Gameological Q&A

Desmond Miles

The Heroes We Don’t Deserve

Is there a video game hero you can’t stand?

By The Gameological Society Staff • October 17, 2013

Welcome to Gameological Q&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. It’s extremely similar to The A.V. Club’s AVQ&A feature. You might even say it’s exactly the same. If you have a brilliant question that would make a fun Q&A, send it to brilliantquestions at gameological dot com.

This week’s question comes from longtime commenter HobbesMkii:

I’ve recently come as close to finishing Far Cry 3 as I expect I will, and while I had plenty of fun with it, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really hate its main character, Jason Brody. He is arrogant, privileged, mistreats his friends and family, and I’m pretty sure he’s a psychopath. If the game didn’t require you to press a button every time he caught fire, I would’ve let him burn. Is there a video game hero that you can’t stand?

Joe Keiser
Street Fighter IV

It took me years to realize that I don’t like Ryu, the violent obsessive who is the face of the Street Fighter series. We are talking about a man who has spent his adult life traveling the world alone, making enemies, and getting into fights. He claims that he does this to improve his own martial arts skills, but come on: He has already beaten crime lords, genetically engineered superhumans, and the grandmaster of just about every fighting discipline man has devised. He also compares unfavorably to Ken, a guy who started a family and relegated his beloved kick-punching to weekends, yet is still just as good a fighter by any reasonable metric. What are you really doing out there, Ryu? Maybe it’s time to stop selfishly cratering other world warriors’ faces and look at the world warrior face in the mirror.

Anthony John Agnello
God Of War III

Are we supposed to like Kratos, the snarling dummy that stars in the God Of War games? I like the original God Of War a lot, and God Of War 3 has some of the most visually stunning sequences I’ve ever seen. But I have never enjoyed any of those games on a human level. Kratos isn’t just unlikable because he’s an immortal monster willing to murder puny humans for no reason, nor because he spends every spare second sniveling about how he murdered his own family. I hate Kratos because he doesn’t try to redeem himself. If he felt bad about the years of bloodshed and genocide, he’d take his chain-knife things and go start a farm. Instead, his answers are to either kill himself or kill all the gods. Oh, and stop yelling all the time, Kratos. You’re giving everyone a headache.

Adam Volk
Grand Theft Auto IV

No one can top Grand Theft Auto IV’s Niko Bellic. The Grand Theft Auto series has its fair share of colorful sociopaths, but Niko was supposed to be different—a troubled anti-hero forsaking his war-torn past to pursue the American dream and end the cycle of violence once and for all. In one breath, Niko waxes poetic about the guilt he feels at the senseless death and destruction around him, and then during the next, he’s nonchalantly running over innocent old ladies, shooting cops in the face, and selling himself out to the highest bidder. Niko could have been an interesting, flawed character you care about. Instead, he ends up as yet another morally reprehensible video game psycho, albeit one rocking some pretty sweet track pants.

Steve Heisler
Uncharted 3

I gave up on both Uncharted and Uncharted 2 about halfway through each game because I couldn’t stand being around Nathan Drake. Pretty much every rough edge that would make him human got smoothed over, and we’re left with this guy who’s little more than a sense of adventure, infinite energy, and a smirk. Every situation was an opportunity for him to show off how manly he was. “Nathan, we’re surrounded!” someone would yell. To which he’d snarl, “Just give me a big gun, and we’ll be fine.” I’d like to think challenges in games are, you know, challenges, and the protagonists of the tales are not always super confident things will go okay. Because of this cocky hero, the Uncharted games became exercises in running through the motions. There was no doubt I was going to succeed because Mr. Chiseled Chin doesn’t start wars he can’t finish, baby!

Derrick Sanskrit
Assassin's Creed

I truly cannot stand Desmond Miles, the modern-day main character of many Assassin’s Creed games. In the first one, he’s not very agile and also kind of thick, making new discoveries about his situation well after they had become obvious. The more we learn about his past—his upbringing and the mistakes he made along the way—the more it feels like either Ubisoft was making things up as they went along, or Desmond really was just a shortsighted, selfish buffoon. He knew enough to escape his family’s secret assassin headquarters and take up work across the country as a New York City bartender, leaving no paper trail along the way. That is, except for the legal acquisition of a driver’s license. Come on, man. Any bartender worth their salt-rimmed martini glasses should know how to get a decent fake ID. Also, it’s not a good idea to name your signature drink after the malevolent secret society that’s out to get you. I’m surprised no other assassins were sent to take out this liability before he was captured, though that may wind up being the plot of a future game. Makes as much sense as anything else in this series.

Drew Toal
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

There have been plenty of lousy Star Wars characters, but one of my least favorite “heroes” is definitely the guy from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Known as “Starkiller,” this young man was raised by Darth Vader and grows into Vader’s personal assassin, even as he solidifies his role as the Emperor’s primary galactic enforcer. (Vader is basically middle management.) There’s no way you become Darth Vader’s personal assistant without drinking some Dark Side Kool-Aid, but Starkiller never seems very evil. Despite his suggestive name, he’s just some guy who very blandly goes about the terrible business of murdering Jedi. Never have I seen a guy who could shoot lighting out of his hands and flip through the air with a whirling energy blade and yet was also utterly boring. Lacking better ideas, LucasArts resurrected Starkiller for a sequel, making him a clone in search of his identity—exactly the thing the rest of us were looking for.

Danny Gallagher
Left 4 Dead 2

The so-called heroes in zombie stories aren’t always fighting the undead for entirely noble reasons. Sometimes they use the zombies’ lack of humanity as a convenient excuse to commit actions against the few remaining living people, thereby sinking even deeper into depravity than a mindless brain eater ever could. Nick from Left 4 Dead 2 never has a moment of greed with consequences as dire as Flyboy’s in the original Dawn Of The Dead, but he certainly exhibits the same qualities. If Valve had worked some kind “screw your teammates” option into the game, I could see him taking the opportunity. He was a degenerate gambler and conman before humanity started eating away at itself (literally) and even though he teams up with three other survivors and saves their lives countless times, he’s the least likable of the four. He’s smarmy and sarcastic (”Come on, Coach,” Nick says as he and the team climb a long flight of stairs to the roof to reach an escape helicopter, “maybe the helicopter…maybe it’s made of chocolate.”) He’s antisocial and clearly would ditch the others if the opportunity presented itself. (”Name’s Nick, but don’t bother learning it ‘cause I ain’t sticking around much longer.”) He looks exactly like the kind of conniving car-salesman type I’d throw myself in front of a horse-drawn carriage to avoid if I saw him coming the other way on a crowded French Quarter street.

Ryan Smith
Max Payne 3

This is a tough one because the last several years don’t lack in the unlikable main character department, especially when it comes to shooters (the stars of Kane And Lynch, Army Of Two, Gears Of War) and open-world action games (InFamous, Prototype, Grand Theft Auto). Special mention goes to Max Payne in his series’ third entry. That’s a character I once had an affinity for. Max’s cynical narration and pithy one-liners—in the tradition of 1930s detective noir—fit in well with the previous games’ gritty, dark New York City setting. Maybe when you’re hanging out in the flashy nightclubs and luxury yachts of Brazil rather than a back alley of Brooklyn, the Raymond Chandler act just makes less sense. Max also natters on incessantly about how he’s a sad drunk loser, but it feels like the rantings of a delusional narcissist considering he’s shot down half the population of Sao Paulo while deftly sliding down flights of stairs. Even worse is the actual writing, which often feels like self-parody. (”While I’d been dead to the world, some of my shipmates…were just plain dead.”) I hope Max goes to AA, decides to become an art therapist, and finds a nice girl to date before Max Payne 4 rolls around.

Share this with your friends and enemies

Write a scintillating comment

  • Fluka

    That’s a whole lotta brown-haired, 30 to 40-something, super-serious white men.

    (Okay, Ryu’s not white, and Desmond is racially ambiguously, I think? And Nathan Drake is less serious. And I can’t determine the color of Kratos’ hair, but given that his beard is brownish I’m assuming he once had brown hair before he got rage-induced baldness. BUT THERE IS STILL A THEME ABOVE.)

    Come on, AAA games. At the very least it’s time for a renaissance of blond 30-40 something, super-serious white men!

    • ProfFarnsworth

      I think that there is DEFINITELY a lack of blond white men. I did think about all the wonderful women there are in games…all three of them. Well, Bioware made some good ones at least.

      • Citric

        My Mass Effect dude was a blonde black man. Citric, single handedly bringing diversity to video game herodom.

        • Marozeph

          Dennis Rodman is Jack Shepard.

        • http://www.facebook.com/andy.tuttle.79 Andy Tuttle

          I played Fallout New Vegas as an Asian guy in a1950′s newspaper reporter hat.

      • JamesJournal

        Off the top of my head, Skyward Sword, Gears of War:Judgement and Duke Nukem forever are the last games I can remember playing with blonde leads.

    • NakedSnake

      I’m sorry, but men with blond hair and/or blue eyes are automatically con-men until proven otherwise.

      • PaganPoet

        Source: Action films from the 80s.

      • Marozeph

        Or evil russian super-boxers.

      • Chum Joely

        As a blond-haired, blue-eyed man, I can assure you that’s nonsense. Also, I have some fine land available in northeastern Alberta, recently rezoned for residential and agricultural development, and available for rock-bottom prices!

    • Professor_Cuntburglar

      As a blonde guy, I too would like to see video games cater to my demographic. For once!

      • JamesJournal

        You have Link … and Duke Nukem … so there equality

    • JamesJournal

      Basically not having your character not be a brown haired 30-40 something stoic white dude makes it some artsy abstract thing

  • ProfFarnsworth

    One ‘hero’ that I cannot stand…is the main character in the Modern Warfare series. While “Soap” McTavish can definitely shoot many thousands of people, he definitely has no sense of morality or listening skills.

    • CrabNaga

      I was never struck by any of the soldiers in the Modern Warfare games as having any particular characterization, which made it hard for me to hate them (or like them, of course).

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      The fact that Soap can be replaced in these games by people with equally stupid names like “Rabbit” or “Yuri” shows how few shits Infinity Ward gives about anything resembling character.

      Price, the only character in the game who is semi-revered by fans, is only memorable for his facial hair and inability to die after being shot and mercilessly beaten countless times.

      • ComradePig

        There is something deeply hilarious to me about the fact that the Modern Warfare games have their own ‘mythology’ when the most recognizable characters amount to ‘ guy with facial hair’ and MW2′s breakout star ‘guy who never speaks with a totally hardcore skull mask’.

        I don’t even have quite the vitriol for the franchise some others do, but when it comes to a modern warfare ‘extended universe’ you’ve really got to throw your hands up and ask ‘who cares?’

        • JamesJournal

          I’ll admit it, I got a little excited when Captain Price returned, but that’s it

    • Morlock

      MW always makes me miss the original CoD1 and 2. actually following a few people from the beginning through their stories…you were basically on the same learning curve as they were.

  • Citric

    Cole Phelps: Crime Robot, just because he was an annoying goody two shoes prick who was also probably an automaton. It’s weird how the combination of self-righteousness and a complete inability to understand how emotions work can really ruin a character.

    Also what they did to Aya in The 3rd Birthday, since now she whimpers and cries all the time and it’s really gross while also being super annoying.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      That creepy, sexual, juvenile “Uhn” that female Japanese characters emit is my least favorite Japanese pop cultural mainstay of all time. More so even than the teeth blackening of the Meiji period.

      It doesn’t matter if she’s being hit by a salvo of mecha missiles, discovering a dark secret about her family, expressing confusion about the contradictory behavior of her crush or spilling the water meant for her husbands ramen, that “Uhn” is there to make me feel gross for participating.

      • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

        This proves that you are stain to glorious Nippon and you shall commit sudoko on yourself for your crimes.

        PS: Korea Belongs to Japan.

        /s

        • Necrogem

          LOL @ “sudoko.” Though I think you were going for sudoku? That woulda made it hilarious.

        • Nudeviking

          I think you mean seppuku.

          • Chum Joely

            I think committing himself to a couple of sudoku fits the “crime” a bit better, to be honest.

          • Sa3ad

            It’s also a whole lot less likely to stain the carpet.

          • Enkidum

            I think there may be a joke here.

          • ComradePig

            It’s a 4chan joke.

      • duwease

        You are REALLY going to hate Japanese tennis games then..

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          I like how you say this like it’s predestination that at some point I’m going to be exposed to and forced to view a bunch of Japanese tennis.
          You have in front of you some gigantic tome, bound in chains and guarded by holy fire and you idly leaf through the dense pages spelling destiny. At some point your hand stops and you just mutter, “2016 is going to suck for that guy.”

      • WinterFritz

        Actually teeth blackening was outlawed during the Meiji period. It was much more widespread before that, dating back to prehistoric times. The Meiji was all about “modernizing” Japan.

        I hope you enjoyed this pedantry. I also agree with you about the rampant sexualization of every single young woman in Japanese culture.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          Shit, really? I’m going to have to rethink my Halloween costume then.

          • WinterFritz

            Yeah, sorry about that. You could always go as a Meiji era military leader and follow your own twisted, bastardized version of bushido. Which I’m assuming in this case would mean “rape of nanking” levels of violence if you’re denied candy. Just remember, death before dishonor, @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus.

          • Spacemonkey Mafia

            Ah, I’ll probably just go as Austin Powers.

          • Aurora Boreanaz

            Blackened teeth or crooked teeth? What a dilemma…

          • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

            That is true… I mean, a lot of people in the South have fucked up teeth, but not with the frequency or the extent that Japanese people do. There’s this sushi restaurant here in Seattle that has a big, flat-screen TV on the wall that, I’m told, is connected (via the internet) to a camera located outside its “sister sushi bar” in Tokyo, so there’s basically a whole lotta people mugging for the camera and various street-activity shit. I’m also told that the same restaurant has a camera outside feeding scenes of the US to Tokyo, but I sure ain’t seen it.

            Anyway, 9 out of 10 people shoving their mugs into that camera in Tokyo have some seriously fucked-up teeth.

      • DrFlimFlam

        Every week I learn something new about asian cultures. Last week it was jiangshi, this week it is terrifying teeth. I wonder what next week will hold in store for me.

