Taking the Christmas season and making it violent has been a recurring theme of many different movies over the years. You have the classics like Die Hard and The Nightmare Before Christmas, as well as camp horror movies like Jack Frost and Santa’s Slay. It is easy to take the jolly aesthetic of the holiday season and juxtapose it with some ultra-violence in order to get a reaction from the audience.
It didn’t take long for the video game world to start creating their own Christmas themed violence. The vast majority of video games involve killing in some form or another. Some developers have decided to change the usual settings in order to (hopefully) boost sales around the holiday season. They did this by changing ruined cities into the North Pole and replacing soldiers and demons with snowmen.
We are here today to look at the games that added murder and mayhem to Christmas. We will also look at the games that were already violent, but added a holiday season theme to the proceedings. From Santa carpet bombing soldiers to Agent 47’s Home Alone.
Here are 15 Video Games That Made Christmas Incredibly Violent!
15. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare – Santa’s Bombing Run
For better or for worse, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare ushered in a new age of online gaming. While games like Counter-Strike had previously used a realistic modern setting in a first person shooter, they had mainly appeared on PC only. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare popularised the contemporary world as the main location for shooting games in the console market. Gone were the colourful alien worlds and imaginative settings of the old days. They were replaced with dreary deserts and ruined grey cities. If there is one positive thing about the popularity of the anti-consumer cash grab that is Overwatch, it is that it seems to have brought some levity and life back to the aesthetic of the first person shooter genre.
One of the most popular maps for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was called “Crash”. This level was based around a helicopter that has crashed in a desert town. The PC version of the game received an update that added a Christmas themed variant of Crash – Winter Crash. This version of the map covered the desert floor with snow and adorned the buildings with lights. A large Christmas tree now stands next to the fallen helicopter.
The biggest change to Winter Crash involves the air strike. Once it has been called, the sound of the planes is replaced with bells and you can hear Santa shouting “Ho Ho Ho” as the bombs are dropped. In Winter Crash, it is Santa who is carpet bombing the enemy with presents.
Winter Crash was added into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, allowing console gamers to play it for the first time. In this version, the players will explode into a pile of presents upon death.
14. Parasite Eve – Body Horror In New York
Parasite Eve for the original PlayStation started out as an adaptation of a Japanese horror novel/movie. It soon abandoned the plot of its source material and basically became a mixture between Resident Evil and Akira. Parasite Eve became one of the most beloved games during the late ’90s RPG boom. It told the story of Aya Brea, a New York City police officer who witnesses the murder of an entire audience worth of people at the hands of a Psychic. This begins Aya’s investigation into the mysterious woman known as Eve, who can change living creatures into monsters by controlling their DNA.
The opening cinematic of Parasite Eve establishes that it takes place on Christmas Eve in New York City. Aya spends the festive season battling giant rats, that have been transformed into monsters through some horrific process. Once the threat of Eve has been established, the entire island of Manhattan has to be evacuated over the Christmas period, in order to ensure the safety of the population.
13. Duke Nukem 3D – Come Get Some Presents
The early first-person shooting games like Doom brought a whole new world of realism to video games. Players could now see through the eyes of their character and feel like they are the ones pulling the trigger. The developers of Doom, id Software, were all about creating a community of fans. One of the ways they went about this was with the creation of extensive modding tools, that allowed the fans to create their own Doom levels.
Doom’s biggest competitor was Duke Nukem 3D. A similar game that focused on saving mankind from an alien threat. Duke Nukem 3D did this with the aid of pop culture references and scantily clad strippers. Like Doom, Duke Nukem 3D had its own modding tools. It was because of this that some companies actually sold their own 3rd party Duke Nukem 3D expansions.
One of the most infamous of these unofficial expansions was Duke: Nuclear Winter. This expansion took Duke to a wonderful winter land, full of carolers, snowmen and a brainwashed Santa… that he can shoot. Nuclear Winter also added Santa hats to the strippers, in case you weren’t sure if it was Christmasy enough.
12. Batman: Arkham City – The Advent Calendar Man
One of the cool things about modern games is that they can detect the current date that is assigned to your computer. Most games will ignore this fact, as they cannot find a way to utilise it in an interesting fashion. Some games have used the internal clock as a mechanic, however. The most famous of these was Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. One of the bosses in that game was called The End. He was an old man with a sniper rifle who you must battle in a huge jungle. If you start the battle with The End and save your game, then you can kill him by adding a few weeks to the internal clock. When you load the save, he will have died of 0ld age.
In Batman: Arkham City, it is possible to run into the villain known as the Calendar Man. His whole gimmick is committing crimes on famous holidays. If you visit him on these days (or change the clock on your computer), then he will tell you about the specific crimes he has performed on those dates in the past. If you visit him on Christmas Day, then he will tell you about the time he murdered a Judge while dressed like Santa.
