From SHODAN to Guybrush Threepwood, these are the very best video game super villains to grace our consoles and PCs...
Everyone loves a good villain. From Hans Gruber to Lex Luthor, these monomaniacal dickholes say the things we want to say, and take no shit in the process. That’s not to say we’d really want them ruling the world, but when a villain’s done right, you can’t help but be fascinated by them. This doesn’t stop the fact that in real life they’d be sitting on their own in the cafeteria, mumbling about how no one understands them whilst sobbing into their petis filous. Games are no different – here are a few favourites:
Albert Wesker (Resident Evil)
Voiced by Richard Waugh
Hilarious villain from the Resident Evil series, his appearance in the original PlayStation title has him at his greatest, before the series’ story truly well and truly shat its undead pants. Gloriously terrible lines and delivery coupled with a hugely signposted ‘reveal’ of him as the traitor (BUT YOU SOUND SO INNOCENT) define the game in all its schlocky, B-Movie glory. Not to be confused with British playwright, Arnold Wesker.
GLaDOS (Portal and Portal 2)
Voiced by Ellen McLain
For all videogames’ merit, all-too-rarely are they funny. Not so with GLaDOS, or Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating system, as she definitely doesn’t prefer to be known. Inspired by a text-to-speech programme used by co-creator Erik Wolpaw as he worked on Pyschonauts, GLaDOS is Portal’s most memorable creation. A passive/aggressive jilted lover, offering thinly veiled insults coupled with backhanded advice, she lends a truly hilarious and sinister edge to both games, and along with sidekick Wheatley in Portal 2, (voice by Stephen Merchant) exhibits some of gaming’s best writing and characterisation.
Guybrush Threepwood (Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge)
Voiced by Dominic Armato (in sequels and remakes)
What, no LeChuck? Before you go bellowing incoherently to the forums, just think for a second. How much of a dick is Guybrush Threepwood? Sure, he’s puny and loveable, but by the second game he’s gotten way too big for his boots. His only goal is to discover treasure, to which end he wheedles, steals and general pricks his way all over the Caribbean. From swiping Wally’s monocle to cheating at almost every contest he’s a part of, his dickery knows few bounds. If he wasn’t the protagonist, you would hate his ass. I know we’re supposed to reward ingenuity and quick-thinking, and for him to be too capable would ruin the whole point of the game, but regardless, he’s a grade-A asshole. Still awesome.
Sander Cohen (Bioshock)
Voiced by T. Ryder Smith
Playwright, artist and composer in underwater dystopia Rapture, Sander Cohen is one of gaming’s most deliciously batshit villains. Tasking the player with killing and photographing his four “disciples”, Cohen’s installation in Fort Frolic is a genuinely unsettling place to visit. Audiences frozen in plaster, a pianist who really needs to play that song right, and a creepy-ass “quadtych” to complete, Cohen is one of the most Joker-like villains in gaming history. Apart from The Joker.
SHODAN (System Shock and System Shock 2)
Voiced by Terri Brosius
Another terrifying female AI, (it’s almost like computer programmers are scared of women) SHODAN – Sentient Hyper-Optimised Data Access Network – whilst bearing surface similarities to GLaDOS (both heavily reminiscent of HAL 9000), less funny, more f**king creepy. The primary villain in System Shock, and featuring in one of gaming’s greatest moments in System Shock 2, she rarely attacks directly, but bombards you with verbal assaults, constantly trying to undermine and weaken you with words. Before releasing the robot ninjas. The plot of System Shock has you tasked with removing her ethical constraints, which allow her to become the terror that she is, making you curiously culpable in her crimes. One of the true greats.
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