dignity? They fail to see the appeal.

12. Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead Boomer

The point of most shooters is to stay alive. The longer you stay on your feet, unloading into the enemy, the better. But in Left 4 Dead’s asymmetric multiplayer matches, players on the zombie side of the aisle are expected to die often. For the infected, that means attacking in concert—a coordinated hail of claws and gore that can take down the survivors in fell swoop. An effective zombie attack is usually instigated by The Boomer, a rotund zombie bloated with gas and bile. The Boomer spews a gout of vomit that blinds the good guys and attracts other zombies. But once you’ve pulled the trigger, it takes a long time to brew up another barf. So smart Boomers make like a suicide bomber and jump right into the middle of the mayhem they caused with their initial upchuck. One stray bullet will make the Boomer explode, stunning the other team and coating them with a fresh dose of sick. That’s when your teammates come in and finish the job. Waiting to respawn is usually maddening, but in online gaming, there’s few sights more satisfying than watching the aftermath of an effective Boomer bombing and being able to say, “Yeah, that’s all because of me.”

13. Pain

At the center of this 2007 downloadable title for the then-fledgling PlayStation 3 is a human-size slingshot. Players strap their virtual jerk into the slingshot, pull back with the right control stick, then launch said jerk face-first into cartoonish urban landscapes stuffed with hit-me landmarks like large rotating donuts, teetering towers of scaffolding, and har-har gags like a “Moon River Proctology” billboard. The goal: to do as much bodily harm to your avatar as possible—a blow to the groin earns an Infertility multiplier, for instance—while simultaneously setting off a chain reaction of property damage. Your best efforts can be recorded for posterity, edited and uploaded to YouTube. Also worth noting: Virtual ready-to-launch versions of Elvira, David Hasselhoff, Andy Dick, and Flavor Flav can be purchased for $1.29 apiece. 

14. Plain Sight

Exploding is not just its own reward in Plain Sight, it’s also the only reward. There’s plenty of other death to be had—this is a game where sword-wielding robots bounce around in low-gravity arenas, slicing their opponents from gear to axle. But those blade kills just give you energy, which is worthless in itself. It’s when you hit the self-destruct button—and all that energy engulfs you in a crackling ball of death—that the real points are finally awarded. They’re suicide points, in honor of your white-hot self-sacrifice, and they comprise the only score that matters in the final reckoning. More energy equals a bigger explosion, which means more hapless robots can die in its wake, which means more points for you. This turns Plain Sight into a game where death is to be avoided, until you can meet it on your own terms—in a blaze of glory, leaving behind nothing at all.

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  • http://whatsbrettwatching.com Brett B

    Burnout 3 was perfect. I’m still waiting for a sequel to do it justice.

    • Shain Eighmey

      Absolutely, ever sequel has been inferior. My girlfriend and I still play Burnout 3 all the time because it is just plain and simple fun. 

      • Basement Boy

        Yeah, Burnout 3′s Crash Mode was not only a complete blast of destructiveness, but could even be pretty mentally challenging in your pre-planning stages… “I need to be going *this* fast and swerve into *that* car at *this* angle to smash into *that* gasoline tanker, etc. etc.” to reach the ultimate chain reaction. Might have to dust that one off, since I’m still playing the ol’ PS2…

        • CNightwing

          Not to mention the commentary was incredibly memorable (mostly due to being ridiculous). Have I got a chaos theory for you..!

    • Dikachu

      The crashes in Burnout 3 are the closest I’ve ever come to spontaneously jizzing in my pants to a videogame.

    • The Guilty Party

       Burnout 3 *was* perfect. I remember racing down the oncoming traffic to get ahead, then picking just the right spot to fill the road with wreckage.

      Is it still possible to find pick up games of it online?

    • Aymanut

       The Crash mode in Burnout 3 has yet to be equal, but Burnout  Paradise was pretty damn great imo.

    • alguien_comenta

      I remember that when my friend bought it we didn’t know anything about this franchise and the clerk told him: “If you don’t like it, you can bring it back and spit me on the face”. Needless to say, we didn’t return it.

    • Justin Leeper

       Have you tried Burnout Crash, the download game? I own it, but haven’t fired it up. The GTA1-esque view bothers me.

