When you think about videogames, you often think of the weapons you use, whether that’s guns, swords, or what have you. But what about all the really neat gadgets that you use to make your way through those games? Whether they let you see through walls, manipulate time, or hide in plain sight, these eight gadgets are not only useful, they’re a huge part of why the games they are in are so great.
Don’t see your favorite? Tell us what it is in the comments!
The Codec (Metal Gear Solid series)
The Codec is a communications system that works by manipulating the small bones in the ear. The advantage is that you don’t need a handset or microphone – you just look like you’re talking to yourself. If the user was wired with nanomachines, he could even eliminate speaking out loud completely. The Codec can also send photos taken with a digital camera, as well as having some video communication capability. As a bonus, it had an alert sound that is probably used as a text message alert by a large number of MGS fans.
Multi-Vision Goggles (Splinter Cell series)
The sound of Sam Fisher’s goggles turning on became synonymous with the stealthy Splinter Cell games, and gamers everywhere recognize it. The original two mode model could switch from green-tinted night vision to heat-sensing thermal. The version with three modes was introduced in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, and added Electromagnetic Field vision, which allowed Sam to see any operating electronics in the area. It also added Electronically Enhanced Vision that revealed properties about objects in Sam’s area of vision. The glowing green lights of these goggles are even more iconic than Sam himself.
Celestial Brush (Okami)
The Celestial Brush was one of the coolest devices that had appeared in a video game when Okami came out. You could draw a circle in the sky, and it would become the sun and illuminate the world. You could use the brush to repair or replace damaged items or missing areas of the landscape. Not only could you draw with the brush, you could use it as a weapon as well. Slashing enemies with the brush can damage multiple targets, and you can even draw a bomb that will explode unless the fuse is extinguished. It was a versatile, powerful tool that fit in perfectly with the art style that Okami featured.
Omni Tool (Mass Effect series)
The Omni-Tool was one of the strangest, and yet most effective devices seen in a video game. Instead of being a tangible item, it appeared as a hologram around the user’s forearm. The omni-tool allowed the user to do many different things, including hacking, repairing objects, dispensing medi-gel, using tech talents, and more. Omni-tools can be modified to act as weapons as well, with many models integrating electrical, kinetic, or thermal energy into their omni-blade. This blade is crated by the tool’s mini-fabricator, and is completely disposable. It’s a very cool piece of tech that I’d love to see actually come to fruition one day.
Detective Vision (Batman: Arkham series)
Batman: Arkham Asylum introduced Detective Vision, a new vision mode built into Batman’s cowl. With it, he can see the skeleton of every human, with armed enemies shown in red, and unarmed enemies shown in blue. He can also see their emotional state and what sort of weapon they’re carrying. In addition, he can also see grates, vents, breakable walls, and vantage points that he can use. In later games, other characters like Catwoman, Joker, and Robin had similar vision modes.
The Animus (Assassin’s Creed series)
While you may be growing tired of the yearly installments of the Assassin’s Creed series, you can’t deny how cool the concept of the Animus is. A virtual reality device that reads your genetic memory, and then lets you explore those memories in the body of one of your ancestors is absolutely as awesome as it sounds. It’s the premise of pretty much every Assassin’s Creed game. It’s also interesting that the evil Templar corporation in the game series, Abstergo Industries, adapted the Animus into an entertainment console called the Animus Omega. I would probably buy that.
Time Manipulation Device (Singularity)
Time manipulation isn’t a new thing in video games, but in most cases, it’s simply the ability to reverse or stop time. Singularity’s Time Manipulation Device is more than that. You could revert broken objects back to their original state, speed up the aging process in targets, and even cause an enemy to mutate. With upgrades, you could use the TMD like Half-Life 2’s Gravity Gun and create a sphere that slows all objects within its range. It was a whole new take on manipulating time, and it was a key piece in solving puzzles in Singularity.
Pip-Boy (Fallout series)
If there’s one device that pretty much every gamer recognizes on sight, it’s Fallout’s Pip-Boy. The Pip-Boy 2000 appeared in the first two games and Fallout Tactics, and was a hand-held device, much like a PDA or a tablet (although the Vault Dweller had an experimental wrist-mounted model called the Pip-Boy 2000 Plus). When Bethesda took over the series and launched Fallout 3 we got the updated Pip-Boy 3000, which is worn on the user’s wrist. Fallout: New Vegas included a solid gold model encrusted with diamonds that was called the Pimp-Boy 3 Billion. All models of the device allowed you to track character stats and perks, manage inventory, listen to the radio, and upgrade your skills. It’s so ubiquitous, you can find a Pip-Boy theme for just about any electronic device you own.