11. Crusader: No Regret – Slay Bells
Speaking of playing games on a specific date…
Crusader: No Regret was a PC action game that used the same engine as Ultima VIII. You play as the Silencer, a super soldier that worked for a powerful mega corporation. The Silencer ends up joining the local resistance movement and turns on his former employers. Crusader: No Regret takes place on the moon, where the Silencer is trying to destroy a mining operation that doubles as a prison.
If you start the game on December 25th, then Crusader: No Regret will load a unique level. In this new stage, you have to face eight versions of the end boss at once. You are given all of the items and weapons in the game to accomplish this task, all while a techno version of Good King Wenceslas plays.
10. Killing Floor – Killing Christmas
Killing Floor is one of a few games that started out as a mod of another title but ended up becoming its own thing. In the same way that Counter-Strike was a mod for Half Life that turned it into a team-based shooter in a contemporary setting, Killing Floor turned Unreal Tournament 2004 into a zombie shooter. Instead of fighting each other, the players now had to team up to fight off waves of the undead.
Around every December since 2010, Killing Floor has held an event known as “Twisted Christmas“. Players could now battle on a winter themed level that was adorned with decorations and presents. This level was guarded by a zombie Santa with a flayed body. He dispatched his army of Christmas themed zombies to devour the players. By completing this event, the players could unlock the “Baddest Santa” as a playable character.
9. Cannon Fodder – War Against Soccer
Cannon Fodder was a popular game from the 16-bit era that managed to combine the action and strategy genres. You controlled a squad of soldiers as they completed missions across the globe. You had to plan out your missions like a strategy game, whilst using quick reflexes in order to shoot your foes.
The company that made Cannon Fodder was called Sensible Software. While Cannon Fodder was their biggest game in America, they were best known in Europe for a football game, called Sensible Soccer.
For the Christmas edition of Amiga Format magazine, Sensible Software combined their two biggest games as a special one-off. Amiga Format came with a floppy disc that usually contained demos of new games. For this special Christmas edition of the magazine, you got to play as the soldiers from Cannon Fodder in a jolly, Christmas themed level… as they gunned down the players from Sensible Soccer. This Smash Bros. style crossover was called Cannon Soccer.
8. Elf Bowling – Santa Hates Unions
Santa is not a fan of unions. Why should he be? His elves only work for a few months out of the year and get to crash at his pad for the rest of the time. How many kids even want old fashioned toys nowadays anyway? Most young people today want the latest iPhone and those are made in China, not the North Pole.
There exists a series of video games known as Elf Bowling. These games examine the idea of what Santa would do if his Elves decide to go on strike. If the name hasn’t given it away already, Santa uses his dark Santa magic to force the elves onto a bowling lane, so he can kill them with a bowling ball. As the player, your skill at bowling will decide how many elves live or die. You get to hear the screams of agony and watch the blood ooze from the crumpled corpses of Christmas elves.
The only thing more disturbing than the fact that trash like Elf Bowling was even made in the first place, is the fact that it got a movie adaptation. That’s a story for another day, however.
7. Saints Row IV – Saving Saint Nicholas
Saints Row IV took the series in a bizarre new direction. Within a few minutes of starting the game, the main character is made the President of the United States of America, the world is destroyed by aliens and the few surviving humans are trapped within a virtual reality like the one from The Matrix. This change of setting allowed the game to become Grand Theft Auto except with super powers, so it was welcomed by most of the fanbase.
One of the DLC mission packs released for Saints Row IV was called “How the Saints Saved Christmas“. This expansion added three new Christmas-themed missions to the game.
After discovering that Santa has been kidnapped by aliens, the Saints must enter a Christmas version of the virtual reality world in order to save him. The Saints must battle against an army of Gingerbread men and Christmas elves that are out to kill them, all while a narrator talks of their adventure in rhymes.
6. Borderlands 2 – Cyan Items For Christmas
The original Borderlands was a mixture of bizarre concepts that somehow worked. It used a Tank Girl style aesthetic for its futuristic wilderness setting. It took the rare item collecting of Diablo and mixed it with the exciting combat of Serious Sam. Even though it was rough around the edges, Borderlands offered a unique gaming experience.
With the success of the original Borderlands, a sequel was inevitable. Borderlands 2 was released in 2012 and it was… essentially the first game again. They added almost nothing new to the overall experience. The few new interesting additions to the gameplay were relegated to the paid DLC.
One of the DLC expansions for the game was called “How Marcus Saved Mercenary Day”. This added new missions that involved you battling Christmas variants of the regular monsters, as well as battling Tinder Snowflake, a terrifying snowman monster. The expansion allowed you to earn some new Christmas-themed gear for your character.
