With DC’s finest throwing it down in DC Universe, it got the DoG office talking about super powers and abilities in games. Superheroes could essentially be called modern day gods, as each has powers and abilities that wouldn’t be out of place in an olde worlde fable about benevolent deities or tyrannical evil omnipotent beings. Some superheroes have even been directly created from existing gods, such as the Mjolnir-wielding Thor.
DC and Marvel have the superhero arena pretty much tied up, including outings in games, but we thought we’d put together a list of the best god-like powers found in gamingdom. Of course, this list could go on for decades, and in order to make the task a little more manageable, we set some rules.
First, we’re not including any actual comic book superhero games. We’re also not including traditional magic, so that means a lot of RPGs are out of the running, and the countless beat ‘em up fighters that can hurl fireballs are dismissed too.
Instead we’re going to look at pure videogame powers and characters with special abilities or god-like skills that make them stand out from the crowd.
As ever, this group is merely our favourite selection and we can’t cover everyone, so feel free to agree, disagree, and rant below (you know you want to).
So, in no particular order, here’s the line up.
Populous – Creation
We couldn’t have a god-like power list without mentioning what many consider to be the granddaddy of god games. On release way back in 1989, Populous was a revelation.
As a god, it was your duty to help your subjects thrive in a virgin landscape, and although you had no direct control of your people, through divine intervention you could nurture them by shaping the very land they walked on, helping them build settlements and grow in strength so they could eventually defeat a rival army.
Although very simple by today’s standards, Populous is a cornerstone of the god game genre, and would lead creator, Peter Molyneux, on to bigger and better things, such as Black And White and Fable.
Actually playing a god set it apart from other similar titles such as Civilisation and Sim City, where you took the role of a leader or city planer. Populous gave you real god-like power.
God Of War – Super strength
He’s the undisputed hard man of gaming, and when he’s not spending his time killing gods, he is one. Yes, Sony’s brutal AAA Spartan, Kratos, may not have god-like powers in the traditional sense, and his extra abilities, such as throwing lighting bolts and flying come from magical items, but his core blood spattering skills surely earn him a place here.
Any man who can not only hold his own in a battle against Zeus, but can actually best the ruler of Mt Olympus has that something extra, and if it’s not god-like ability, we don’t know what is.
Infamous – Control of electricity
Infamous‘ Cole certainly falls into the category of a superhero (or super villain, if you prefer), but he’s a good old fashioned videogame character first and foremost, and one with powers that would make the god of thunder turn green with envy.
After a strange explosion destroys a large part of Empire City, Cole finds himself with the ability to absorb and manipulate electricity. Soon he’s able to fire off bolts, throw exploding lightning grenades, grind along electric cables and even call down lightning storms from the heavens themselves.
Now, there’s a god-like ability we wouldn’t mind in a power cut.
Legacy Of Kain/Soul Reaver – Control of fate and destiny
The adventures of Kain and Raziel are as epic and complex as they are gothic and grim. Kain is a powerful vampire who takes the skills of the blood-lovin’ toothy killers to new heights, as he holds in his hands the very fate of the world, and Raziel is an ex-vamp who now travels between the realms of the living and the dead, eating the souls of any who dare get in his way.
Both characters possess some truly epic abilities, and with both knocking around in the same series, it was only fitting they found their way onto this list.
BioShock – Genetic mastery
Imagine, if you will, going to a vending machine for a Tango, Mars bar and a dose of telekinesis. In the world of BioShock, this is a reality, and anyone with a bit of loose change can grab their very own god-like abilities.
Lightning, fireballs, invisibility and even the ability to conjure up swarms of angry bees were granted, thanks to the use of Plasmids, and the game’s character, Jack, eventually became god-like powerful by the time the credits rolled.
Killer7 – Super schizophrenia
As god-like powers go, Harman Smith certainly has one of the strangest, but even though it may be little more than a deep rooted psychosis, it still grants him the ability to change into one of seven different highly skilled killers, each with their own special powers.
Using blood to destroy walls, ‘seeing’ sound, firing hell-powered bullets and even reviving the dead are some of the skills Harman possesses in his various guises, and if weirdness was a god-like ability, he’d be the most powerful god in creation. In the name of Harman…
The Nomad Soul (a.k.a Omikron: The Nomad Soul) – Possession
Possession, as well as being nine tenths of the law, is a common skill attributed to any self-respecting deity, and David Bowie-sporting, cult classic, The Nomad Soul features this as its central gameplay mechanic.
As the player of the game, you’re sucked into the title’s city of Omikron and to exist you have to possess the bodies of the many inhabitants of the world, whilst doing battle with strange demons who would like nothing more than to eat your very soul.
Released in 1999, The Nomad Soul was a greatly underrated gem that failed to sell as it should have, even with David Bowie lending his likeness and music to it.
The possession mechanic was well implemented, and made for a very interesting and unique experience that’s never really been recreated in the same way.
Okami – Creation and restoration
Another tragically underplayed game, Okami features the main character of Amaterasu, a white wolf who just so happens to be a bona fide deity. Blessed with the god-like power of the celestial brush, Ammy has the ability to paint the world, with various effects.
By painting with her tail, Ammy can slay enemies, create items, alter the landscape of the world and bring nature back to life.
Throughout the game she destroys mighty demons and brings back colour and happiness to Japan in her fight against the eight-headed demon, Orochi.
The Legend Of Zelda – Triforce essences: wisdom/power/courage
Come on, how could we have a top ten god-like power list without featuring everyone’s favourite green-clad pointy-eared hero?
The Legend Of Zelda‘s Link may well get most of his abilities from magical items, including his ability to time travel, but it’s the use and possession of a portion of the Triforce which earns him a place here.
The Triforce is an artefact left behind by the three goddesses who created the land of Hyrule, and it can bestow upon its owner the power of creation, something the evil Gannon used more than once to create his own warped domain.
With the Triforce segments of courage and wisdom, Link never failed to banish Gannon and rescue Princess Zelda, who also seems to have an almost god-like ability to put herself in harms way each and every time.
Prototype – Shape shifting
Although the game itself wasn’t the best, Alex Mercer’s totally OTT abilities left little room for improvement, and well and truly earn him a place on this list.
Being able to take the form of anyone, sprout spikes and bladed limbs, read minds, run at high speeds and up buildings were just a few of the god-like abilities at his disposal.
We’d love to have them ourselves, but don’t fancy the requirement of actually being a sentient virus in order to get them. Oh, well.
We know that almost everyone reading this will be champing at the bit to suggest their own favourites, and we also had a few more mentions that were nudged out of the top ten we thought we’d share.
Tim from the gorgeous Braid is a definite mention, and his ability to stop, fast forward and rewind time is a skill anyone would welcome on that never ending day at work.
The Nomad Soul pushed out lesser known Gamecube title, Geist, which also saw players as a spirit, possessing, not only people, but animals and even inanimate objects.
Codemasters’ Second Sight and Midway’s PsiOps: The Mindgate Conspiracy also get a mention, thanks to their great use of telekinesis, with the latter handling the ability particularly well.
Although not actual god-like abilities, we have to mention the infamous Doom God Mode cheat, surely one of the best cheats ever, and the fantastically satisfying announcement of ‘god-like’ from Unreal Tournament, awarded as you rack up a kill streak of 25. Bliss.
The list could go on and on, so please, tell us what your favourite god-like abilities and games are below.
Follow Den Of Geek on Twitter right here.