If you want to be engaged in your kid's hobbies, you try to understand as much as possible about them. But when the video games your kid wants feature extremely violent content, it's tough to keep an open mind.
Game companies don't exactly make it easy for parents to say yes. In 2015, we saw some of the most violent video games ever released. Plus, older violent games such as "Gears of War: Ultimate Edition" and "Resident Evil: The Definitive Edition" were re-released with visual upgrades that intensify the more violent moments, including blood and gore splattering. And let's not forget the classic ultra violent game franchises "Grand Theft Auto," "Call of Duty," and "Halo," which remain incredibly popular with young players.
But there is good news: Plenty of family-friendly games came out in 2015, and they're engaging, expansive, and imaginative.
Common Sense Media compiled 10 of the most violent games released in 2015. For the most part, these are well-designed and technically flawless, but they should be reserved for mature audiences. Fortunately, we've also provided less violent alternatives you can feel good about saying yes to.
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1. "Battlefield: Hardline"
The latest chapter in the Battlefield franchise steps away from armed conflict in a war zone into armed conflict between cops and drug dealers. Players take on the role of a police officer attempting to dismantle drug networks. Players can use pistols, shotguns, and rifles to blast criminals, and firefights are frequently intense, with lots of blood spilled and characters screaming in pain. Cut scenes show execution-style gunshots to the head, as well as a character fed to crocodiles. There's a wealth of profanity, and characters are shown consuming large amounts of alcohol and snorting drugs. On the bright side, "Battlefield: Hardline" lets players choose to take a nonviolent route, tasing and arresting criminals instead of killing them.
Alternate first-person shooters: "Portal 2," age 10+; "Metroid Prime: Hunters," age 13+
This extremely challenging third-person action-RPG was designed to test a player's skills _ and patience. You're tasked with hunting down and destroying creatures that were once human, using pistols, axes, scythes, and other devastating weaponry. There's loads of combat, and buckets of blood will pour from every strike against you and your targets, and it frequently stains the ground; in fact, blood acts as both currency as well as the basis for health potions, which is important because players will frequently get killed by beasts that defy description.
Alternate action-RPGs: "Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch," age 11+; "Xenoblade Chronicles 3D," age 13+
3. "Dying Light"
This first-person survival horror game is notable for its action sequences and creative gameplay. The player is cast as a soldier who's airdropped into the large fictional city of Harran, Turkey, to investigate the cause of a zombie outbreak. Players can use parkour-inspired moves to evade and attack the undead, along with weapons that can electrocute or incinerate them. You'll be covered in blood and gore as you decapitate and dismember; in a sly twist, you can even become a zombie and hunt down other players in multiplayer matches.
Alternate open-world games: "Lego City Undercover," age 9+; "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D," age 10+
This is one of the most controversial releases in recent history, thanks to its content and plot. Notable as the first Adults Only-rated game to be released through Steam, the game was clearly designed to provoke a response. The premise makes "Grand Theft Auto" seem tame: Players play as a sociopath who attempts to kill innocent bystanders and police officers with guns, flamethrowers, and bombs to satisfy his hatred of humanity. Blood and gore is rampant, as are characters begging for mercy before they're executed, frequently during profanity-laced rants.
Alternate top-down action games: "Halo: Spartan Assault," age 13+; "Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light," age 13+
5. "Mad Max"
Based on the postapocalyptic films, this game takes an open-world approach to Max's journey through the wasteland _ and he delivers loads of violence from start to finish. Players can drive over enemies in cars, snap necks, and impale other characters with harpoons thrown from moving vehicles. Cut scenes offer characters having their throats slit, along with piles of bodies, lots of profanity, and drugs being inhaled.
Alternative action/adventure games: "Axiom Verge," age 11+; "Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin," age 14+
6. "Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain"
The last chapter in the long-running stealth action franchise focuses on the hazards and effects of war. Though players have the option to use nonviolent methods to subdue opponents, they can use firearms, explosives, and knives. There's torture, scantily clad women, references to rape, and derogatory language toward women.
Alternate stealth-action games: "The Swindle," age 10+; "Republique," age 15+
7. "Mortal Kombat X"
The 10th installment of the popular and controversial fighting-game series offers more intricate gameplay mechanics and features than ever before. Though the title focuses on split-second timing, counters, and projectile attacks, it also has some of the most brutal violence, including executions, in series history. Spines are snapped, heads are crushed, players are diced into cubes _ and these are some of the tamer fatalities. "Mortal Kombat X" is a sophisticated and technically complex fighting game that requires a lot of skill, but it's definitely not for kids.
Alternate fighting games: "Super Smash Bros. Wii U," age 11+; "Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale," age 13+
8. "Onechanbara Z2: Chaos"
The latest installment in the long-running action hack-and-slash franchise pits players against hordes of zombies and other monsters. Players use swords, chain saws, and firearms to dismember and destroy creatures; limbs and corpses litter the ground. Blood frequently sprays into the air after successful hits, triggering special "Blood Frenzy" attacks. And, in addition to the gallons of blood and copious profanity, the game dresses its heroines in revealing bikinis.
Alternate hack-and-slash adventure games: "Gauntlet: Slayer Edition," age 13+; "Castle Crashers Remastered," age 14+
9. "The Order: 1886"
This visually striking third-person shooter is set in an alternate London. Cast as knights of the Round Table, players fight to keep society safe from werewolves and rebellious humans. Knights use pistols, knives, and futuristic weapons to make blood erupt from enemy wounds. The game opens with a torture scene and features topless women in a brothel, a scene with sexual intercourse, and full-frontal male nudity.
Alternate third-person shooters: "Splatoon," age 10+; "The Red Solstice," age 13+
10. "Until Dawn"
This is one of the most striking (and, needless to say, violent) adventure games to be released in years. Set in an isolated mountain lodge, it lets players control a set of teens who are being hunted and picked off one by one. Characters frequently die in brutal fashion; teens are shown beheaded, dismembered, sliced in half, and more. There's also loads of profanity and lots of sexual innuendo.
Alternate story-driven adventure games: "Anna's Quest," age 10+; "King's Quest," age 10+
Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.
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