      My wife and I played through Crash mode in Burnout 3, getting golds on everything. It was stellar.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    I don’t know if any of you have ever played the freeware game N, but it totally consumed my life a few years ago. One of the best things about it are the death sequences, in which your player character’s body gets tossed around the screen like a ragdoll, setting off all manner of bombs and traps. There’s no tangible reward for creative suicide, but the sheer visual awesome of death is a reward in and of itself.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sA4SXTZGWcM
    (Warning: This game is really tough. Playing it may result in ragequitting.)

    • flowsthead

      Yeah, I play N. I have it downloaded on my laptop and I still have yet to beat all 100 missions after something like 5-10 years. Not that I play every day or something, but damn that game is frustrating.

    • Emperor_Jim

      That game was awesome. Even the really hard levels weren’t that frustrating because I just liked watching the guy die.

    • http://www.facebook.com/RawJawBone Richard Rawjawbone Becker

      Oh GOD, did that game give me some anger issues, but yes the ragdoll deaths were sweet.

    • 3FistedHumdinger

       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVJ25QT34VM

      I had similar reactions when I played N+.

      • Staggering Stew Bum

        I was yelling like this on one particular pain in the arse section of Portal 2 and my wife got up silently and left the house to get away from me. Good times.

        Similarly, trying to take down that little fuck Kai Leng on Insanity in Mass Effect 3. That was very cheap.

  • caspiancomic

    Aww yeah, Truck Dismount is my jam! I think I was having a conversation with someone on this very website about the Dismount series and how gloriously cathartic they are.

    I’m also a big fan of the Skate series, and never made the connection between Dismount and Skate- maybe that explains why I like Hall of Meat so much. It was a lot of fun finding one of the more absurdly tall areas in the game, artfully kickflipping off it, and then going totally limp, like someone had teleported your skeleton out from underneath you, and watching the patently unsurvivable carnage that ensued.

    • Emperor_Jim

      A friend of mine introduced me to Dismount on my first deployment, and we dropped countless hours competing with each other and others. Such a great stress reliever.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

    I know that there are dozens of 8-bit and 16-bit games that do this, but I swear they’re not coming to mind.

    obvious choice: the immensely clever Wario series
    creative choice: any block puzzle game where the blocks are personified or any fighting game with a suicide, all-or-nothing move
    obscure choice: Rescue Shot Bubibo, a really underrated light gun game with puzzle elements http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5Tjf7h8KB4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5Tjf7h8KB4
    weird choice: Breath Of Fire V, which rewards you for starting your game over even more than roguelikes usually do http://hardcoregaming101.net/bof/bof5.htm

    • Raging Bear

      I thought of Wario for an entirely different reason. He could kick off his own inventory of gaming’s killer fatties (of which there are two examples even in this list). Of course, freakishly obese enemies have been a thing for at least ten years now, so that would really take some selection. And also probably aren’t interesting enough in themselves to be worth a feature.

      Still, Wario came to mind not just because he’s chunky and also stomps everyone to death, but because he’s notable in that simply eating an apple instantly makes him so fat he can kill with a touch. Which is pretty fat.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        Murray from the Sly Cooper series might fit the bill. Then again, all hippos are fat.

        Also, Doughnut Drake.

      • Aaron Riccio

        I’d say that the example you gave of Wario fattening-up actually fits this category rather well. What is gluttony but a creative (and delicious) form of self-destruction?

        ::sings:: “And my shadow weighs forty-two pounds, let me ask you all again, who’s fat?”

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        I love stuff like that.  It takes Metal Slug characters 16 (low calorie) items to pull it off.  http://metalslug.wikia.com/wiki/Transformations#Fat  You’d think frontline warfare would burn more than puzzle-platforming.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

       I don’t remember enjoying the game very much (and whether that was the fault of me or the game), but the SNES platformer PLOK! was all about dismembering yourself to defeat enemies, and is probably a worthy 2-D addition to this list.

      • ocelotfox

         PLOK! is also one of the greatest hidden gems of that generation of games.  After all, you got to help a guy get his underwear back, what’s more satisfying than that?

