Well, that might be because IT'S MOTHER EFFIN SHARK WEEK, YO.
Shark Week is the Discovery Channel's greatest (and certainly most well-known) indulgence, a glorious annual tradition perhaps best captured by New York Magazine TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz: "Has there ever been a more effective merger of science and sensationalism than Shark Week? I doubt it."
Tracy Jordan lives every week like it's Shark Week. But the rest of us only get to experience it once a year. In honor of that week, I polled our editors and writers to come up with the best sharks in video games.
I should note up top that there are few things that scare me like the idea of a monster coming at me from beneath the depths while I float on the surface. Swimming in a boat yard, with big ships looming out of the fog above me, while some horrible slimy thing slips about beneath the surface… yup, it's one of my deepest fears. Maybe it goes back to when I was a kid, and we'd go to the beach and sometimes we'd step on crabs and they'd bite our toes? I don't know. It's good to know that I'm not alone; Luke's with me on this one, at least.
Before we get going, props to this very funny top-7 list at GamesRadar, which notified me of a couple that we'd left off. And before you point it out: I couldn't find a good video of the sharks from Wind Waker, so they didn't make the list. But consider them an honorary inclusion.
Release the sharks!
One of the most famous sharks in gaming, the Land Shark Gun from Armed and Dangerous set a precedent for over-the-top weaponry that would be unmatched by most every video game. Except...
…well, actually Saints Row The Third also had a downloadable Land Shark Gun, which makes sense, given the game in question. This video is pretty great all across the board, actually.
A questionable inclusion, since Sewer Shark doesn't actually have a shark. But what the hell, this is a list of the best sharks in gaming, and if only for being a landmark achievement in cheesy full-motion video games, Sewer Shark gets the nod.
One of my big gaming blind-spots is that I've never played Okami. But of course the game has a shark, of course it does! This shark seems more into belly-flopping than actually biting, at least when it's in the air. I'll see this guy soon in the HD version, I'm sure.
Did I mention that I hate water-scares in games? I do. This one in Resident Evil is one of the earliest, and scariest, but there are plenty of moments in later games that are equally freaky. Something about seeing it coming for you, about waiting for it to grab you from under the water… yeesh. (This one won't embed, so you'll have to click through to watch it.)
Of course, friendly Ecco had to go up against more than a few sharks—a whole ton of them in this level, called "Open Ocean." "The open ocean is very cold and dangerous."
After making his way through one of the most tedious sections of Arkham City, Batman finally takes that stupid shark head-on and punches the shit out of him. In what almost has to be a reference to this incredible sequence from the original show, it made me laugh and laugh as I mashed the punch button. (James O'Connor informs me Bats also fought a shark in the comics, naturally.) Holy sardine, indeed.
Our resident WoW expert Mike Fahey clued me in to this one, a massive Whale Shark that requires a ton of people to take it down.
This clip is from Depth, a game that's not out yet, so maybe it's cheating? But all the same, it felt worth including because the shark attack here is terrifying.
Okay, okay! You win! By popular demand, here is a video from Banjo Kazooie in which Banjo gets attacked by the deadly Snacker The Shark. It was the one colossal, unforgivable oversight in our roundup, and now it has been rectified. Let the record show that Snacker The Shark is indeed one of gaming's great sharks. May he shark forever more in our memories.
I'm one of the people who actually liked Tomb Raider: Underworld, though I didn't much care for the underwater sections. That's partly because they have sharks, and partly because they were kind of a mess to navigate. In this clip, a player nails a perfect grenade-lob into a dumb shark's mouth. Take that, shark!
Hey, if Sewer Shark gets on the list, so does GameShark. Better known as "The other, better Game Genie," GameShark improved on the now-famous Game Genie in a number of ways, most notably allowing users to save codes in memory. The company has since been bought by Mad Catz and still exists today, though built-in cheats have relegated Game Genie like devices obsolete.
