Sniper Elite 4 has been revealed, and let me tell you something: it is total bollocks. Or totally about bollocks: as ever, pre-release material has so much slo-mo nut shotting that it feels like a hyper-budget historically-set Fail Army compilation.
But is it so new? Is one of Sniper Elite's primary reasons for being – that you can shoot more men's testicles than a porn cameraman – really a selling point? Isn't it a bit played out? Haven't we been doing this in video games forever? Are we approaching nut shot city limits? To find out, here's a look back at the most famous groin shots in history: we'll be judging them on an overall score based on three factors: Violence, Hilarity, and Realism.
Fun fact: Mortal Kombat's arrogant movie star dipshit Johnny Cage was meant to be Jean-Claude Van Damme, until a potential deal to make a fighting game solely about the Belgian fell through. So the roster was expanded, Claude became Cage, and he retained the Hard Target star's penchant for doing the splits and punching people in the groin.
Despite the franchise's reputation for being a corrupting influence on the world's schoolkids – and, in fairness, some of those fatalities were a bit over the top for a genre where most fights had previously been finished with nothing more cutting than a remark – Johnny Cage's nutshot is comparatively tame, slapstick piss-taking at most. It's not particularly violent, and it's hard to be realistic when you're fighting a man with four arms on a flyover with spikes at the bottom. But for hilarity, it's up there. 7/10.
One of the most controversial games of its time, Soldier of Fortune 2 had a multi-point dismemberment and gore system dubbed GHOUL, which basically meant you could shoot someone anywhere and bits of them would come off or be pushed in or apart in a manner that Jason Voorhees might dub excessive. Now, it all seems laughable that anyone cared: the Action Man enemies may still fall apart in horrible ways, but the march of technology has dulled its impact. Well, most of its impact. There is still one kill which gives us The Fear, and it's the last one in this video.
Time may have forgotten Soldier of Fortune, but for strong showing in both violence and hilarity categories, if not for realism, we remember its legacy with a solid 6/10.
When Midway's hyper-violent follow up to its popular, arcade-focused take on American Football debuted on Xbox 360 and PS3 it was heralded as sick, degenerate, brilliant nonsense which focused on the worst parts of the game. Eight years later, with the NFL finally admitting that there's a causal link between getting your head smashed over and over again by a man bigger than a car and and brain-frying CTE, it all seems rather quaint.
Yes, this is a game where you can tear balls from scrotums easier than you can strip balls from wide receivers, and yes it has near-fanatical zeal for both causing pain and showing you, in X-ray, just how that pain has been inflicted. For its efforts it scores highly in all three categories, particularly hilarity, because there's nothing funnier than people never being able to talk again. That said, it's still not a patch on the real sport, where people are sometimes folded up like accordions. 9/10
There was a bit of buzz surrounding Velvet Assassin, partly because elements of its star Violette Summer were based on Violette Szabo's life as a real Nazi-smasher, and partly because people wanted another Hitman game. Velvet Assassin does feature some particularly grotesque nutshots: Mortal Kombat is far less graphic by comparison, but then again Johnny Cage only uses his fist for the Ball-Fist Interfacing, and not a massive knife. Still, the hilarity angle is played to the max given the fact your enemies are all literal Nazis, and if I've been taught anything by movies, it's that Nazi-death is hilarious. 6/10.
If you've never heard of this game, then stop everything and go and read the Wikipedia synopsis of its plot, which is hands down the best story in video games. Here's an excerpt:
"He later captures the rattlesnake and the tarantula and places them in glass tanks in his gas station, but they manage to escape. He then proceeds to look for the rattlesnake while armed with a shotgun, not realizing that it has escaped outside. The scorpion, having found its way inside, proceeds to climb into Strugg's pants and sting his crotch. After doing this three times, during which Struggs is bitten by a Gila monster, the scorpion flees out through the door. Struggs follows it and sees the rattlesnake on top of a gas tank. Panicking, he shoots at it, igniting the gasoline and causing an explosion."
Imagine having to listen to people drone on about how good the story is in Gears of War after playing that: you'd smash their brains in and think nothing of it. Anyway, there are a few questions to be answered about Deadly Creatures: why does the scorpion think like a human? Do scorpions often sting people in the testicles? Three times? Is this the first thing they teach in advanced scorpion self-defence classes? Why do the scorpion and the spider, which have been at odds for the duration of the game, decide to not fight each other at the end? Do they shake hands? What the fuck is going on?
Anyway, look, this has to score highly on the hilarity scale, even if it gets -1000 on everything else. Using games journalist logic, I've decided to give it 6000/10.
Scrotalities. Say no more. 7/10
And so, finally, to the latest and supposed greatest in testicular homicide. In fairness, it is quite impressive, in any way that it can be considered so. And, it must be said, the poor recipients of these castrations are, once again, Nazis, so does it really matter how gruesome it is? No. What matters is how graphic it is, and in this instance, Sniper Elite 4 wins the day. 8/10.