        • Chum Joely

          Just watch out for that Japanese women’s tennis.

        • exant

          Last week I learned about Abe Sada.

          • TaumpyTearrs

            I learned about her last year when I was reading up on “ero-guro”! That shit makes the Lorena Bobbit story seem tame.

    • rvb1023

      Aya in The 3rd Birthday

      Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner.

      The story of T3B is inexcusable. I love Aya and that game seriously sent me back into a rage after I had just gotten over Other M. That was not a good year for female protagonists.

      • PaganPoet

        Yeah, ugh. Seriously. Aya was in one amazing game, and one okay-ish game, and she was still universally admired as one of the most bad ass female protagonists in video games. How could SE tarnish her legacy so badly??

        • Anthony John Agnello

          God, The 3rd Birthday. Never have I seen an ending that is openly hateful and disrespectful to the actual player. What’s even worse, though, is that I thought the action was pretty fun. In another universe, there’s an amazing Parasite Eve 3.

          At least we still have Yoko Shimomura’s soundtrack?

    • Marquis Moon

      I find myself wishing I’d liked Phelps less, if only because it would have given me a chance at coming up with the brilliant phrase “Cole Phelps: Crime Robot”. I’d have dined on that for weeks.

    • http://kittysneezes.com/ Rev. Syung Myung Me

      Hah, you beat me to it with Cole. The acting was pretty good, I have to admit, and I liked his voice, but, jeez, pretty much all of his partners were way, way more interesting and way, way less annoying. I know they were trying to go for the whole Last Honest Man thing, but jeez, honesty doesn’t mean being an irritating dork.

      My other choice: GTA4′s Gay Tony Protagonist Guy. I don’t remember his name, but in Ballad of Gay Tony, you’re Gay Tony’s bodyguard, and you’re just kind of an empty shell of a tough guy type, and again, you’re surrounded by infinitely more interesting people. Luis? Was that his name? For a while I was thinking Eric. But anyway, yeah.

      Niko… I didn’t mind so much, just because, well, I think you’re going to always have the disconnect between the play-style versus the narrative since you can’t always predict that. I mean, sure, I play Saints Row the way they probably expect you to play it (because it’s so FUN that way), but it’d be kind of weird if you ended up using it more as a sandbox, and being called a sociopath. (Or perhaps, a puckish rogue.) Though I can get a little.. hm. On the GTA Self-Seriousness thing. I love GTA, but… I’m thinking I love Saints Row more.

      • Marquis Moon

        Off-topic L.A. Noire rant incoming…

        All of Cole’s partners were more interesting, except for one crucial one. Roy Earle.

        That character was written well enough. He could have been, and really needed to be, a sleazy, jaded, been-there kind of guy, with the obvious comparison being Kevin Spacey from L.A. Confidential. Someone who would be believable as a half-bent cop and a Hollywood insider. Someone whose lines would slide out of his mouth like a darting tongue.

        Instead — and I blame the casting here, not the actor, who probably would have been fine as another character, like Bekowsky — we got a generic youngish good-looking All-American type, who barks out the dialog like a college quarterback in a practice game. It’s a baffling mistake, given that Rockstar usually nails their casting, and certainly got all the other major characters right in L.A. Noire. (Maybe Bondi was to blame…)

        That error deflates the story and the tension so persistently that it does irreparable damage. I got to the point where my mind would wander away from the game whenever he was onscreen. It literally prevented me from finishing my second playthrough.

        • http://kittysneezes.com/ Rev. Syung Myung Me

          That’s a really good point, too — I completely agree with you about Roy. He just seemed like… yeah, an All-American Type, like you said. He didn’t really seem to make sense to be that sleazy, and yet seemingly have that much power already? I dunno, it just seemed weird.

          • Marquis Moon

            So much potential. Breaks my heart.

        • Drinking_with_Skeletons

          My problem with L.A. Noire that prevented me from finishing my first playthrough was the reveal of John Noble’s evil scheme. A movie projector in an abandoned (but guarded) building featuring the characters discussing their illegal plans? Why in God’s name would anyone set that up? For a game that was so obsessed with “realism,” they just threw it out the fucking window for that reveal.

          • Chum Joely

            I haven’t actually played more than about an hour of LA Noire, so my big problem with it is that “e” on the end of “Noire”. Why the feminine form of French “noir”, which otherwise only exists in English in the masculine, e-less form? Anyone?

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons

            I’d say it could be a reference to the fact that, if I recall my film history correctly, film noir was first identified as a thing and embraced by the French, despite being a primarily American style.

            More likely, the guy who wrote this game just misspelled the word.

          • stepped_pyramids

            I had remembered hearing it was basically a trademark thing.

            Google was not particularly useful, considering that most people asking about it got the response IT’S NOT MISSPELLED FUCK YOU IT’S FRENCH, which doesn’t really answer the question.

            One site suggested it’s a marketing thing — easier to Google for — but that doesn’t really seem credible. A big-budget game release doesn’t have to worry about SEO to that degree.

            There was an unrelated book that came out in 2010 called LA Noir. That could explain it, except… the game was announced as L.A. Noire all the way back in 2005.

            So my best guess is that someone on the team spelled it that way, it stuck, and since it’s not technically a misspelling they kept it.

          • http://i821.photobucket.com/albums/zz132/toemali/stuff/bosun.jpg Colliewest

            a)The 1991 Anthony Kiedis penned docuballad Under the Bridge clearly refers to Los Angeles as a she.

            b)It looked better on the box.

        • ComradePig

          I thought Earle worked out well but your second partner in the Black Dahlia chapter drove me absolutely up the wall.

          On one hand, his daft dismissal of insanely obvious evidence was supposed to grate on Cole and so he works on that level, but four full cases of that bone-headed behavior in order to finally get to the twist you knew was coming from the start was quite irritating.

          • JamesJournal

            Dear lord was the serial killer case annoying. I never wanted to shoot NPCs more than when that guy and the whole department ignored direct evidence that the murders were connected.

            aaaarrrrgggggg

            Roy Earle was cool though, the clear counter point to by-the-book Cole

    • dmikester

      Man, just saw this after I posted about Cole. I don’t think he was a goody two shoes at all though. There was a lot of sociopathic stuff with him, and I do kind of love that the game acknowledges it by the end. He’s definitely a bizarre character and not a particularly well handled one, especially since you can make him either brilliant at his job (and almost saintly before he’s revealed as a womanizer) or a psychotic and unhinged detective who gets results.

      • Marquis Moon

        I love the theory that the whole game takes place in his head as he’s dying in the war. It really ties his character together, and enhances some of the weird stylistic touches (like the constant affirmations of nearby pedestrians).

        • Professor_Cuntburglar

          I’ve noticed that theory used more and more lately to explain why video game stories are bad and nonsensical.

      • Citric

        True, he’s a total sociopath, but he does act the goody two shoes, usually in his conversations on the way to different crime scenes. He’s often lecturing his partners about how wrong they are before he goes off to have sex with prostitutes.

    • fieldafar

      Yep, Cole Phelps immediately crossed my mind when I read the article title.

    • CrabNaga

      What’s especially confusing about Cole is that you see nothing of his private life until near the end of the game, and then it’s revealed that he’s cheating on his wife, which comes way out of left field. You’re led to believe that he’s a goody-two-shoes by-the-booker through the whole game, and it turns out he’s as bad a guy as the rest of them. It would be a pretty good story beat if it didn’t come off as dicking around the player, though.

      The P.I. guy who you end up playing as in the final sequences of the game was pretty cool, though, even though I forget his name.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      Cole Phelps is more fun if you pretend you’re playing a poorly written Mad Men fan fic, where Ken Cosgrove goes to LA to fetch a client and gets pulled backwards in time 20 years and must solve the Black Dahlia murders before he can go back to getting day drunk and having pissing matches with Pete Campbell.

      • Electric Dragon

        It’s all just a Dave Algonquin story.

      • JamesJournal

        No, it’s a prequel staring Ken’s dad

    • Professor_Cuntburglar

      I liked to add some dimensions to Cole’s character by imagining that he let out his repressed emotions by driving recklessly and smashing into stuff all the time.

      OK maybe that’s just what I wanted to do.

      • Citric

        “Being a corrupt cop is wrong!” Immediately goes around stealing everyone’s ’40s sports cars.

  • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

    Maybe I’m reaching for the low-hanging fruit here, but I’ve got to go with Tidus from Final Fantasy X. When I went into X I was still riding high on IX’s amiable and flirtatious Zidane, still my favourite Final Fantasy protagonist. Having to trade him in for a whining, spoiled daddy’s boy with overalls and a feathered haircut felt like a bit of an insult. Actually, the cast was a massive step down across the board from IX’s vibrant cast of misfit weirdos, and I didn’t really connect with any of them. Even the fan favourite, Auron, sort of bored me, with his too-cool-to-be-alive poker face on all the time. Actually the character I liked most from that game was Kimahri, because he had the common decency to keep his trap shut most of the time.

    I almost considered taking the less obvious (or at least, less frequently derided) choice of Vaan from XII, but even though he had basically nothing to contribute to the story at large, he was at least not an actively grating presence. Plus, whenever Vaan got angsty, which wasn’t that often, he at least had something resembling an excuse, since he grew up orphaned and in desperate poverty in a war-torn hellhole. Tidus was, up until the events that kicked off the game’s main plot, a rich and famous professional athlete, and he still had the temerity to mope just because his father had been grotesquely transformed into a harbinger of apocalyptic terror and ruin. There’s just no pleasing some people, you know?

    • rvb1023

      Maybe because X was my first FF, but I can’t bring up the hate for Tidus that most people do. He’s an idiot for sure and I could care less about his daddy issues, but his daddy complaining is almost entirely relegated to scenes with Yuna or Auron, which are common but do not comprise the entirety of his interactions. Maybe I just liked the parallel between him and Yuna both trying to live up to their parents in different ways.

      Vaan’s a winner though. I have this vision of XII in my head that’s the best Final Fantasy game and whenever I try to play it I just get depressed.

      • Necrogem

        Bluh, Vaan! He and Penelo are pretty much at the top of my list of reasons I hated that game. They were totally bland and added nothing to the plot, and I almost feel that the game would be better if they weren’t in it, but then I remember the gaping plot holes and come back to thinking that nothing could really make it great. That was the last Final Fantasy I bothered with, I just couldn’t take mediocrity from the series that gave me great/amazing games like VI, VII, VIII, XI, and X.

        • Smilner

          I don’t hold Vaan’s boring-ness against him. As I’m sure has been stated before around these parts, it’s best to regard Vaan not as the main character, but as the narrative window through which we can see more interesting stories from every other character in the game except Penelo. I got nothing for her.

      • flowsthead

        I have a really positive mental image of XII as a game and a negative image of the characters. The game is just really fun to play and to level. After who knows how many RPGs where the action stops so I can fight something, I loved that all of the enemies were visible on the screen and I could physically avoid them or fight them without a break in the action. So XII is one of my favorites purely for gameplay. Beyond Balthier and Ashe being hot, the rest of the characters are a waste.

        • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

          I definitely feel the same way about XII. I found the game itself to be really fun and engaging, and I even responded really well to the Gambit system that a lot of other people didn’t like. I think the world was beautiful and interesting, and the graphics were maybe the best on the PS2. But the characters and plot? I honestly don’t remember anything about them. I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what was happening in FFXII. I beat that game, too, but I don’t remember at all who the main antagonist was, or what he was trying to achieve, or what was at stake, or why the main party had to get involved to stop him. I can recall some of the environments from that game with near-perfect clarity, but I doubt I could even name all the main characters.

          • flowsthead

            I did think the characters and story were better on a replay, but they’re still not great. They’re too forgettable, except for Balthier. Seriously, it might only be because he gets all the good lines, but Balthier’s voice actor was also really good.

          • Necrogem

            I actually agree that it was a really fun game to play, if you completely ignored the story. I really liked the advancement board conceit, the gambit system, the open combat, the hunts, and exploring the hidden corners of the environments to collect all the espers, but for a series that I got into because of its superb storytelling, XII having such a lackluster one was an unpardonable sin to me.

          • JamesJournal

            That’s a lot of Square Games for me. The story is convoluted to the point of insanity. But it is fun

        • PaganPoet

          I liked Fran too. She was a dominatrix bunny woman, and her voice actress sounded like Bjork. There are like, 10 different things to like about that sentence.

          • djsubversive

            I’ve said it before, but the game should have started with Balthier and Fran sneaking into the palace for the heist. Vaan and Penelo add nothing to the story. They’re the “early Luke Skywalker” of the Star Wars pastiche that is FFXII. You don’t need TWO whiny adolescents taking their first steps into a much larger world, hanging out with a hotshot pilot and his long-time non-human partner, and helping a princess fight the evil Empire.

          • http://www.facebook.com/justin.finkbeiner.7 Justin Finkbeiner

            Vaan and Penelo are meant to C-3PO and R2-D2 actually, if that helps.

          • djsubversive

            only slightly.

      • http://disqus.com/Dikachu Dikachu

        XII is the only FF game I actually enjoyed since VII. I liked the characters and story in IX, but actually playing it was such a goddamn chore… games like Chrono Trigger/Cross proved you don’t need random encounters to make an RPG fun, and there were just so many of them in IX, I gave up about 1/3 of the way through.

        And I didn’t really have much problem with Vaan, because whenever he got whiny and emo, one of the grownups would usually put him in his place, unlike most of the other recent FF games in which the whiny emo shit was the core.

        • Smilner

          All of the this. I’m excited for the return of seamless combat in XV, whenever our Japanese overlords deign us worthy to play it.

        • rvb1023

          I am having similar problems with IX as you, but XII is one of the few games in my life I put a bunch of hours into it and just stopped caring. I loved the cast outside the 2 nothings, but the large, nearly endless and mostly empty environments with almost zero gameplay after setting up proper Gambits was so boring for me, I honestly had more fun with XIII’s combat system, at least the battles were over faster.

          Everything else, the writing, the setting, the characters, the graphics, no random encounters, all great steps forward. I just didn’t have fun playing the game.

