The gaming landscape is peppered with with moments and images that will stay with us for a very long time. Few gamers who have played the original Bioshock can forget seeing Rapture for the very first time. MW2 gamers who chose not to skip the Terminal sequence were treated to an event not easily forgotten.
While some of these pieces of games are memorable pieces of digitized art, some hit the nostalgia button, and others are just standout moments: the greatest hits of a lifetime of gaming, none of that shit has anything to do with this list. The “Oh Shit” list is the moment when gamers realized that the situation was much more dire than previously estimated. These are the moments when we realized that we may have been in way over our heads, but kept playing anyway.
Warning, this article contains spoilers.
10. Tomb Raider: Shantytown
Just over a year ago, Crystal Dynamics rebooted the Tomb Raider franchise, forever changing our perspective of Lara Croft. In an effort to save her friends, Lara attempts to cross a powerful river, but is swept away. After a deadly swim down the rapids and impromptu parachute ride, Lara lands at the entrance of a makeshift village, in need of medical attention. Not only does this sprawling complex house two separate tombs, but the main force of bad guy island dudes is armed, waiting, and ready for business. Lara is low on ammo by this point in the game, and must singlehandedly fight a war against an army of psychos in order to make a high-altitude escape from the town. Shantytown is jarring, disorienting, and nearly hopeless; if you cleared this level with your controller intact then the rest of the game is yours for the taking. Kudos, amigo.
9. Metro 2033: Fresh Air
Living in Moscow’s Metro subway system can be a difficult experience. The entire game is a mix of over the top difficulty and a disastrous organic interface that, for me, resulted in a broken controller and subsequent disc fling. But that is nothing compared to when those doors open topside and the protagonist wanders into the poisoned air of the ruined city. The player is forced to wear a gasmask, which means that you can’t see shit. This is unfortunate because the water is toxic, the animals are aggressive and mutated, and the air filters have a very limited life span. In Metro 2033, going outside meant that I was out of the game and short one controller.
8. Forza Motorsport: Fujimi Kaido
Turn 10 has presented racers with some challenging tracks over the span of 5 games (no, Horizon still doesn’t fucking count) but nothing compares to the drifter’s paradise of Fujimi Kaido. Players are first introduced to this metal-bending peak of despair in the original Forza, early in their career, during a race against AI drivers in AWD Evos and a Tommy Kaira Scooby, who promptly left you behind with treadmarks on your nutsack and a bruised ego. Fujimi Kaido challenged players to upgrade their ride and tuning abilities or go back and play in the sandbox with the rest of the shitty drivers. The mountain returned in Forza 3 and 4, but was no longer the career hurdle that it was in the first game.
7. Skyrim: The Western Watchtower
The protagonist, the Mighty Sarcasmo Fjones, meets his first dragon in the opening minutes of Skyrim. However, the first actual dragon battle occurs later in the game. The Dragonborn has just presented Balgruuf, Jarl of Whiterun, with physical evidence of his success in raiding his first tomb, when some dipshit guard rushes in to whine about a dragon attack on a tower just west of Whiterun. The Dragonborn follows a rather bitchy Dark Elf, named Irileth, and a complement of guards, to the tower to slay the dragon. Clever gamers will save at the rendezvous point before investigating the scene, because the Dragonborn is short on weapons and abilities at this point in the game, and has yet to receive his first shout. It is at this precise point in the game when the player realizes that iron arrows don’t do shit against dragons. Good luck, amigo.
6. Far Cry 3- Blood Dragon: Here There Be Dragons
Rex “Power” Colt regains consciousness in a cave on an island after losing a battle with his former commander. As Rex approaches the exit to the cave, an avalanche of gore pours down the mouth of the cave. Rex expresses his dismay and looks up to behold what appears to be a T-Rex munching on a human. That’s no T-Rex amigo, that’s a blood dragon: a huge lizard that shoots lasers from its eyes. The good news is that they possess very poor eyesight. The bad news is that they are everywhere and consider Mark IV Cyber Commandos a delicacy. It’s probably a good idea to stay out of their way.
5. Dark Souls: The Asylum Demon
Dark Souls has earned the respect of the gaming community for its apparent disdain for the people who play it. The game’s incredible difficulty is showcased in the tutorial level, forcing a player to combat a giant demon almost immediately...and it only gets harder from there. You will die, and die often, but this is why you play. I gave up on Dark Souls, but I’ll never forget that giant son of a bitch guarding the asylum exit.
4. Bioshock Infinite: The Handyman
Columbia’s Fair gives Booker DeWitt a preview of things to come later in the game. There’s a carnival game booth with a Vox Populi shooting booth, another booth displays the attributes of the Bucking Bronco tonic, and there is a Handyman on full display. The Handyman is a hulking mechanical man with an organic heart, huge porcelain hands, and a whole lot of fight. The “oh shit” moment occurs while Booker is in pursuit of Elizabeth, after losing her trust. The Handyman beats the shit out of Booker and knocks him off the city, leaving him to plummet to his death. Reminiscent of the Big Sister introduction in Bioshock 2, the Handyman seems to be an unbeatable character that you have to put down anyway. He’s big, he’s bad, and he’s surprisingly fast and agile. The heart is the Achilles Heel of this biomechanical menace, but its glass casing is only about the size of a tea saucer. Good luck putting that big bastard to bed on the 1999 difficulty setting.
3. Dead Space 3: Belly of the Nexus
Isaac Clarke’s third installment of “Fun With Necromorphs” delivers the biggest “oh shit” moment of the series when Isaac must go inside a titanic necromorph to drive sensors into the beast’s synaptic clusters in order to locate some machines and end the necromorph menace. The beastie is thought to be “quite dead” but it starts moving anyway...oh shit! Isaac escapes and the necromorph wanders off, but I wonder if he will have to fight that thing later. I’ll ask my Magic 8-Ball. Signs point to yes.
2. Mortal Kombat: Raiden vs Shao Khan
The single player campaign in the Mortal Kombat reboot is nefariously difficult, often pitting the player in unfair fights or against multiple opponents. However, Raiden’s fight against Shao Khan after the third tournament is one of the biggest WTF moments in gaming. Not only is Shao Khan ridiculously overpowered, Raiden’s attacks do little or no damage to the blatant cheater from the Netherrealm. Khan will beat you with his hammer, taunt you, and kill you repeatedly...and there’s nothing you can do about it. This fight is a kick in the crotch, quickly followed by despair. Keep your distance and hit him when he starts his taunt animation for any chance at winning. Abandon all hope, ye who enter.
1. Fallout 3: Welcome to Old Olney
At some point during Fallout 3, the player will be tasked with retrieving a Tesla Coil from the defunct power station in Old Olney. What the player is not told is that Old Olney is a city of Deathclaws who have taken a stab at urban life and thrived. Deathclaws inhabit every building, patrol the streets, and infest the sewers. Strolling into Old Olney is a death sentence: you will need a tactical, preferably stealthy, approach. Never, under any circumstance, fast travel directly into Deathclaw City. It’s worth the walk to strategically plan your ingress. Old Olney has to be seen to be believed.
This list is, of course, only one opinion. If you disagree with any game on this list, or feel that I have neglected to mention your favorite moment, feel free to leave a comment. We dig feedback from our readers.