Society's definition of masculinity might have gravitated away from the mustached, Charles Bronson-esque, tough-guy image of the 1960's. However, it's still important for men to indulge in manly activities, if only to periodically reassure themselves that their masculinity is intact. Things like tackle football, drinking beer, eating under-cooked meat, watching war movies starring John Wayne or Lee Marvin and improperly using power tools are considered to be traditional hobbies worthy of a man, but with the rise in popularity of digital entertainment, video games too have emerged as a viable medium of carrying on the masculine tradition.
While some games emphasize strategy, storytelling, art direction or other pointless things that hairy-chested men don't waste their time dwelling on, here are ten totally awesome games packed with explosions, gunfights, and unchecked murder and bloodshed that will inspire you to go out, devour a raw steak, rip the sleeves off your shirt and roundhouse kick a hippie in the face.
God of War III / God of War: Ghost of Sparta
When you think of what it means to be a man, most would tell you it has something to do with going around, stomping faces and having sex with loads of chicks. I have absolutely no idea if this is the correct definition, but that's more or less what "God of War III" and "God of War: Ghost of Sparta" are all about. Kratos, the legendary killer of gods, continues to live up to his reputation of being an all around badass and total dick. He doesn't take crap from anyone, brutally mutilating humans and mythological monsters with a bloodthirsty savagery that make even serial killers take pause, and his adventures are always punctuated with periodic fornication and naked breasts.
If you actually end up feeling less of a man after being humbled by the unparalleled badassery of Kratos, don't worry, this is perfectly normal. Not even Chuck Norris or Don Frye could hope to rival the manliness of Kratos, and if they can't, no mortal man stands a chance. Just go buy a chainsaw and cut down some trees shirtless. Hopefully that will make you feel better.
Army of Two: The 40th Day
"Army of Two: The 40th Day" makes absolutely no sense, but like any good piece of action entertainment, that's a good thing. Instead of worrying about character development or plot progression, 40th Day focuses on creating a combat experience where you and your favorite bud can totally bro out while demolishing the crap out of Chinese culture. You can pimp out your guns to your hearts content, and assuming your bro is of decent skill, spend a good amount of time spraying bullets and shooting grenades at a bunch of evil mercenary bastards that need a good killing. Also, just to make sure there's absolutely no doubt in your mind that "Army of Two: The 40th Day" is incredibly hardcore, things blow up all the time, seemingly for no reason. Seriously. Buildings will dissolve into fireballs at random with more regularity than a Michael Bay movie, but you know what? Who cares.
"Splatterhouse" isn't really a good game (it's more of a generic mash up of action game cliches) but its ridiculous violence and unabashed usage of over-the-top gore earns it a spot on this list. You play as Rick, a dead man turned steroid-pumped wrecking machine, who needs to rescue his girlfriend from the hands of an evil scientist and his legion of demon followers. Asses need to be kicked in copious numbers, and that's exactly what you end up doing in the most explicitly graphic fashion possible. Use an enemy's limb to beat them to death, use your own amputated limb to do the same thing, impale him on spikes, or utilize a host of incredibly bizarre environmental triggers to completely cover levels in a slippery coat of blood and corpses.
Oh, and on top of that, soft core pornography is sprinkled throughout the game. No real reason is given for this, but hey, nothing compliments slaughtering demons like random nudity, right?
At first I thought "Gran Turismo 5" would be a good addition to this list because it had a ton of awesome race cars in it. But then I realized that "Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit" would be a better choice because it had nitrous oxide and insane, high-speed chases. But then it occurred to me that "Split Second" has virtually everything that "Gran Turismo 5" and "Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit" have and more, like airplanes falling out of the sky, explosions, natural disasters and all sorts of other hazards designed to reduce racers into fiery bits of scrap metal.
It might lack any semblance of realism, but "Split Second" is so damn cool that it doesn't really need any. You drive fast cars, dodge explosive barrels and helicopters shooting missiles at you, and can try and eliminate the competition by causing nearby buildings to spontaneously explode and collapse on them. It's the video game incarnation of a Calvin and Hobbes day dream comic strip (only, sadly, minus the T-Rexes in fighter jets) and it's so totally awesome that you can overlook the rather glaring fact that everything about "Split Second" sounds like it was devised by a hyperactive six-year-old child with ADHD, or Michael Bay.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
I could talk about how "Call of Duty: Black Ops" is a man's game because you play as ruthless special forces soldiers who sneak around the jungle, stabbing Vietcong in the throat and mowing down soldiers by the hundreds with a mounted machine. Or I could point out that at one point a guy, who had just spent the entirety of the game killing more people than cancer, tackles a dude out a window so he can save you from a grenade explosion. I mean, selfless martyrdom is always pretty sweet, but when you combine that with shattering plate glass and lethal doses of fragmented metal, you have a pretty strong case for making sacrificial suicide into one of the most courageous, heroic and totally badass things a man can ever hope to accomplish in his life.
