Guild Wars 2

Reddit user Blizzlock discovered something interesting in the beta of developer ArenaNet’s upcoming massively multiplayer online role-playing game Guild Wars 2 last weekend. The description of the in-game ability “Crippling Shot” reads, in part, “Shatter your foe’s dreams of becoming an adventurer with a single arrow to the knee.” This will sound familiar to players of last fall’s epic RPG Skyrim, in which non-player guard characters would often lament the losses of their own adventuring careers.

While developers referencing other companies’ games is nothing new (think of all the cake references since Portal’s release in 2007), a few game makers have gone all-out with their nods to other titles. For example:

Grand Theft Auto III kills the Wheelman

Developer Rockstar Games’ open-world crimefest includes a mission called “Two-Faced Tanner,” which tasks players with tracking down and killing a “strangely animated undercover cop” who is “more or less useless out of his car.” Savvy players would recognize the target as Tanner, the protagonist of Ubisoft Reflections’ (then Reflections Interactive) Driver series. In Driver 2 (which hit stores a year before GTA3), Tanner can leave his car and steal other vehicles on the road; Rockstar apparently did not approve of other people intruding on its turf. The GTA3 developer even goes so far as to match Tanner’s car to the one he drives in his own games and recreate his bizarre running animation.

Trials Evolution shows how low it can go

What do dirt bikes have to do with children wandering through dark and frightening woods? Nothing whatsoever (I hope), but that didn’t stop developer RedLynx from including a level based on Danish studio PlayDead’s spooky puzzle-platformer Limbo in Trials Evolution. If that seems like an odd match for an Xbox Live Arcade racer, you’re right, but the stage (shown in the video below) is undeniably cool in action. Not only does the environment look and sound like Limbo, right down to its gloomy silhouette aesthetic, chirping crickets, and a cameo from its trademarked giant spider, but RedLynx also drops Trials’ traditional rear three-quarter camera in favor of Limbo’s wide-angle profile perspective.

Valve vs. Capcom: Whoever wins, zombies lose

I saved the strangest one for last: a game of literal one-upmanship.

One of the Xbox 360 Achievements for Capcom’s 2006 zombie-basher Dead Rising was called “Zombie Genocider.” To unlock it, players had to kill 53,594 undead enemies (the population of its setting of Willamette, Colorado). Two years later, when Valve released its own apocalypse-action game, Left 4 Dead, it included an Achievement called “Zombie Genocidest,” which demanded the murder of 53,595 brain munchers. See, that’s fun with suffixes.

Capcom fired back in 2010’s Dead Rising 2 by including an Achievement with the funny-in-a-different-way name of “Z-Genocider 2: Genocide Harder,” which raised the required body count to 53,596. Valve has yet to raise the bar again.

This story has an interesting side note: Radical Entertainment’s horrible-person simulator Prototype, released in 2009, awards an Achievement/PlayStation 3 Trophy called “Trail of Corpses” for dispatching 53,596 enemies. Radical beat Capcom to the punch, but failed to stick the joke-name landing. It’s a little awkward, really, like a guy who barges into the middle of a conversation, laughs at a joke someone just made, and then tells the same joke and forgets the punchline.

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