Ever since Bruce Campbell hoisted aloft his mighty boomstick, shotguns have been the premiere weapon for laying waste to our imaginary adversaries. As fiction has proved countless times, no enemy is a match for the raw strength of a bunch of tiny pellets fired at close range. Like most modern gaming consoles, the Xbox 360 has paid its dues to the most redundantaly-named of guns. Whether you’re fighting zombies, space aliens or even zombie space aliens, the following games know how to celebrate this mainstay of the gamer arsenal.
There’s something about shotguns and dystopias that make them go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Maybe it’s that the shotgun and its ilk conjure up images of the Wild West, when justice was determined by whoever happened to be holding the biggest piece. Or maybe it’s just that, as people, we’ve all got some issues with society, and shooting our way out of a city filled with maniacs is a lot more therapeutic and fun than posting angsty poetry on a LiveJournal. Bioshock’s chaotic world of Objectivism run amok is one of the best titles for fulfilling that need, as it conveniently sells buckshot at culturally-insensitive vending machines throughout the city of Rapture. And, just as Ayn Rand predicted, the lack of market restrictions in the city of Rapture means you can freely buy exploding and electrified ammo for your favorite firearm! Thanks, laissez-faire capitalism!
Halo is the series that cemented the fact that, no matter how far humanity survives into the future, mankind will never, ever be able to improve on the pump-action shotgun. Crazed alien zealot rushing you with an energy sword? Shotgun to the face. Hyper-advanced hive mind that sees humanity as an all-you-can eat buffet? Shotgun to the tentacles. Ancient robotic drones from a long-dead civilization? Shotgun to their elegant shield technology. Tinny-voiced Xbox Live brat named xxDarkSnipa6669xx who’s spent too much time making his emblem look like an erect phallus? Shotgun, teabag and done. The fact that in a game filled with laser cannons, alien plasma guns, and lightsabers, the most sought-out multiplayer weapon is still the shotgun says a lot about sturdy, human craftsmanship. Or that we’re all secretly space rednecks.
Mass Effect 2
If Halo taught us that mankind will never find a suitable replacement for the shotgun, Mass Effect proves that it’s construction is an inevitability for any advanced civilization. From frog-dinosaur men to blue space Sapphos, no matter what culture you travel to in the galaxy, shotguns prove to be a right of all sentient life. The most impressive out of all of these though is the Claymroe, a shotgun specificially designed for the brawny krogan race, whose description states that simply firing it will shatter the arms of any non-krogan species using it. Unless you’re Commander Shepard, of course, in which case you just have to select it from a menu halfway through the game. I guess the Illusive Man asked for a couple more enhancements when Cerberus was rebuilding the commander.
Scientist: Muscular reconstruction is underway, sir. Are there any cybernetic enhancements you want us to add to Shepard while we’re rebuilding him?
Illusive Man: Yes...strong arms...the kind that can hold you tight and never let go, no matter how much weight the universe places on you...
Scientist: ...You mean for holding weapons? Right, sir?
Illusive Man: Yes...that is clearly the only possible interpretation of that sentence.
Some fear Dead Space’s future of monstrous, corpse-stealing aliens unleashed by Space-Age Scientologists; I say, any future where the design doc for power tools reads “make it like a gun” is okay in my book. The best example of frivolous hardware in the game is the Handheld Graviton Accelerator, or “Force Gun.” I have no idea what practical purpose this thing was supposed to accomplish for the deep space miners aboard the spaceship Ishimura, other than it does a fantastic job of blasting apart any Event Horizon rejects who try to get too cuddly with you. The best explanation I can come up with is that the folks of Dead Space’s future have finally paid attention to centuries of science-fiction, and any spacecraft operator is required by law to keep and maintain a certain number of shotguns or shotgun-like devices on their vessel at all times. So, kind of like lifeboats. And as anybody who has fought Dead Space’s grotesque “pregnant” zombies and undead tentacle babies knows, women and children go first.
Dead Rising 2
Chuck Greene can make any weapon ten times manlier if given access to a hardware store and duct tape. He’s like a zombie apocalypse version of Tim Allen, except watching his daughter slowly being consumed by zombie-itis is a lot more fun than most of Tim’s movie career. But how does one improve on the shotgun, which, as far as manhood and weaponry goes, is practically sprouting chest hair? Chuck’s simple, yet elegant answer - tape a pitchfork onto that sucker. Sure, you may argue that the shotgun is one of the last weapons to need a bayonet, but tell that to the zombie you just skewered and blew into three chunks.
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