However, "Black Ops" really exhibits its masculine qualities by combining three of the most hardcore sports in the world in one. The first is war. Though this is perhaps the exact opposite of what Activision intended, "Call of Duty: Black Ops" transforms one of the darkest and most deadliest conflicts in US history into an entertaining spectacle that just so happens to be endorsed by athlete Kobe Bryant. The second is hunting your fellow man online. The legalization of “Battle Royale” is still probably a few years off, so in the mean time, running down your friends and shooting them in the back of the head or dropping napalm on them is a suitable substitute, for now. Seriously, it's an incredibly exhilarating thrill that can only be rivaled by getting off your couch, going outside and actually doing something productive.
The last is zombie hunting, one of the most manly hobbies in existence, followed closely by bear wrestling and hot dog eating. These three combine to form a trifecta of undeniable awesomeness that will instantly make you sprout hair on your chest, regardless of your gender.
Even if you know nothing else about this game, merely watching the trailer should be enough to convince you that "Shank" is so pumped up with testosterone and murderous intentions that it makes watching Rambo castrate godless communists with a machete seem unimpressive. Basically, there's this humongous giant armed with a metal chain and meat hook who's out to ruin your day. Now, while you have a set of handguns to help you dispose of the waves of generic bullet fodder that the game throws at you, you're also armed with a knife (or shank) to hack off your enemies' limbs like flesh piñatas. Conventional wisdom would seem to suggest killing the behemoth from a distance with your pistols, but screw conventional wisdom. Jump on the guy's head with your knife, stab him repeatedly in the eyeballs and then choke him to death using his own weapon.
If that's not an extreme act of violence, then also know that you also have a chainsaw to kill people with for some reason. Hey, no one said these games make any sense.
Just Cause 2
At absolutely no point does the plot of "Just Cause 2" come even close to being anything that could even be remotely construed as coherent. I've invested dozens of hours into roaming around its open world, crashing airplanes and helicopters into buildings and terrorizing the populace with my arsonist tendencies and skydiving escapades, and I seriously have no clue why I'm waging a one man war against a generic dictatorship. This could be because I skipped every cut scene due to the horrid writing and terrible voice acting, but it could also have something to do with the fact that the game clearly is only using its “plot” (and I use that term as loosely as possible) as an excuse to blow up everything in sight.
This does absolutely nothing for the game's narrative prowess, but it does give you liberty to pretty much do whatever you want. Build up an arsenal of high powered weapons, hijack vehicles ranging from motorcycles to attack choppers, zip line all over the place like Spider-Man and completely wreck anyone who stands between you and your campaign of destruction and mayhem. "Just Cause 2" is a guilty pleasure, a pointless exercise in self-indulgent violence and carnage, but isn't that what video games should be anyway?
Dead Rising 2
There's more to being a man than having sex with super models while parachuting from a crashing airplane and shooting machine guns in each hand. For instance, being a responsible father. However, as "Dead Rising 2" clearly shows us, acting like a good dad is very tough, especially when the duties of parenthood conflict with the joys of bashing in zombie skulls with a shovel. As Chuck Greene, you need to routinely find medicine for your daughter so she won't transform into a zombie. This completely sucks, as you'll frequently find yourself having too much fun slaying the undead or looting stores that tending to your dying offspring will be the last thing on your mind. Inevitably you'll forget about her, she'll turn into a member of the walking dead and you'll need to start all over again. Stupid kids.
Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage
If you turned Mel Gibson's Mad Max into a Japanese cartoon (and then into a video game based on the aforementioned cartoon) and added all the stomach churning and ridiculous violence of Japanese gore-fest flicks like "Rikki-O", Tecmo Koei's "Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage" is exactly what you'd expect from such a bizarre mash-up. Light on story and heavy on punching peoples' faces into mists of blood, "Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage" embraces widespread bloodshed and hardcore ass kicking on a scale not seen since the more entertaining chapters of the Old Testament. Seriously, if Ken had less stupid looking hair and was Jewish, he would be the anime version of Samson, an untamed whirlwind of murder and pain that makes his enemies crap their pants in fear.
Like so many other games on this list, "Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage" makes absolutely no pretense about being anything more than a nonsensical beat-em up that converts brutality and human suffering into a visceral and oddly cathartic form of entertainment. Don't expect to find anything particularly meaningful amid the flashing montage of crunching skulls and parade of thugs being beaten into a bloody pulp, but if awesomeness is defined by an excess of macho posturing and ruthless ass kicking, "Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage" is guaranteed to be one of most “awesome” games you'll play.