5. Star Trek Online – The Wrath Of Santa
One of the first scenes in Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced a being known as Q. Several members of the Enterprise crew are imprisoned by Q and are held on trial for the crimes of humanity. Q was a being of godlike power and liked to flaunt his abilities at every opportunity. He was like Loki from Norse mythology, a cruel God of mischief, who took joy from the suffering of others. His appearances onboard the Enterprise meant trouble for everyone involved.
From a writer’s perspective, Q can be used as a plot device for almost any possible scenario. Do you want to write an episode where Captain Picard has to stop the Kennedy assassination? Q can make that happen. Do you want to write an episode where everyone onboard gets turned into sentient dogs? Q can make that happen. Do you want to write an episode where Counsellor Troi does something useful? Well… that’s probably outside of Q’s powers.
It seems that Q has run out of interesting ideas during the time period of Star Trek Online, as he now uses his power to make random Federation soldiers battle Christmas-themed monsters.
During the “Q’s Winter Wonderland” event that runs every December, the players are sent to a Christmas-themed town, where they can complete new missions. These involve battling a snow variant of the Borg and defending a town of Gingerbread men from some evil snowmen.
4. Champions Online – Christmas On Infinite Earths
It might be tempting for a video game developer to try their hand at making an MMO game. World of Warcraft has been printing money for Blizzard for over a decade now; Final Fantasy XI is the most profitable game in its series, due to the fact that so many fans have been paying to play it for so long.
The few success stories tend to overshadow all of the pitfalls and inevitable failures that come with making an MMO game. Having a famous licence attached to the project doesn’t seem to help either, as MMOs based off Conan the Barbarian, The Matrix and even Star Wars have all floundered in the past.
This brings us to Champions Online, a superhero MMO based off the tabletop RPG called Champions. They hold an annual Christmas-themed event, called “Attack of the Misfit Toys“. This event adds new missions to the game where the player must battle a supervillain known as the Toy Master, and his army of giant toy robots.
3. Gears Of War 3 – The Christmas Horde
The Gears of War franchise is one of the few video game series that is exclusive to Microsoft. This current generation of consoles seems to be turning into a battle of attrition, with the main weapon being these so-called “exclusive titles”. Sony has numerous franchises that they own, along with third party companies that would be willing to give them great exclusives (like From Software and Square Enix). This is where Microsoft has fallen flat, as they only really have Halo and Gears of War (and maybe Minecraft, if they want to open a huge can of worms and make that Xbox One exclusive).
Gears of War has a thriving online community that has been cultivated carefully by the people at Xbox. While it has yet to achieve the popularity of Halo as a competitive game, it still has a big fanbase.
During the Christmas period of 2014, Gears of War 3 held a series of special events that players could engage in over the holiday season. This event was known as “Gearmas” and it featured new Christmas items that you could use to customize your character. The Gearmas matches also included special battles where you could not use regular weapons and had to rely on melee attacks – chainsaws – to win.
2. Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup – Dante’s North Pole
It is not unusual for a brand new video game to cost around fifty or sixty dollars. For the budget-conscious among us, it might be worth checking out a game like Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, a totally free game that offers more gameplay than most full price titles.
Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is an open source RPG that has been receiving regular updates since 2006. The game is a modern take on the roguelike genre and follows an adventurer on their journey through increasingly deadly dungeons. Dungeon Crawl is Dark Souls levels of deadly and you shouldn’t expect to complete it quickly.
When playing Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup through a browser, the content of the game can change depending on the date. If you try and play the game over the holiday season, then the level of Hell known as Cocytus will have its name changed to North Pole. The powerful giant who guards this realm, Antaeus, will be dressed in a Santa outfit.
1. Hitman – Finishing What Kevin McCallister Started
The seventh mission of Hitman: Blood Money is called “You Better Watch Out“. You must kill a pornography tycoon who is trying to blackmail a local senator. This requires Agent 47 to kill the man during a Christmas event. One of the possible methods for completing this mission involves stealing the outfit of a mall Santa, and infiltrating a party.
This would not be the last time that the Hitman series decided to do a Christmas themed level. It was recently announced that the latest Hitman game is getting an update that adds a new mission. The so-called “Holiday Hoarders” mission follows Agent 47 as he must kill two American criminals that are hiding in Paris after they botched a series of break-ins. These two criminals are based on the Wet Bandits from the Home Alone movies. Agent 47 doesn’t need a jar of marbles or a creepy old man with a shovel to deal with burglars; chances are, he’s just going to end up shooting them after getting frustrated with trying to do the mission the stealthy way.