Last week, I talked about my favorite video game protagonists. After all, everyone loves the guy. Still, there is something to be said for a great villain in a game. They give the good guy a reason to be good. A well done villain can make you hate them so much that it gives you a reason to want to keep playing the game. Sometime you don’t hate the villain, but their character is so well portrayed that you want to find out what happens to them just as much as the protagonist.
Some games have an antagonist that is so good that it actually overshadows the protagonist. Some are so powerful they rival the villains in any movie out there today. A good villain is so important in a game. Games can be hard, and as gamers, sometimes we need a little motivation to push us through and make us want to beat the game. A strong antagonist can do just that. These are, in my opinion, the three best bad guys from any video (if you have not played these games, there will most likely be spoilers ahead).
The Joker From Arkham Asylum
The Joker is crazy. I think at this point that is well-known, and I can say that without spoiling anything. Joker has been played by all kinds of people including Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson. In this game, Mark Hamill, who you may know as Luke Skywalker and the voice of The Joker in Batman the animated series absolutely kills this role.
While playing through Arkham Asylum there is a real sense of insanity that The Joker emits. Throughout the whole game, you get the feeling that this man is absolutely sick. The scenes with The Joker and Harley Quinn are truly something to behold.
Honestly, it is hard to say that Joker is not one of the best villains ever, regardless of medium. I will go on record here and say that the portrayal of The Joker in this game is the second best Joker in history, right behind Heath Ledger’s in The Dark Knight. If you have not played Arkham Asylum, than you need to. Seriously, go play it right this minute.
GlaDOS from Portal
GlaDOS is without question one of the best villains in video games. She may only be an artificial intelligence, but that does not stop her from being positively awesome as an antagonist. In Portal, GlaDOS is the only thing with which you interact. There are no supporting characters, so she literally has to carry the entire narrative of the game herself. That is no small feat, and she handles it masterfully.
She starts the game as your friendly AI companion, but as the game progresses, you start to realize that something a little more malicious is taking place here. It starts to seem that your cheery companion might be up to something, and obviously, this is a correct assumption.
The song at the end of the Portal is one of the best songs ever recorded in video games. Honestly, if you played through Portal, there is no way you could ever forget just how amazing GlaDOS is.
Saren from Mass Effect
This might seem like an odd choice, with characters like Bowser, Revolver Ocelot and Gannon out there, but Saren feels downright evil. The very first encounter with Saren in Mass Effect has him shooting his old friend in the back of the head, awakening an ancient Prothean power, trying to blow up an entire colony of people and flying off in one of the most evil-looking spaceships I have ever seen. If that is not the early makings of a bad person, then I do not know what is.
As the game progresses, we come to find that the ship Saren is using is not actually a ship at all. It is actually a Reaper, an alien being with the power to destroy the universe. Saren takes a twist at this point. The Reaper has actually taken control of Saren’s mind. This gives gamers the impression that Saren might not be that bad a person. This is what makes him such a solid character. His actions in the game are positively reprehensible. However, if he isn’t in control of his actions, can we really blame him?
Saren brings Mass Effect to a higher level. His evilness is something to behold, and when we find out that he is not in control of himself, it elevates the plot of Mass Effect higher than it already was. He is a great villain, and one of the reasons Mass Effect is such a highly regarded franchise.
I realize these villains are all in newer games. Simply, if you compare apples to apples, it’s really impossible for villains in older games to have the same depth as one in a new game. I’m not looking at what is best for their time. I’m looking for which villains had the greatest effect on me.
As you can see from these villains, they are bad, and I want to hate them, but it is hard to. The characters are so well acted and written that it is impossible to hate them, no matter how many terrible things they do.
Without bad guys, there would be no reason to have good guys. Without good guys, there would be no reason to have video games. Therefore, I nominate today Villain Appreciation Day. Your job is to let us know in the comments what video game villains you love to hate.