Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Characters in Video Games

You though I forgot, didn't ya! ... oh, crap. It's after midnight.

Ok, fine, I forgot.

Same style as Monday, only this time we're talking about my favorite characters in video games. I realize this is probably going to be more difficult, simply because I normally play games for their stories, which does NOT always mean they have good characters -- for example, Bioshock's character is a silent protagonist who literally makes maybe one choice for himself the entire time (and even that's debatable). So... Well, here we go.

And remember, these are five of my favorites in no specific order other than the fifth slot is the best of the best.


Cole MacGrath

inFamous 2 Cole. I've already got the bag...
(inFamous series)
Cole is a bit of a gruff hero, even when following the canonical light side path in the two games. He's on this list for three reasons:

Lightning powers are awesome, and the way he gets them is beyond interesting.

His reactions to events in the world around him are interesting, if not always unique. And he gets put through a lot of crap that would make many characters get all emotional. He just keeps zapping away, but it doesn't feel as if the game lacks emotion; it's simply fueling something more. And his drive to become stronger is a multi-faceted one that I respect, which isn't something I can say about a lot of characters.

If I ever do make it out to San Diego Comic Con, this is who I will most likely cosplay as. Word.

Yu Narukami

(Persona 4)
Ok, technically this character is only awesome because he's a composite of his relationships with the other wonderful characters in this game but, since I can't pick all of them (it's the [arbitrary] rule), I'm sticking with Yu.

He's forced to live with his uncle and cousin during the school year while his parents are away, and he is thrown into a new school, a new social climate, and a new mystery at every turn. Even though the player chooses Yu's responses, any number of them make for a slick, cool character that is in control and a focal point for the lovely supporting cast.

Maybe not my favorite looking character, but that's ok.
His family, Dojima and Nanako, is a strong bond in particular that really helps to articulate an otherwise silent character. Special note: most of his cast, while falling into an anime-style harem, is made up of some pretty badass female characters, which this list is severely lacking.


Silent(ish) but deadly.
(Zelda series)
Link is the only silent protagonist I think fits on this list for me. Yes, he's quiet, but in this case it feels like he's
a man on a mission more than a stand vessel for the player's reaction. Link gets shit done like a dutiful soldier in his perpetual battle to defeat the darkness and save Zelda. Or Hyrule. Or Midna. Or...

His iconic tools also add to this character, and he was a personal favorite in the Smash Bros. games.

As a deep character, Link comes up a bit short, but not every character needs to have a psych profile hundreds of pages long. The strong silent type works for the man in green.

Minsc & Boo

Crazy made corporeal.
(Baldur's Gate series)
This is a duet because they wouldn't have it any other way. Having recently played some Baldur's Gate for the first time, I was immediately thrilled to meet Minsc & Boo. Minsc is an insane tank-style warrior. Boo is his "miniature giant space hamster" and is a plug for the craziness that can only arise in a pen and paper format.

Minsc... is another character that lacks depth. That being said, he's the most batshit insane character you never want to leave your side, which really does reflect on any good D&D group.

This is also the only example of a non-player character on this list, which is intentional -- if I was to dig
through supporting casts, you'd find a lot of Bioware characters up here, me thinks.

Darth Revan

(Knights of the Old Republic series)
If you haven't played the first KotOR game, there are MAJOR SPOILERS in the section below. You've been warned.

Darth Revan is awesome on many levels. When you first learn about him, he's a badass looking Sith master who, along with his apprentice Malak, almost took over the entire galaxy. Of course, he apparently went down in a blaze of glory when Malak betrayed him, but that's not important because, before that, Revan was able to discover dark side secrets and mysteries of the galaxy that gave him incredible power.

That you later learn that the player character IS a mind-wiped Revan, the awesome factor is kicked up to a scale of eleven. And what does the newly reminded Revan get to do? Bring some lightsaber-to-the-face revenge against his Mr. Clean looking former apprentice.

As a plus here, Revan has decently flushed out Light and Dark choices (even if the darker ones are NOT Bioware's best work), meaning the character can grow into two distinct personalities, both of which are awesome in their own right (though only the Light side is canon).
Revan as seen in The Old Republic MMO.

The Revan mythos has been expanded in comics, novels, and The Old Republic MMO. These additions generally detract a bit from the badassery of Revan, but not enough to dethrone him from the spot as my favorite video game character to date.


So, I found an even bigger problem than I thought in doing this list! Most of the games I play are strategy games, which don't always have to have interesting characters! And the RPGs I've played, unfortunately, didn't have any standouts for me. I have a strong feeling I'll love Cloud and Sephiroth from FF7, but I haven't gotten far enough in the game yet!

I'll have to do another round of these with supporting cast, or possibly play some of the many suggestions I have for games with great characters (looking at you, Metal Gear Solid!), but for now, I'm happy with this list for the first (to-be-annual) Character Week!

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