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Top Tuesday: 10 Shameless in-game ads

They‘ve been rudely interrupting TV shows, outstaying their welcome before big-screen movies and hawking wares between print and online articles for years, but now adverts have finally become commonplace in our games as well.

10. Mafia II
Year: 2010
Forcing players to collect stuff for the sake of collecting stuff is one of gaming’s worst habits (we’re looking at you, Assassin’s Creed, with your bloody flags and feathers). If you want to extend a game’s lifespan, it’s a good idea to make your collectibles worthwhile in some way. We were thinking more on a gameplay level actually, 2K, but we suppose liberally sprinkling your game with Playboys will work too…

9. Cool Spot
Year: 1993
It’d be easy to lump Cool Spot in with the slew of shameless advergames that arrived around the same time, with many a crappy mascot getting an equally crappy 16-bit platformer to call their own. But the shades-toting platelet wasn’t like the others, blessed as he was with a solid platform engine and a game that didn’t ram its featured product down your throat – somewhat ironic considering it’s just one big 7-Up advert.

8. EverQuest II
Year: 2004
The worst thing about MMOs is clearly that frustrating downtime when you have to log out to go and find some real-world food so you don’t die of starvation. Thank the maker for EverQuest II, then – an MMO so in touch with its hungry players that its creators struck a deal with Pizza Hut to facilitate the ordering of delicious cheese-and-tomato sustenance from within the game client. Laziness is great, isn’t it?
Everquest-II pizza hut.jpg 

7. Alan Wake
Year: 2010
Surely the first rule of product placement is that companies would want their goods to be reflected in a positive light? There’s a list of games that run in the face of this common sense assumption though, and Alan Wake sits near the top of the list. With light the only effective weapon against the Taken, Wake’s torch is essential to his ongoing survival, though you had probably better stock up on those Energizer batteries you find lying around – turns out they’re rubbish and last about five seconds.
alan wake energizer.jpg  

6. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots
Year: 2008
Despite being a super-sneaky badass dude, the sad truth is that Snake is a consumer whore. He can and will pimp anything from Mountain Dew and Axe deodorant (Peace Walker) to CalorieMate diet foods (MGS3), though it’s in the series’ PlayStation 3 debut that his true shill status is confirmed. Snake can fire up his iPod to listen to classic MGS tunes or podcasts for various bonus effects and collect more songs (which isn’t how MP3 players work), while Otacon joins in the fun too by showing off his fancy MacBook Pro.
MGS4 ipod.jpg  

5. Burnout Paradise
Year: 2008
Just one of the many EA games to refresh in-game billboards based on information downloaded while online, Burnout Paradise managed to advertise not only products but people too. Well, person. And not just any person, either – Criterion’s racer played a part in championing and electing the most powerful man in the world. Barack Obama’s face popped up on the game’s advertising boards (no, not the ones you smash through) to promote his presidential campaign, despite the fact that the crazy streets of Paradise City were the last place we expected to find a political message.
burnout barack.jpg 

4. Doritos: Dash Of Destruction
Year: 2008
We’ve always thought that moreish tortilla snacks and cybernetic dinosaurs went hand in hand, so quite why it took so long for the two to coexist in a videogame is beyond our comprehension. Allowing players to take on either a rampaging crisp-hungry dino or the tormented delivery van in a twisted game of cat-and-mouse, the ropey game was notable primarily for offering a free 200 GamerPoints. Follow-up Crash Course was a far more playable time attack platformer, even though it didn’t have any dinosaurs in it.

3. Mick & Mack: Global Gladiators
Year: 1992
While The King uses the power of grilled meat to train world-class boxers, the ever-terrifying Ronald McDonald instead uses whatever power it is that scary clowns have to support two kids on a mission to save the environment. After being briefed by Commander Clown and equipped with gunge-lobbing water guns, the pair run along on their quest to collect a bunch of golden arches that definitely weren’t something else entirely before Maccy D’s threw some money at the game to get its name associated with the game’s preachy message. Probably.

2. Crazy Taxi
Year: 1999
More grounded sandbox games like The Getaway might be able to get away with using real-world locations to make their streets more believable but, when you’re careering around busy streets and flying over jumps in search of ‘crazy money’, it’s hard to see familiar storefronts as anything more than colourful adverts for real things floating on a choppy ocean of fiction. Still, gamers of a certain age will likely have fond memories of virtual slackers demanding to be driven to the within-spitting-distance KFC – too bad the licensed stores were slashed from the downloadable ports along with the soundtrack.
Crazy Taxi KFC.jpg 

1. Fight Night Round 3
Year: 2007
What professional athlete could possibly claim //not// to enjoy a tasty Whopper now and again? Certainly none of the stars of EA’s next-gen boxing debut, that’s for sure – with Burger King’s big-headed mascot available as a coach (the best in the game, no less), we can safely assume that he spends the downtime between fights cramming soggy burgers down the training boxer’s throat. It’s not even The King’s only gaming role – he appears in a generally dreadful trio of US-only Xbox advergames as well. Anyone else hungry?

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