It’s that time of year again; the daffodils are out in bloom, the supermarkets are engaged in a creative Easter related chocolates arms race and the Church of England has engaged in a Twitter war against a sweets company… what do you mean that doesn’t usually happen? Well regardless of your own Easter time traditions, video-game developers have a habit of placing hidden references and wacky goings-on in their games, much to the delight of gamers everywhere. Here are just a few of my favourites from the past few years.
An authoritarian India governed by a despotic, totalitarian agitator. Something to think of while you make your way through those delicious chocolate eggs.
Watch dogs 2- Immitation is the Greatest Form of Flattery… Apparently
From a random NPC proclaiming that he should be the next president and make his country ‘great again’ in the Bangkok mission in Hitman to Lindsay Lohan suing Rockstar for using her likeness to portray a facile and irritating celebrity in Grand Theft Auto V, developers have often used the medium of games to poke fun at famous people.
Not one to miss out on a cheap (yet gratifying) shot, Ubisoft took it upon themselves to chastise the most hated man of 2014 in last year’s Watch Dogs 2. A fictional pharmaceuticals CEO by the name of Gene Carcani is revealed to have angered America by raising the price of leukaemia medication. He is also prepared to pay $20 million to be the exclusive owner of a Hip-Hop album.
If this is sounding anyway familiar it’s because this is an identical imitation of Martin Shkreli, the CEO of Retrophin who raised the price of a drug to help AIDS sufferers. He also spent $2 million to be the exclusive owner of a Wu-Tang Clan album. The only difference is that in the game you trick the CEO into donating millions to charity. In real life, Martin Shkreli lives happily with his overpriced album unaffected by hipster hackers… though there’s still time yet.
Uncharted 4 – Pirating Copywritten Material
Perhaps the most noble of the Easter egg sub-groups is that of the homage. Past examples have included the creeper found in Borderlands 2, a Slender Man sighting in Runner 2 and an overheard conversation in Dishonored strikingly similar to tutorial instructions in Thief: the Dark Project. These virtual equivalents to the cool bro-hug give us a look into the respect and admiration that developers have for one another.
So with this in mind I like to imagine that when one of the higher ups over at Naughtydog announced to their development team that their final Uncharted game was to be about pirate treasure someone stood up from their desk and announced loudly to their co-workers that their time had come. Well it’s either that or Naughtydog could only think of eleven famous pirates.
Along with the portraits of the likes of Henry Avery, Thomas Tew and Anne Bonny there is a mysterious twelfth pirate who our intrepid adventurer Nathan Drake doesn’t recognise. His Sigil of a monkey holding a knife and an hourglass along with his blonde hair, youthful appearance and long blue coat however reveal that this is none other than Guybrush Threepwood from the Monkey Island series. This quick-witted adventurer with a dry humour would undoubtedly have gotten on famously with our beloved Nathan Drake.
The Witcher 3 – Doctor Witch?
Developers also have a habit of trying to scare the crap out us with creepy Easter eggs. The terrifying Sonic pictures that can be found in Sonic the Hedgehog CD if you mess around with the sound controls and the ghost on Mount Gordo in Grand Theft Auto V are but two examples of game developer’s sadistic sides.
The CD Projekt Red team decided to mix a love of the creepy with British pop culture in the masterpiece that is the Witcher 3. Visiting an eerie church near Lindenvale will bring you face to face with the most terrifying monster the makers of Doctor Who created; the weeping angels. Out of nowhere, and at no other point in the game I might add, the two angel statues outside of the church will begin to follow you around when your back is turned. They don’t send your character Geralt to another point of history like they do in the TV show though. Clearly Geralt is even more terrifying than the weeping angels. Definitive proof that Witchers trump Time Lords.
The bad guys trying to put the state under martial law are more than happy to get in touch with their fabulous sides.
Hitman – Get Your Freak On
And then there’s the obscene. The baffling. The downright insane. The unicorn gun in Red Faction: Armageddon, the Hack and Slash mini-game in Metal Gear Solid 3 and John Romero’s head being revealed to be the main boss in Doom 2 all fall under this category.
Hitman is a series that prides itself in its wacky and often elaborate Easter eggs. The bizarre ‘Lucky Coin’ Easter egg in Blood Money to the Ice Cream van assassination technique in Absolution are both examples of IO interactive’s creativity and quirkiness. But personally I can never resist a good dance, and here Hitman 2016 provides.
In the Marrakesh episode you, Agent 47, the coldest, stoniest protagonist in all of gaming, can orchestrate a dance off between the Moroccan guards. Yup, the bad guys trying to put the state under martial law are more than happy to get in touch with their fabulous sides if a number of conditions are made and obviously the right tune is played.
Civilisation VI – Don’t Mess With Ghandi
The final Easter egg category is that of the in-joke. Those sort of references usually require for you to have a bit of knowledge about the gaming industry and gaming history to be understood. The achievement ‘massive damage’ in Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts, referencing Sony’s 2006 E3 conference, was perhaps the only thing of any significance that game had while Mass Effect 3’s Citadel DLC pokes fun of the poorly designed ‘mako’ vehicle from the first time and the long waiting times in elevators.
Perhaps the most enduring and recurring in-game joke has been Civilisation’s portrayal of the pacifist Mahatma Ghandi. Because of a bug in the original Civilisation game Ghandi’s aggression level could suddenly go from the lowest to the highest in the game. Stalin, Caesar even Genghis Khan could not rival the great warmonger Ghandi. So of course Sid Meyer thought it right to not only put Ghandi in every future Civilisation game but to also make him the aggressive, jingoistic nuclear-weapons lover he had been in the first game. And so we witnessed the terrifying parallel universe that was an authoritarian India governed by a despotic, totalitarian agitator. Something to think of while you make your way through those delicious chocolate eggs.