The video game universe has it’s fair share of good guys. Whether they are super heroes, martial artists, highly skilled marks man or even Italian plumbers we all have a favourite, but when it comes to villains who is the best? Join the Plus XP team as we pay homage to our favourite video game Antagonists. Warning, spoilers ahead! Not little spoilers either, huge, whopping, game ruining spoilers. If you have not played the game mentioned in each bold title maybe stay clear. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
Garvaos – Frank Fontaine: Bioshock
If you want a true master of deception then Frank Fontaine is your man. In most games the bad guy has revealed them-self from the start and you spend your time progressing through the story to finally take down the evil antagonist. With Fontaine however, it’s a little different.
The first time you set foot in the underwater dystopia that is Rapture, you have a helping hand in the form of a friendly voice via a short wave radio. This is the voice of Atlas, a man who is in desperate need to escape Rapture and is seeking your help to save him and his family. After a good chunk of game you finally come to realise that the sweet talking Irishman that has been guiding you all of this time is in fact the infamous Frank Fontaine, the mastermind that brought Rapture to it’s knees.
But why has he been deceiving you all of this time? You were only in a plane crash and just happened to stumble across Rapture in the middle of the ocean, right? Wrong, in what has to be one of the best plot twists in a video game history, you soon discover that not only were you born in Rapture, Fontaine has in fact brain washed you to helping him overthrow Andrew Ryan and gain a godlike amount of power.
Maybe it’s the fact that Fontaine has control over from the start of the game, or maybe it’s the fact he made the phrase “Would You Kindly…” one of the most iconic and sinister phrases in current gen video games. All I know is that he is one of my favourite antagonists of all time.
GuitarGirl24 – GLaDOS : Portal
Lets get one things straight, anyone who lies to me about cake is in for some serious beatings. Yes, thats right, for my ultimate antagonist of the gaming world I choose GLaDOS, the sarcastic, sinister tormentor brought to you by Aperture Science.
So why choose this mechanical menace over all of the other great bosses out there? Well to me, a great antagonist is one you love to hate, and GLaDOS is just this. Her constant comments and put downs are not only greatly amusing, but laced with a dark sense of humour which is from the offset disturbingly human. This ill fitting humour is made even more disconcerting by the fact that her influence is made apparent very gradually, appearing at first as a seemingly harmless programmed voice before gradually reviling herself as something much more sinister. By reviling her true nature more slowly she fills us with a sense of uncertainty, leaving us wondering if anything within this world is quite what it seems.
Classic voice and personality traits aside, the level of control that GLaDOS has over the Aperture facility is something which I find really quite frightening. Left alone in the facility for so long she has almost merged with her surroundings, assuming full control over everything from the turrets to the walls. If it wasn’t for her love of science there would be little to stop GLaDOS from simply moving the walls and throwing you into oblivion, something which you later learn is a serious possibility. Though we all enjoy a great boss battle, for me a great antagonist builds up tension throughout the whole game and I find that the fact that GLaDOS is in all essence omnipresent gives her a certain edge.
Oh and to top it all off she sings to you. What can be more antagonising than an enemy who not only is undefeated, but is also so unfazed by your efforts to smite her that she sings about them with sinister optimism? This my friends, is why today I choose GLaDOS.
Leon – Big Boss: Metal Gear Solid Series
While some of the best bad guys are often the ones you love to hate, my favourites are the ones who aren’t necessarily “evil” at all – rather the ones I can understand, even sympathise with. In the original Metal Gear, Big Boss was a simple character – Solid Snake’s Commanding Officer, he eventually revealed himself to be the mastermind behind the Outer Heaven uprising – only to be thwarted by Snake as his plan backfired. As later games expanded upon this story – it turns out that Big Boss was defeated by the hands of his own clone.
Metal Gear Solid was the game that first introduced me to Big Boss. Never actually present – rather a driving force in the game’s plot – Snake’s enemies spoke of Big Boss with the utmost respect; as a legend, a leader, a father. Even the core plot revolved around Big Boss’ DNA – and while we never saw him, his character loomed over the game like a giant, as Liquid fought Solid in an effort to escape the shadow of their father.
