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A Beginner's Guide to Nu-Metal Video Games

They confounded your parents and made your sleepovers magical. Read our list of nu metal's greatest games now.

With each passing year as the proportion of active female gamers ticks upward it becomes easier to forget that for nearly the first four decades of the medium's existence video games were considered an exclusively male phenomenon— with surrounding culture bending over backward to reify this impression. In retrospect, this was all very humiliating. An era in which The Guy Game could exist, or '50 Cent could present an award for CyberVixen of the Year' needed to end. But as a cultural moment it is fascinating. For better or for worse all of this was allowed to exist in a vacuum; there were no extensive think pieces about Lara Croft's Loaded cover or week-long Twitter discourses about Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, these things just were the way they were cuz boys went to Jupiter to get more stupider while girls went to college to get more knowledge.

Since video games were the domain of angry, horny young men they found a synergy with nu metal, widely perceived as the music of choice amongst the era's angry, horny young men. This synergy manifested in ways both literal and spiritual. Direct and indirect. Fred Durst and Fred Durst. Today we at the Nu Metal Agenda will be celebrating the best (and worst) of nu metal's collision course with video gaming.

The most crucial are below, but first some honorable mentions: Fred Durst Dreamcast, Josey Scott of Saliva Playable Character in Tiger Woods 03, Fred Durst Playable Character in Fight Club, Deftones' THPS addiction, Fred Durst Playable Character in WWF Smackdown: Just Bring It, Gaming is a Religion and Haze is the Shit, Fred Durst requiring the addition of himself as a playable character in exchange for his band's music, the Maggot bike in MTX Mototrax, Jonathan Davis' Silent Hill: Downpour Theme, The Fear Factory Wagon in Test Drive 5, Bloodrayne 2 Evanescence MTV2 Video Mod, and finally Static-X in Duke Nukem: Land of the Babes.

Alright crack open that Mountain Dew Code Red and turn your PlayStation sideways (it runs better that way dude trust me) it's time for the most nu metal video games of all time:

Fallout Brotherhood of Steel


Synopsis: Play as one of three Brotherhood of Steel initiates (six once you unlock everyone) as you travel along the wasteland living out your badass post-apocalyptic fantasies in an isometric action-shooter that differs greatly from the methodical role-playing and tactics gameplay of its previous three iterations.

How Nu Metal is It? Pandering to the lowest of all nu metal cliches, Brotherhood of Steel packs all the early 2000’s hyper-edge, crude humor and nasty misogyny. Female characters wear ridiculously revealing "armor" that might have titillated your high school's resident trench coat aficionado but seemed mostly juvenile to everyone else.

How Nu Metal is the Soundtrack? Very! While regular sections are mostly filled with ambient noise, the boss battles feature some of the best of the genre, including Slipknot, Chimaira, Celldweller, and Skinlab.

Is it Any Good? Ehhh…no?  But also, it’s okay.  If it was scrubbed clean of all the Fallout branding, it would probably be a lot better but given that it’s the last Fallout game to be made by Interplay before the IP was sold to Bethesda it feels like they are trying too hard to fit the dying remains of the series lore into a game that ultimately would go on to be ignored in all future installments.  Still, if you're an aspiring Fallout completionist, or just have a pang of nostalgia, then give it a shot.

Halo 2


Synopsis: Directly after the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, the evil alien alliance known as The Covenant set their sights on earth, and Spartan John 117 must defend humanity from extinction.

How nu metal is it? The game itself isn’t outwardly nu metal, but the atmosphere fills in a lot of the gaps. It’s an action-packed romp coursing with all the adrenaline and energy that you would come to find in your favorite nu metal songs. There’s also the obvious nostalgia factor. While the plot and story may stand on their own it’s hard not to hop in an online match for old times sake and be instantly transported back to the days of yore.

How nu metal is the soundtrack? One thing Halo has always been known for is its exceptional soundtracks, and Halo 2’s is especially a treat. Breaking Benjamin make a prominent, well loved appearance with the band's original "Blow Me Away" soundtracking a climactic battle and extra points have to be awarded for being one of the most literal songs ever written about a first person shooter game ever made ("Fire your guns / it's time to run / blow me away"). Hoobastank make appearances and Incubus compose songs specifically for the soundtrack, and “inspired by” the game. It would already be stellar to have them featured in a huge property like this, but adding their creative touch and personal nu metal stylings to the score adds an immeasurable amount of atmosphere and nu metal-y goodness to this experience.