    • Basement Boy

      Here’s an oldie, playable on Commodore 64, circa 1985… “Infernal Runner”; the player had to navigate a death-factory. 

      I don’t recall any real prelude or storyline, just try not to die… and that was NOT easy, what with all the mines, spikes, fire, smashy things and (my favorite), the microwaves that caused your head to swell until it exploded in chunky red pixels. Very gory and lo-fi, I used to play it on a friends machine and never completed it…

      Here’s a cheesy clip someone made:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdKjX8gBtOM

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        That’s just reminded me that you needed to abuse Mel in The Incredible Machine.

    • Aaron Riccio

      Whoa, now. How are we forgetting about N64′s “Blast Corps”? Or if we’re specifically talking about self-destruction, “Splosion Man”? 

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        Great call.  NeverDead, too.

      • Samantha Nelson

        I thought of Splosion Man but since you don’t actually die when you explode I figured it didn’t qualify.

  • Destroy Him My Robots

    If anyone’s interested, Omega’s original 2004 PC version of Every Extend is still available for free download here and there (for example http://www.gamefront.com/files/6346178/Every-Extend ) I don’t know how well it fares vis-a-vis the PSP version, but it is probably better than the last thing you grabbed from a Daily Deal because why not.

    Plain Sight on the other hand is one of the worst games I played in recent years. I probably got it with some bundle and… seriously. If you own this game but didn’t have the chance to try it out yet, just don’t. Don’t even install it.

  • Staggering Stew Bum

    Video game slapstick is even better when soundtracked by Yakety sax:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifTIuA8Dq58

  • Penis Van Lesbian

    Lemmings?

    • Staggering Stew Bum

      No thankyou, I just ate.

    • flowsthead

      I was thinking Zoombinis.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        You’re the best.

        • http://twitter.com/MattBodega Matthew Kessler

          Fleens?

    • Basement Boy

      I wondered about that one too… especially when you needed to Nuke them, that caused alot of destruction.

      • http://twitter.com/roundthewheel Jessie Eubanks

        Lemmings is the opposite of the games on this list. It rewards you not for creative destruction but for creative preservation. Death and demolition and explosions are woven into the fabric of the levels’ structures and solutions; if one or two or thirty Lemmings have to die so that the rest can be saved, so be it. When you lose in Lemmings, it’s because you were either 1) careless, 2) imprecise, 3) inefficient (whether with item use or time), or because 4) you failed to consider the possible uses of the tools you were given and maximize their potential. Hitting the nuke button may be fun, but it never helps you reach the next level (except for one level in one of the Holiday Lemmings expansions that’s so lazy and stupid that it’s barely worth bringing up even in this context).

        • Basement Boy

          True, but when you realized you’d already fucked up a level, that nuke option was pretty fun… 

          Ha, now I’m thinking of Simon Pegg in “Spaced”, purposely drowning Lara Croft because he’d had a shit day…

  • Shain Eighmey

    Well, back in my day the game to play for self destruction was Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2. Getting massive scores was fun, but launching poor Mr. Hawk off of a multistory building into painful situations was always the source of the best laughs for my friends and I. 

  • dreadguacamole

     The dismount games… so much fun!

     Voodo Vince’s attack mechanic was hurting yourself to kill your enemies (you played as a Voodoo Doll). IIRC, the boss fights consisted of finding a way to kill yourself in a spectacular way. It was actually a very decent game, and pretty funny to boot.

     You can do some pretty nasty things to your body in Neverdead, including routinely removing your head so you can roll it into small spaces or throw it into hard-to-reach-areas. It’s a disappointing game, but the devs had a lot of fun with the concept.

     One of the designers for the I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream game adaptation once mentioned that Harlan Ellison insisted that the goal of the game for its many characters should be to find a way to succesfully kill themselves… unfortunately, they talked him out of it.

     Looking at it in a certain way, I’d suggest Desktop Dungeons: you always get hurt for a known amount in fights, so you could say the game is about managing your self-destruction in a way that lets you get to the end of a dungeon.

  • Raging Bear

    Watching those paint critters die makes me feel quite emulsional.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

       Oil have to agree with you there. Games a definitely an affecting medium. Some virtual experiences are so affecting, you can’t just brush them off.

