Best Of The Generation: The Best Characters
Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are out and while we are still awaiting our country’s turn to have the cargo ships and courier planes to dock and land with these systems, why not reminisce about our good times with the ever-present PC as well as Xbox 360 and PS3? Today’s take is, as the title already spoiled, about our favourite characters we’ve had the pleasure to be introduced to these last bunch of years. Do join us, put your feet up if that isn’t going to result in you getting fired and enjoy.
For this award each writer chose a favourite character from the 360 and PS3 days, be they hero or villain, and wrote about why they liked the character, why the specific character stood out above the rest and after we stopped throwing bricks at each other with the dust finally settling – we’re proud to present the following cherished characters we’ve had the pleasure to be introduced the last few years.
GlaDOS – Portal 2
Adam Says: GlaDos – The first Portal game introduced GlaDos as a witty and humorous antagonist who took death very lightly, and had an unhealthy obsession with “testing”. She also seemed to like cake a lot, which was a lie as we all know quite well. Never before had I experienced an AI enemy such as GlaDos, one so funny and on-the-ball in terms of wit and one-liners. Owing much to good writing and superior voice acting, GlaDos is one of the most memorable characters of the past generation. Her character speaks volume, especially when her song at the end of the game is a cultural phenomenon and “the cake is a lie” is a firm part of internet culture. Portal 2 further solidified GlaDos’s character, and gave her added depth, bringing out her “humanity” and bringing vulnerability to her characterisation. GlaDos is a solidly written character and one that stays with you after both Portal and Portal 2 finish, because you will always remember that the cake is a lie, and that’s the truth.
AG says: Of course I was going to pick a villain. I very nearly chose Ellie out of The Last of Us but realised that although she is the ultimate adorable bundle of cussing and badassery, GlaDOS is more than just an it-girl of the moment. This is the character who, without much of a physical presence (mostly as a potato) managed to carry us through two Portal games. Silent protagonists make for dull company but the wit, robotic banter and genuine humour from GlaDOS made the Portal games so much more enjoyable to me. In fact, she’s a defining aspect of why the games are so great. Yes, I just referred to an AI as a she and am sounding rather attached, I sought help and my doctor is now in a mental hospital. Getting serious for a bit, the backstory that we learn through Cave Johnson and while travelling around with Glatato (potato GlaDOS) really adds depth and an almost tragic origin story to this wonderful character. Of course, what’s a great character without some quotable lines? I leave with this:
“Well done. Here are the test results: You are a horrible person. I’m serious, that’s what it says: “A horrible person.” We weren’t even testing for that. Don’t let that horrible-person thing discourage you. It’s just a data point. If it makes you feel any better, science has now validated your birth mother’s decision to abandon you on a doorstep.”
Vaas – Far Cry 3
Azhar says: This generation has truly pushed gaming forward in many ways, especially with regards to narrative. The MGS fanboy in me wishes that “The Boss” from MGS 3: Snake Eater was part of this generation, or that I could say Snake from Guns of the Patriots. I was also considering one of Portal’s comedic and brilliantly written characters. Spec Ops: The Line came to mind as well. As did The Last Of Us and countless others. But for me, few memories of character portrayals this generation have stunned me as much as Vaas. While Borderlands 2’s Handsome Jack was damn incredible, he just yapped at you from afar. But Far Cry 3’s Vaas took the spotlight in 2012, as whenever he appeared on my screen I quite literally got goosebumps. The scene in which he monologues about “the definition of insanity” is still for me one of the most memorable and best acted character moments this generation, and I can’t recall many times where I was absolutely stunned by an actor’s performance in a game. Michael Mando (voice actor) truly became Vaas in those moments, and I can’t say how much I appreciate actors who can give themselves over to their art in that way. It is inspiring as much as it is remarkable. Heath Ledger’s Joker comes to mind. That special moment when you stop seeing the actor as an actor, the movie as a movie or the game as a game, but instead see it as something real. That is what Vaas brought for me in Far Cry 3, and why I consider him to be my pick for the best portrayed character this generation. If only he’d gotten more screen time.