    • Larry C

      My God, I can’t believe that Tidus didn’t make the list. That’s a home run there… and FFX just might be my favorite Final Fantasy game. (I like the battle system.) Seriously, the dude’s crying about his daddy issues the whole game when every other character has dilemmas that are way more compelling. I guess it was a refreshing change from the taciturn, super emo Cloud and Squall. I mean, at least he seemed outgoing. But jeez, talk about taking things too far in the other direction.

    • PaganPoet

      I said pretty much this same thing below. Tidus is by far my least favorite FF hero.

      I know your “favorite” pretty much corresponds to which one you played first/which ones is your favorite, but I feel like any of the “defined” characters from the first 6 FF games, or FF9, are great characters.

      I, of course, have to go with Terra as my favorite. She starts off insecure, confused, and unsure what’s important to her. She ends the game…insecure and confused. But at least she has discovered what is important to her: the village of orphans she has discovered and has decided to protect. They are her impetus to continue fighting against Kefka.

    • Newton Gimmick

      Have you ever met a person in real life who talks as slowly as Tidus?

      I have, and it’s really annoying.

      • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

        Speaking of petty gripes against this character- why are you allowed to name him, and only him? I was constantly getting distracted by the way the script tiptoes around calling him by name. Everybody else got their name assigned to them by the writers, why leave out one guy?

    • CrabNaga

      I’m pretty sure that Vaan is meant to be the blank template character that the players ascribe themselves onto. However, it’s not really made clear that he’s not important to the story at large until, well, you’re basically at the end. I ended up using Vaan throughout the whole game, when I could have switched him out for the much more interesting Balthier, and for that I will never forgive myself.

      • Kyle O’Reilly

        I don’t like my blank template characters to have weirdly soft looking nipples protruding from under their vest.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          Seriously. If you can’t have personality, at least have a pair of firm, aggressive nipples to compensate.

        • Smilner

          Didn’t mind the nipples, but what the fuck was with his abs?

          • PaganPoet

            They looked like they were painted on.

          • djsubversive

            you mean they weren’t?

          • Chum Joely

            One word: AbHancer.

      • http://disqus.com/Dikachu Dikachu

        I found it kind of hilarious that Vaan pretended to be straight. Gurl, you’re about as convincing as George Michael in a rest stop bathroom.

        • PaganPoet

          Seriously. He’s even dressed like the lead singer from The Scissor Sisters.

        • djsubversive

          dat. vest.

        • Larry C

          Technically, though… that sort of applies to every FF protagonist. Tidus, for example. Especially Tidus.

      • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

        I seem to remember reading somewhere that the original main character was going to be Ashe, which makes sense since she has an actual stake in the story (I think, my memories of the game are pretty unreliable). Vaan was added later into production to serve as a more “traditional” (read: male pretty boy) protagonist for the game. He even underwent several severe design changes in order to hone him into the prototypical JRPG hero- he was originally going to be a world-weary emotionally dead type, but went through the JRPG hero making machine and came out the other end a spunky orphan with big dreams and a stupid haircut.

        • PaganPoet

          He has the same hairstylist as Kate Gosselin, apparently.

        • JamesJournal

          Thanks.

          I never understood why I played as a useless side character in FF12 when Ashe was clearly the real hero

          • SaoirseRonanTheAccuser

            If I recall correctly, the original director for FFXII was fired partway through, and his replacement (and the producers) was aghast at the fact that it didn’t have the requisite j-pop pretty boy that had served the franchise so well. Vaan and Penelo were written in as new ‘main characters’, but too much was done already to actually change the story.

            Hence the narrative mess we have today.

          • JamesJournal

            That’s really ****ing stupid. Especially when you consider FF13 does not feature the standard J-pop pretty boy lead.

            Would it have really affected anything (as far as sales) if Ashe remained the lead? Better yet, just play Basch or Balthier as the “main” character. Vaan and Penelo were utterly pointless.

        • Scurvyhead

          Basch was the original lead– according to Wikipedia’s citation of a French interview with the game’s producer, anyway. Je ne comprends pas.

    • Crusty Old Dean

      Something that annoyed me to no end is that in FFXII you actually play as your preferred party leader in the field, but whenever you enter a city or camp site your morph back into Vaan.

      Just one of those little things that ruin the immersion.

      • JamesJournal

        Also, Vaan is boring and sucks

    • Enkidum

      I could never forgive Zidane for headbutting that guy in the chest.

    • Derek Kupper

      I think of FFX as Yuna’s story. I know Tidus was there and all, but I don’t really care that much about him. Rikku, Yuna, Kimahri, even Wakka, as the comic relief. Tidus is just support to me. And Auron was such a super-serious badass that I don’t even remember him.
      That was definitely reinforced by the fact that X-2 (Shut up! It was a blast to play!) was all about Rikku and Yuna, with Tidus as the Mcguffin.
      Also, Lulu. Ah, Lulu.

      • PaganPoet

        I will never hate on anyone for liking X-2. It may have been camper than Liberace, but you can’t argue with how much fun those dress spheres were.

        • SaoirseRonanTheAccuser

          The dress spheres were a fucking blast.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      I could deal with Tidus’ melodramatic angst as a placeholder for personality, just because that kind of operatics are jrpg’s stock-in-trade.
      But I cannot tolerate his terrible, terrible sartorial choices. Those irregular shorts overalls, the unzipped short-sleeved hoodie. He looks like someone was trying to incorporate a b-boy look into his high school show choir routine.

      • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

        Real talk. I think FFX represents Tetsuya Nomura at his Nomuraest. I mean, Lulu’s outfit is a dress made of belts. Fortunately he seems to have come to his senses recently- his designs for FFXV are almost admirable in their restraint, although also a little bland (hope you like black!)

        • Larry C

          I thought by and large most of the outfits made sense, though. Lulu had an outfit made of belts, sure, but she’s basically a witch, and she looked like one. Outside if Tidus, Rikku was probably the most ridiculous looking one, but she was dressed appropriately steampunk for a culture that was steeped in technology.

          Tidus, though? He’s supposed to be a pro athlete, right? Now, I understand in this day and age of the Oregon Ducks and the Maryland Terrapins that we’ve entered an era where sports wear makes no sense… but c’mon! Nothing about Tidus’ outfit makes sense at all! Why the superfluous hoodie? For a game that’s played underwater? Why the add-on netting to one of the cargo shorts? I mean, you gotta hand it to Wakka… he’s dressed up like someone from an extreme water polo team. But good Lord nothing about Tidus’ outfit makes sense!

  • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

    Yo Nico wanna go bowling with me?

    • evanwaters

      I think a case can be made that Nico started out okay but was driven to insanity by his fucking cousin.

      • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

        Yup.

        Who the fuck gets a nice posh apartment and still asks for money?

        • Newton Gimmick

          Wait until you have children.

      • craigward

        Roman was okay. Packie was the man who motivated Niko to such violence.

        • CrabNaga

          But Packie was still pretty awesome, and I very much enjoyed having him around for heists in GTAV.

          • JamesJournal

            I freaked out when Packie showed up. Packie is the man

    • JamesJournal

      I just ignored those calls

  • DrZaloski

    The guy I played in Papers, Please. I was such an asshole. If that doesn’t count, then Conner from AC3, the whiny little manchild.

    Actually, no, I think I’m going to have to go with Spyro in his most recent games. Ever since that last decent Gamecube game he’s been super obnoxious, just making horrible smart-ass jokes with the smart part replaced with obnoxiousness, and his stupid childish stoic attitude trying to appeal to his new “edgy” teenaged demographic. There goes another part of my childhood.

    • Chum Joely

      On a similar note, the player character from Hotline Miami. I adore the game and had tons of fun with it, but the notion of actually being that guy and controlling what he does made me a bit sick to my stomach at times.

    • WinterFritz

      Some might consider the way I played Papers, Please to be assholish. Personally I consider myself a patriot and a true son of the revolution. Glory to Arstotzka!

  • anonia5ever

    Carth Onasi tho

    • DrFlimFlam

      I hate Carth/Kaidan.

      • JohnnyLongtorso

        Kaiden is bad, but I think Ashley Williams, Space Republican, is worse.

        • DrFlimFlam

          It’s very strange to run into right-wing Christians in space who have to realize that an entire universe of aliens means their religion probably doesn’t hold up anymore.

          • Shain Eighmey

            To be fair, how do you think they would react? “Oh, we’re wrong, time to throw in centuries of traditions that members of our family have died over!”

            No, they’ll go just like Ash, if not much worse.

          • DrFlimFlam

            Is that one suggesting that fundamentalists are the new Hanar?

          • Shain Eighmey

            I think the game actually alludes to it a few times with the mentions of Hanar terrorists in news reports.

          • Arex

            I admit, I’ve never gotten the Ash antipathy. She’s religious, yes, which she’ll mention in one conversation and go into more detail if you go out of your way to ask her about it. (Though not about the specifics of her beliefs– we know she believes in “God” and and an afterlife, but while she reads as Christian to me too she never actually says so.)

            And she starts out anti-alien, because she’s got some bad family history and because Bioware is all about character arcs. By the end of Mass Effect, she’s learned better.

            (If you’re paragon, anyway. If you’re a renegade speciesist, sure she’ll back you up, just like you can either make Garrus more or less of a vigilante and either forge a connection with Wrex or shoot him.)

            Even before then she thinks the Terra Firma types are idiots. (And from the evidence of the second game, has even less truck with Cerberus than Shepard.)

            And of course she’s entirely right in her observation that the Council species care more about their own interests than humanity’s. (And vice versa, as she’d be the first to agree.)

          • DrFlimFlam

            I never hated her, though on my most recent run through ME1 I found her stance on “things” incongruous to the reality of the world.

            She’s okay. She’s not the worst. She’s not JAMES.

          • PaganPoet

            You hate James? Really?

            I actually quite like the guy. Sure, he has a broish demeanor. He’s very much the kind of guy who checks himself out in the mirror at the gym, pulling up his shirt to “wipe off some sweat.” But then you learn he’s actually a pretty insecure soldier, haunted by the fact that he let his entire squad get massacred on a previous mission. I dunno, I didn’t expect to like him when I started the game, but I did.

            I think ME1 did a poor job making its human characters likable, but ME2 and ME3′s humans were pretty cool for the most part (I still hate Jacob and Zaeed).

          • Arex

            I tend to agree re James, though I may never forgive him for his minigame in the ME3 Citadel DLC.

          • PaganPoet

            I also think games need more hispanic characters who aren’t stereotypes. I like James for that reason as well.

          • Halloween_Jack

            I was prepared to hate Vega not just because of his character design but also because it was apparent that none of the squad characters introduced in ME2 (with one surprise exception) would be in your squad in ME3. But he grew on me; he’s basically a human krogan with less aggro. As far as Zaeed and Jacob go, Jacob is a decent concept that was badly executed, and I actually appreciated Zaeed for what he was, if I didn’t exactly like him as a person.

          • sanandreasae

            Ashley, who can have an actual character arc that is a more realistic depiction of how a person’s views can evolve over time, is a much better written character than Liara, who goes from shy graduate student researcher to highly-trained special forces operative in an eyeblink.

          • NakedSnake

            Yea, I liked her because she was anti-alien. That damn galactic council was so determined to keep humans down that they blinded themselves to serious existential threats. They got what they deserved. Seriously, though, is there any reason to think that humans wouldn’t be extremely intolerant of aliens? If a beetle is in my house, I kill it. Not because I fear it, but because any unauthorized life form in my living space is a violation that I will not allow. What species of life anywhere is more territorial and xenophobic than human beings?

          • Mr_Matt_M

            Fire ants.

          • NakedSnake

            Haha, I spent a couple of years in Texas while growing up, and I must have spend 1-2 hours per day waging war against fire ants. Every recess, all the boys would mount up and dig, stomp, and burn as many of those fuckers as we could. They were awful.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          Even the name is so perfectly evocative of 20th century big box conservative religion.
          It must be the Mass Effect equivalent of giving your kid an Old Testament name.
          “She will be known as Ashley, taken from the wife of Jordan, known for canvasing for Michele Bachmann’s reelection campaign for twelve straight days, by miracle of God!”

        • JamesJournal

          Hey, my Shepard banged that space republican … then I dropped her from the Miranda’s ass

      • Derek Kupper

        YES!

        I never even cared what Carth had to say – if I wasn’t a completionist, I would have just left him in the ship 100% of the time. I mean, a whiny, obnoxious ranged dexterity character in a game like KoTOR? GTFO. If I want ranged, I have HK. If I want whiny, I have Mission. Why are you even here, Carth?
        I did warm up to Kaidan in ME3, at least.

        • DrFlimFlam

          Also, Carth has GUILTS. GUILTS ABOUT THINGS.

          I liked that at least wounded soul Alistair had a defensive, sarcastic sense of humor. I don’t much care for that character type in BioWare games, but at least make Mopey Male funny. Carth was unfunny AND had issues and, as you said, was a ranged character in a game with HK-47, one of the most brilliant sidekicks in gaming history.

          • Derek Kupper

            Indeed. In a game with Jedi I have room for *maybe* one ranged non-Jedi. And if there’s a psychotic inhuman hilarity machine around, Carth had no chance. Even if he were amazingly well written, he loses.

          • djsubversive

            The Carth-clone in KoTOR 2, Atton Rand, was much better. Still a whiny little bitch of a pilot, but nobody in that game liked their party members (apart from the Exile, who everybody loved). He wasn’t Alistair-level sarcastic, but he had a few good quips here and there. Also, he had a much better backstory than “GUILTS ABOUT THINGS” (which is a pretty great summation of him, btw).

      • Larry C

        Honestly I always chose Ashley over Kaidan in the crucial ME1 scene because Kaidan was useless in battle. Look, you may or may not agree with Ashley, but she at least she’s not made of glass in a fight.

        • PaganPoet

          True, but in ME1 Soldiers are way overbuffed compared to the other jobs. The tables turn in ME3, though. Kaidan is way more useful in battle in that game than Ashley is.

    • Fluka

      Stupid sexy Carth.

      No, wait. Just stupid. Stupid Carth.