      • Basement Boy

        …so the point is to van Gogh out with a bang!? (+ it looks like a game Jackson Pollock could get behind…)

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          Relevance, from the Bugle:
          http://thebuglepodcast.com/?p=303

          “Some would say that 50 million pounds is a lot of money for a piece of expressionist art… but some would even say, for a piece of expressionist art, that’s a PaulKlee sum.

          Others would say it’s way too much to pay for a painting. I mean who are all these people? They must be complete and Otto Dix!

          I took my wife to an exhibition of expressionist art recently…we still get on, after 15 years, me and my wife. Honestly, we’re still Franz, Mark my words. We went out to a cafe for lunch – I started with a cheese roll, with pickled RolfNesch. My wife ordered a straight bacon sandwich, but when it came, it had Eg(g)on. Schiele-ft on her plate.

          Of course, not all the paintings were good. There was one painting of leftover food containers hurtling down a mountainside. Really stupid painting. Was silly, Can tins ski-ing!

          But my wife enjoyed the exhibition. It’s nice when you have a ladyfriend who enjoys that kind of thing. It MarksChagall out as being in touch with her artistic side.

          We went to the souvenir shop. My wife bought  a really lovely-looking thing to keep her keys on. Yeah, a really (H)Anselm Keyfob

          There were some celebs at the exhibition, too, John. On the way out we passed Michael Jackson, Jesse Jackson, and Glenda Jackson being surveyed on which expressionist artist they liked the best. It was neck and neck! They just couldn’t decide! There was a real Jackson Poll-lock!

          So on the way home, we saw the film star Daniel Day-Lewis driving his lucky automobile, you know, the one he drove to pick up his academy award in 2007? He had it specially modified with a cudgel under the steering wheel to whack him in the penis if he ever drove too fast. That’s right, he was is his Oscar Cock-kosh-car.”

  • The_Asinus

    Does playing Soul Caliber as Yoshimitsu and attacking by impaling yourself with your own sword count? In Samurai Showdown II, Wan Fu smashes his head into his stone pillar to build up rage (at the expense of health, of course), too. I know that’s not the point of the game, so neither of these probably fit, but I’ve always found the “hurt yourself” attacks to be really weird (and annoying if you do them on accident).

    • 3FistedHumdinger

       There are any number of fighting games where suicide techniques are present, but yeah SC and Tekken come to mind.  Oh!  And those HaraKiri things in one of the Mortal Kombat games.

      • The_Asinus

        That’s true, I’m not a big fan of fighters (though there are some fighters that I am a huge fan of) and the handful that I’m familiar with all have some kind of self-destructive move. So, never mind– it was early.

  • The_Misanthrope

    Whenever I was stuck on a mission in GTA San Andreas, I often screwed around by seeing just how far I could get on a crime spree. I especially liked swimming over to one of the “forbidden” areas–the places not yet unlocked by the story– and seeing how far I could get into the area.

    • AuroraBoreanaz

      The last time I played GTA4, my brothers and I took turns trying to get the best car jump.  One of us had the perfect one going, when the car hit a lamppost, and instead of the post breaking, it stopped the car dead and launched the driver through the windshield at about 200 mph.  We couldn’t stop laughing for five minutes at least.

      • 3FistedHumdinger

         I just picked up GTA4 the other week and did that during a mission.  It was less amusing than what you described.

        • AuroraBoreanaz

          There’s your problem, you were doing a mission.  After that stupid “drive home drunk” mission, I quit doing them at all and just raced around the city doing jumps or blowing up gas stations.

    • ProfessorPoopyPants

      That is why I have never completed a GTA game.  I spend way too much time just dicking around.  Of course dicking around tends to be way more fun than missions where you have to ride a motorcycle while you shoot shit.

      • Basement Boy

        The Vigilante Missions were another way to ensure tons of sheer vehicular chaos… tho I preferred to do them from the police bikes because it made it so much easier to shoot shit.

      • AuroraBoreanaz

        I always hated the missions that required you to figure out how to control a new vehicle or object without any real instruction.  “You want me to fire a machine gun from a moving helicopter and kill a certain number of people on the ground?  COME ON!  I can barely aim with a thumbstick when stationary!”

