Festive Feature #1 - Top Five Characters of 2012
Written Tuesday, December 18, 2012 By Lee BradleyView author's profile
What makes a good video game character? Is it personality, looks, abilities or dialogue? Is it quality motion capture and well-delivered voice acting? Or is it something less definable?
Between them our Top Five Best Characters of 2012 tick all of the above boxes, achieving greatness through one or more of these varied attributes. We’ve got tomahawk-wielding assassins, unhinged soldiers, demented antagonists and innocent little girls. Just a normal night at our editor Dan’s house then.
So without further ado let’s get stuck into the Top Five Characters of 2012.
5. Clementine - The Walking Dead
Bless her little cotton socks. The Walking Dead’s Clementine is smart, strong and dammit, just adorable. She may not be a player character or an antagonist, but her effect on our in-game actions is profound.
While children in video games are often handled poorly, Clementine is brilliantly developed, growing from an innocent little girl to a tough survivor over the course of the season. You’ll want to look after her as if she were your own.
Indeed, Clementine is at the very heart of what makes The Walking Dead such a remarkable experience. Never before has a game tugged so strongly on our heartstrings and without Clementine that just wouldn’t be possible. She’s ace.
4. Connor - Assassin’s Creed III
Following in Altair and Ezio's killer footsteps was never going to be an easy task. Both characters became icons; unique ultra-cool frontmen to a multimillion-selling franchise that meant a hell of a lot to a hell of a lot of people. Yet somehow Assassin’s Creed III’s Connor managed it.
His real name, of course, is Ratonhnhaké:ton, the half-British half-Native American. What makes him such an interesting character is that he’s not defined not by his heritage but by his hatred of tyranny. Black and white in his morality, Connor knows right from wrong and isn't afraid of burying a tomahawk in someone's head to prove it.
Plus he has a colon in the middle of his first name. You've gotta be pretty badass to pull that off.
3. Captain Martin Walker - Spec Ops: The Line
Many videogame characters emerge from the end of their adventures exactly as they entered them. They may have just learned the secret of the universe, dodged death by millimeters and saved humanity from extinction, yet they rarely change.
But not Captain Martin Walker. Though he begins the campaign as a jobbing soldier, at the end of Spec Ops: The Line, he emerges (or doesn’t) a completely different character. We can't say much for fear of spoiling exactly what happens (or doesn’t), but it's safe to say that Walker’s experiences in post-catastrophic Dubai change him forever.
Spec Ops: The Line is a game that doesn't shy away from consequences. And while many games take their protagonist's mass-slaughter lightly, in Cpt. Walker we have someone for whom it is incredibly meaningful. And that's why he's one of the best characters in games this year.
2. Handsome Jack - Borderlands 2
Handsome Jack, the moon-owning narcissistic antagonist of Borderlands 2 is one of 2012’s most unique characters. Initially a nice bit of comic relief and an amusingly arrogant irritant, it’s not long before things take a dark turn.
By the end of the game Handsome Jack reveals himself to be an all-out bastard, one of gaming's most overtly evil bosses, a truly sinister piece of work. And that's the beauty of the character. Funny and uncompromisingly sadistic, he's one of the few antagonists you'll laugh along with but also want to hit straight in the nuts. Repeatedly. With a Hyperion Nidhogg rocket launcher.
He does own a diamond pony called Butt Stallion though. Respect for that.
1. Vaas Montenegro - Far Cry 3
Some characters are bought to life by great voice actors. Some are brilliantly scripted. Others are well animated and situated within their worlds. Far Cry 3’s Vaas Montenegro is all of these things and more.
On an island of complete lunatics, Vaas is king of the psychos. He’s a completely unhinged nutjob whose lung-shredding, ultra-violent outbursts rip through his more reflective, quiet moments like a machete through a jugular. The thing about Vaas is that you never feel safe. He's a deeply unsettling character.
Yet somehow, despite this you may grow to like Vaas, in a strangely twisted way. He's utterly doolally, completely deranged and yet oddly charismatic. Whether you like him or not, Vaas isn’t a character you'll forget in a hurry and that’s why he’s our Best Character of 2012. Fear him.