Of all the arsenal of video game weaponry, meted out to combat the enemy hordes, one stands out as the pinnacle: the shotgun.
Sure, there’s always a new hotness coming along - various death rays and disintegrators - but the shotgun doesn’t worry, safe in the knowledge it will never go out of style; it’s the tuxedo of guns.
Simple and devastating, shotguns reward players who gamble, getting close and personal with enemies in exchange for terrifying firepower.
The shotgun laughs at the pinpoint accuracy required by other weapons. Instead it just asks you to vaguely point and click in the direction of your foe - and poof - they’re gone!
The games that rightfully celebrate this wondrous weapon are plentiful, and you can tell when a developer has lavished love and attention on its design, getting the look, feel, and sound just right; every pull of the trigger should feel like you’re unleashing a thunderbolt.
Alternatively, some shotguns are disappointing. Even at point-blank range these miserable weapons barely leave a scratch - this is a heinous crime to us shotgun fans!
So, let’s take a look at the games that have gotten the shotgun right.
7. Spas-12 - Half-Life 2
Most of the praise for Gordon Freeman’s arsenal of weaponry is (quite rightly) reserved for Half-Life 2’s iconic Gravity Gun – the lethal applications of which are plentiful. Such is the Gravity Gun’s brilliance that it’s easy to forget the other more mundane weapons at Freeman’s disposal.
The Spas-12 pump-action shotgun is the perfect example, and like most aspects of Valve’s masterpiece, it’s immaculately designed.
The weapon is first found in the “We Don’t Go To Ravenholm…” chapter, the games explicitly horror-focused zombie-infested level (the shotgun is of course the de facto weapon for any zombie-killer worth their salt). The Spas-12 is perfectly adapted to kill the horrors of Ravenholm, all of which want to get close and personal with Freeman.
Although the weapon isn’t ideal against the humanoid Combine soldiers – the Combine’s AI dictates some will keep their distance and utilize cover, while others will attempt to flank the player – there is a rare thrill when you turn the tables and get the drop on them with your shotgun. One point blank blast is enough to put a Combine down and trigger that iconic flatline noise.