      • Dikachu

        I hated the goddamn motorcycle missions… you have to be a fuckin mutant to hold the controller correctly to both drive and shoot well.

      • Staggering Stew Bum

        In the GTA motorcyle missions it doesn’t help that the motorists around you seem to go out of their way to fuck up your shit.

        And somehow it didn’t occur to Rockstar to put in mission checkpoints until that GTA4 add on. There were several instances in San Andreas I can think of where you trigger the mission then have to drive halfway across the map and if you fail it you’ve got to do it all over again. Holy shit, I just remembered that fucking trailbike mission. That took years of electroshock therapy to erase from my brain. Fuck!

        • Raging Bear

          After a decade of playing GTA games, I’m virtually positive they program a deliberate routine to make cars pull out in front of you abruptly from side streets and change lanes to cut you off.

          In a way, yes, it’s good to have to avoid the kind of random traffic events that you would have to avoid in a high speed situation in a real city. On the other hand, it actually happens so consistently in GTA that it’s not even random, and is just annoying and shitty.

    • Dikachu

      I thought GTA3 was the best for that… the cops weren’t nearly as smart, and therefore a lot more fun to confuse.  I also had several of the cheat codes memorized so well that I could blow up all cars like every second or so. 

      I think I’m getting an erection just remembering that.

  • cbirdsong

    There is a pretty good version of Stair Dismount for iOS. You get a bunch of basic levels for free, and can buy a huge pack of far more insane ones for like $3.

  • slammin_sammy_sneed

    Just Cause and Just Cause 2 are the best “blow shit up” games ever ever ever.

    In fact, it would be like making a list of “1 game that stars Luigi” and leaving off Luigi’s Mansion.

    • Aaron Riccio

      I don’t know about that. Now you’re forgetting the seminal “Mario is Missing.”

      • http://twitter.com/roundthewheel Jessie Eubanks

        They’re also making a Luigi’s Mansion sequel for the 3DS.

    • Grimbus

      “creative SELF-destruction”, sammy.

      • itisdancing

        I actually have a self-destructive tactic in that game to get some breathing room on an oil platform.

        Step one: aim the grapple at the very tip of one of those fat propane tanks. You’ll end up perched on the tank.
        Step two: shoot until the tank starts blowing off gas.
        Step three: be shot hundreds of feet into the air.
        Step four: canister explodes and, hilariously, does almost no damage.
        Step five: Leisurely parachute back down, spraying everyone with hot lead as you do so.

        • Grimbus

           That’s amazing. Those are amazing games. They put the Sandbox in Sandbox Game.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581256467 Mark Paterson

      That was the main thought running through my head as I read this. One of the most cathartic and fun experiences of senseless destruction ever… but yeah not self destruction. Blowing up sh*t should just be fun. It often isn’t, and surprisingly becomes hard work. So JC2 (and presumably JC1, didn’t play) have to be commended.

  • Big_Fat_Face

    No mention of Red Faction? That series was pretty much built for stuff like this. Red Faction:  Guerrilla is one of my favorite games ever, and I still think it’s underrated. It had very fun multiplayer modes where some people would get “reconstructor” guns that would rebuild structures, and the other team would try to destroy the buildings. I’d still be playing if there were other people around! Just look at how crazy the destruction gets:  http://youtu.be/H5bv4RIOc_s

    Apparently the sequel, Red Faction:  Armageddon, is a fall from grace, which is very disappointing. I’ve only played the demo, but the game apparently confined everything to tunnels, which limited the destruction. This one also gave people the reconstructor in single player, which caused many reviewers to erroneously state that the gun was new to the series. Evidence that more people needed to play Guerrilla multiplayer!

    I also had lots of fun with the Red Faction FPSs back in the day, or at least their demos.

    • Marozeph

      RF:G rewards destruction, not self-destruction, so it’s kind of a bad fit for the list. Although (iirc) the MOABs worked by putting them to a car, then blowing said car up, so that might count.

      It’s indeed a pretty good game though. Seeing a building get dismantled by a “Black Hole Bomb” is immensely satisfying, as is the rocket launcher that levels whole blocks with one shot.