      (No, seriously, I think there may be something wrong with him!)

    • ocelotfox

      I just replayed KOTOR, and just as I started out, I told myself, “Okay, I’m going to try to be objective, and really see if Carth is as bad as I remember.” By the time I got to Korriban and the whole Dustil matter, I wanted to convince son to kill father and truly make the leap to the Sith way.

  • Lawrence Allen

    On the subject of Max Payne: the weird thing about the series is how much better it would have been if they’d just kept following the through line of the first two games. Both of these end with Max making some progress towards getting over his dead wife, and make a sort of interesting “regeneration through violence” narrative. The secret ending of Max Payne 2, in particular, is pretty terrific at advancing Max’s recovery (even if it does make no sense in terms of, like, logic.) I think a game that followed the secret ending and dealt with Max and Mona getting out of prison and trying to build a life together while dealing with their trust issues and the fact that the only thing they’re really good at is shooting people could have been interesting, and a New York with every mobster scrambling to figure out how to function after Max has killed pretty much every boss in the city would make a great setting. Instead we got an annoying and very disjointed story about Max’s Sao Paulo adventure, with a lot of half-baked commentary on class and some of the really nasty exploitative elements that Rockstar has started throwing in to all their games (a tip to all you video game script writers: unless your game is about pedophilia, don’t throw in a pedophile.) Very annoying.

    • Marquis Moon

      I like MP3, and I enjoyed playing it, but I think you just put your finger on what was preventing me from loving it the way I’d hoped to. I think if I didn’t understand English, I’d have been better off, since the action and locations of the setpieces had a satisfying pacing. But the written story they overlaid it with didn’t really live up to what it could have been.

    • NakedSnake

      From what I understand, Rockstar just wanted to make a game out of this movie.

    • Kevin Johnson

      Here’s the thing: I think Max Payne 3 WAS self-parody.

      To me, the game essentially about a bunch of Brazilian mobsters who got wind of a legitimate “action hero” and hired him/manipulated him to do a whole bunch of shit for them. It’s basically if a bunch of badguys hired John McClane and used him for their own nefarious purposes without him knowing.

      The thing was, unlike MP1 and MP2, the game played it straight, which made it seem like it was all brooding and serious, but it seemed to me that it made it MORE ridiculous, especially:

      SPOILERS

      when it gets to the part about selling human organs, which has shit-all to do with the narrative.

      END SPOILERS

      Honestly, I think Rockstar was being just as goofy with MP3, just taking their goofiness in different approach. And while the writing was questionable, the voice work was top-notch.

      • a_scintillating_comment

        It makes sense. With some of the one-liners Max was pulling in MP3, he might as well have been John McClane.

  • AngryRaisins

    A Dark Side player character in the first KOTOR.

    Yes, ok, they’re Dark Side, they’re not exactly nice people. But since the game rewarded you for going all-out Light or Dark in all your choices, your typical DS protagonist wasn’t just going to be a vengeful and power-hungry high-level character, but an unpleasantly dickish low-level character. Betraying your friends and the Republic to RULE THE GALAXY makes you the bad guy, but it still feels pretty epic. Backstabbing most of the people you meet for a few extra credits, less so.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    I have an inexplicable hatred for Ezio from the AssCreed series. I think it might be because he’s such a bland character whose personality morphs to fit whatever situation the story demands. Say what you will about Desmond or Altaïr, but at least they have consistent personalities.

    That reminds me, I should probably finish Brotherhood at some point.

    • Citric

      Altair is kind of a bland, mildly incompetent and fairly stupid prick though. At least Ezio has a personality.

    • CrabNaga

      There’s something to be said about characters that exist purely to make smarmy one-liners from time to time. They aren’t really characters, but they are often entertaining to watch (see: most 80′s action flicks).

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      Ezio is basically just a Disney Prince who jumps on people and stabs them. Also, I will say what I want about Desmond because his persistent personality is that of a twat.

    • beema

      Altair has a personality?

    • JamesJournal

      Ezio was basically the only good AC hero they ever came up with

  • Mail Ssinnigcm

    James Heller , from Prototype 2. It’s like the game designers didn’t even want to make him remotely likeable. He spends the whole time cursing at everyone, killing anyone, mutant or human.

  • rvb1023

    It’s been a while since I played Xenosaga for some reason, but the Shion Uzuki is one of the most annoying main characters I have had the misfortune of playing in a game. All she does is blame other people for everything going wrong and her VA is terrible. I already had trouble keeping a straight face through most of Also Sprach Zarathustra then she had to go and just put me in a bad mood.

    And Steve, Uncharted 3 did almost manage to characterize Nathan Drake. Almost.

  • Aurora Boreanaz

    Damn, Kratos is already taken. I’ll second his pick though…he’s definitely my least favorite player character of the last ten years.

    Honorable Mention would probably go to your character in Diablo. I really frigging hated the storyline there…I spend all of this time hunting down the king’s son who freaked out after stabbing himself in the forehead with a dark gem and becoming the manifestation of a demon prince. So what do I do after finally defeating him? Stab MYSELF in the face with it? SCREW THAT.

    So in Diablo II you’re hunting down your character from Diablo, who has (surprise surprise) not been able to control the gem and turned into Diablo again.

    • flowsthead

      No, that character was awesome because he stayed a while and listened.

      • djsubversive

        Hullo, my friend!

      • Halloween_Jack

        Not mine! “FFS, grandpa, I saved you from a fucking gibbet, identify my shit so that I can go back to killing giant maggots, already. Ain’t got time for your guilt trip.”

    • CrabNaga

      I thought there were multiple endings to Diablo, with the one you described being canon. The ending you got depended purely on the character you chose, with one of the character’s just destroying the soulstone instead of trying to contain it. I could just be talking gibberish, though.

      • http://yourindolentfriend.blogspot.com/ HarbingerOfDuh

        Nope, every character chooses to make with the soulstone stabby-stabby at the end. The only difference between the three endings is that they reskin that shot of your character screaming to match whatever class you chose.

    • Labrat85

      Was the lore not that the player character was corrupted by Diablo during his descent through all those levels. The king’s son was a weakling, but anybody who was able to fight their way down to Diablo would be a worthy host.

      I find the ending delightfully bleak.

    • indy2003

      Indeed, Kratos is the worst. For me, his most obnoxious point comes at the beginning of God of War II, as he slaughters everyone in the opening level and shouts “I AM THE GOD OF WAR!” over and over again. We know, Kratos. We know.

  • Marquis Moon

    Fantastic that downvoting has arrived! Because I Do Not Give A Single Fuck about Tommy Vercetti, and I really don’t get why anyone does.

    I couldn’t finish Vice City, that’s how completely uninvested I was in the guy. Even though the map was fun and the music was enjoyable, I just couldn’t bring myself to care about anything that was happening. A cardboard character played by an uninterested actor is not someone I can spend that many hours with if I want to feel like I’m not wasting my time.

    Niko’s inconsistent, for sure, but at least I could kind of detach myself from it by compartmentalizing Gameplay Niko and Cutscene Niko in my head. Hell, I cared more about Huang Lee, and he was just pictures and written text.

    • impromptuJ

      I don’t see why the GTA duality ever bothered people. I liked to assume that, since all of my rampages ended with me exploding or being shot dead by police, they were merely alternate realities that never actually happened. (That means you ignore the part about always respawning in front of hospitals, but that never made sense to me either–how can a world as immoral and lawless as the GTA universe contain such top-notch medical care?)

      • Henke

        Actually, all the GTAs are set in an alternate reality where Obamacare has been in effect for decades already, meaning that people’s hard-earned taxdollars are going towards healing and putting murderous lunatics back on the street.

        • R McM

          At $5000 a pop i don’t think Obamacare is in effect.

          • Carlton_Hungus

            Yeah but:

            $5000 GTA$ = about $3.50 US Dollars

          • stepped_pyramids

            Sure, it’s a Bronze plan.

          • JamesJournal

            5 grand to cure death?That is healthcare reform I can deal live with

      • CrabNaga

        What’s cool about that is if you want to, you can believe that every person you kill is also immediately teleported to the hospital as well and is resurrected, meaning that those rampages you went on really only just cost those people about 6 hours of their time and a thousand bucks.

    • http://disqus.com/Dikachu Dikachu

      I never really was bothered by the bland, underdeveloped characters in the GTA games… though I would imagine trying to go back and play them after GTA V‘s awesome characters would be torture.

    • JamesJournal

      Compartmentalizing gameplay/cutscene characters is important in almost all games

  • The_Helmaroc_King

    I can’t think of many protagonists I outright hate, especially in video games, but it seems like a lot of big name titles just try too hard to make me care about their characters.

    Alan Wake: I know you’re a writer, you can stop narrating!

    Isaac Clarke: I don’t care about your girlfriend issues, there are space zombies about!

    Chris Redfield: Enough about your dead squad!

    Jake “Wesker Jr.” Muller: No one cares about your daddy issues!

    I’m also tempted to bring up New Kirk, given the licensed game, but I’d just be abusing a loophole to complain about the movies. Maybe he isn’t a cocky hotshot in the game, but I doubt it.

    • NakedSnake

      I agree with this up to a point. I didn’t check out Resident Evil 6, but overacting and pointlessly “raising the stakes” through weak emotional contrivances is pretty much a staple of the series. I get all nostalgic when the plot veers towards the ridiculous. Same thing with Metal Gear Solid, although the risk of boredom is greater in that particular series.

    • Marquis Moon

      Alan Wake. :(

      I waited years for that game. But I cannot get past arriving at the cabin without becoming intensely bored. Big Red Meh.

    • PaganPoet

      Ummmm, Chris Redfield is good looking, so I’m gonna go ahead and need you to edit that part of your post. kthxbye

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        Look, Chris can punch all the boulders he wants and I’d be cool with that, but he could stand to lay off the melodrama, you know?

        Also, bonus boulder punching, because relevant.

        • PaganPoet

          So, you WOULDN’T punch boulders if you had biceps like that??

          • The_Helmaroc_King

            If I had biceps like that, I’d more likely be making bad puns about 24-inch pythons and gun shows.

            … which might go a long way to explaining why I don’t.

        • Chum Joely

          Man, he punched the shit out of that one boulder. (high five)

        • a_scintillating_comment

          Wow! what a display of pure masculinity! Vote that man for President!

    • Bipolar_Bearman

      [Character]: I don’t care about your motivation and or backstory!

      • Jackbert

        [Poorly-Written Character]: I don’t care about your poorly-written motivation and/or poorly-written backstory!

    • Chum Joely

      ALAN WAKE. Oh GOD. Forgot about him. Aside from the narration thing, he is such an incredibly terrible writer from the little snippets we see throughout the game.

      Early in the game, there was a story fragment that you find somewhere around the gas station where someone is killed in the wintertime, and as they bleed to death, they notice their blood mixing with the snow in a “gruesome slushie”. You could hear that even the voice actor was struggling to make that not sound utterly ridiculous.

      Then the next line is about how the blood drips down to the gutter and “mingles with the bile of the city, becoming one with it.” I think I quit the game about a day after that. The spell was broken.

      • JamesJournal

        I always took it that Alan Wake was supposed to be a popular writer in the Lee Charles/Dan Brown/James Patterson sense.

        So those pages worked fine on THAT level

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      Yeah, the introduction of Isaac Clarke as reluctant hero wasn’t really my bag either. Just stomp the crates bro we have guns to build!

  • dmikester

    Well, I’m adding to @Fluka:disqus’s super-serious white men here, but Cole Phelps from LA Noire got on my nerves pretty quickly, and when he turned out to be an unfaithful husband, let’s just say I was really glad to switch to another character near the end. One thing I have to hand to that game is that, even though it wasn’t gracefully done, at least it acknowledged how awful (and pretty sociopathic) Phelps was in a lot of ways, and did not let him get away with it.

    • Fluka

      Exemption for being blond! Also for being Ken Cosgrove! From Accounts!

      • Marquis Moon

        It’s! His! Job!

    • impromptuJ

      So why DIDN’T they allow us to play as the more interesting character–his name was Kelso, I believe?–from the beginning? Not only was he more more morally upright and less self-important than Cole, he was also a P.I., and thus unbeholden to any superiors. (You know, the kind of hardass superiors who credit you for a perfect interrogation but limit you to three stars for running into too many lampposts on the way to the crime scene.)

      Whoever made that game saw L.A. Confidential too many times, and decided to take Guy Pearce’s character and strip away everything likable about him before giving him the lead.

    • ThePrederick

      Yeah, that’s actually a bit of what I enjoyed about L.A. Noire. Cole was, from the word go, a self-righteous, moralizing asshole, and the game made it clear that he was NOT a “good person” in a way I don’t think any other R* game has really come close to.

      I disliked Cole, but I found him and the stories engaging, which is the key for me. I don’t need to want to be friends with the protagonist, all I need is for my interest in him/her to be greater than my distaste for them.

    • JamesJournal

      Phelps was a sociopath? He’s the on honest guy in a sea of corruption. He dies working to stop a giant conspiracy that threatened the whole city

  • The Guilty Party

    For the most part, if I strongly dislike the lead, I’m not going to play/finish the game. Characters are important to me. But looking through my Steam list, the one I like the least has to be Geralt from the witcher games. While I wouldn’t call him terrible, and I appreciate that he’s a hero that looks old(ish) as opposed to generic white male, he just … meh. I never liked playing as him nor could I sympathize with him as a character.

    • Fluka

      Be nice to Geralt. He’s been struggling with his identity as a never-nude for years. Despite living in an era before the invention of jean cut-offs, he’s persevered and even managed to have a healthy sex life!

  • Aleksander Samuel

    Maybe I’m making excuses for Nathan Drake because I think he can be kind of cute, but I never read his bravado as anything other than an act he put on to reassure his comrades that everything was going to be alright. His silly sense of humor is too ‘Xander’ to register as Rambo on my radar.

    • ThePrederick

      That’s how I had a friend describe him to me. The snark is similar to Spider-Man’s, to screw with his opponents and to mask his own insecurities and fears.

