Saturday, March 14, 2015

Best male characters in video games Part I

                After my article last year about the best female characters in video games a counterpart for male characters was bound to happen, but I never found the time to finish this project until now. The following articles from this series contain some of the best male characters I’ve seen in video games, being protagonists, playing a support role or just an NPC, it doesn’t matter. I based my decisions on the character’s personality, charisma, skill, personal story and contribution to the respective game’s story and many other criteria. Keep in mind that this list includes a good dose of subjectivism as these are characters that I liked and my opinion may differ from yours. Also, I’ve chosen only one character per franchise and only from games that I’ve played, so some popular heroes might be missing because of that (no Snake!).
                Without any further introductions, these are some of the best male characters I’ve had the chance to see in PC video games:
(Warning this might contain spoilers!)

Sam – Serious Sam Franchise

                Sam might mean serious business when fighting Mental’s hordes of enemies, but as the last man living he is not serious at all. Sam was written in such a manner to entertain the player in a video game series that has little to no interaction with other characters (there are no other characters!). His jokes, snappy comments and monologues are extremely welcomed to take some of the focus from the only goal of this game: slaughtering everything that stands in the way.
                Sam is an expert with any weapon he can find and can handle some huge and ridiculous arsenal designed to kill out of the ordinary monsters. With his macho style and dynamic but carefree personality, Sam blends in perfectly in a caricature of a world which seems designed just for him. The best part about this character is the fact that he never gets bored as he is either entertained by the endless waves of bizarre enemies or he can easily entertain himself with a joke which makes him a win-win from the player’s perspective.
                Sam might not be one of the greatest characters, but he makes a good start for this list. He is funny in an old school fashion with many cheesy lines and it can be quite entertaining to hear some of his jokes. The first couple of games in this series were great and Sam made them even better.
“WOHOO! They’ve made guns even BIGGER since the last game!”
“All right, now I’m seriously serious!”
So serious!
You blind?!

Sander Cohen – Bioshock

                Despite the game’s length, Bioshock is riddled with interesting characters, especially male characters, and it seems unjust not to mention one of them. The only problem when it comes to this game is the fact that it is so hard to choose a character that stood out more than the others as they all have a pretty short but explosive appearance in the game. Being Frank Fontaine, Dr. J S Steinman, Sander Cohen or Andrew Ryan, all of them are almost equally impressive and go out of the stereotypical type of male characters seen in the year to year generic shooters, but for me the one that stood out the most and passed the test of time is Sander Cohen.
                Sander Cohen is an artist, writing poetry and plays, composing and even sculpting, he represents the true artistic heart of Rapture. But after the fall of Rapture into chaos he descended into madness and became ignorant to the death and destruction around him. He is now just a grotesque image of a once talented artist, filling Fort Frolic, his main location, with disgusting and disturbing images of what he perceives as art now. Splicers have become the subjects to his new artistic vision and their mutilated bodies garnish the place.
The best way to describe this character that appears in very few areas in the game is by quoting one of his audio logs which characterize his mental state in a way I might not be able to do.
The Wild Bunny by Sander Cohen:
“I want to take the ears off, but I can’t. I hop, and when I hop, I cannot get off the ground. It’s my curse, my eternal curse! I want to take the ears off, but I can’t! It’s my curse! It’s my fucking curse! I want to take the ears off! Please take them off! Please!”

Kyo Kusanagi – The King of Fighters Franchise

            The King of Fighters might not be the most popular fighting franchise in the west compared to Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter, but it sure does have some amazing characters and an interesting story spaning over sixteen games. From the many playable characters, for me, Kyo Kusanagi is the most representative for the series.  He was introduced in KoF ’94 as the youngest member and the leader of Japan’s fighting team together with Benimaru Nikaido and Goro Daimon.
                Kyo Kusanagi is one of the main protagonists and probably the most emblematic character in the series. His name and abilities are designed specifically to fit the legend of Orochi from the Japanese mythology. Kyo is a high school student, overconfident and with a devil-may-care attitude, but he has a strong sense of justice and fights to do good. He is able to use pyrokinetic powers which allow him to wield fire as an element of his attacks and combines this with his clan’s martial arts style. Kyo is the heir of the Kusanagi clan, one of the three clans that sealed Orochi in the past and fights against those that try to bring him back into the world. He has a rivalry with Iori Yagami the last member of the Yagami clan, the long lasting archenemy of the Kusanagi clan, but this doesn’t stop him from fighting alongside with Iori during the climax of KoF ’97.
                Due to his popularity and the evolution of the story, Kyo was even cloned, with different versions of him being playable in KoF ’99. His look has changed over the years, but his motivation and good will still drive him forward to fight against stronger adversaries and those that put the people he cares for in danger.
                Kyo Kusanagi didn’t miss a single game in the franchise and has been seen in many spin-offs as well, always being voiced by Masahiro Nonaka. With SNK Playmore registering a new trademark for King of Fighters, for what seems to be a 3D game this time, it is safe to assume that Kyo will return in the upcoming title and probably more to come after that.
The endless rivalry!

War – Darksiders

                War is the youngest of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse and the main protagonist of Darksiders. He is a Nephilim, a race derived from both angels and demons that is nearly extinct. In the past, War, alongside with his three brothers, destroyed worlds under the command of Absalom, but the four changed sides swearing allegiance to the Charred Council to preserve the balance in the world. The four became known as the Horsemen and were sent to destroy Absalom and the remaining of their kin as they were threatening to destroy Eden.
                When the End War between angels and demons was erupting on Earth, War found himself in the middle of it attempting to find answers for what was going on. His powers were mysteriously drained while he was fighting one of the demon’s commanders and was called back to the Charred Council which accused War of starting the Apocalypse before its time. Stripped of all his powers, including his mount and sword he was sent to the Abyss for a hundred years. However, War wants to prove his innocence and persuades the council to give him a chance to clear his name. War returns to a devastated Earth with the human race being extinct and fights demons and angels alike in order to find those responsible for this mess.
                War resembles a human in aspect, with long white hair, lighter skin tone and white glowing eyes. He has a tough personality, incredible combat skills and a great voice suited for a Horseman with him being voiced by Liam O’Brien (Ukitake from the anime Bleach, the English dubbed version). War’s body is covered in a strong and awesomely looking armor with red textile and silver colored metal and he wields a gigantic sword. His mount is Ruin, which is a beefy horse smoldering with fire and smoke from his hooves and tail.
                While the future of this franchise is uncertain, the games still stand out through their unique setting and action and the captivating main characters. War is a character to be remembered and it will be quite a shame if a studio doesn’t take over this franchise so the fans can see the Four Horsemen fighting side by side.
Even the apocalypse can't stop war!

To be continued...


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