      • Grimbus

         But yeah, RF:G is fantastic. I did get annoyed though as it started to make you and the enemies increasingly powerful. I feel less like a guerrilla when I’ve got ultra-science backpacks and near-magic weapons, than when I’ve got a hammer, a salvaged machine gun, some remote charges that I took with me from my old mining job, and a ‘liberated’ pickup truck full of propane canisters.

        Once the equipment gets more mil-spec, I feel more like your generic super-soldier. The early levels are the funnest for me.

        One game where I never lost that guerrila, freedom-fighter with improvised weapons feel was Freedom Fighters.

  • Aymanut

    One of the first video games I ever had was some Lego game for the PC, and I remember the main draw of that game was making towns in ways that would look awesome when you blew them up with dynamite.

  • KidvanDanzig

    Planescape: Torment technically counts, but that’s an end-game spoiler, sort of.

  • Zachary Moore

    Fun fact: In Saint’s Row 2, if you played Insurance Fraud with the Low Gravity cheat on, you could literally bounce from one side of the map to the other off of one car hit. It was the best.

  • 3FistedHumdinger

    “You can practically see the stunned looks on bystanders’ faces when your gas tank somehow explodes for a third time.”

    What bystanders?  Ain’t no humans in Burnout!  The cars drive themselves.

  • MattmanBegins

    I spend my Thursday nights deconstructing the multiple levels of humor on Community with appreciation and awe, am an enthusiast of the refined comic works and words of Mssrs. Twain, Allen, and Foster Wallace, and what happens here?  Set me in front of some gameplay videos of Stair Dismount, Skate 2, and Pain, and I’m practically pissing myself with laughter. 

    Even with dumb physical humor like this, though, I have to think there are levels to it.  I see just a little bit of blood in the Saints Row clip, and I’m all, “mmm, not as funny”.  So, does it have to do with how abstract the grievous bodily harm is, then?  Is it the absurd maulings of the laws of physics, at least as it pertains to keeping a body intact after all those accidents?  Help me out here, people; why do I find this so funny (other than “because you really have the sense of humor of a dried turnip, MattmanBegins”)?

    I mean, I didn’t care overly much for the Three Stooges as a kid, didn’t laugh once at all those car crashes in The Blues Brothers…but the 1:51-2:03 span in the Skate video of breaking every fucking bone that the player can conceive of, hitting several floors of steel girders, racking up a record-shattering 64,000 points, and THEN getting the completely gratuitous message, “KILLED”…oh, I’m having trouble breathing, I’m laughing so hard.  It’s SO not funny in real life.  God bless it, what’s wrong with me?

    • Aaron Riccio

      The abstraction helps to make it funny. Have you seen the films of Don Hertzfeldt? I think it was “Rejected” that has the shot of the baby falling down a never-ending staircase. And then “Billy’s Balloon” has a terrific sight gag that I won’t spoil.

      (And, for the record, one of the funniest sequences David Foster Wallace has ever written involves the rather unfortunate circumstances that have led to a bricklayer’s lawsuit . . . mid-200s or 300s of Infinite Jest, presented as a forwarded e-mail, and eerily foreseeing our love of savage YouTube links.)

  • Basement Boy

    And hey, what about the now-ubiquitous “Angry Birds”? Those pissed-off avian are sacrificing themselves to destroy those evil green pigs cleverly constructed lairs… sure, the game has gone hugely overblown, but still provides some great physics puzzles (not to mention TONS of Breakin’ Shit!)

  • http://twitter.com/MattBodega Matthew Kessler

    WHERE IS VOODOO VINCE?!?

  • Halloween_Jack

    City of Heroes’ Self Destruction power. Blow yourself up real good!

  • Justin Leeper

    I would just like to commend this site for having lists that don’t require us to click on a new F’ing page for every single entry.
    Okay, 1 more thing: Burnout 3 is the best racing game of all time, and its Crash mode one of the best puzzle games ever. 

  • ThoseEyebrows

    Where’s Karoshi Suicide Salaryman?

  • http://www.imadeshopping.com/ lunwen

     http://lnk.co/IL4JS