    • Drinking_with_Skeletons

      I agree with you that Nathan Drake is cute, but I find him to be too stupid to be fully likeable. I think the big moment is when Sully uses the word “frivolity” in the second game and Nate doesn’t know what that means. He can read archaic dialects of other languages, but he doesn’t know an uncommon but not outdated English word?

      And don’t get me started on his fixation with Chloe. Maybe it’s because, since I’m not straight, I wasn’t distracted by her looks, but I found her entire character to be easily summarized with the word “treacherous.” I seriously just wanted to punch Drake in the face and say, “SHE’S BETRAYED YOU BEFORE AND WILL DO SO AGAIN. QUIT TRYING TO SAVE HER, YOU MORON.”

      Now, a game about Sully, a foul-mouthed, gambling, kinda pervy old man? HELL YES. Or the blonde (Elana?), an adventurous, believably competent woman who isn’t absurdly sexualized to pander to teenaged straight boys? Yeah, that would work, too! So it’s not like the writers are terrible, they’ve just focused on the least likeable character they’ve written.

      • Kevin Johnson

        It seemed like they dumbed Nathan down in future games. It was surprising to me that he had more and more trouble translating foreign languages (someone like Nathan should have a more passing understanding of the countries he visited), and I was surprised he got lost in the desert – it seemed like he’d be able to track the stars, or something.

      • stepped_pyramids

        Elena even comments with surprise on him reading 16th-century Spanish fluently in the first game.

      • JamesJournal

        I never saw it that way. Chloe was duplicitous but also passionately and irrationally loyal to Drake, and you know stated to be a double agent anyway

        • Drinking_with_Skeletons

          All I know is that she wouldn’t have to double-backstab everyone if Nate had just said “Fuck it, she’s trouble.”

    • Kevin Johnson

      I played all Unchated games and I hardly remember many times Nathan espoused a sense of bravado. “Just give me a big gun, and we’ll be fine.”? When did he ever say (paraphrased or otherwise) a line like this?

      • Crusty Old Dean

        Now that you mention it, he doesn’t really. I mean I agree that Nathan Drake is pretty much history’s greatest monster, but not really in the way this article
        describes. He makes sarcastic quips in situations of great danger, but like @aleksandersamuel:disqus says that seems more like a defense mechanism.

      • Thats_Unpossible

        I always sort of liked his progression from each game. In the early levels, he’s confident and cocky, laughing about easy kills, tossing grenades back with a “right back at ya” and making lots of jokes over the radio but as the games reach a climax he changes.

        I think one of the best examples is the Tibet section of Uncharted 2. After going through the Yeti monastery and returning to the village under attack, he’s clearly frightened. Going up against the tank, he whispers a lot of “shit, shit, shit” and “come on” and seems to be genuinely nervous.

        After killing your way through so many people earlier in each game, seeing Nathan’s facade of bravado and sarcasm slip as things heat up is always able to get me ready for the harder moments which follow.

      • stepped_pyramids

        Drake is constantly getting the crap beaten out of him, and he frequently expresses disbelief or fear at obstacles he’s encountering. In the original Uncharted, he berates himself for putting Elena in danger and is almost about to leave the island until he finds out Sully is alive. If anything, I’d say he is pretty unusually reluctant and fearful (and sometimes panicky) for an action game hero.

        Sure, he’s physically superb, can do stunts nobody in real life could possibly do, etc. That’s part of the genre, but I think they actually write against that most of the time.

        I don’t recognize “just give me a big gun, and we’ll be fine” either literally or as the kind of thing Drake would say. There’s obvious issues with the plotting and characterization in Uncharted, but this isn’t one of them.

      • indy2003

        The games also tend to undercut Drake’s confidence by having every other ledge/pipe/ladder he grabs fall apart while he’s moving from point A to point B. I’ve always found his relentless positivity rather charming considering that the Uncharted universe seems to lean pretty heavily on Murphy’s Law.

  • PaganPoet

    For me, it has to be Tidus from Final Fantasy X.

    I know that the Final Fantasy series, at least from VII onward, had a bad reputation of having unlikable lead characters. But, for most of them, I can make excuses.

    Cloud may be a crazy asshole, but he has an excuse for being so. He was a young man, looking for action and adventure, injected by experimental substances by a less-than-reputable corporation.

    Squall may be an over-thinking, unfriendly jerk, but at least through the course of the game, he learns to care more about other people and goes to great lengths to

    Vaan may be stupid looking and bland, but at least he’s a heroic and brave individual willing to follow his friends to the end of the earth to help them.

    Lightning may be aloof and uncaring, but it’s really just a front that she had to put on to protect herself and her little sister. She’s also kind of a bad ass.

    Tidus? I hate him. His design SUCKS. His voice SUCKS. His personality SUCKS. His story SUCKS. He is easily the worst part of Final Fantasy X to me (although, I admit, much of why I like Wakka is because he wears a skimpy outfit and has a nice body).

    • Larry C

      I thought Wakka was alright. He was sort of a pleasant Falstaffian type character who was a total bro. Also, he had the best weapon in the entire game. Encounters ended in one turn with the simple bounce of a blitzball. Once you got that ultimate weapon, it was game over.

      Rikku though… god was she annoying. Fortunately, Selphie exists to win the crown as Final Fantasy’s Most Annoying Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

      • PaganPoet

        Heh, I was explaining the Manic Pixie Dream Girl FF trope to someone else, the other day. They only got more insufferable as the series went one:

        Krile – Relm – Yuffie – Selphie – Eiko – Rikku – Prishe – Penelo – Penelo

        Arguably, Rydia fits the character in FFIV, but in my opinion, her story is too sad and her personality is too calm.

        • Nudeviking

          Yeah Rydia is not really a Manic Pixie Dream FF Girl at all. She’s depressed little kid, and then badass dominatrix lady. Nothing about her is overly cute or adorable. Either Palom and Porom is probably the closest that game has to a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

        • The_Horse_Chestnut

          To be fair, Penelo isn’t too bad. She isn’t particularly useful, except when she shares scenes with Larsa, but I don’t think falls within the same trajectory as the other characters.

        • CrabNaga

          I’d replace Krile with Lenna (or whatever her name was), the pink-haired girl who had a weird obsession with wind drakes.

          • PaganPoet

            I think Krile fits the “pure-hearted love interest/white mage” role better a la Maria, Rosa, Aerith, Rinoa, etc.

          • CrabNaga

            Someone pointed it out to me a while back that people tend to mix up Tifa and Aeris’ characterizations in FF7 once they’ve finished playing. Aeris is the flirty, mischievous, and outgoing one, while Tifa is the reserved, caring, and romantic one. I also had them mixed up until they pointed this out.

          • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

            I wrote something like that not long ago, could it have been me? Could this be the validation I’ve been looking for!?

        • Drinking_with_Skeletons

          The only good thing about Selphie is that it’s genuinely funny that she’s the one who ends up piloting that crazy ass dragon spaceship. It wasn’t funny enough to justify her, though.

          Eiko gets a pass because she’s a child and the other characters generally don’t accept her bullshit as acceptable behavior and correct it (love Steiner throwing her ass out of the castle).

          Rikku never bothered me much, but I loved the fact that FFX’s cutscenes featured characters who were much more Asian-looking than the in-game models, and Rikku in particular looked completely different. It was like a cheap stunt double!

          Penelo gets a pass because she does next to nothing. She could be replaced with a block of wood and I probably wouldn’t notice.

    • flowsthead

      Judging by Crisis Core, Cloud was a nice guy before all that shit happened to him. And Zidane is super swell.

      • Thomas

        Zidane is the best!

      • Electric Dragon

        Don’t insult his sister though, or he’ll headbutt you in the midriff.

    • rvb1023

      I think you get a one-up solely for cutting Lightning a break. Of XIII’s many problems she isn’t one of them.

      Though Squall is still the worst FF protagonist bar none and I still think he’s the best written character in the game (I really do not like VIII).

    • http://disqus.com/Dikachu Dikachu

      Sorry, but there is no excuse for Squall. The guy was a total toolbag through and through. Of course, it didn’t help that the game itself was just dreadfully terrible.

  • NakedSnake

    I love and hate all video game protagonists equally. They’re all overly gruff but overly emotional hypocritical killers with tortured deep emotions covered up by a veil of psychopathy. And that’s mostly fine; I have no need for deep protagonists in most games. It’s very difficult to create a character arc for a story when the player’s actions at any time can belie the efforts of the writers. So the protagonists kick ass and hilariously overact and I laugh at then and occasionally with them when I’m drunk and paying attention to what they’re saying. Yea, all video game protagonists are pretty much the same… all, except for Master Chief. Seriously, I fucking hate that guy. I mean, my God, who could possibly interested in an all-silent genetically engineered clone or whatever he is who never takes off his helmet? I could not imagine playing as a character with less personality if I tried. Oh yea, and his best friend/girlfriend is some kind of AI or something. Maybe I should be happy that he breaks the mold or whatever. Or maybe he’s some kind of satire or comment on video game protagonists. All I know is that he is so uninteresting that it literally makes me angry and I don’t even know why. He seems insultingly bland.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      While bland as a bag of saltless saltines, Master Chief does drop the occasional one liner though he sounds like he is voiced by a data tech at your local IT department so they never really carry any weight. And they did come dangerously close to giving him some emotion in Halo 4 before wandering off into “chose one territory.” When the obviously bad general tells him to give up Cortana you can actually sense tension, from a guy who looks like an oversized action figure. Which is sort of impressive.

    • George_Liquor

      Master Chief is the Doom Guy in pretty much every respect.

  • impromptuJ

    Actually, I don’t feel like I got to play as Desmond enough to dislike him. By far and away, my least favorite protagonist in the entire Assassin’s Creed series has got to be Connor. Where Ezio was quippy and suave, Connor was humorless and priggish, given to sullen outbursts at his friends and allies; his allegiances seemed to turn on a dime, especially when his far more interesting Templar father was involved. I remember his face seemed permanently twisted into a scowl, and he always seemed to give the most literal of answers to any question asked of him. Maybe Ubisoft was going for “complex,” but I just found him as dull as dishwater.

    This wasn’t only thing I disliked about AC3 (a massively flawed sequel if there ever was one), but there’s gotta be some sort of unwritten rule of Video Games–no matter how many foes your main character is facing, he has to seem like he’s enjoying himself just a little bit.

    • Morning_Wodehouse

      I think your thoughts on Connor are spot on. I keep starting and quitting AC3 because playing as Connor and the wacky controls suck all the fun out of the game.

      One thing that really bugs me about Desmond is how his character has gotten progressively weirder looking over the series. His hairline keeps shifting, his nose has ballooned out to ridiculous proportions and his shrunken cheeks make him look like a cross between a cancer survivor or a holocaust victim.

    • PhonyPope

      Nothing’s more fun than dicking around for 30 minutes at the beginning of AC2B, playing Electrician’s Creed with Desmond.

  • A. G.

    Squall Leonheart.

    • Nudeviking

      This. I don’t even know what the fuck he was mopey about. Tidus is really annoying, but there was at least a reason for him to be sad or whatever because his Dad turned into a giant Godzilla monster that was going to eat the world or something. And Cloud was like the kid who got picked last in gym class or whatever. So again the brooding makes sense. To my memory, there’s never a clear reason why Squall is all pissed.

      • A. G.

        Yeah.

        You what FF game had a really admirable main character? Ramza from FFT. He did a lot of really noble shit. Why couldn’t there by more Ramzas?

        • Nudeviking

          Yet another reason why Tactics is the best Final Fantasy game ever.

        • flowsthead

          Although I agree, Ramza is really only awesome because Delita exists. Without Delita, Ramza is just a self-righteous who thinks he’s doing good and is totally oblivious about the plight of those less fortunate.

          • A. G.

            Yeah, good point. Without Delita Ramza is basically Gwyneth Paltrow.

      • flowsthead

        I assume Squall is pissed because the game starts with that guy cutting his face and giving him a huge scar. Plus, that scene where he can’t dance. He’s embarrassed for being ugly now, or whatever.

      • Newton Gimmick

        Squall was pretty traumatized when his surrogate “Big Sis” left the orphanage, so he never formed close relationships growing up, and spent way too much time in his own head.

        For the most part, Squall’s introspective nature is played for laughs rather than drama.

        • Crusty Old Dean

          Yeah I’m not sure if the commenters above are joking, but this was very explicit. “If I never get close to anyone, I won’t get hurt again” and so on.

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons

            I’d be more sympathetic to Squall if the rest of the game wasn’t wall-to-wall stupid.

            And there are much more likeable characters throughout the title. Zell (was that his name? the blonde with the tribal tat on his face) was far more likeable as the game went on than I initially expected to be. And I will never stop wishing that the game had just been about Laguna and his buddies on wacky, bumbling adventures.

          • Colonel Mustard

            I liked FFVIII a lot more than others, but yeah, when Edea is your most fascinating character, you’ve got issues.

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons

            You’ve just made me realize that the villain of FFVIII is basically just Lady Gaga.

    • snazzlenuts

      Just seeing Squall’s name made me utter “Ugh!” outloud.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      I played that game when I was 13 so a sullen, mopey dude with a lot of great thigns going for him but he’s just too… sad… really hit home for me as a mopey teen.

  • Labrat85

    Since you follow the separate stories of most of the characters in FF12…Most of the characters in FF12, that annoying kid, the guy with a bird living in his hair, the fact that i am stuck on rails following the story of these people i do not care about

    That game was weird altogether though, very few other games put you in what feels like a 20 hour tutorial, for what ends up being a very simple combat system that you have limited influence over

    • flowsthead

      That’s FF13. 12 had Balthier with his ship, and the miniskirt princess Ashe. 13 was on rails and had Lightning. They both have annoying kids arguably, although I liked Vaan or at least found him tolerable, while I absolutely hated Hope. Fuck that kid.

      • Marozeph

        I didn’t mind Vaan or Penelo. Both mostly existed to observe the other characters who actually drove the plot forward, and the game was nice enough to not force some romantic subplot on them. Hope on the other hand…well, it’s probably not a good thing when the only aspect of a character i remember is “he was relly whiny for some reason”.

