I was in Savile Row the other day getting my Top Hat adjusted, and it may have been the tape-measure wrapped around my noggin cutting off the circulation to my brain, or maybe even the mercury poisoning from the Top Hat making me go a little mad, but my thoughts soon turned to some of the more unique and outlandish headgear in gaming and my desperate desire for some of these items of headgear to make their way into the real world. Whether they are used for protection from harm, special powers or simply fashion accessories, the gaming world is full of memorable items of headgear.
Dragonborn Helmet - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Achievements
It's early 2011 and the first gameplay trailer for the highly anticipated RPG Skyrim is unleashed upon us. With a rousing soundtrack and a dramatic voiceover we are introduced to the Dragonborn. At first he seems like a pretty ordinary warrior, carrying a sword and shield and wearing a no-doubt vision-impairing horned helmet. Then he stands up and shouts gibberish at a dragon; super-powered gibberish. Suddenly, all of us want to wear that helmet and shout power-laced pig latin at those who have wronged us. Then the game comes out and it turns out that it is just a poxy Iron Helmet with pretty weak stats and no super Dragonborn-imbued powers. In fact, if you go up to a dragon in the game wearing it, the giant scaled beasty will probably just laugh at you, then crush your head with its talons; helmet and all.
Snake's Bandana - Metal Gear Solid series
Let's just get this straight: bandanas are not, nor have they ever been, cool or fashionable. (Editor's Note: The Boss would like a word with you.) A standard uniform choice for bikers, Californian gang members, pirates and hipsters, wearing one when popping to the shop for milk would get you more sideways glances than nods of admiration. However, one man is desperate for the bandana to get more recognition. That man is Solid Snake. Wearing it with pride like it's still in fashion (to reiterate, it never was), Snake rocks this folded up rag when he feels like replaying one of his adventures. Then again, it does give him infinite ammo abilities and is great for keeping sweat out of his eyes in a tense situation, so maybe it's more about practicality than fashion. Actually, thinking about it, Snake has a mullet, so fashion is definitely off the agenda.
RIG Helmet - Dead Space series
It's fair to say that Isaac Clarke, protagonist of the limb-tearing Dead Space series, is not in the best of head-spaces. But what better way to contain the madness than with a pimping helmet with glowing slits for eyes. Come to think of it, how do you see out of a glowing visor slit? And why does it even glow in the first place? Regardless, the RIG (Resource Integration Gear) helmets give across a great "I'm going to sever your limbs off" vibe full of anonymous menace and effectively mask the whole heaps of crazy going on inside whilst protecting Isaac's face from necrobliteration. Unfortunately, the whole neck area remains fairly exposed, as evidenced by the numerous decapitations found throughout the series. At least his decapitated head still looks cool in the helmet, though.
5. Kung Lao's Hat - Mortal Kombat series
Taking his queue from classic Bond villain Oddjob, seasoned brawler Kung Lao knows that if you're going to wear a hat to a fight, that hat may as well be a devastating weapon as well as a stlying fashion accessory. By pimping out a wide-brimmed sombrero-style hat with a razor-sharp edge, Kung Lao has developed a unique fighting style, incorporating his headgear into a number of his moves, including some brutal millinery-based fatalities. He also has a strange kind of control over the hat, defying the laws of physics by being able to throw it and have it return to him like a boomerang, as well as embed it into people's chest cavities without ruining the felt. It's like the hat itself is super-powered, which makes you question who is winning the fight, Kung Lao or his razor-hat?
4. Third Echelon Multi-Vision Goggles - Splinter Cell series
There's no doubt that Splinter Cell's Sam Fisher is a man of many skills, most of them involving sneaking and killing. However, he is not a super-human. Being not a super-human, he only possesses the ordinary "vanilla" vision of us regular folk. However, as a member of top-secret NSA intelligence agency Third Echelon, he does have access to some of the best gadgets and gizmos around. One of these gadgets is the Multi-Vision Goggles, which unlocks Sam's full potential as a stealth master by giving him access to exciting new vision types, including night vision, heat vision and electromagnetic field vision. Oh, and it also makes him look like a Triclops, which is exactly three times cooler than a Cyclops. Don't ask how three bright green lights shining from his face makes for effective shadow blending, because he'll just snap your neck. In later games, a new vision mode was introduced, which used sonar technology to literally see through walls. An unfortunate side-effect of this is that when you can't see a wall you end up walking right into it. Again, don't raise this issue with Sam or, you know, neck-snapping.
3. MJOLNIR Helmet - Halo series
The helmet that accompanies the MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor set worn by the Spartan super-soldiers in the Halo series could've been your standard generic sci-fi helmet, then the designers decided that the visor would resemble a baller set of massive gold reflective wrap-around sunglasses, and an iconic helmet was born. The fact that looking at this visor and its accompanying helmet is (almost) the only view we get of protagonist Master Chief's visage throughout the game series is testament to its simple, effective design. You also can't help but wonder if the reason the Covenant are so peeved at the Spartans is because it's really annoying trying to communicate in a civil way with someone wearing massive, gold-reflective, wrap-around sunglasses where all you can see is your own ugly reflection and you can't tell what that person is thinking. Jerks.
2. Headcrab - The Orange Box Achievements (Half Life 2)
It's never fun if a loved one tells you that they've got crabs, but that's nothing compared with if they tell you that they've got Headcrabs. On their own, they're just pesky little alien rat things, but when placed anywhere near the brain area, these dimension-hopping parasites become the latest in nervous-system-controlling, body-mutating headgear. In the Half Life series we see three gaming character tropes - scientists, aliens and zombies - mashed up to become mindless killing machines. For some reason, the Headcrabs never manage to successfully latch onto Gordon Freeman like they do almost everyone else in the world. Maybe it's the glasses. Although wearing a Headcrab doesn't have entirely desired side-effects, having a hat that automatically jumps up and attaches itself to your head is a pretty neat idea. As long as we can restrict the brain-chewing.
1. Pyramid Head - Silent Hill HD Collection Achievements (Silent Hill 2), Silent Hill Homecoming Achievements
Whoever came up with the design for the primary enemy in 2001's survival horror sequel, Silent Hill 2, must have been a little...unhinged. Indeed, on paper, I can't think of anything less dread-inducing than "gym enthusiast with a giant triangle on his head". However, we're glad the off-the-wall idea got through quality control, because it has led to one of the most iconic enemies and pieces of headgear that gaming has ever seen. Representing a faceless executioner in the series and stalking not only the protagonists, but also the other nasties that fill up the town, Pyramid Head is one unsettling fellow and is the reason I have an irrational fear of tramps and drunks who go around town wearing traffic cones on their head. Just imagine the neck strength required to support his giant triangular helmet. And what kind of hideous visage is lurking underneath it? Terrifying. The human-sized knife he drags around with him probably has something to do with it, too. Your only possible escape from this maniac is to flee to a location with as little headroom as possible and hope he bangs his big pointy head enough times to give it up and go and bother an unfortunate nurse somewhere else.
Are there any items of headgear that stand out to you in gaming, or even ones you wished existed in the real world? If so, let us know below. Now I've just got to persuade my milliner to sew a few razor blades into my bowler for on-the-fly decapitations.
The TA Team will be bringing you The TA Top Five every Sunday until we run out of coolness to debate and discuss. If you have an idea for a Top Five you'd like us to do, be sure to let us know in the comments!