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The Top 10 Videogame Anti-heroes

Videogames often allow us to be the hero – which is fantastic – but there is something altogether more darkly alluring about playing the morally ambiguous anti-hero. Whether it’s running around a cityscape terrorising its populace, evading the police after a fraught chase or carving your way through an army of foes for selfish reasons, sometimes playing a character with shades of black and grey rather than the usual white makes a refreshing and empowering change.

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10 – Jimmy Hopkins (Bully)

In training for an apparent future starring role in a GTA game, Jimmy goes about putting his mark on Bullworth Academy by… well, by beating lots of people up and generally acting unruly in and out of the classroom. However, he’s not wholly without merit as he spends time sticking up for those in need and really he just wants to be liked by everyone and spend a bit of time with the ladies. He also has some superb means of travel in his skateboard, BMX, scooter and kart. And a lawnmower.

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9 – Raziel (Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver)

After being cruelly and unknowingly resurrected by his sworn enemy, then later eternally tortured for evolving beyond his master’s wishes, this particular ravaged former-vampire has had a rough time. At first seeking revenge on his onetime brothers, he becomes the centrepiece of a conspiracy spanning dimensions for hundreds if not thousands of years and is decieved from every possible angle. Luckily, being of vampiric warrior descent, Raziel is quite dishy both with his bare hands and an assortment of weaponary, and seeks his not-unwarranted redemption with gallons and gallons of blood.

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8 – Kazuya Mishima (the Tekken series)

A lot of people say a child’s upbringing directly relates to their adult personality and if this is true, you can’t really blame Kazuya for being a bit messed up. After all, he was thrown off a cliff by his father aged five, and forced to strike a deal with the Devil to survive. His subsequent attempts to kill his father and later his son repeatedly fail (as do theirs on him), but that doesn’t stop him being a half-demon kung fu fighting badass, despite his obvious psychological issues.

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7 – The GTA protagonists

It’s terribly easy to get attached to the stars of the GTA games; particularly when you share their plight for thirty hours plus. Like most Rockstar protagonists, they’re simply trying to make something of themselves in a despicable crime-ridden world by following the pack and commiting crimes. Okay, it’s not like any of them are innocent and gentle, but you know how it goes – you’ve got to fight fire with fire. And sometimes going on dates or for drinks with your family members helps along your growing crime empire, too. Somehow.

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6 – Altaïr (Assassin’s Creed)

According to Dictionary.com, an assassin is “one who murders by surprise attack”, and on this basis, Altaïr is shit at his job. However, if his job description was attracting copious attention whilst athletically running, climbing, jumping and fighting in 12th century cities then he would be a master – the master. While Altaïr may have a few things yet to learn about discretion, it’s incredibly exciting to murder your foes, escape through a bustling marketplace and climb up the side of a tower to hide from your pursuers. He just needs to work on the whole subtlety side of things.

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5 – Wario (various Mario and Wario games)

We couldn’t really compile a list such as this and not mention at least one entertaining comedy villian. Once upon a time Wario was one of the portly plumber’s fiercest new enemies, but it wasn’t long before he broke away and started to hold the spotlight on his own. His first adventure was stealing treasure from a group of pirates in Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land, and he has since gone on to feature in arguably the finest mini-games compilations ever. In truth he’s about as evil as burnt toast, but at least he has the mustache and laugh of a baddie.

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No good? Too bad

A few other characters who deserve honourable mentions:

James Earl Cash – Manhunt
Garrett – the Thief series
Kane & Lynch – Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
Richard B. Riddick – The Chronicles of Riddick series
Captain Quark – Ratchet & Clank

4 – Max Payne (the Max Payne series)

Gaming has never seen a more luckless, poetic and verbose character than Rockstar’s dismal detective. When he’s not busy pretending he’s in a John Woo movie (sans doves), Max likes to reminisce about his dead family, talk in a gravelly voice and pop steroids. He’ll be returning to consoles and PC later this year, and we’re not willing to bet there will be any candyfloss, bright meadows or cute bunnies. Slow motion, gravelly voiceovers and dead bodies are an almost sure thing, however.

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3 – Agent 47 (the Hitman series)

Y’know that Jean Reno/Luc Besson film Leon; do you remember how awesome it is? How ice cold and mercilessly efficient Leon is, calmly and flawlessly executing his marks before they’re even aware of his presence? If there was a game of the movie, Hitman would be it. Protgonist 47 is basically the perfect killer – confindent, patient, relentless and brutal; he could take Javier Bardem in a fight any day.

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2 – Kratos (the God of War series)

Kratos is one nasty bastard who has a tendancy to murder people often with little or no provocation. However, despite what you might think about his personality or one-track train of thought (“Must. Get. Revenge. Everyone must die!”), it is cool to play as him and eviscerate swarms of ancient Greek mythical beasts. When he’s whirling around, smashing his blades into the fodder-like enemies and generally mutilating those who stand in his way, it’s hard not to feel a bit of pride for him and his enviable power.

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1 – Kazuma Kiryu (the Yakuza series)

Despite the fact he operates on the wrong side of the law, Kazuma is really an all-round good guy. Protecting the weak and innocent, acting gallant and never showing fear to his enemies, Kazuma is the sort of badass with a heart we would all love to be. It helps that he easily takes down gangs of thugs, seems to make money hand over fist and is a hit with the ladies, the lucky bastard.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in April 2007.

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