      • Labrat85

        Right FF13, 12 was actually ok, when it came out i liked that they were trying something new with the combat system, less than thrilled that it evolved into what FF13 uses. If both the combat AND the story is on rails, then the story better be amazing (Tell tales walking dead for example)

        13 did a terrible job of making me care about anything in it.

      • JosephLillo

        I stopped referring to Hope as “Noah” about a day before I platinum’d FF13. But at least he wasn’t Vanille, who at times sounded like a porn scene shot while running with new sneakers on a basketball court.

  • SaintStryfe

    Thrall, the Orc hero of the “Warcraft” series is a particularly frustrating character. When we first see him (and if you didn’t read a novel, he just was an important Orc chief), a guy who turns into a bird convinces him to lead his people to choose to go across an ocean to fight a giant demon. They win, but he chooses to settle them in a harsh desert because “His people could take it.”. He promptly does nothing for 6 years. Then when he needs to leave for unclear reasons (supposedly to heal the elements or something, and to get some awesome monk robes and some Orcish arm candy), he leaves the son of his former friend/demon blood drinker Grom, the vile Garrosh Hellscream in charge of the Horde. Because he’s who his people want. He promptly goes all George W. Bush on the place, leading the players and the rest of the Horde turn on him and his “True Horde”, leading to the Siege of Orgrimmar we’re currently fighting in. The end of “Mists of Pandaria” is not happening in Pandaria. Fark you Garrosh, and fark you Thrall for putting Garrosh in charge.

    • Labrat85

      “Mists of Pandaria” is strangely political from the start really. Made it really hard for me to see either of the known factions in a positive light.

      Our 2 factions discover a new continent, populated with all manner of people. They promptly bully or coerce natives into their petty war, boss innocent pandas around, and unleash ancient evils with their asshole behavior.

      • DrFlimFlam

        Pretty awful, isn’t it? You’re a bad guy on both sides.

      • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

        Pretty sure that was the intent.

        • Labrat85

          I got that, but without a 3rd faction to choose from i did not care for it. Can’t lay it all at Garrosh’s feet either, both factions are marred going forward by it.

          • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

            Oh, I know how that goes. Never played WoW myself, but have spent enough hours in other MMOs to understand the design principles behind them. Even the games that have a “neutral” faction end up having to support one side or the other, or otherwise engage in what amounts to the same behaviors, and that’s assuming that the designers even give the “neutral” faction its own content, which is not normally the case.

    • CrabNaga

      At least WoW characters aren’t getting corrupted left and right. However, Chris Metzen pulled the ultimate character corruption by corrupting the ENTIRE WORLD in Cataclysm.

      • SaintStryfe

        Ok, let’s go down the list and for brevity’s sake I’ll just do the corrupted peoples who went on to be Raid Bosses and I’ll just do TBC and Wrath – Illidian, Kael’thas, Kalecgos, Archimonde, Madrigosa (Felmyst), M’uru, Maylgos, Sir Zeliek, All Four Titan Keepers from Ulduar, Blood Queen Lan’athal, Arthas himself… Ok that’s two of four expansions.

  • Derek_Noakes

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned Raiden from MGS2 yet. That has to be the most widely maligned game protagonist of all time. When it initially came out, I hadn’t seen any of the marketing leading up to it. I was mostly just excited about the gameplay enhancements and wasn’t all that bothered by who the main character was.

    Having said that, I’m not sure that I can buy in to MGS5 without Hayter as Snake. I’m torn.

    • ThePrederick

      I don’t think I completely turned on Raiden until they said he was a child soldier in the Liberian Civil War.

      Even for the absurdly ridiculous world of Metal Gear, that was just too silly.

      • Bipolar_Bearman

        A series full of psychics, ghosts, vampires, cyborgs, clones, super-soldiers, bi-pedal tanks, nano-machines, genius-genetically-enhanced seven-year-olds, and glowing mushrooms which when eaten somehow recharge your batteries are okay, but child soldiers… That’s where we’ll draw the line?

    • Crusty Old Dean

      I like Raiden! Though I hated his annoying girlfriend (who may or may not have been real, I don’t remember) who wanted to talk about feeeeelings all the time. Women, amirite?

      • stepped_pyramids

        “Your room was empty, Raiden! Just like your soul!”

      • Derek_Noakes

        In retrospect, his being the main character didn’t impact the game in a negative way. And there was still plenty of great Snake moments (although who were they kidding with that Plisskin business? I think we all knew who it was when we heard Hayder’s voice, even back then).

        I do think that Kyle makes a great point below, though. He didn’t earn the badassery he got in MGS4.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      What really made it painful was in MGS4 when they tried to turn Raiden into some super human Grey Fox wannabe badass and all I could think watching him chop up dudes like Sushi was “I’ve seen this dude do cartwheels naked while cupping his junk.”

      Also, no Hayter no purchase for me.

  • HomageToCatatonia

    Ugh, from the first opening montage I knew I wasn’t going to like the protagonist of Far Cry 3. On the plus side, the silly story and horrible PC meant that I didn’t feel bad about just messing around and having fun driving around and leaving off finishing the story.

  • craigward

    TRAVIS TOUCHDOWN has the greatest name, but I couldn’t stand the cutscenes from either No More Heroes games.

    • stepped_pyramids

      You’re definitely not meant to like Travis, though. (I know Suda51 has occasionally claimed that Travis is a sympathetic character, but his interviews are always contradictory and weird.)

  • Switters

    For me the first was to come to mind was Tommy, the “hero” from Prey. While I generally liked the game, and Art Bell’s radio spots during the story were some of the best parts of it – I just wanted to slap Tommy around. Yes I know his life sucked, his girlfriend hated him, his grandfather was put through the juicer, and his dog was cited for B.O. by the town health inspector – but c’mon man. Cheer up.

  • Mike Mariano

    I feel petty for saying it, but I was constantly annoyed by male Shepard in Mass Effect.

    He and female Shepard had the same dialogue, but Jennifer Hale delivered all her lines with a Harrison Ford-esque world-weariness. Male Shepard was whiny and petty in comparison.

    Story-wise, Shepard probably should be petty. But if I’m in space, I wanna be Han Solo!

    • DrFlimFlam

      While Jennifer Hale does a FANTASTIC job, I think her good work undersells Mark Meer’s performance, which is consistently good throughout. Honestly, while Hale’s is super badass, I felt like Meer’s job was a little tougher, since it’s so easy to be SPACE MAN OF TOUGHNESS, and he doesn’t go there.

      • Newton Gimmick

        Meer’s voice work doesn’t deserve the Arthur Gameological treatment or anything, but I still consider him the weakest link in the main cast. He’s not just overshadowed by Jennifer Hale, but by every other major character as well.

        • ocelotfox

          I dunno, I didn’t exactly find the performance of the VA’s for Javik, Kaidan, Ashley, Kasumi, or Jacob added a whole lot to those characters. There’s several standout performances – Mordin, Garrus, Tali, EDI, James (still shocked about that, well done Freddy Prinze, Jr.), Wrex, Zaaed – but I’d Meer’s MaleShep is far from the weakest link.

          • PaganPoet

            I will say, though, I did like Javik’s African accent. <3

          • Halloween_Jack

            I thought that the VA really got the mixture of dignity, fury, and disgust with the galactic society of the current Reaper cycle that Javik felt.

          • Arex

            I tend to like Hale better, but Meer’s performance improves significantly over the course of the three games.

            (And I had no idea of his vocal range till I learned he played all the vorcha, not to mention Jethann in Dragon Age 2.)

          • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

            I like the guy that does Kaiden’s voice, but I hated the writing for that character. I either get him killed in ME1, or say the things I know will cause him to hate me in ME2. Yes, I am a bastard like that… though, Ashley being all Christian on me also gets her blown up fairly often.

      • Kyle O’Reilly

        But he’s just so bland. He doesn’t seem like a captain trying to save the universe, he seems like an android trying to masquerade as a captain trying to save the universe. That’s what they get for hiring a Canadian though…

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          Jennifer Hale is also Canadian.

          • Kyle O’Reilly

            World view, shattered.

          • Arex

            Technically true, but only just: “Hale was born in Canada to parents from Birmingham, Alabama. She grew up in the United States, attending the Alabama School of Fine Arts and then Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham.”

            (Having attended a school that makes sure to put every Nobelist who attended, taught, or parked their car too long on campus on a t-shirt, I can relate. But Hale’s a Canadian the way that I’m a Brooklynite.)

          • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

            Technically true is the best kind of true!

    • Sa3ad

      I actually wanted Mass Effect to be more like Star Trek: TNG, which is sort of odd, because I don’t really like Star Trek. And don’t misinterpret this to mean that I wanted Shepard to be a balding Frenchman played by an English thespian, although that would’ve been pretty awesome. No, what I mean by that is while I enjoyed the missions that had me acting diplomatic and cunning to avoid unnecessary bloodshed were enthralling, I found that being force-fed dull shooter segments with little to no proper justification or alternative quickly wore thin. It should be noted however that I pretty much only played the second game, jumping in in media res. Pretending to know what on Earth was going on around me was actually a rather exhilarating role-playing experience.

      Am I the only one who wishes to see a RPG where combat is not the primary means of conflict resolution?

      • Sa3ad

        The flip-side of this is of course that enjoy Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, which consist of almost nothing but combat.

      • Labrat85

        Those are rare, but i think Planescape Torment fits the bill, can talk your way out of almost everything there. But Zero combat would basically change the genre to Adventure right?

        • Sa3ad

          I’ve heard a lot of positive things about that game, but I’ve been a bit hesitant to try it as I find most Black Isle games to be rather inaccessible. Fallout in particular had me running into a wall almost immediately. It’s fairly affordable on GOG though, so I’ll probably give it a go.

          As for the genre: I suppose that depends upon one’s definition of a role-playing game. Some adventure games could conceivably be considered role-playing games as well, and vice versa.

          I’d like to clarify that I would like violence to remain as a, at least in some cases, viable option to achieve your goals, but not as the only option or necessarily the most sensible option. I’m not a proper pacifist by any means, but even though I acknowledge that violence is sometimes necessary, especially during dire circumstances, I think the way it’s currently being handled in RPGs is simplistic and primitive. Which is true of other genres as well, but I think role-playing games have a greater potential to change and present alternatives to the crude route of ‘kill all monsters/ideological extremists/aliens/wildlife/whatever.’

          EDIT: Fallout was not from Black Isle. I’m an idiot.

          • Labrat85

            Well i heartily recommend planescape, the combat is the same as Baldurs Gate and honestly not very interesting, but the game world feels “alive”, it is just crammed with interesting characters. And the setting itself fantastic, you visit hell, fight or work with a hive mind of rats, mingle with a society of philosophical undead etc. You can just kill everything you find, if you are so inclined but there is not a significant fight in the game that can not be talked around (far as i recall).

            Just dropping the genre thing for now, do not think i can lead it anywhere “productive”

      • Newton Gimmick

        That was one of the best things about the Star Control sequels. You can avoid most space battles through negotiation and subterfuge.

      • Professor_Cuntburglar

        I also started with 2, and I just imagined that Shephard had no memory of the previous game due to being dead and all. So he was just pretending most of the time.

      • drygear

        I love all three games but they definitely went in a different direction than I’d hoped. I remember when I finished the first one I was hearing about what the second one would be like, and I thought it would involve more espionage and investigation with Shepard going deep undercover into Cerberus. Cut off from her friends, surrounded by threats, having to rely on her wits.
        I liked the second one for what it was, but I was still kind of disappointed.

  • Sa3ad

    Sonic the bloody Hedgehog. They should’ve buried that smug abomination in the nineties where he belongs. Not only has the character aged terribly, they actually decided to make him even more obnoxious in recent iterations. When I saw the trailer for that new Sonic game which is coming out soon (this month?) I thought to myself: “Hey, that looks really creative and fun!” But then his conceited countenance showed up to remind me just how much Ioathe the character and everything about him.

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      Sonic is a bit of a douche, but his actions kind of justify his demeanor. Rayman, on the other hand, is the king of people who are no better than anyone else, but whose exaggerated self-confidence tricks others into thinking they’re the star of the show. Don’t front, Rayman, I’ve seen you slack off JUST LIKE GLOBOX.

      Every time you wanted a job or promotion and got passed over in favor of some undeserving jerk, that was Rayman. Wearing a mask.

      • Sa3ad

        I should’ve known! He had no limbs after all.

    • Marozeph

      I never owned a Sega system and never played any Sonic games, so i was always just vaguely aware of his decline. Pretty much my only contact to the series was watching a Let’s Play of Sonic ’06, which looked like the worst thing ever. The creators apparently thought so too, considering that the game basically retcons itself in the end.

  • DrFlimFlam

    If his name is “Cole”, he’s probably a brooding white male that makes me hate games.

    Or a black stereotype who at least has his own song.

    • Drinking_with_Skeletons

      What about Cole from InFamous? He’s a little brooding, but the games call him out on it and force him to deal with problems with no good answer. While I prefer the Heroic ending of InFamous2, the Infamous ending is something of a punch to the gut.

  • Raging Bear

    Is Starkiller going as Raziel for Halloween?

  • JokersNuts

    What about Trevor from the recent GTAV? There was a mission where you are forced to torture a guy by electrocuting him and pulling his teeth out, it made me sick and not want to play. Also the guy is introduced killing a dude after having sex with his girlfriend. I hate this character.

    • stakkalee

      I don’t know, for all his many faults Trevor has a certain je ne sais quoi about him. He’s so over-the-top I can’t help but giggle uncontrollably when he’s on the screen (that might partly be because I gave him a huge bushy beard.) He’d fit in perfectly in a Looney Tunes cartoon, forever chasing the roadrunner. I mean, yeah, the torture scene was a big pile of shit, but I blame Rockstar for that.

      • Me, motherfuckers

        Trevor just does everything everybody who plays the games does and he points out how terrible that makes him.

      • JokersNuts

        He’s a straight up sociopath with no redeeming qualities at all. I really don’t understand why he is so popular. I HATED that torture mission and was two seconds away from turning my PS3 off during that part and never coming back. Characters I hate to play as?This psycho has to be at the top of the list. Practically game-breaking for me.

