Matt’s Top 10 Favorite Video Game Villains
Matt’s Top 10 Favorite Video Game Villains
The Villain. In most games, there are thugs, bodyguards, ninjas, secret agents, zombies, monsters, and plenty more of an assortment of henchmen that usually follow the direction of one sole proprietor. This person is the villain. Sometimes they are female, most of the time they are male, but there have been moments when you could not categorize them as either. The villain is the one person/being/thing we are trying to stop during the course of a video game. Think Mario trying to save Princess Peach from Bowser, Link trying to save Zelda from Ganon, Ethan Mars trying to save his son from the Origami Killer, and your Jedi trying to stop Darth Malak’s evil plans. Sometimes the villain isn’t as obvious as those. Sometimes there’s such an incredible twist that you discover you’ve been working for the villain the entire time.
Nevertheless, the villain is always there, even if it’s just a simple horde of zombies. The villains are the driving forces that keep us playing the game, trying to defeat them and save the princess/world/country/pack of puppies in the end. When it comes to characters like these, you’ve got to have favorites.
There are those villains you have so much fun chasing after, which makes it even more bittersweet to defeat them for the 20th time. These are those villains for me, so enjoy my Top 10 favorite video game villains.
#10 Darth Malak – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
“Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” is a masterpiece in the RPG genre of video games. It takes you on the ultimate quest to find the truth and defeat the bad guy. The main antagonist is Darth Malak, an evil Sith lord who only wants complete control of the Galaxy and death to come to the Jedi. You chase this man throughout the entire game, finally confronting him in an epic lightsaber duel that should not be missed by any gamer. Not only is he a ruthless and murderous psychopath, but Malak also reveals the biggest piece of disheartening information of the protagonist’s mysterious past, marking Malak as one of the baddest dudes to cross your path in video game history.
#9. Lance Vance – Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
“Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” has been called the best game in the franchise. I don’t agree with that claim, but it’s still home to some of the best characters within the franchise. Lance Vance is by no means the main antagonist in this memorable game, but he has enough of his hands in the thwarting of your journey that he cannot be missed. Creating one of the best twists in the game, Lance turns on you when you believed things couldn’t get any worse, igniting a “Scarface” style firefight that leads you on a chase after Lance up to the roof. The final showdown between you and your former friend occurs after that, sending Lance Vance out with one last dance.
#8. Andrew Ryan – Bioshock
I guess I really enjoy villains that bring great twists or manipulate you throughout the course of the game. “Bioshock” is greatness located in a few gigabytes of content. It should be placed in a time capsule so it will never be forgotten in the future. The person that points you in the right direction during your entire journey through the wonderful city of Rapture actually turns out to be your main force of antagonism. Sounds like the classic bait and switch situation that manipulates your feelings towards the bad guy, creating great sympathy up until the excellent twist. But the creators took a more intelligent approach, taking advantage of the actual player’s “need” to complete a video game. It’s revealed that Andrew Ryan actually brainwashed the protagonist, using the phrase “Would you kindly…” as the trigger to make the protagonist do whatever he says. The player simply takes these orders because they want to complete the game, but when it’s revealed that this is the trigger for Ryan to abuse his control over you, well you get something that wasn’t seen in video games at the time.
For your information, this game’s ending is one of the greatest ever.
#7. Zeus – God of War Series
The “God of War” series only got better as the series progressed. Zeus wasn’t too bad of guy in the original game, but that all changed when the second one rolled around, making you absolutely loathe him and anticipate the final showdown in the third game. In the third game, Zeus truly becomes that character you cannot wait to destroy at the end of the game. Seriously, the end of the third game gives you the opportunity to beat Zeus to a bloody pulp for as long as you want (my record is 30 minutes). Zeus is a wonderful example of a GREAT video game antagonist. He’s ruthless, powerful and has an army that seems impossible to defeat, making the ending of this franchise one of the sweetest to date.
#6. Origami Killer – Heavy Rain
One of the first games I got for my PlayStation 3 was “Heavy Rain.” Not because I was a “fan,” but I needed a new game so I did a quick search on Google for the best PlayStation 3 games at the time. This one popped up and the premise seemed right up my alley, so I decided to give it a shot. Next to a few jobs I’ve received, “Heavy Rain” is the greatest thing I’ve ever received from a Google search. It’s my second favorite game of all-time, and it has a wonderful, mysterious and violent villain in the Origami Killer. While playing four different characters, the main premise of the game is to save Ethan Mars’ son, who happens to be the next victim of the Origami Killer. They have three days to find him, because at the end of those three days, which happens to be a period of heavy rainfall, the pit Ethan’s son is in will fill up with water, and his son will drown. The Origami Killer has set up different trials, similar to those in the “Saw” films, which test Ethan’s will to save his son.
The game itself is an incredible experience, and when the Origami Killer’s true identity is revealed, well that’s when the game goes beyond beautiful and becomes phenomenal.
