With today marking Press X or Die’s second birthday, what better time for an entirely subjective list of things game-related? For this occasion I have chosen the aptly-titled ‘An Indeterminate And By No Means Comprehensive Number Of The Best Uses Of The X Button In Gaming’! I can see you positively salivating.
Well, first up, let’s look at the epitome of the ‘Press X or Die’ concept. Except in this case, it is ‘Furiously Hammer X or Die’, also the commands may change if you fail it…so, maybe it is not the epitome. Shut up.
LEON KENNEDY AND THE BOULDER OF DOOM
Resident Evil 4 (GameCube)
Early on, players are in for a surprise when some not-too-friendly villagers push a boulder off a hill and into Leon’s path. Running away is boring unless you are frantically pounding a button (Untrue story: I have to hold a controller whenever I watch the intro to Raiders of the Lost Ark), and would never ever work with your regular movement controls, so mashing X it is! The shock factor increases when you consider that this was the first Resident Evil game to include Quick-Time-Events.
GRAND THEFT HALO
Halo 2 (Xbox)
Protagonists in the GTA games, may have been doing it for years already, but it took a while for Master Chief to get the hang of hijacking vehicles. Via the X button in Halo 2, players could board not only their own UNSC vehicles but also those pesky, purple Covenant monstrosities, and use their bizarre properties for themselves. I still remember the first time I stole a Ghost before zooming off round the back of a Wraith and planting a grenade in that sucka. That is a war story I will tell my grandkids.
GEARS OF FOOTWORK
Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360)
When it happens in American History X (hey, another X!), it is one of the most disturbing moments seen in cinema, guaranteed to make you wince. When it happens in Gears of War, it can’t fail but bring a smile to your face. Or at least mine anyway. Don’t judge me. The curb stomp move was already present in the first game, but it is Gears of War 2 where executions took on a larger role, encouraging players to break cover and charge in to finish downed enemies; with a quick little camera angle switch allowing the violence to be seen in all its gory glory.
GOD OF WAAAAARGHSONOFZEUSOWWWW!
God of War 3 (PlayStation 3)
Along with Resident Evil 4, the God of War series helped popularise Quick-Time-Events. There have been many instances of the X button doing something particularly gratifying and gruesome, but the third entry in the series has one that is possibly the squickiest (it’s a word. Look it up). Arkham Asylum saw Batman riding on huge, TITAN-injected thugs, using them as puppets of destruction but he did not cling onto their eyelids, stab them in the neck in order to manipulate them and then rip out their eyes when he was done. Well, that’s exactly what Kratos does, following a QTE sequence ending with the X button. If it’s any consolation, it was a Cyclops, so there was only one eyelid to grab and one eye to extract. Yeah…
Sonic Generations (Xbox 360)
This is an odd one because, back in 1991, who would’ve thought Sega’s mascot would wind up on a console made by Microsoft? I didn’t but then again, I was only a kid. What’s your excuse, smarty-pants? Anyway, this development has meant one of most satisfying moves in gaming now has a place on the X button in the latest release: Sonic Generations. I am, of course, talking about the ‘Super Sonic Spin Dash’ (seven Chaos Emeralds not necessary) which has been given its own separate button. No longer are players required to hold down and hammer the jump button; they can just hold the button to achieve the same effect. Although, if you don’t feel the urge to give that button a few extra presses, you’re not a true Sonic fan! Yeah, I said it. What you gonna do, huh?
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (Xbox 360)
I know Spider-Man 2 is some sort of sacred cow, but the combat absolutely sucks. Web of Shadows got it right, successfully combining it with Spider-Man’s inherent agility and web-slinging. Now, via a suitably-timed press of the X button players can have the satisfaction of swinging into an enemy and booting them off into the distance. And that’s all we could ever want from our games really.
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention quite possibly the worst ever use…
PRESS X TO JASON
Heavy Rain (PlayStation 3)
What better way to make gamers feel the despair of losing sight of your child in the mall than get them walking through crowds and following red herrings, or, in this case, red balloons? Shouting your child’s name may seem like a good idea, especially since they’ve been missing approximately five seconds, but here it is absolutely futile. Shout “Jason” all you want, he’s still sprinted out of the mall to then dart in front of a car. And you get to use the X button for name-shouting all over again when hapless dad, Ethan, loses his remaining son, Shaun, during a trip to the park. Yes, the infamous use of the X button that started its own meme.
And that’s all, folks! Thank you for your time. Although, I now imagine your favourite X button is the one sitting in the top-right corner of your browser or tab. Adieu!