Before we get down to the business of naming my favorite game ever, let's shower you with top tens. I've made up eight of them, and I'll be sharing them over the course of the next week. The number one game and moment will be posted on Saturday. Until then... LISTS. Because LISTS.
This one is surprisingly by the numbers. Not much in the way of obscurities. I wasn't going to include them for the sake of including them. They consist of my ten favorite video game heroes. Some have good writing, some are just enjoyable characters, some are just sort of iconic.
Without further ado... My top ten video game protagonists (leading roles only, supporting characters come later).
10. Master Chief
Not exactly the most talkative guy around, sure. It could be argued that he's fairly overrated (I wouldn't argue with that, I suppose, anyone who's met an overly enthusiastic Halo fan knows how they get). What gets me is the absolute assurance that he's going to succeed.
Launching through space toward an enemy ship while strapped to a bomb? Sure.
Shooting his way through about seven billion parasitic zombie-likes to reach his objective? He'll do it.
Wage a one man war on two huge fronts? No problem.
He says that he'll do it (often in an understated, yet badass way), and that's that. It gets done.
9. JC Denton
The game's script reads like a conspiracy theorist's wet dream, but the augmented Mr. Denton does a good job of keeping it grounded. A lot of the dialog sounds kind of silly in retrospect, and he gets a little "author tract"ish in places, but the character of JC Denton is still pretty damned top notch.
Final Fantasy X
It would've been so easy to make Tidus just another one of the "young disillusioned dude saves the world" archetype clones that Final Fantasy games seem to have in no short supply, but Tidus is different. When you first meet him, he's brash, impulsive, and rude... and immature to the nth degree. Whereas most of the series' protagonists would have made only small, vague steps toward maturity, by the end of Final Fantasy X, it's clear that Tidus is not the same character he was in the beginning. The bittersweet ending only cements the growth.
Kingdom Hearts series
The plotline of the series is nigh incomprehensible, and mostly only exists to tie in a bunch of fun gameplay in various different mythoses, but Sora remains steadfast through the whole thing. I don't even know why, but once his character comes back into focus in the second game, I knew: So help me, I like this character.
6. Cloud Strife
Final Fantasy VII
Ugh. I know. The whole amnesia thing, the massive angst-fest that follows him everywhere. The hair.
The dude is just so badass toward the end of the game game (after he gets his head put back on right). I can't help it.
I should really give this game another try, I think. Everything that this character says is golden. He takes everything in stride, while trying to provide order to people who wouldn't know the meaning of order. He's the straight man in a world where straight men practically cannot exist.
Rather than go on and on, I'll just provide an out of context quote from one of my favorite sequences in the game:
- Den Mother: Enough! It's time for me to pluck out your eyes!
- Razputin: HA! You can't. That is the purpose of the goggles!
Super Mario series
Eatin' shrooms, savin' princesses...
3. Naked Snake
Metal Gear Solid III
I originally had Solid Snake on here, and I guess it really doesn't matter which is on here (ya know... clones and all), but I like the character progression with Naked Snake more. The development he goes through from the naive beginning to the cynical and crushing ending it much more interesting than a series of treatises on nuclear war and the definition of a modern soldier. The ending leaves little doubt as to why this character is about to go off the deep end. I'd gladly follow him there. Also, it's easily David Hayter's best performance.
2. Commander Shepard
Mass Effect series
It's a little bit of a cheat, since you can essentially create Shepard to be anyone you want (male or female, pushover nice guy or stone faced jerkass), but no matter which path you choose, the voice acting is superb, and the guy (or gal, if you prefer) can give a hell of a rousing speech.
...plus there's that whole "take on an ancient race of killer machines and win multiple times" thing. That doesn't hurt.
1. John Marston
Red Dead Redemption
'Layered' doesn't begin to describe it. Without heading too far down the unmarked spoilers path, Marston is the most interesting character I've seen in a video game. He's a loyal helper, but he's got scars on his psyche as deep as the ones on his face. He's a devoted family man and a cold blooded killer on the same token. Every time he speaks, people pay attention. The scenes toward the end of the game, once the goals have been achieved are absolutely wonderful. Props to everyone involved in making this character come alive. I hope to see more like him in the future.