#5. Officer Tenpenny – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Lance Vance might’ve not been the main antagonist of his game, but Officer Tenpenny is most definitely the main villain of “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.” Voiced by the amazing Samuel L. Jackson, Tenpenny is on you like white on rice from the beginning of the game to the very end. He’s the source of all the violence and hatred you implement into your gameplay, and he’s even the source of a few broken in-game friendships as well. I don’t like “San Andreas” as much as “Grand Theft Auto IV,” but there’s no doubt that Officer Tenpenny is my favorite villain in the franchise. How Tenpenny set everything up to work against you is still one of the best storytelling techniques Rockstar has done to date.
#4. Sephiroth – Final Fantasy VII
This freaking guy. There’s a community that has tried to develop sympathy for Sephiroth, saying he is a lost soul who only wants his true mother to be safe. No! This maniac will never receive any sympathy or forgiveness from me. He’s one of the most ultimate bad guys, who controls a meteor and wants to control the planet. He killed Aerith, he’s the reason thousands of innocent lives were lost and his hair is way too white. My little rant right there is the product of a great villain like Mr. Roth here. “Final Fantasy VII” is a VERY VERY long game, but what keeps you going is your need to save the planet and stop Mr. Roth. He puts up obstacles in every direction you try to go, making the final fight that much greater because you feel a real sense of accomplishment after finding a hole in his plan and taking great advantage of it.
#3. Vass – Far Cry 3
“Far Cry 3” is a wonderful game. What saves it from its shallow protagonist is the incredible antagonist. Vass is a psychotic and intellectual right-hand man of a slave and drug trafficker. He’s not classified as the main antagonist of the game, but he for sure is the most memorable in the entire series up to this point. His dialogue includes great monologues of poetry only the insane can truly understand; yet you find yourself being brought down to Vass’ level, making you feel your own kind of insanity. He’s the type of villain that you actually don’t want to kill because he’s that compelling and interesting to interact with. The game most definitely takes a dive after his death, but up until that point, Vass makes “Far Cry 3” an absolute stellar experience.
#2. The Joker – Batman: Arkham Series
The Clown Prince of Gotham. In the latest stint of Batman games, it’s only right for the Joker to be the main villain. I mean, why not? He’s most of the fan-base’s favorite villain and he truly is Batman’s archenemy. He’s so high up on my list not only because of Mark Hamill’s exceptional voice acting, but mainly because he’s the villain I’ve always wanted to fight. I’ve been a fan of Batman and the Joker and their skirmishes for too long, so when I heard I’d be going one on one with the Joker, then I was completely sold from day one. Sure, there had been other Batman games up to that point, but none like this. With the sad demise of the Joker in the series’ second installment, it only paved the way for the Joker to make his most incredible appearance in “Batman: Arkham Knight.” If you’ve never watched any gameplay footage of this game, I suggest running to YouTube and checking out a complete playthrough. You’ll see that the Joker isn’t the main antagonist in the third game, but he’s still a villain for Batman on the internal level, creating an incredibly horrific and comedic experience. Horrific and comedic… everything the Joker is.
#1. Liquid Snake – Metal Gear Series
This one is a no brainer for me. The same way there is a place in my heart for the “Final Fantasy” games because I grew up watching my brother play them, there’s an even bigger space in my heart for the Metal Gear franchise. “Metal Gear Solid V” sucked, let’s be honest. I might even do a review in the future about why I don’t like that game, but that’s for another time. Metal Gear games have always pleased fans, even if some were a little more lackluster than others. They’ve always had creative and innovative boss fights with some creepy and ingenious characters, so even if the game didn’t go completely the way you expected, you still knew the story and characters were going to be worth the money.
But, every time I think about which of the bosses in the franchise are my favorite, my mind always goes back to the great one, Liquid Snake. The Metal Gear franchise really didn’t take off until the release of “Metal Gear Solid” on the original PlayStation. It’s there where the series developed its own persona, which has stayed with it to this day. It’s the original clash between Solid and Liquid Snake that tattooed my love for this series on the top of my heart. Liquid is that conniving jerk that you just want to punch in the face the entire time. He pops up here and there, always getting in your way, and when you think you have his long blonde hair in your grasp, he yanks you right back to square one. He pushes you to limit until you both (Solid and Liquid) have been stripped down to nothing but your pants, which is when you engage in a fistfight on top of the super-weapon, Metal Gear Rex. This is already epic as is, but with the added factor that Liquid is your twin brother, it makes the final boss fight that much more poetic, symbolic and incredible.
Solid and Liquid are polar opposites, right down to their accents and rhetorics. “Metal Gear Solid” is the perfect example of a hero overcoming all the odds to destroy the villain. Liquid is my favorite villain of all-time because I hope to create a character that is as intelligent, psychotic and empathetic one day. He’s my default go-to when I’m writing a story and need the main antagonist to get in the protagonists way. I just sit back and think, “What would Liquid do?”
The villains are sometimes the best parts of a video game, which they should be, in all honesty. Yes, having a great story with great supporting characters and plot points are also necessary, but having a villain that drives the player to complete a game should be the main priority for all video game developers. Even if it’s a simple “Take the potion back to your father. It will heal him,” having a great villain get in your way every time and thwart your progress makes progressing through a game that much sweeter. It’s like any story. Take out the main force of antagonism, and what do you get? Something that isn’t worth anyone’s time.