Quick: what's man's best friend?
A dog? Hell no! Can you ride a dog? Or install a moon roof in a dog? Or drop some giant subwoofers in back? Maybe a disco ball and ocelot fur upholstery? If you can manage that with a dog...I salute you, you crazy person. Your deviance makes the world a better place.
No, if God had intended dogs to be man's best friend, he would not have invented video game vehicles.
Cars, boats, planes; no matter what form your ride takes, they're meant to make you look attractive and compensate for your slow, pudgy virtual meat-legs. Video gaming is a medium that laughs in the face of physics and good taste, so the sky's the limit on how cool the vehicles can be. But these five top them all.
To narrow the scope of this list, I limited it to small, personal vehicles that only seat a few people. Humongous ships like the Normandy don't count. Animal mounts also don't count. On with the show!
It's a talking dragon boat. What more do you want?
To this day, I still get a feeling of boundless freedom when I hop in that little red boat and start jetting across the open sea. That's a rare feeling that a lot of games don't try to give you. And NO OTHER game lets you ride in a boat made of magical shape-shifting royalty. King of Red Lions is a guide and friend as well as a stylish mode of transportation. It's like Knight Rider with fairies and bird people!
See that tank up there? In the game, it's about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. It's a puny little gremlin of a tank that's barely big enough for one person. If that tank went to high school, all the Panzers and Shermans would laugh at it in the locker-room showers.
But once you leap inside and start rolling, you feel like an unstoppable behemoth.
One minute you're a squishy little commando that was dodging bullets and grenades, getting killed in one hit, angrily shoving your lunch money into the quarter slot and screaming at this cheap, addicting game for being cheap and addicting.
Then you find this thing just sitting there, waiting for a driver. You hop in. As you start rolling, you unleash torrents of blue Vulcan hellfire all over the screen. Anything that that fails to kill, you obliterate with 127 mm of explosive whoop-ass. You become a pint-sized apocalypse. It's beautiful.
All of Samus' ships are pretty cool-looking, but the one she's got in Metroid Prime 3 really stands out for the simple fact that you can actually use the thing.
In all the other games the ship is just a save station that sits in one spot and doesn't move. It was nice, but I never felt like my own personal star ship.
So I can tell you how awesome it was when you not only got to fly the thing from planet to planet like a real starship, but you could call it to come get you, make it carry stuff for you, outfit it with new gear and gizmos and stuff, and even call in airstrikes! Finally! That is the kind of stuff that an intergalactic bounty hunter's ship should have always been able to do! It made me finally take pride in it like it was my own. When the ship got attacked in-game, it was like I found out some jerk was keying my car.
That's why killing Hunter Ghor was so great. Nobody hurts my ship and lives.
Forged from the exploded remains of the primordial fire-beast Ormagoden by the Titans of the Ancient World, and assembled with love by a guy named Eddie, the Deuce is the most hardcore automobile ever to shred the earth under its wheels.
Just look at the thing! It's got twin mini-guns on the front! And hillbilly hot rod flames! And an engine the size of a baby elephant!
And that's just the default loadout: you can give it everything from spiky death-metal armor and an even more ridiculous engine to flamethrowers and heat-seeking rocket launchers.
Imagine: you're tearing across the Brutal Land in all its excessive majesty, with flames pouring out of the side pipes as you hit the nitro boosters, guns blazing - all the while with glorious heavy metal blazing away over it all. Pure nirvana. Wait, no. That's not metal enough - more like pure Valhalla. Shiny and chrome. And screaming.
It's pronounced "epic". And it is.
It started off as just a regular, wingless time machine built in the distant future by a mad time-travelling wizard from the ice age. That is already a more bizarre and awesome backstory than most living protagonists get. But then some shenanigans happen, the Epoch gets captured, outfitted with wings and jets before our heroes get it back, and all of a sudden you have the most incredible vehicle in gaming.
It flies, it's got lasers, and it travels backwards and forwards in time whenever you want it to. No other vehicle can top that. But what makes the Epoch truly great is that it's more than just a machine that does cool things; the Epoch is an unfathomable piece of technology that is not only implied to be magic, but to possess a mind of its own.
It never talks or gives any indication of an AI, but it does things when no one is around to pilot it. There's a scene where you wake up in a tent and are told the Epoch is waiting outside, as if it came there on its own. It's a mystery.
Even the other party members treat it like it's alive. When you start it up, the other members call it by name and cheer it on. If you choose one of the endings where you crash it, they mourn its loss. It even has its own theme song when it flies. It's not an object anymore, it's a character as much as the ragtag bunch that rides in it. Like any vehicle of requisite awesomeness, it's gained a semblance of a soul.
Which ones would you pick? Let me know in the comments.