Is it any good? Big time! It’s arguably the magnum opus of the entire Halo franchise and certainly one of the best action games ever made. It expanded upon the lore and gameplay in the most compelling way possible without becoming overwrought and definitely stands the test of time.



Synopsis: New York City has been "Infected" with a virus that turns the population into ravenous undead zombies. The objective is to both take out the hoards of infected and concoct a plan to make a cure from the main character’s blood.

How nu metal is it?  Infected goes further than any game here by including all nine members of Slipknot as playable characters plus Mark Hunter of Chimaira for good measure.

How nu metal is the soundtrack? Thoroughly. Songs by Slipknot, Chimaira, Fear Factory, Trivium, and The Agony Scene are implemented well into the gameplay.

Is it any good? Overall, yes! While the PSP had its flaws Infected is a fun action packed challenge. The capability to play online and spread the infection to another player was ahead of its time at its initial release date.  It’s a bloody, gory, body count heavy game that overcomes a heavy handed story with some bonafide sick and morbid humor that would keep any player’s attention through the end credits.

Jet Grind Radio

Holiday Kirk

Synopsis: Dope ass teenagers with sick ass magnetic rocket skates fight the power with graffiti and dancing.

How nu metal is the game? Jet Grind Radio is a fizzy soda explosion of cell shaded cartoon sweetness. Which is to say, outside of those extreme skating vibrations, the game itself isn't very nu metal.

How nu metal is the soundtrack? The brilliant original music by Hideki Naganuma is a raucous blend of j-rock, j-pop, hip-hop, and dance music. It's a wonderland of sound, one of the best osts in video game history. It's also not nu-metal. However, in their infinite localization wisdom, Sega of America added three nu-metal tracks to the mix as to not confuse American audiences accustomed to their presence in extreme sports games. Cold's "Just Got Wicked," Rob Zombie's "Dragula (Si Non Oscillas, Noli Tintinnare Mix)" and Professional Murder Music's "Slow," all loop for one specific stage. None match the game's bright and shiny vibe particularly well but they add some nice brooding variance to the otherwise relentlessly upbeat OST.

Is it any good? Fantastic provided you can put up with some of the most controller crackingly difficult, timer based gameplay ever wrought upon my fragile hands.

Prince of Persia Warrior Within


Synopsis: A Persian time prince has to go to the island of time to stop the empress of time from creating the sands of time so the guardian of time doesn’t slap him for screwing up time seven years earlier (in time).

How Nu Metal is the Game: Warrior Within lives up to its namesake, being more combat-driven than any other Prince of Persia game. Slicing, dicing, and dancing around enemies with akimbo scimitars is incredibly satisfying, and the game feel is moodier and broodier than we’d seen by then.  The Prince also lets out a guttural yell every time he performs a heavy attack and that’s nu-metal, if not incredibly annoying.

How Nu Metal is the Soundtrack: Chunky riffs and compressed drums, tinted with vague Arabic flutes and percussion, motivate players to be relentless in their pursuit of 'damn that was sick.' Warrior Within set off a flame in 8th graders, sparking a seed that would eventually grow into defining themselves as metal heads. The guitar and bass steal the show, spilling with distortion and angst and volume. Stuart Chatwood and Inon Zur knew what the deal was going into this: give the player riffs so heavy they’ll never forget the main character or how pissed off and annoyed by everything he is. You likely won’t be able to tell the songs apart, but that’s no matter. If that wasn't enough Godsmack’s “I Stand Alone” gets prominent needle drops everytime the giant Dahaka shows up to chase you around.

Is it a good game? Hard to say if it holds up 20 years later, the story is a crapshoot but the acro-combat was pretty mind-blowing for 2004. Fast paced, responsive, easy to learn but hard to master, it feels better than some modern Assassin’s Creed titles, which is wild to say. The formula was on the right track two decades ago and that alone holds replayability.

Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance / MLB Slugfest 2003 / Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy

Holiday Kirk

Synopsis: Since Midway Games treated all three of these games as one, nu-metal promo project, we will be doing the same. The synopsis for each is roughly this: you punch people, you punch people on a baseball diamond, you punch people with your mind.