And then came Metal Gear Solid 3. Suddenly, we were thrust into the role of Naked Snake – the man who would eventually become Big Boss himself. Though he was almost identical to Solid Snake in terms of appearance and voice, he still managed to be his own character – even surpass Solid Snake in my eyes. And with each MGS3 sequel that comes (Portable Ops, Peace Walker and soon, Ground Zeroes), I’ve slowly watched Snake’s transformation into Big Boss – only this time, I’m rooting for him, not against him. I’ve watched him suffer betrayal and loss, and seen him make difficult choices. I understand the path he has trodden, but sadly we all know where that leads…
Random Man – The Goddess Myria: Breath of Fire III
When looking back on all the games I have played and all the antagonists I have come across, there will always be one that stood out more than any other, and that is The Goddess Myria from Breath of Fire III. The reason for this is that she was the very first antagonist that really influenced my gaming. For those who do not know, in Breath of Fire III, The Goddess Myria has wiped out an entire species called the Brood. She believes them to be a danger to the world thinking she is protecting it, but is really manipulating things to her view. Myira stood out to me because she wasn’t a typical antagonist in the way that she was not a destroying the world or wanting to rule kind of bad guy. She was instead someone who felt that she was protecting the world, but was really using her powers to kill anyone she felt was a threat making everyone think her way was the best choice when in fact it was the worst.
I spent well over two hundred hours playing to complete this game, not just due to the difficulty but due to the enjoyment from playing it. I found myself seeing things that she had done that may have seemed right at first, only to later find out that they were very wrong. I enjoyed unravelling things and seeing that an evil action done in the best of intentions is still an evil action, that there is the moral of the story. The Goddess Myria wasn’t just a typical antagonist in she is just a villain she also proved that even the mighty can fall. Even as a goddess if you go down the wrong path, even with the best intentions, you stand the chance of becoming the evil they sort to protect people from.
I haven’t found many antagonist that have done something like this since Breath of Fire III, and this is something that I feel is missing from games today. I think the moral guidance that Myria shows is what makes my main antagonist stand out more than any other I have come across.
That Bloke In The Beanie – Revolver Ocelot: Metal Gear Series
For every hero there must be a villain and behind that villain are his henchmen, often dumber more or less power hungry than their employer/master. Revolver Ocelot is more than that, he is a triple crossing bastard with a fetish for cowboys and torturer who does not give a fuck who he steps on in his path to power. There are few people in my mind who are as patient and ruthless as Salashaska.
OK so he doesn’t wait hundreds of years to pop up at his opportune moment, but since he was in his teens he has schemed and planed perhaps the biggest single power play I have ever seen; Control of resources and powers that would make a mortal man godlike. Even in his last moments, his deluded and crazed mind brought forth his still great physical strength to try and pull his plan back from defeat. Solid snake and his father were always at a disadvantage facing this foe, even if for most of the time he behind the scenes or in a massive mech suit.
He was meaner and smarter than his compatriots, if you can call them that, and was only held back by his ego and Snake’s tenacity that outlasted even his own. For all of the terrible writing in the MGS series and their forgettable villains (Im looking at you Cobras!), Ocelot was always one step ahead and ready to pull the rug out from you whenever he felt like it….even if he does a terrible Ocelot impression.
Simon – Sephiroth: Final Fantasy VII
First and foremost, Sephiroth is the coolest looking antagonist in gaming history. He isn’t some gigantic monster, or some strange alien life-form, he’s just another man… a man who wields a huge katana capable of sticking up a 100ft snake as if it were pinned to a door. At first, Sephiroth is calm and collected, defeating enemies with consummate ease, but after he discovers how he was genetically created, he begins a rampage that includes earth-destroying meteors and an extra-terrestrial super being.
It’s the reason for this rampage that truly makes Sephiroth the best antagonist in gaming history. In so many cases, the bad guy has no cause, no reason for committing all the atrocities we see; they’re just evil for evil’s sake. Yet with Sephiroth, his reason is understandable. Sure maybe you wouldn’t burn down an entire village if you found out you were a genetically engineered super-soldier, but you’d be a little peeved.
Sephiroth is driven mad by his discovery and it is his link to the hero Cloud that makes the story so thrilling. Not only was he Cloud’s boyhood hero, it turns out that Cloud was also genetically engineered in an attempt to create a Sephiroth clone. It is this connection that allows Sephiroth to control Cloud’s mind and make him turn on his friends. At one point, Sephiroth is so far inside Cloud’s head that he makes him stand above his companion Aeris, as you the player must extend his sword back and begin to strike.
Defeating Sephiroth is not only about saving the world; it’s also about freeing Cloud from his control. You must fight Sephiroth, not just because he’s the final boss and you need to defeat him to complete the game, but because you want to stop him, for the sake of the world and for the sake of Cloud.
Also, thanks to one of the greatest game composers of all time, Nobuo Uematsu, his fight is accompanied by the best boss-battle music of all time. A song that, despite being 16 years old, still sends chills down my spine.
Andy – Scorpion: Mortal Kombat
“GET OVER HERE!”
These immortal words from pretty much an undead immortal are synonymous with Mortal Kombat. Scorpion is iconic when it comes to the fighting game genre and his catchphrase his so well-known that even newborn infants with their first words are yelling “GET OVER HERE” to unwitting mothers. His eyes represent extreme fear and if you dare cross his path then you’ll surely get a spear lodged in your sternum.