There may be no better way to let someone know that the area they're heading into is "out of bounds" than having them get eaten by a shark. In Crysis, you spend a lot of your time on land feeling like an unstoppable predator (well, a bit less unstoppable than in the sequel), but at this moment, you're a scared little kid desperately trying to escape a killer. (This video is great, too.)
Hey, it was on Atari 2600, but Shark Attack was still a mighty unnerving game. Watch out for that shark! It's like Pac-Man, except the ghosts don't respect the walls of the level, and also the ghosts are a KILLER SHARK.
In the same vein as Crysis comes this bit from Scarface: The World is Yours, which is as cheesy and disjointed as possible… and yet still kinda creepy. And do I detect a Wilhelm Scream there? Hard to tell with the blaring music.
This is not a fearsome shark, it's more of an impressive, majestic shark. And unlike the one in World of Warcraft, the whale shark in Endless Ocean does not require you to team up with a bunch of players and exterminate it.
Another obligatory addition, this is one of the better gameplay videos from Jaws Unleashed, though it takes a while to get where it was going. Sometimes it's nice to play as the shark, you know?
Let's close it out with my favorite of all, which is another way of saying it's the one of these that scared me the most. It's barely a shark… really, it's more of a catfish monster thing, or maybe an Ichthyosaur… whatever it is, it scared the bejesus out of me when I first played Half-Life. Here I was, content to fight against monsters and zombies and aliens, but not to go into the water, in a shark cage, to fight a terrifying/goofy fangmonster. Who did they think I was?? I wasn't cut out for that crap!
And okay, I know I just said that was the last one, but here's one more. It's not from a video game. It's from Deep Blue Sea (and technically it's a spoiler. And if you've seen that movie, then you know that we really have no choice but to go out on this one:
"I'm Sick And Tired Of All These Mother F***ing Sharks On This MotherF***ing [CHOMP]"
Have good shark weeking, everybody.
This clip, which is masquerading as a Crysis 3 trailer but is really a showreel for the game's engine, is beautiful. It claims to be running in real-time, and to have been captured from Crysis 3 the game, not Crysis 3 the tech demo.
Unless it's a clip full of lies, this would have to be be the PC version of the game. Making me feel slightly uneasy about the state of my current rig.
Whether the top secret toad tech makes it to the console versions of Crysis 3, we'll just have to wait and see.
This newest look at Crytek's bow-wielding first-person shooter gives viewers the option to see what it looks like you take on enemies sneakily or jump in with guns blazing. The threequel set in a New York overgrown with apocalyptic levels of vegetation comes out next year for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
These screens—grabbed by Polygon from the personal site of lighting artist Pierre-Yves Donzallaz before they were taken down—show the Big Apple in a state of natural disaster. Gorgeous lighting effects and texture details have always been a Crytek signature and the dev studio's upcoming shooter looks like it's going to continue that tradition.
Occasionally we in the world of games journalism are asked by people in the world of public relations what we thought of a game we just saw. Surely, anything I could say to them, I could say to you, reader of Kotaku. And I should, right? Otherwise I'm just doing free consultation.
In answer to those who asked what I liked or didn't like about Crysis 3 after I played the February 2013 first-person shooter several weeks ago, I'd say, first of all, that I'm hoping to like this game more than I did Crysis 2. That 2011 game presented the promise of open-ended level design but its campaign was ultimately more constricted and funneling than I expected. For a game that was supposed to be the thinking gamer's Call of Duty, it was too, well, Call of Duty.
I was, therefore, happy that the one level I've played of Crysis 3—the dam-detonating level you see chopped up in the trailer above—felt like it offered a variety of tactical options. I could play through it stealthily or aggressively. I could stick to the water or fight on land. I could work my through the level's main building or around it. I liked all of that.
The Crysis games fetishize the super-suit worn by the the player's character. The suit lets you jump really high, turn nearly invisible, punch trees and so on. Crysis 2 made a big deal about the suit always crashing, re-booting and apparently upgrading, though all of that seemed like inconsequential special effects to me. I'm not sure Crysis 3 will do a better job with the suit, but now they've added a new item to fetishize, one that I like more: the bow-and-arrow.