How Nu Metal is the Game? While Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy and Mortal Kombat each take their own stabs at a gritty, edgy nu-metal vision, MLB Slugfest 2003 is more a parody of that edginess with a no-holds-barred XFL take on major league baseball that features some of the funniest color commentary ever heard in a sports game. None are directly nu-metal; however…

How Nu Metal is the Soundtrack? In a truly crazy ass turn of events some marketing guru figured the best way to promote these three games was by enlisting three different nu metal bands to write original songs for each. I have no idea how well this translated to actual units sold but it is something to behold. For Mortal Kombat, Adema manages to look and sound goofier than usual on “Immortal.” So goofy are the lyrics in fact that I’ve been propagating a rumor that singer Mark Chavez improvised the lyrics after eating an entire fridge’s worth of ice cream sandwiches for years. For Psi-Ops, Jacksonville five-piece Cold turned in a deadly serious track about being able to psychically “take you far away /with my mind" that was enough of a priority to even score Marc Webb of 500 Days of Summer fame to direct the music video. But both of these pale in comparison to Dry Kill Logic’s “Riot at the Batrack.” Dry Kill Logic took the assignment about as seriously as MLB Slugfest 2003 takes baseball which is to say not at all. With a music video budget roughly equivalent to the catering expenses on either of the other two videos, Dry Kill Logic's Cliff Rigano bellows “MLB SLUGFEST / TWENTY-OH-THREE” with the conviction of an extremely pissed off umpire in front of one tattered green screen. All three songs rule in their own ways but by taking the song as seriously as the game takes baseball, Dry Kill Logic emerge victorious.

Are they good games? None are life changingly good but each is a solid slice of their respective genre circa 2002.

Shadow the Hedgehog


Synopsis: After Shadow is awakened by Rouge in Dr. Eggman's cloning facility during the events of Sonic Heroes, Shadow struggles to remember his past. Meanwhile, he is caught in a three sided war between aliens, humanity and Dr. Eggman’s army. It’s up to Shadow to decide who he wants to be and what lengths he’s willing to go on his path to discover the secrets of his past.

How Nu Metal is the Game? To say that this game is nu metal would be an understatement. It represents a period in time in the early to mid 2000s where it captures the imagination of childhood angst and rebelliousness, not to mention the countless AMVs after release. Memes aside that poke fun at the game for being relentlessly edgy (you can gun down friendly human soldiers within minutes of starting the game), Shadow the Hedgehog- both the game and the character -became an iconic part of the the Sonic series for many kids that grew up during the peak of the nu metal era.

How Nu Metal is the Soundtrack? It would be criminally negligent not to talk about how nu metal the soundtrack is. At this point in time, Sonic Team was already branching out into more rock-centric music and the most logical conclusion for Shadow the Hedgehog’s soundtrack was to add popular elements of metal and rock at the time. From its iconic theme song “I Am… All of Me” by Crush 40 to Powerman 5000’s “Almost Dead,” to the score itself delving into rock and metal with blends of electronic music, Shadow the Hedgehog is steeped in nu-metal magic.

Is it a Good Game? Well, Shadow the Hedgehog is known for many things, and being good, unfortunately, is not one of them. In spite of the earnest ambition and bold attempt at a darker, more mature Sonic game, the game itself, when it isn’t just mediocre, is tedious and frustrating. The controls suffer from clunky movement and the third-person-shooter mechanics feel forced. While the addition of having a multi-branching storyline based on its options for good vs evil are interesting in theory, in execution it falls short due to the level design being bloated, empty and tedious to get through. Whether it’s the cliched dialogue, the convoluted plot, or Shadow being a gun toting, foul mouthed ("hell" and "damn" make appearances) misanthrope, Shadow the Hedgehog is an overall unpleasant experience.

Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarding

Holiday Kirk

Synopsis: Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarding.

How Nu Metal is the Game? Contrary to popular opinion, snowboarding is the most nu-metal action sport with extreme motocross in second, aggressive inline in third, quitting meth in fourth and skateboarding - always more of a hip-hop/punk phenomenon - running fifth. So by virtue of being a snowboarding video game, it gets major points.

How Nu Metal is the Soundtrack? Of every game on this list, no single soundtrack is denser with pure nu-metal than Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarding. Behold this all star list of xtreme sports game bands: Alien Ant Farm, Papa Roach, Static-X, Spineshank, and Powerman 5000 are all represented. Deeper cuts like Stereomud and Insolence make appearances, even adjacent acts like Orange 9MM and Godhead are in here. As far as bands that were guaranteed to be on package tours called, like, Mountain Dew's Winter Facewreck Festival, this is the real deal.

Is it a good game? Similar to the rest of the era's Tony Hawk-a-likes, Shaun Palmer suffers from being close (same title/logo/publisher) but not close enough (different developer means physics and level structure feel out of whack) to the Birdman franchise. It's a decent game but you'll grow weary of it after an hour.