    • CrabNaga

      No way, Trevor is just the right amount of crazy for a GTA game, and is the best-written character in the game. I do wonder if Rockstar is going to patch GTAV such that you have an option if you want to actively participate in the torture, or just watch it in shock, since a pretty large amount of people have expressed disgust about it. I just liked it because it felt like I was in a Tarantino movie.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      It is weird how while playing the game I can shoot people in the face indiscriminately and think nothing of it but when Trevor does it during a cutscene I feel weird and alienated from him. I was especially put off with how they ended the cousin storyline. So fucking dark for what was so far a pretty goofy character.

    • dingdingdongdingdong

      Trevor is probably the only GTA protagonist whose actions aren’t that different from how the average person plays the game. Part of what made Nico so confusing was that when you were off playing Sandbox Mode on your own and gunning down/running over pedestrians, it was totally out of character. With Trevor it doesn’t even break narrative, really.

    • http://disqus.com/Dikachu Dikachu

      The torture scene was a big turnoff, I agree… they kinda make up for it by having Trevor free the dude and tell him to tell the world about how the US Government tortures people and it doesn’t even get them useful information…………. but, then you think, wait, didn’t they get the information they wanted when they did torture him??

      But other than that, I love Trevor. He’s batshit insane, but still totally focused on what he wants, and oddly sympathetic. I love his voice bits when he does a random encounter and chooses to return the person’s cash or ride. You can sorta play him as chaotic good and it makes him a really complex, interesting character that way, as opposed to Michael who’s kind of a D-bag all around no matter how you play him, or Franklin, who’s mostly a GTA III style blank slate.

      • duwease

        I don’t think they really got any good information. The FIB folks seem to carry along with an attitude of “Whatever, good enough, just shoot SOMEBODY and we’ll call it a win”, and if you listen to the news on the radio after, it’ll say a well-known foreign philanthropist was gunned down, and no one knows why because he had no enemies.

        • http://disqus.com/Dikachu Dikachu

          I played through that mission twice, because the first time they sounded like I didn’t get the right guy… and then the second time, being more careful with the information they gave, the dialog after I shot a guy was a lot more positive. So I think there really is a “right guy”, but it doesn’t actually affect the story.

    • Professor_Cuntburglar

      Yahtzee had a good article about the GTAV characters where he pointed out Trevor’s main issue: he switches between “goofy, cartoonish rogue” (which is fun!) and “murderous, insane psycopath” (which is much less fun) depending on the context.

    • indy2003

      Yeah, I have to admit that I pretty much love Trevor. He might be obnoxious in another setting, but he’s absolutely perfect for the world of GTA V – weird, violent, inappropriate, psychotic, troubling, fun.

  • stakkalee

    Oh god so many. From the AC series – Altair, the short-sighted, overly confident fool; Desmond Miles, the human equivalent of unbuttered toast. Conor, the walking frown. From GTA V – Michael is a pathetic has-been, unable to control his violent temper and unwilling to deal with the consequences of that anger, and Franklin, who seemingly can’t help but let friends take advantage of him. And I know this one will provoke some animosity, but fuck John Marston, that pseudo-intellectual shitkicker who’s content to let larger forces drag him along. AND he doesn’t even have a proper cowboy moustache!

    • duwease

      To be fair to John Marston, that’s just the plight of the protagonist in a quest-based video game. You put out your “OPEN” sign, and you kill or fetch whatever needs killing or fetching for any lunatic with a problem and a penchant for trusting strangers to fix it.

  • MathleticDepartment

    Chuck Greene from Dead Rising 2, mostly because he wasn’t Frank West.

  • CrabNaga

    I disagree vehemently with the mention of Nick from L4D2. His entire character arc (and yes, there are character arcs) is based around being that smarmy out-for-himself type at the beginning, and then learning to love the group he’s in. By the end of the final scenario, there’s nary a hint of selfishness in his dialog.

  • Drinking_with_Skeletons

    Kratos’ problem is complex. The first game asked you to find him tragic, it didn’t demand that you like him. He was a psycho whose bottomless rage caused him to butcher people so indiscriminately he couldn’t even stop for a second to notice his wife and daughter in the mix. Sure, Ares betrayed him, but Kratos wouldn’t have been involved with Ares if he hadn’t also been lusting after power.

    Starting with the second game, however, where the original creator was no longer involved, Kratos just became a psychotic bastard. God of War 3 seemed to be aware of this–Hermes in particular calls him out on his bullshit–but also makes the gods equally terrible, which undercuts the message. And that’s before we get to the finale, which does an about-face and suddenly starts in on a completely unearned “You have to forgive yourself” tack.

  • DrDastardly

    I’m sure someone in the comments has gotten on this already, but I’m a little surprised no one’s mentioning the original sneering sociopath, Duke Nukem.

    • Newton Gimmick

      And his fucking second-hand catch phrases.

      • To Engineer is Human

        Most of the best lines are Roddy Piper’s from ‘They Live’. On the other hand Duke was the first shooter character to have a personality. I never saw him as a sociopath though, more like the Arnold/Willis clone they intended him to be.

    • Halloween_Jack

      I didn’t have that much of a problem with Duke in 3D (confession: I only played the shareware, so I don’t know if he became more obnoxious as the game wore on), because I could see him as the catch-all parody of the 80s action hero that he was meant to be, but DNF took all that and tried to pretend that it was actually admirable.

  • Chum Joely

    Lee Everett from The Walking Dead. What an unbelievable asshole. (cough)

    More seriously: Ryan Smith mentioned Infamous in passing in his entry above, but let me explicitly call out Cole… (runs to Wikipedia) Cole MacGrath from Infamous for his particular brand of irritating unlikeability. That unnecessarily growly voice and dopey badass attitude… and his best friend Zeke was even worse (although at least Zeke supposedly gets more interesting in the sequel). Fortunately, his powers were so incredibly awesome that I was able to make it through the game without whipping a controller through the screen.

    • Steve McCoy

      MacGrath’s voice is totally different in the sequel, too.

      • Drinking_with_Skeletons

        It was better, though, like Sucker Punch realized they went way too far with it the first time around. He also sounds more age appropriate.

    • Drinking_with_Skeletons

      Whoah, I disagree vehemently. Having said that, I think playing Good Cole is much more satisfying, and playing Good Cole creates a great arc of a believably rough and loser-ish character becoming someone who shoulders terrible burdens to do the right thing.

      Evil Cole is a dick, though. The morally ambiguous final decision of InFamous2 doesn’t satisfy as much with Evil Cole since he’s such a through-and-through asshole throughout the rest of the story. He doesn’t really deserve moral ambiguity.

      • Chum Joely

        Is it relevant to mention that I haven’t played the second one yet? Well, the first 30 minutes or so, enough to notice the voice change that @disqus_u6x2eX3OiB:disqus mentions, but not enough to notice much about the characterization.

        • Drinking_with_Skeletons

          It is relevant, since InFamous2 manages to be both a direct continuation of the first game’s plot and better in just about every regard. You should definitely give it a chance.

          • Chum Joely

            It’s definitely on my backlog. I might even now move it up a couple of notches, but there are still a bunch of long AAA games ahead of it…

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons

            Yeah, my backlog is pretty bad. What do you consider “long,” though? There aren’t that many AAA games these days that go over 10 hours or so.

          • Chum Joely

            Well, I have little kids who don’t like to sleep, so my gaming time is extremely limited. This significantly affects my definition of “long” with respect to games. Also, I tend to take a good 50% longer than the usual playthrough times that are cited in reviews and such. But to give you an idea, I was specifically referring to Mass Effect 2 and 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution (and then of course Infamous 2).

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons

            Gotcha.

  • snazzlenuts

    Nothing gets the comment section hopping more than hate!

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      We can get sort of jazzed for “favorites” too because then we get to hate everyone else’s choices!

  • Sa3ad

    I feel out of touch while reading this. I’ve never played any of the games in the Uncharted, Left 4 Dead, Star Wars Whatever, God of War* and amazingly enough Street Fighter series. I played the original Assasin’s Creed and remember hating the Dan Brown-esque story so much that I never bothered to picked up another, and I also recall playing the original Max Payne, which I remember mostly for the slow motion and that creepy dream/drug trip level, but that’s about it. I’ve never seen that obscure show called Breaking Bad either. I’m guessing it’s because I live under this rock. I probably should move, but the rent is really good.

    *I keep mixing up God of War with the similarly named Gears of War, another bunch of games I’ve never played.

    • Labrat85

      The Assassins creed sequels vastly improve the gameplay of the first one, the story stays stupid though.

      BB is excellent, your loss.

      • Sa3ad

        I saw a scene from one of the later games in the series that involved a Roman space goddess telling this Native American bloke that the ethnic cleansing of his people wasn’t that big of a deal because he found a shiny magical orb. After seeing that, I was glad to have bowed out of the series when I did.

        Yes, the collective internet keeps telling me that I should watch that show, thank you very much.

        • Labrat85

          Well meow, AC has a stupid story and i would be happy to see them drop the sci-fi angle completely, as i thought i made clear in the previous comment. The actual gameplay is quite fun

          • Sa3ad

            I understood as much, and didn’t mean to imply that you were defending the story or writing. I apologise if I failed to make that clear. But my primary gripe about the first game was never the mechanics (which I enjoyed for the most part), making the improvements to the formula in later games rather irrelevant for me personally.

    • DrFlimFlam

      I’ve played L4D, where the characters aren’t really anything, but no Uncharted, Star Wars Force Unleashed, or God of War, and I don’t intend to change that any time soon. Part of that is just gameplay preference, and part of it is I don’t need roided out man-angers to play as.

    • Sa3ad

      Downvoting! Just what this website needed. Things were going along far too chummily until now.

  • Destroy Him My Robots

    SADWICK FROM *pant* THE WHISPERED WORLD *pant* *pant*

    *is super happy about beating Girard to the punch*
    *realizes Girard didn’t think of it as a race and feels embarrassed*

    So mopey, so self-obsessed, so unlovable. Writes “profound” “poetry” and everything. He’s like a bad gimmick poster, except you’re supposed to empathize with him because… you know what, play it yourselves. There’s no way I can do justice to the assness of that game’s ending.

  • KingGunblader

    I am so glad someone said Nathan Drake. I’ve only played the first Uncharted, and I don’t think I could handle another second with that impossibly handsome, supremely dickish twat.

    Granted, as someone below me already pointed out, Drake is just one in a sea of many whitebread douchebags, and I really wish developers would just schtap with them.

  • Wishsong214

    I gave up on No More Heroes 2, because not only was the gameplay pretty bland but Travis Touchdown was just too…eh…. Too much of a selfish jerk, which especially becomes problematic when the plot is supposed to actually be a revenge story. I get that some of him was supposed to be satire, but it came across less your-best-friend’s-witty-sarcasm and more that-guy-at-work-whose-snark-makes-you-want-to-punch-them-in-the-face-sarcasm.

  • Kyle O’Reilly

    Most these characters are pretty recent. I guess now that game developers have learned to create characters who finally have personalities they need to learn to create characters with personalities we don’t hate.

    Also, I will join the chorus of those who abandoned Far Cry 3 because Jason Brody is the single worst video game character of all time. Take the boat, get off the island and then hang yourself you walking bottle of Axe Body Spray. The only thing I dislike more is the writer of the game who spent a lengthy lengthy interview over at Rock Paper Shotgun arguing with and insulting fans for not “getting” his game.

  • Pastyjournalist

    Mine would be the hero in the game “Vanquish” – for no other reason that despite the game being extremely fun to play, he has absolutely zero personality traits other the ability to spout every action movie cliche known to humankind.

    • Steve McCoy

      He has the very important character trait of occasionally removing his protective face mask so he can catch a smoke break!

  • Headphone Princess

    It would be difficult to avoid spoilers to explain precisely why, but Joel from ‘The Last of Us’, is the most recent ‘hero’ I couldn’t stand.

    By the end of the game I was forcing myself to play, and I can’t remember the last time I actually wanted to control some of my adversaries to put an end to my own character.

    • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

      Dude, what? What were you expecting Joel to do, suddenly become some heart-of-gold, stand-up good guy? Fuck that, Joel was way too wrapped up in his scars for that. He had enough of a personal sense of right and wrong to believe that what the Fireflies were doing with Ellie was wrong, and he was not going to let Ellie pay that price on a *chance*. The rest? The rest was pure survival instincts. The entire last scene in the hospital there *had* to happen, otherwise he knew he’d have to deal with those people for the rest of his life.

  • Bagna the Irate Supervillain

    Arthas from Warcraft III is the videogame protagonist I can remember who actually caused me to quit playing the game he was in. I completely despised him throughout the human campaign and when the human campaign reached its climax I was incredibly excited to play as anyone other than that self-centered prick, so when Arthas turned undead and continued to be the protagonist for the second campaign I decided that I really had no desire to keep playing. Now I like to imagine that the story continued on in that way, with Arthas transforming into an orc and a night elf so that he could keep filling the game with douchebaggery no matter what race you were playing.

  • http://disqus.com/Dikachu Dikachu

    Let us not forget Daxter from the Jak & Daxter series… little bastard always has some smartass, semi-clever quip ready to go. And when you die, he hovers over your face yelling insults. God, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to physically force myself not to throw the controller right between his eyes.

    • His_Space_Holiness

      Yeah, I’ve been playing the first one recently and Daxter adds nothing. He doesn’t help in any way, and all of his dialogue is overheated 90s-era “attitude” without any actual wit. I say ditch the little space-ferret and see if Clank is available for freelance gigs.

      • http://disqus.com/Dikachu Dikachu

        Thankfully they toned him down somewhat for the 2nd and 3rd games… but he was still pretty annoying.

        But yeah, Clank could kick his ass any day of the week when it comes to awesome sidekicks.

  • DarkVegas57

    I don’t agree with the writing of Max Payne 3 feeling as self-parody. He’s a guy who thinks he’s being smart with his one-liners, but really we’re supposed to understand that he’s a pathetic loser.

