Prior to embarking on a glamorous, high-rolling career in videogame journalism, I was a fully-qualified plumber. At the time of transition my parents questioned my career change, suggesting I consider trivial things such as "money", "security", and the value of a "real job". This against an occupation that was at times, quite literally, shit.
In the face of such concerns, I explained to my folks what virtual toilets can teach us about the art of game design, or how the toilets of Dishonored illustrate the granular decision making developers face behind the scenes when crafting credible worlds. I sought to make them understand them how my past and present work often overlaps—that my learned trade plays an important role within the digital worlds they can't quite grasp.
I failed. So I now seek to entertain you with the best of videogame toilet takedowns. Having spent so much time in a variety of bathrooms over the years—for work purposes, you dirty beggars—I now consider myself an accurate authority on The John. This is an ex-plumber's guide to bathroom murder.
Half-Life 2's throne throwing
Half-Life 2's Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator—aka the Gravity Gun—doubles up in-game as a heavy lifting tool, an out of reach goodie-grabber, and, at its best, a physics-leveraging object launcher. Taking down foes by way of the latter is great fun, and nothing is more satisfying that hurling an uncoupled porcelain plopper at unsuspecting enemies.
Sure, you could off your targets with Manhacks, Rollermines or filing cabinets, but there's something inherently satisfying about watching a body fold under the weight of a china bowl as it hurtles through the air at speed. In Half-Life 2's main story campaign, the 'Flushed' achievement is unlocked by this very method, while death by toilet has its own dedicated symbol within the game's Deathmatch multiplayer component.
Friday the 13th and Hitman's bowl dunking
Perhaps the most obvious example of toilet execution involves drowning your prey in the shallow water that separates your arse from your waste pipe. In Hitman, Agent 47 performs this maneuver with a swift and precise blow to the back of the target's knee, before forcibly stuffing their face into the toilet bowl. The Bald Butcher then uses his weight to hold them down, and his off-centre positioning allows him to eschew the target's inevitably flailing limbs.
Jason takes a far less stealthy approach in Friday the 13th by busting down the toilet door—because who has time to mess around with door handles?—grabbing his mark by the throat, and thrusting their head underwater. With sheer brute strength he holds his target in place till the deed is done. Grim.
PUBG's water closet camping
As I've mentioned before, I'm a bit of a shit bag when it comes to PUBG. In the face of combat, I'd far rather wait each match out than risk my life in the wilderness. I've done so tucked under bridges, nestled in bushes, spread out on all fours among the reeds, and, yes, I'm the guy that you can't fucking stand.
In doing so, my absolute favourite hiding haunt is when holed up in an abandoned bathroom. This is the essence of bathroom murder in that I wait for someone to enter my bathroom and murder them. The Ronseal of toilet takedowns.
Metal Gear Solid's bathroom brutality
In 1998's Metal Gear Solid, Snakes lays waste to Vulcan Raven before making his way into the northerly Nuclear Warhead Storage Building to eventually face off against Cyborg Ninja and Psycho Mantis.
But before you see to the latter pairing, exit the B1 elevator, nip round the corner, and you'll find a genome soldier relieving himself at a urinal in the men's toilets. Similar to Hitman and Friday the 13th's approach, Snake uses nature's calling as a distraction in the art of toilet tactics here—grabbing his mark by the throat while his hands are, ahem, otherwise occupied. This will occasionally cause the fallen foe to drop a ration. Which begs the question: how desperate are you to recover food from a man with unwashed hands?
Saints Row: The Third's pan posing
In order to execute the perfect toilet takedown, you must become the toilet takedown itself.
By taking itself less seriously, Saints Row: The Third allowed Volition's open world crime 'em up series to finally shake off the oft-applied 'GTA clone' label and come into its own. An outlandish arsenal of weapons complimented an array of equally weird and wonderful costumes—not least the Toilet Outfit, which let players roam around Steelport dressed as a toilet pan.
What do you mean you've never seen a close coupled toilet set parachute from a skyscraper, fire a rocket launcher and steal a parked car?
Fallout 3's rim radiation
This act of toilet murder is self-inflicted. The sanitary ware's version of falling on your sword. The act of disembowlment.
You see, when the world's went to shit, Fallout 3 lets you stick your head in the shitter. But instead of contracting cholera, you'll instead increase your rad levels—in turn upping your likelihood of falling victim to radiation poisoning.
Don't get me wrong, water is scarce on the other side of Vault 101, but is slurping from a soiled toilet something you're willing to consider? Fallout 4, Bethesda's next stab at the post-apocalyptic franchise, answered this question for players by removing their ability to dunk themselves into the dunny entirely, keeping Jason Voorhees and Agent 47 in work for years to come.
Don't Shit Your Pants' death by doo doo
If you haven't played Cellar Door Games' browser-based text adventure game Don't Shit Your Pants, you should. Less toilet murder, more a sobering reflection of humankind's feeble mortality.