Whether you're seriously low on ammo or just want to make someone's life completely miserable, there's nothing quite like bringing a hammer, crowbar, or chainsaw to a gun fight. Here are some of our favorite gun alternatives.
Over the years, melee weapons in first-person shooters have transformed. They started off as a way to add an element of tension to the early, single-player shooters, giving players something else to worry about than the enemy. You didn't want to take on the hordes of hell with only your fist...well, not at first.
With the rise of multiplayer, the melee weapon slowly changed from an instrument of desperation into a tool of humiliation. There's nothing quite as humbling as having your killing spree ended by a guy sneaking up behind you with a knife. The pain comes not only from the blade, but also from knowing that someone got the drop on you, and your mad skills didn't save you.
Here are several of our favorite humiliation tools, in no particular order.
Half Life's Crowbar
Okay, I lied about the no particular order bit, at least in this one case. The crowbar is almost as much the star of the Half Life franchise as Gordon Freeman himself. In a way it's a reflection of Freeman. Both have applications that have nothing to do with combat and therefore should, technically, have no place on a battlefield. Yet again and again they show up together. It just goes to show that the right man and tool in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world.
The Chronicle of Riddick's Ulaks
Riddick wasn't a big fan of guns in the two live-action movies that inspired the two video games from Starbreeze Studios, so once you get your hands on his signature weapon, the cruelly-curved ulaks, it's as if everything suddenly comes together. So central are these weapons to Riddick's universe that finding them unlocks an achievement in the Xbox 360 version of The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.
I actually own a pair of these in real-life, and can attest to the fact that they feel incredibly nice in your hands.
Unreal's Impact Hammer
You've got to love multi-purpose tools. The impact hammer is a pneumatic mining device. It can be an extremely deadly weapon. It can deflect incoming projectiles. It can make you jump higher. I'm sure if the inhabitants of the Unreal universe took some time away from killing each other to do a little research, they'd find it adds two to three inches to the penis.
Team Fortress 2's Baseball Bat
Team Fortress 2 contains a plethora of lovely melee weapons, from the Engineer's wrench to the Medic's bone saw. There's just something supremely satisfying about running about hitting other people in the head with a baseball bat. Maybe it's that satisfying metal clunking noise, or the fact that most of us have at one point or another held a baseball bat in our hands, and can relate to how it feels.
Or maybe we're just being completely arbitrary.
Gears of War's Chainsaw
The Lancer's chainsaw attachment nearly didn't make the list, mainly because it's attached to a gun. Then I spent an hour watching videos of Doom's chainsaw compared to the Lancer's chainsaw, and decided that the main reason I liked it was because it's attached to a gun. It's a chainsaw, on a gun.
And then I remembered I was compiling this list mostly on my own, and the only guidelines I really had to follow were my own, so the Lancer's chainsaw stays in the picture.
Doom 3's Berserker-Powered Fists
Fists are generally the weakest possible melee weapon in a first-person shooter. Doom 3 changed all of that by making the berserker-powered fist capable of smashing through all but the toughest enemies with a single punch. And if you feel like pointing out other games that have featured powered-up punches, note that none of them were accompanied by an ear-piercing infernal screaming that actually made you want to punch things as hard and fast as humanly possible.
Halo 3's Gravity Hammer
Blah, blah, blah Energy Sword. Yes the Energy Sword is impressive and powerful, but can it knock a rocket back at the person firing it like a baseball? Can it propel a Mongoose all the way across a multiplayer map? Can it make you believe a fully-armored boy can fly?
No, it can't. That's why the Gravity Hammer is our great Halo melee love. Stop - hammer time.
Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast's Lightsaber
It's a lightsaber.
You need more?
It's a lightsaber you can throw, and it comes back to you. Luke Plunkett informs me that with a cheat, it lops off limbs in the process. I'd pay $60 for a game that only featured that particular game mechanic.
And there's our list. Now it's time for you to tell us what we missed, even though we specified that this is a list of some of our favorite first-person shooter melee weapons.
Go on and hit us with your best shot.