Twisted Metal 3

Christopher Redar

Synopsis Released in 1998, the third iteration of the grandfather of vehicular combat featured 12 combatants, both new and returning, on a quest to be granted a wish by the enigmatic Calypso. Gameplay featured both a single player campaign across 8 levels and couch multiplayer with up to 8 bots. Each vehicle features a unique special attack as well as dual machine guns with unlimited ammo, and every map is scattered with both health and special weapon pickups to aid you in being the last car standing.

How Nu Metal Is The Game? The mascot for the series is Sweet Tooth, an escaped mental patient wearing a clown mask and whose head is perpetually aflame. He also drives an ice cream truck, so we KNOW he's a Coal Chamber fan. This game's character design, plot, and general vibe have nu metal's DNA encoded into them. Speaking of...

How Nu Metal Is The Soundtrack? Rob Zombie features prominently in this series' soundtrack - so much so he's a playable character in the next entry - with "Superbeast" and a remix of his massively popular "Dragula" playing on about every other match. This was also the author's introduction to a then not very well known band stateside by the name of Pitchshifter. "Microwaved" and "w.y.s.i.w.y.g." (pronounced 'wissyWIG' colloquially), along with the Zombie jams, were playable if you put the game in a regular CD player, meaning yours truly had a copy of Twisted Metal 3 in their Discman more often than their PlayStation.

Is The Game Any Good? Twisted Metal 3 was a decent enough entry in the series at the time to keep fans busy, although competing vehicular combat games were starting to pop up and add different and better elements to the formula. It wasn't until 2001's Twisted Metal: Black when creator David Jaffe retook the helm that the series returned to its former glory, leaving 3 and 4 as footnotes much better known for their soundtracks than their gameplay. This would likely be nearly unplayable in the current era, though if any series is due for a reboot, it's this one.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

rosiegothicc and Holiday Kirk

Synopsis: Play as yourself or 14 other professional skaters. Collect secret tapes and complete challenges in a 2 minute timeframe to unlock more competitions and levels.

How Nu Metal is the Game? Skateboarding culture has always influenced Nu Metal with bands like Limp Bizkit taking over the dearly departed SkateLab in Los Angeles for their "Break Stuff" video, Deftones on Warped Tour, and skater fashions like baggy pants or wallet chains. So by virtue of being a skateboarding video game it's plenty nu-metal.

How Nu Metal is the Soundtrack? A perfectly sequenced combination of nu-metal (Powerman 5000, Papa Roach), rap metal (Public Enemy and Anthrax, Rage Against the Machine), hip-hop (Mos Def, Naughty by Nature) and punk (Bad Religion, Millencolin), the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 soundtrack is one of the most well rounded, neigh perfect 14 licensed tracks you'll ever find in a video game. The number of teenagers encoded with an appreciation of all the aforementioned genres thanks to this game must be in the millions.

Is it a good game? Unlike many first generation 3D video games, Neversoft essentially perfected the THPS game-feel with the second entry and simply refined it from there on. No matter which generation of this franchise you call home Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 is an easy to pick up, hard to put down classic.

WWF Smackdown Just Bring It!

Lucia Z. Liner

Synopsis: WWF SmackDown!: Just Bring It features a branching season mode, full motion entrances for every superstar, commentary by announcers Michael Cole and Tazz, and a graphical overhaul that comes with a graduation to a 64-bit engine. It is, in all forms, a reflection of the Attitude Era it was forged in, and a huge step forward for wrestling games in the sixth console generation.

How Nu Metal is the Game? Fred bah-gawd Durst is an unlockable character in the game, having bargained for his inclusion in the game in exchange for the license to use “Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)” for The Undertaker's entrance music. As for the rest of the roster, this game came at the tail end of the much-lauded, thoroughly nu metal, Attitude Era. Wrestlers from WCW and ECW had made their way to the Fed, stacking an already-saturated industry and if that isn't a parallel for the glut of nu metal bands around the same time period, I'm not sure what is.

How Nu Metal is the Soundtrack? Considering we were mere months away from the Forceable Entry album and “Across the Nation” as RAW's theme, Just Bring It feels like a watershed period in wrestling relationship right before it went all in on nu metal. Beyond the aforementioned Limp Bizkit track there are a couple of nu metal-tinged songs like “My Time” for Stephanie McMahon or The Dudley Boyz’ original theme, which somehow rhymed “disabled” with “table.” Points for being PC, I suppose.

Is It A Good Game? Historically, Just Bring It! is an important entry into the legendary SmackDown! game series. That said, knowing where the series would go in the next two entries, it only holds up so well.

What do you think? Any big misses? Let us know your thoughts by replying to this post to be featured in a follow up article!