Peloma says: Vaas was one of the most memorable characters I’ve come across in my years of gaming. Villains are made to be hated but I couldn’t help but find myself actually rooting for his character. The motion capture and VA for him was amazing and the very few scenes he was in he stole the show. The game in itself was good but the only reason I would suggest anyone to play Farcry 3 it would be to experience what a great character Vaas is.
Handsome Jack – Borderlands 2
Cavie says: So there I was on Pandora, making my way to a nearby objective in an arctic tundra of a location. Actually, I believe it was called Arctic Tundra, but I stand corrected. Suddenly a voice starts talking and an image pops up on my HUD. It’s Handsome Jack, and he’s busy eating a pretzel and telling me about his newly acquired horse, which he’s named after me. Only, it’s Pandora. Why would he even need a horse? Where would he even find one? And what did he name—oh, Butt Stallion. Okay, dick. Very funny. But that was the charm of Handsome Jack’s character; he was a diabolically evil character and yet for all his chaotically malevolent actions in the game, you couldn’t help but like him. It was almost a reluctant reverence for him and his fake face. That right there takes some exceptional writing skills, and Handsome Jack is probably the best-written character to have graced the current generation of consoles, with his wise-cracks and incessant japes at the player characters. Well played, Anthony Burch.
Captain Walker – Spec Ops: The Line
Marko says: There have been a ton of excellent characters this generation and to choose one out of the almost 400 games I have played seemed like an impossible task indeed. For this I chose to look at which characters evolved the most in their respective games. And no character evolved the most like the troubled Captain Walker from Spec Ops : The Line. The man started out as just another ordinary captain of a military unit, a scenario we have seen a million times already, and then turned into this horrible monster of a human being.
The thing that struck me about Walker was my relationship with him as the playable character. Because Walker did atrocious things, it meant that I had to initiate those atrocious things. I did not want to do these things, but I had to because I was in control of this deranged man. My distrust of him grew more and more as I went through the game and near the end I didn’t want to play as him anymore. I wanted him dead. But I still had to carry on.
This is why he is my best character of this generation. Not because I liked him so much that I would have a gigantic poster of him in my bedroom or search for charming DeviantArt pictures of him. It was because I hated him and hate is an intensely strong emotion.
Wheatley – Portal 2
Alessandro says: This generation really was filled with a lot of serious, tragic and rather villainous characters, but there’s one that manages to embody a lot of these traits and make them increasingly hilarious throughout his short stint as an antagonist in Portal 2. Space Core Wheatly may have been Chell’s incompetent partner for the first half of the game, but the character really shines, in an extremely hilarious way, after he is put in control of the Aperture Science Facility. Suffice to say, it will be a very long time before gamers forget about the outstanding performance given by Stephen Merchant, who delivered fast, witty dialogue throughout one of the best sequels ever created. SPAAAAAAAAAACE!
Andrew Ryan – BioShock
Rudolf Says: Villains are probably the most interesting characters on the smorgasbord of eccentric impersonations. Sure, we have our awesome and witty hero characters, but it is in the villainous neighborhood where the truly noteworthy personalities are to be found. For this generation I had to think long and hard to decide between Andrew Ryan from BioShock and GlaDOS from Portal. While I do love GlaDOS’ dark humour and incredibly unique take on filling the shoes of a villain; I ultimately sided with Andrew Ryan. A truly intelligent and thought-provoking character voiced by Armin Shimerman and whose dialogue and opening speech still possesses the ability to bring forth the goosebumps from below. This is how you write a villain.
There truly were an entire array of characters out there to be experienced this generation / last generation; each with their own presentation to be added to an ever expanding table of characters simply oozing with originality and charisma, or a hilarious lack thereof, but these were the ones that we chose and made the final cut. We shall remember all of these aforementioned characters for a long time to come.