You know the saying – a hero is only as good as their villain is bad… Or should it be “good at being bad?” Either way, here is our list of top five video game villains in no particular order.
The Illusive Man (Mass Effect series)
There are a few things more harmful in the (real) world than those who do wrong while being convinced that they are doing the right thing. Perhaps the greatest embodiment of this principle in the world of video games is the Illusive Man, masterfully voiced by Martin Sheen. After the Earth joined the galactic community, he founded Cerberus, a pro-human organization whose methods are, let’s say far from ethical. His justification is that “If humanity is to survive, sacrifices must be made for the greater good. The Alliance doesn’t understand this, Cerberus does.” On the surface, this all might seem fine and dandy, but when we call the things by their right name, he is just a space racist, using sabotage and violence to achieve what he believes are the higher goals for the mankind. The fact that he’s so good at what he does only makes him a more admirable adversary.
GlaDOS (Portal series)
There was a time in the not so distant past when one couldn’t visit a game-centric message board without facing a bazillion of Portal-themed memes. There is a good reason for that, as GLaDOS is perhaps the most quotable villain ever. As the only speaking character in the games, GlaDOS is what makes Portal a unique experience and elevates it beyond a pimped up puzzle game. As the original game progresses, we get to discover more and more of her personality, and her calculating and manipulative ways. Then, in the sequel, we discover that it is the essence of Aperture Science’s CEOs assistant, Caroline that fuels her personality, and the potential connection behind Caroline and Chell, making the whole story just a bit more heart wrecking.
Tom Nook (Animal Crossing)
“Animal Crossing” is a leisurely paced, feel-good game unlike any other. It’s completely conflict-free, as you are free to make your dream home, go fishing, explore your community and pretty much do whatever you please, right? Wrong. Think about what happens at the beginning of each game: Tom Nook, the village’s store owner gives you a plot of land that you’ll be building your home on. What he asks from you in return is a set of increasingly difficult tasks that only serve to bring him the profit, when you stop and think about it. After all, HE is the one who gets his two-story department store thanks to your efforts in the end. Not to mention the fact that, as a sole store owner, he practically has a trading monopoly. So, yeah, Tom Nook is the cruel face of capitalism in the world of “Animal Crossing”. I’m sorry you had to learn it this way.
Pyramid Head (Silent Hill)
Here is another villain that takes this list to an unexpectedly dark place. Pyramid Head from Silent Hill would be a bit more than a cheap horror game villain if he wasn’t so unpredictable – sometimes he’ll attack you, sometimes he’ll go after somebody else, and at other times he’ll simply do nothing, if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s heavily implied that Pyramid Head is just a physical (?) manifestation of the protagonist’s feeling of guilt and their desire to be punished for the mistakes from the past. When we look at him that way, Pyramid Head might be the scariest villain on this list, since we tend to be our own worst enemies and harshest judges. Oh, and he has those giant knives.
The Joker (Batman: Arkham series)
Sure, sure, The Joker is a comic book villain above all else, but hear me out: his portrayal in the Arkham games just might be the best there is. First of all, he is voiced by the legendary Mark Hamill, who is the best Joker ever – and this part of the argument is not up for a debate, I’m sorry. Secondly, The Joker, as he is portrayed in these games is the essential Joker. Everything about him, his motivations, his goals and the way he goes about making these goals real is just right. Overall, he is what is keeping the first two Arkham games together, and pulling it off was no small feat. After all, a hero is only as good… You know the rest!