The prevalence of bows and arrows among the games at this past E3 became a bad joke, but Crysis 3 gets a pass from me. Its' bow-and-arrow is great and fits the series perfectly. Over in the new Tomb Raider, we've got a bow-and-arrow that is used as a survival weapon, as a sort of gun-replacement in a place where guns aren't easily obtained. In Crysis 3, the bow and arrow feels like something better than a gun. It's lethal, it fires fast and, best of all, it's quiet. Previously, Crysis was a game about trading off power for stealth, of choosing to forgo one's own cloaking device when it's time to uncork a spray of machine gun fire. In Crysis 3, the bow and arrow feels like the best of all worlds, offering quiet lethality, a combo that feels like it trumps the tactical options of the previous game. This particular weapon also suits the Crysis series' appeal to the shooter player's tactical mind, requiring them to use the ammunition in their quiver efficiently and encouraging them to pick up their spent arrows to use them again.
The new game will let players hack and use alien weapons and still offers bunches of suit upgrades. These features don't interest me much, nor does a perpetuation of the previous game's plant-overgrowth-in-the-city aesthetic. While other shooters globe-hop perhaps more than they should, it feels that Crysis may be erring in staying too still. The new game is supposed to feature a variety of climates and terrain in special biodomes that house the game's urban levels. But the overall foliage-and-steel look that I've seen makes this new game look, to me, like an add-on to a Crysis 2 campaign that had already gone on too long for me. I'm hoping to see more visual variety than we've seen so far.
I did not attend EA's E3 press conference a month ago, and I was surprised to hear that this game closed the show. I'd walked away from my demo of the game feeling that Crytek's series was on the upswing, but I did not walk away feeling that it was grand finale material. Blame the marketing team or show organizers for that, I guess.
I have a hard time seeing where Crysis 3 fits in and it remains a sequel that risks being one too many in a crowded field. For me, it needs to be best at something or at least interestingly different. Crysis 3, however, feels a shade more conservative than the next Call of Duty, which is adding branching story to its own previously-safe formula. I am now looking toward first-person shooters such as Metro Last Light and its striking Russian post-apocalypse for my FPTS aesthetic left turn. I now look to whatever the former Infinity Ward folks at Respawn Entertainment are doing for the next big shake-up in first-person shooting game design. I wasn't the kind of person who was dying for a new Crysis and I could, honestly, have been content without one.
But there's something about this game's bow and arrow. It was just about the most satisfying weapon to shoot of all the E3 games I played. Can one weapon alone make a game? I don't know, but it's something I can say got my attention and got me to care about what comes next for Crysis.
Crytek is building Warface, the studio's first freemium shooter, shown recently at E3. It's also going to deliver Crysis 3, a more traditional FPS, sometime in 2013. Whenever the studio finishes off its current committments, CEO Cevat Yerli told VideoGamer.com, it will be developing free-to-play games only.
Yerli considers DLC and premium gaming services, both of which Crysis 3 publisher Electronic Arts is very fond, to be "milking customers to death."
"Right now we are in the transitional phase of our company, transitioning from packaged goods games into an entirely free-to-play experience," he said to VideoGamer.com.
"I think this is a new breed of games that has to happen to change the landscape, and be the most user-friendly business model."
Yerli says top-flight games Crytek produces still require a $10 to $30 million budget, they'll just get an entry price point of, oh, zero dollars. Obviously, they'll be monetized through the sale of upgraded items. Is this really milking consumers any less? More of his thoughts on freemium model at the link below.
Crytek: All our future games will be free-to-play [VideoGamer.com]
Sorry if that sounds a little "glorious master race", but hey, when you look at what Crytek are able to do with the wet stuff in this DirectX 11 tech video, there's really no other way to describe it.
One thing though: that sort of chop would look at home somewhere in the North Atlantic. So close to shore? It's a little much.