Gaming Junk Food

Sometimes - whether it's as a treat or just laziness - there's nothing better than a greasy slab of junk food.

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You know that you might as well be mounting an assault on your digestive system and let's face it, you gave up on "healthy" the second you saw how close the chippy was to your front door. It just tastes too damn good to care about.

But are you doing the same with your gaming diet? We all have the games we "need" to play, and we know the ways we should be playing a game. But then there's the junk food way of playing those games. You're getting nowhere, you know it's not the way you should be doing it... but it's just too damn fun to care about.


Gaming Junk Food
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Do you remember The Simpsons' "Football In The Groin" joke? Just replace the football with bullets and you've pretty much landed on why Stranglehold is a prime cut of videogame junk food.

Back in the early days of this generation, the return of Inspector Tequila, Chow Yun-Fat's bullet immune badass, ended up feeling like an enjoyable Max Payne clone, just without the relentless nihilism. However, if you experimented with the "Tequila Bombs" - power-ups awarded for playing with style - it took on a life of its own.

Fairly early on in the game, you unlock ‘Precision Aim' where the game slows down and zooms in on your bullet fodder, allowing you to target a very specific part of their body. Pulling the trigger initiates a small cut scene - cutting to the face of the unfortunate soul who just got their unwanted lead present.

It should be brutal, but thanks to some hilarious facial animations, it's bizarrely riveting seeing what reaction you're going to get. Soon enough, you're thinking only in terms of getting your next Precision Aim kill, just to see what sort of ingeniously funny animation you'll get. Experimenting with this one little power-up ends up becoming the whole reason to keep you ploughing through to the end.

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The Ship

Gaming Junk Food

A cute indie treasure tucked away into the never-ending bowels of the Steam store, The Ship was a cartoony murderous romp that Assassin Creed's multiplayer borrowed a lot from. And for good reason too, as the crux of The Ship's multiplayer is based around trying to hunt down your target and off them silently, while simultaneously trying to evade your own assassin.

But of course this relied on you being patient and trying to appear as non-suspect as possible. There was plenty to love about this way of playing, but so much more to gain from playing it like Condemned; grabbing any weapon to hand and swinging like a professional baseball player. If you murdered someone who wasn't your target and got caught you would be sent to jail, making the indiscriminate swing-a-thon even more rewarding to pull off properly.

Word of caution though, only play this way with friends who will appreciate and join in with the rampage. You don't want to wind up the good people who are enjoying the game properly...

Red Faction: Guerrilla

Gaming Junk Food

Guerrilla has been unfairly forgotten, as it showcases one of the funniest destructible environments of this generation. Red Faction's destruction engine could have been just another bullet point for the back of the box, but there have been few more satisfying pleasures in sandbox gaming than trying to flatten the buildings of the Martian landscape with nothing but your trusty axe.

There was a requisite story that had Alec Mason (that would be you in the game) liberating the human colonies of Mars - usually through blowing everything up - but that almost immediately takes a backseat to seeing how much damage you could manage to cause purely through swinging Alec's axe through the flimsy Mars landscape.

Playing as a one man mercenary wrecking ball was its own reward; you could spend hours whacking away on a huge building's foundation walls and watch as it crumbles all around you, or just turn a small military base into nothing but chunky bits of rubble. You might feel like a unionised Joker afterwards, but hey, some men just want to watch Mars get demolished.

50 Cent: Blood On The Sand

Gaming Junk Food

Blood On The Sand isn't exactly a gem, but it isn't the disaster you'd think it would be. What makes this gaming junk food worthy is the addictively bonkers story. 50 Cent's running around trying to collect a diamond skull that was given as payment for a concert he just performed. Somehow, he ends up blowing up a non-descript Arab country that looks like the sort of war-torn nation that probably wouldn't even allow tourists into its borders, let alone notoriously violence-friendly rappers. Watching the story go full crazy from beginning to end is the same sort of pleasure you get from a really cheesy Steven Seagal movie.

The lazy voice acting just adds another layer of unintentional comedy to the game - Fifty uses the same tone of voice for death threats and casual conversation - and the clichés rain down so thick and fast, you soon start wondering if it's some form of post-modern parody.

Fortunately, the solid and chunky combat that aped Gears of War was fun enough in its own right, but Blood On The Sand is like the greasiest of grease buckets for videogame narratives. It's shockingly bad, but you just can't help but love it.

Timesplitters 2

Gaming Junk Food

Everyone should love Timesplitters. Every time you get bummed out about the glut of military shooters that are clogging up the shelves, remember ‘Splitters 2. A highlight of the PS2 era and made by some of the team behind the legendary N64 Goldeneye, Timesplitters 2 offered up plenty of content , but tucked away in its mammoth arcade mode was a game type called Virus - in which I spent the most of my time between 2004-2006.

Virus is just a very shooty and tense game of Tag. An AI character starts off with the virus, and if they run into you, you're infected. Last man standing wins. It's so simple, but matches were so short and snappy that it soon became a challenge to see if you could hold for more than a minute. Marry it to the hectic pace of a normal Timesplitters match and you've got gaming crack.

If that sounds like fun, try hiding out on the roofs in the Mexican Mission and seeing how long you and a few friends could survive. There are so many tweaks you can make to how you play Virus that it makes you wonder why you even bothered with the rest of the game.


Gaming Junk Food

Singularity, a linear FPS published by Activisio... Wait, don't leave just yet, we swear that this slice of shooting is more than worthy of your time set aside for gaming junk food. More Bioshock than Call of Duty, Singularity's campaign that focuses on you trying to fight your way off of Katorga-12 is tight and manages to make the conventions it pinches from other games (audio tapes and slowing down time, have we met before?) feel unique enough in the game to forgive the borrowing.

But what elevates Singularity to "wiling away the hours with something I shouldn't really care that much about" status? The Time Manipulation Device. The crafty little gadget that gets strapped to your hand within the first hour of the game is fascinating, allowing you to manipulate time and send items flying backwards and forwards to help you solve puzzles... oh and it works for enemies as well. Enemies that you can send flying forwards through time and watch as they turn to dust.

The sense of power of introducing a gun-toting bad guy to the rather nasty side of time travel is refreshing after years spent with the standard set of guns that accompany most FPS games. It's a rather nifty little concept that turns a solid experience into one you'll gladly revisit again and again for the thrill of getting to muck around with the TMD.

Ship Simulator Extremes

Gaming Junk Food

Ship Simulator Extremes is the sort of game you'd expect to hear being laughed at. The game prides itself on being as accurate as possible, but there's nothing really extreme about captaining a very big boat... Well, if the developers didn't make it extreme, then it's up to you!

Most of the missions in the game are slow and tedious, but get into the free roam mode and you can start treating the game as a very accurate - and extreme -crash simulator. That's the one thing that will keep you weaned on the game as you take to deliberately crashing into boats and the landscape to see what happens. Perhaps it's the gloriously under-animated sinking ship that just seems to slowly dip into the water or the game taking control away and forcing you to watch a cruise liner slowly plummet into the murky deaths of a watery hell, but there's something about bringing a little anarchy into Ship Simulator Extremes world that kept me hooked more than it probably should have done.

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