Combining metal and video games is the most peanut butter/chocolate combinations ever. Both relatively appeal to younger males (and cool females, just sayin’). It’s also a way to brand a game as edgier than, say, Pokemon. While the inclusion of metal won’t necessarily make for an automatic purchase, if you’re a fan of the band/bands featured, it might help sell you on the game, which isn’t lost on the industry. With that in mind, here’s our top five of the games that best incorporate metal into their gameplay, or vice versa.
While we haven’t had experience playing this racing game that came out for Playstation 2 and PC in 2006, we’ve definitely heard about it. Mainly what we’ve heard is that the game itself totally blows. A tired mash-up of Twisted Metal and Mario Kart, the game was universally hated when it was released – at least it was released as a budget title. But the soundtrack is all Earache bands, with Morbid Angel, Deicide, At the Gates, Napalm Death and Municipal Waste all represented. The fact that an extreme label was given its own video game is enough for its inclusion on the list, even if the game itself is ass.
Beavis and Butt-Head made their way on to this list for one reason: GWAR. Their favorite band is playing Highland, and the duo have to make their way around the town finding pieces of concert tickets to get in and see Oderus and friends. The game ends with an extremely cheesy MIDI version of “Jack the World,” which is as high fun as it is low tech.
3. Brutal Legend (XBox 360, PS3)
Having Jack Black host a video game is not that “metal” of an idea. Sure, his hyper-caffeinated “rock dude” persona is fun, but it’s about as edgy as a new Def Leppard album. However, any time Ozzy, Dio and Lemmy lend their vocal talents to a video game, you’ve got yourself an event. And the intro with Black’s roadie sneering at the rap-rock band he’s working for is pretty fun. The gameplay deals with you having to put together stages and gain fans. But the best part of the game is the extensive soundtrack with 100 songs from 75 bands. It runs the gamut from Scorpions to Mastodon, with plenty of Priest and Sabbath in there as well.
Someone at Rockstar Games had a brilliant idea: let’s create radio stations of different genres for players to listen to while driving around and beating up prostitutes! And not only did the metal stations/ soundtracks have some pretty good tunes, but they even got some of rock and metal’s elites to voice DJs in the games. More recently, Soulfly/ex-Sepultura frontman Max Cavalera had his own station in 2009’s Grand Theft Auto: The Lost And Damned. And back in 2004, none other than Axl Rose voiced classic rock DJ Tommy “The Nightmare” Smith in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Rose’s voice appearance in the game was especially a big deal given that it marked his first public recording in years. The concept of the radio stations, as well as the great music curated for them, made a good franchise and amazing one.
Did you seriously think that we’d create a list called “Most Metal Video Games” and not include these two franchises? Granted, music-themed video games in general lost popularity extremely quickly (with Guitar Hero the first to get buried for good), but there’s no denying how big of an impact Guitar Hero and Rock Band made in the music industry. And don’t just assume that Dragonforce was the only band to benefit from Guitar Hero. The games exposed a crapload of rock and metal bands (both new and old) to a new audience. Just ask your teenage jock cousin where they first heard Slayer’s “Raining Blood,” let alone every Metallica song not named “Enter Sandman” (thanks to the band’s own version of Guitar Hero). And The Sword didn’t really catch on until “Freya” was included in Guitar Hero II. And being the chart geeks that we are, it was fun to see the direct correlation in digital single sales and know they were tied into GH or RB.