  • Jergs

    Brian Basco from Runaway: A Road Adventure. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I played it, so I don’t remember in-game specifics (except an overall feeling of blergh, this guy), but I remember thinking he was the equivalent of an FPS’ super-serious hero or a JRPG’s angsty teen for an adventure game. He’s all nerdy-looking in the beginning but by the end he’s lost the glasses, got the sexy lady, and is, uh, running away from a prestigious, career-making job interview! Because sexy lady (whose name is Gina and who, iirc, lies to Brian pretty constantly, and who is less fun, exciting, escapist trouble and more “Brian, look at your life. Look at your choices” trouble).

    Ah, and Google has turned up this game review that is now reminding me of some of the in-game specifics:

    http://gamecola.net/2010/09/runaway-a-road-adventure-pc/

    Yeah… Brian was a jerk.

    • duwease

      Ah geez, I think I got this game off of eBay awhile back simply because someone had actually made an adventure game within the last decade, so I figured I should play it. Your description is apt.. what a tone-deaf, odd game it was.

      • Jergs

        I got my copy as a gift from a relative maybe 10 years ago, and hadn’t even heard of it beforehand. But said relative was excited and I had hopes for it for pretty much the same reasons — it had been a while since either of us had seen a good ol’ fashioned point-and-click adventure game, and the studio seemed to be made of people who also grew up on the LucasArts/Sierra stuff. But tone-deaf is the perfect descriptor for it.

        Man, now that I’m thinking about Runaway again, I’m increasingly glad for the AGS engine for giving a serious boost to indie adventure game developers. Trying to imagine what would have happened with, say, Wadjet Eye’s Blackwell series if the characters were written through committee is a little terrifying.

    • dreadguacamole

      Characters in European adventures were always kind of jerks. Someone mentioned Deponia recently, and he’s a good fit.
      But in the glut of myst-like adventures in the nineties it somehow became acceptable to kill of people who have something you need or guards you need to get by just for… you know, being there and doing their job. Even when you’re supposed to be a normal guy.

      • Jergs

        I haven’t played Deponia, but I got the impression that not only is the main character supposed to be a jerk, he’s also entertaining as one (I liked Sam and Max Hit the Road and Ben There, Dan That, which have jerk-ish protagonists, for that reason). Brian seemed more like a misfired attempt to make a snarky everyman character. And while it’s true that in, well, pretty much all games, it’s acceptable to do bad things to NPCs just doing their jobs, a normal guy would go through some sort of rationalization, which I don’t remember Brian doing (though, again, it’s been a while). But even if he were meant to be capricious or a jerk or both, he just wasn’t fun or compelling to play for me.

    • NakedSnake

      Yea really. I played this game for the same reason that @duwease:disqus did. I was just amazed anyone made an adventure game during that time period (there was a good decade where I think it was the only one I saw). The production values were pretty good (from my perspective at the time), but basically every time the main character talked I was just like “awwww, shut up…” What a twerp he was.

  • BurtonRadons

    I think there’s a gulf between an unlikeable character and a poorly-written character that gets forgotten in questions like this. Kratos is really, REALLY supposed to be unlikeable; the man is a fucking hateful monster, and the payoff of the first game is learning how he gets his comeuppance (I haven’t followed his adventures since). Likewise, Kane and Lynch are very much supposed to be psychopaths who make feeble grasps towards other people that only lead to hurting innocents, and slowly realise that the only humans they’ll ever make any social connections with are each other, who they hate because of how much they see of themselves in the other. I don’t like these people, I know that’s the point, and so I accept that and see what enjoyment I can get out of that.

    Alyx Vance. Oh man. They want her to be, you know, this sexy little sidekick character who kicks ass and has a great ass. But what happened is that she saw this guy she knew when she was a little girl and he had a Phd in Pushing Carts Full of Rocks Into Some Kind of Light Thing. The guy had not been seen in fifteen years, he had not showered in longer, he was covered in blood both human and alien, he was completely mute, and her almost immediate reaction was to make a pass. No. Wrong. NO. Everything past that moment has only rubbed it in deeper, and it makes me notice things like how she just nonchalantly walks past rotting human corpses without noticing them or even their stench. Vance shows that there’s a social uncanny valley where a character’s slightly-off behaviour while approaching some reasonably realistic human social traits can make them really fucking creepy.

    • NakedSnake

      Haha, yea. The fact that she was a somewhat expressive and nuanced character from the perspective of speech acting and facial expressions only made her contrived behavior all the more grating. Uncanny valley for sure.

  • Boonehams

    I always thought the developers lost sight of who Kratos was starting with God of War 2 and onward. The prequel titles go back to humanizing him a little bit, showing how the gods of Olympus had it in for him from the beginning, but he’s just a rage-induced monster in the sequels, making the games hard to play since they have such an apathetic lead character.

    I have an idea for what they could do for #4 to bring him back to his roots and redeem the character. After the events of #3, he finds out that the gods Eris (the goddess of chaos) and Proteus (the god of change) were behind everything. They had been manipulating Kratos during God of War 2 and 3 (Athena’s ghost from 3? Actually Eris in disguise.) and upon realizing this, goes on a quest.

    The player has no idea what he’s up to and Kratos tries to keep his motivations secret from every character he encounters knowing full well that any person he meets could be the two gods trying to stop him. While on his mysterious journey, he runs into monsters and mortals (since virtually all gods are now dead) from Greek mythology, like King Lycan (the first werewolf) and Medea (the sorceress).

    The end of the game has Kratos arriving at the Temple of the Fates again (from #2), where Eris and Proteus confront and try to kill him. He defeats the gods, natch, but is fatally wounded. With his dying breaths, he uses the mirror of fate to go back in time to the war with the Barbarians. Instead of pledging his life to Ares, Kratos allows himself to be killed and prevents his wife and daughter from their fates and screws over the plans the gods had for him.

  • Thor

    No one mentioned Cole? He’s the worst.

  • teebob2000

    As an addendum to the selection of Desmond Miles, whom I could take or leave, I really disliked Conner from AC3. Insufferable whiny git.

  • Matt Koester

    Sonic the Hedgehog is the most obnoxious little shit in gaming. Hands Down.

  • djsubversive

    First off, in defense of L4D2′s Nick, Left 4 Nicks. He has a lot of great lines that rarely get played.

    As somebody else in the comments mentioned, if I don’t like a character, I probably won’t stick with the game for long. Jason Brody was a spoiled asshole (I think that was at least partially intentional), but I think Far Cry 3 was terrible in so many areas that “unlikable protagonist” isn’t even in the running for reasons why I hate it (although I was impressed with the animal life – one of the few things they actually improved upon from FC2. but then, I kind of love Far Cry 2).

    The player-character in Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines is potentially pretty awful, (especially if you save Heather, even if you let her go later). Expanding on that a bit, many of the Troika/Obsidian games with ‘morality choices’ (Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, Alpha Protocol, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer) make you feel like an asshole for picking the evil option (because you’re, well, being an asshole in those situations).

    • dreadguacamole

      As far as asshole characters go, I don’t think I’ve seen anything top what you can do in the first Knights of the Old Republic. Mission, I am so, so sorry…

    • Jergs

      I have a soft spot for Nick since my main L4D2 partner always plays him for his sweet suit, and I play Ellis because he constantly pisses Nick off (and I wanted that suit). But it also means that Nick’s more fun and empathetic lines get played more often, and he does actually get a little more attached to the other survivors as the game goes on.

    • To Engineer is Human

      There are online fixes available that open up a lot more commentary from Nick and the others. Valve is also constantly recording more dialog with the original actors and streaming them into the updates. There are several new stories about Ellis’ friend Keith and after several years playing I am still hearing new lines including this one from Nick in the incredible Day Break add-on set in San Francisco. As the zombies swarm them on the shattered Golden Gate bridge – “what do you mean don’t panic, isn’t this precisely the situation that panic was invented for ?”.

    • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

      If you are playing the “evil” side in a video game, you’re going to do some asshole things. That is what makes people evil: they are huge assholes. That’s it. No supernatural elements required, or, really, even involved. If you are evil, you are an asshole, and the supernatural elements are simply extensions of your assholiness.

      • djsubversive

        That’s true, but there’s a difference between, say, Fallout 3, where ‘evil’ mostly means being a selfish jerk who threatens people for better rewards, and something like KoTOR 2, where you manipulate your party to your own ends (everyone learns how to swing a lightsaber and throw around force lightning, even the people who have to break vows and betray their family to do it).

        • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

          While the FONV examples are true, from a narrative point of view, the game doesn’t recognize these as evil actions. You can take quests… and then never complete them. Me, I never pass up the opportunity to Regulate some fools, but others don’t play like I do.

          Incidentally, this is one of my biggest pet-peeves with the Bethesda design of Fallout and Skyrim, the fact that very, very few things ever seem “urgent”. You can take a quest that starts out with “oh my God, our people are being sold as slaves!!” and then… never do it. Nothing in that area will change. You can, if you wish, not even trigger the Powder Ganger event in Goodsprings. Leave that dude in the convenience store hide-out, and just go about your adventures.

          Since I’m on the topics of weird engine design, in Fallout 3, once you leave Vault 101 at the outset of the game, if you go straight to the Vault with the VR pods, where you will actually meet your dad for the first time, you can grab the jumpsuit, hop in a pod, go through the VR quest there, and skip all that bullshit about trying to find your dad through Megaton and GNR and Rivet City and other assorted crap.

          • djsubversive

            The game doesn’t have to recognize “letting child-slavers do their thing” as an evil action for me to recognize it as such.

            Everything you just wrote, I agree with. We’re not actually arguing here, are we? I just may not have been totally clear about my point: “evil actions in a game should make you feel like you’re playing an evil character, rather than just being red-tinted minor thuggery.”

          • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

            Yeah, don’t think this is an argument, hehe, at least, I’m not intending it to be. I, too, agree that, in most cases, morality systems in video games tend to be less about good and evil, and more about being a dick or not being a dick. It’s rare that a game lets an evil character actually *be* evil, or it simply defines evil as “being an asshole”.

          • djsubversive

            okay, we cool. :)

            I’ve used the puppy analogy before: do you feed the puppy, or kick it in the face? The only reason to do the second one is basically “to be a jerk who hates puppies,” and that’s basically video game ‘moral choices’ in a nutshell.

            Also, in the analogy, kicking the puppy gets you 10 dollars, while feeding it gets you 7 dollars and a well-fed happy puppy.

  • Jazzbo

    It’s already been said, but Conner from AC3 was terrible. Just a complete lack of personality through the whole game. And would it kill him to smile even once?

    I also (spoilers for Red Dead Redemption, I guess) really disliked Jake (or was it Jack?) Marston. He just seemed like such a whiny brat after playing as John for so long.

    • cokebabies

      Yeah, not only was the ending of the game powerfully depressing, but then the jarring awfulness of playing as Jack made it so much worse.

  • dreadguacamole

    Pick any japanese video game, and chances are I’ll hate at least one of its characters with a passion. Narrowing it down to just one is hard, but let’s go with Tidus from Final Fantasy 10. Hell, pretty much anyone on those games starting with FFVII*. Or anyone at all from the last Star Ocean, at least the hour and a half that I could put up with. Or most people in any of the Solid Snake games. Or the Resident Evil games. Anyone in a Team Ninja game. I could go on for a while.

    *Except for FFIX, the rare exception with characters I mostly like. Some of the Tales games also have characters I don’t hate, and Nippon Icchi always seem to find a way to make anime tropes loveable.

  • beema

    Nathan Drake times a million

    basically anyone voiced by Nolan North could fit the bill

    • Mike Wolf

      But that’s like, 40% of male videogame characters!

  • Knarf Black

    The main character from Red Faction: Armageddon is probably the biggest offender… or he would be had anyone else played that game. The dude gets tricked by the bad guy into abetting the titular armageddon two separate times, just in the prologue. First he walks right buy the villain while failing to stop the destruction of Mars’ terraforming reactor, then he is tricked into unleashing a swarm of ancient monsters on its now subterranean denizens.

    That’s a little excessive, but fixing your character’s apocalyptic oopsies is a pretty common action game plot. The real problem is that the dude is still a smug jerkoff of nearly Nathan Drakey proportions. The game clearly expects me to like the guy, but provides absolutely no reason to outside of the fact that I lose progress when he dies.

    Plus, he constantly leaves his surviving compatriots hanging while he systematically demolishes their homes and businesses to harvest scrap material for his gun upgrades.

  • muddi900

    I think it would be disingenous to say that Max’s pithy persona can’t work in a sunnier setting. The problem is that Max Payne 3 is so amateurly writtten any hope you might have had is washed away. The dialog, the pacing, and the awful screen effects are all suspect, but it is the overall writing that misses every thing about the previous games. Max payne 1 and 2 were the Prose Edda by the way of Billy Wilder by the way of Tsui Hark. Max Payne 3 was the Max payne by the way of some guy who only ever watched Shane Black movies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.tuttle.79 Andy Tuttle

    I’ve gotta agree on Desmond, I can’t stand him. The guy is about as interesting as a piece a piece of tofu in Miso soup.

  • Morlock

    I never even finished max payne. i was so excited it pushed me to upgrade my system. the whole thing was a huge disappointment.

  • GraciaOttman

    These Video are so very Interesting and Mind Blowing .

    http://powerigfaustraliasite.net/

  • http://www.production24fps.com/ Philippe Gosselin

    “It’s Payne, get him”

  • whellingtonx

    Learn how to generate 35 usd every day from your home simply visit: surveymoneymaker dot net

  • sesexiz18

    oWjI – The Last years I would be extremely low on cash and debits were eating me from all angles!! That was Right Until I learned to earn money.. on the internet! I landed on surveymoneymaker point net, and started filling in surveys for straight cash, and surely i’ve been far more able to get around financialy! i am happy that I did this!! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – PkdM

  • cudoiatn

    oWjI – The Last years I would be extremely low on cash and debits were eating me from all angles!! That was Right Until I learned to earn money.. on the internet! I landed on surveymoneymaker point net, and started filling in surveys for straight cash, and surely i’ve been far more able to get around financialy! i am happy that I did this!! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – PkdM

  • dermotmoloney

    >and then during the next, he’s nonchalantly running over innocent old ladies, shooting cops in the face

    This is a lame critique considering many of those acts are only carried out if you choose to do so.