Long-time fans of the series know his rivalry with sprite clone Sub-Zero is unrivalled. Ice vs Fire. Scorpion has constant retribution on his mind because of Sub-Zero “killing” his family and this has made him the ultimate badass. He can unleash fire from the ground and perform a variety of athletic moves designed to really hurt your enemy.
He is a bad guy, but you cannot help but love him. His signature catchphrases and moves are too awesome to make you despise. Plus when his fatalities have him slicing his opponents head into two, you can’t help but feel he would be a more than adequate chef.
He has bested the best. Shao Khan (what an absolute t**t), Goro, Kintaro etc. Being led by his master, who he eventually kills upon learning he was the one who slaughtered Scorpion’s family. Scorpion is an unstoppable ball of destruction who could easily annihilate anyone bad guy in any game series.
Seriously! Sephiroth would try and act like the supreme evil with his long hair and Scorpion would just get pissed off, burn his Hollywood hair and throw a spear through his pretty face and FINISH HIM.
Scorpion f0r t3h W1n!! ^_^
CJ – Artorias: Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition.
A mysterious character mentioned in the original release of Dark Souls, and finally revealed in the content that followed, Artorias is first encountered in the ancient land of Oolacile, set a thousand years before the main game.
Caped burned and frayed. Coliseum prison awash with by blood and corpses that met his magnificent GreatSword. The legend of the hero of once, now ravaged and twisted by dark magic, casting him as a savage, ravenous beast of kill. Artorias attacks with viscous, powerful swipes – a crazed animal throwing everything into each powerful swipe – once, twice, three times – primal in willing you as a brand new swatch of undone upon the death stained cobbles below.
When finally bested, Artorias screams like a man roaring through time. I’ve replayed that fight over and over. That scream never, ever gets old, commanding awe and shivers every-single-time.
Yet this extra content unveils mysteries of Artorias which go far beyond the savage bastard eventually bested in battle. The tale of a true hero is revealed, a man of altruistic vision and incredible heart, a selfless man who crossed an abyss, traversing time itself, in order to make a difference.
Thereafter a sacrifice made, not just of his humanity, but for a chorus of reasons which soar way, way beyond the monster in the arena. That you may be tied to his legend, even saving it, emphasises the contrasts and depth of the character and the story which surrounds.
I’ve thought and re-thought his journey over and over, adding new pieces as it evolves. The Legend of Artorias, the villain, the hero, leaves me misty eyed to think about it, renders me genuinely emotional. Not just my favourite ‘villain’ in gaming, but one of the most prominent and downright important characters to my heart even beyond that.
Travis – Psycho Mantis: Metal Gear Solid 1
Psycho Mantis harks back to a time when bad guys were bad guys, pure and simple. He doesn’t lose himself through a series of bad choices, he’s not misunderstood, he doesn’t want vengeance; quite simply, he despises everyone and the only thing he wants is to see how far he can push people before they break. There was no real method to his madness – just clean, unadulterated madness.
His boss fight in Metal Gear Solid is one of the best of all time, in my opinion. Breaking the fourth wall, having to change controller ports to evade his ‘telepathic’ ability, assuming control of Meryl and making her fling out lascivious comments, the screen going blank, reading other Konami save files on your memory card: suffice to say, I’ve encountered no other fight quite like it. Unique, quirky and, above all, genuinely eerie. Admittedly, even when I was ten I knew it was the in-built function of the controller making it vibrate and not Psycho Mantis’s telekinesis, but that didn’t detract from the ominous atmosphere I felt at watching this masked madman address me directly and mock me for the amount of times I had saved the game.
While many antagonists since have perhaps been better written or more integral to a story, none of them have made me run around, flicking on infrared goggles and throwing out chaff grenades just to make sure he was really dead.
Lisa – Dahaka: Prince of Persia
My favourite antagonist has to be the Dahaka from Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. A huge shadowy mass, chasing you through the corridors and traps of the castle, occasionally teleporting towards you if it lags behind! Not to mention it looks pretty fierce as well, a kin to a demon, almost. Sporting horns twisted into the shape of the infinity symbol, a humanoid body and, oddly enough, tentacles.
You have to try your hardest not to mess up your manoeuvres while escaping, one false move and you’re within its grasp. Once it has you, it simply erases you from the timeline, as though you never existed. Lucky enough though, it hates water since it is a creature from the sands of time, so you have at least one advantage over it.
The Dahaka brings suspense and tension to the game through its chase sequences, as not only to do have to escape him but you also have to avoid any obstacles in your way. I enjoy being chased by something you can’t really kill, since it adds something more to the game than simply turning around and trying to face it square on. That’s why the Dahaka makes one of my favourites!
So there you have it. Do you think we picked the best bad guys in video game history? If you have a favourite villain which we have missed share with us below.