Things that go boom are just cool. It's an undeniable fact of nature, and if there is any medium of entertainment that realizes and embraces this, it is video games. Explosions have been a winning part of the gaming formula since the beginning and that probably isn't something that's going to change any time soon. With all the collective firepower of gaming at our disposal though, it could be hard to single those few particular booms that were in fact the coolest. No worries, we've got your covered with five blasts that will continue to rock the world even today.
5. Nuclear Bunker Buster- Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
How many games give you control over a nuke? Okay, a few, but how many of them give you as many nukes as your money can buy and world full of big buildings to topple at will? Say what you want about the problems with Mercs 2, but one thing it does better than any other game is the way it gives you control over unparalleled tools of mass destruction. The Nuclear Bunker Buster is most devastating of a huge arsenal of weapons that can blow up buildings one by one, or block by block. In fact, this doozy of a bomb might rank a bit higher if it didn't basically kill the game. I mean, honestly how can any of the cannon fodder that populates the game hope to compete when you can drop a nuke on them?
4. Katina- Starfox 64
The Katina missions gets points both for being one of the coolest explosions to grace a game, and being the most blatant rip off of Independence Day ever -seriously, I think this level follows the film more closely than the movie tie-ins themselves- the Katina mission is one of the finest moments in the greatness that is Star Fox 64. Upon the missions start the player finds themselves engrossed in an aerial battle royal as the Star Fox team and its Cornelian allies battle Andross's fighters for control of the skies of Katina. Shortly after the missions starts a saucer-esque attack ship moves in and starts launching hundreds of fighters to overwhelm you. It's a relatively easy mission, but it's fun nonetheless and whether or not you succeed in destroying the enemy ship you still get a huge explosion to gawk at. Either the ship goes up in flame or the base at Katina does. Either way it's pretty cool.
3. Nuclear Strike- Starcraft
The Terrans don't have a lot going for them really when you think about it. They lack the sheer firepower of the Protoss, the vicious numbers of the Zerg and are relegated to the bland position of generalists. Sure they have the awesomeness of the Siege Tanks going for them, and their battlecruisers were easily my favorite units in the entire game, but in the end, the thing that makes them most awesome is embodied in three little words.
“Nuclear launch detected.”
There is nothing more panic inducing in Starcraft to be in the middle of a battle and to realize your opponent, more than a little indignant at your attempts to obliterate them managed to slip a cloaked Ghost into your base and are in the process of calling down an all too powerful bomb to demolish half your buildings. Even cooler than the fear the bomb can induce is being on the delivering end of the bomb. When it lands and you get to see the brief mushroom cloud you've caused, as well as the mass combustion of any buildings and units in its blast radius. It doesn't earn the top spot, but it certainly earns a spot.
2. Remote Mines- Goldeneye 007
Goldeneye hasn't aged well. The graphics, the controls, playing it now in the context of modern console shooters makes it feel like just a mess. One element that remains immortally fun is remote mines. They lack the boom factor of previously mentioned nukes, but make up for it with the level of experimentation they allow. Once, aided by a Gameshark cartridge and an unlimited ammo cheat, spent hours plastering an entire level with the miniature explosives. Granted the N64 wasn't nearly powerful enough to display that many explosions, but it was great fun. Even better was activating the invisibility cheat and then one by one detonating one of the beloved mines beneath the feet of those dastardly Russians Rare had you shooting throughout the game. Actually, the best was aiming at the same spot and stacking remote mines as high as the game would allow. Sigh, the memories.
Remote mines were simply awesome and they remain so today, long after all those other things that made Goldeneye cool have faded into mediocrity.
1. The Nuke- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Up until this point in Call of Duty 4, I, and I'm sure many other gamers, were probably of the opinion that this was basically just another, albeit, polished FPS game. Then this mission comes along. You enter and execute it as normal, but then as you're finishing off someone says something about a nuclear explosion, and sure enough a bomb goes off in the middle of the city you were just running and gunning you're way through. So you're sitting there, this big, blinding ball of nuclear fire filling the screen. The shockwave is coming, but you think to yourself, “this is a video game, I'll make it out okay.” Not so. Hit by the blast your helicopter goes down taking you with it. Shortly after you regain control of your character, who can only stagger about sluggishly until he succumbs to radiation poisoning and dies.
This moment, amongst others helped to elevate the single player campaign from fine to superb, giving gamers a truly unique experience. There are a lot of explosions out there, and on this list alone there have been a lot of nukes, but none have carried quite the profound story consequences and emotional impact of Call of Duty 4's. The way the game uses its demolition power is undeniably courageous and fresh and was easily one of the most shocking experiences gamers have had in a long time.