Hey there folks. Today I’m going to look at three characters that are mindbogglingly popular despite being awful characters. Video games tend to be a horrific mesh of stereotypes and marketing campaigns, so it only follows that horrible characters would permeate the medium. The weird part is how popular some of these characters are. I’m limiting myself to three here and looking at characters that bother me when playing their game, but I could of course go quite far under this title. In order to narrow the scope of this post, I’m only going to be talking about leads, and only leads of popular series. Let me preface the article by saying that I fully enjoy all three series that these characters come from. Ok, now that’s out of the way let’s start with number 3.
3.) Nathan Hale (Resistance 1 and 2)
|Set your douche-phasers to kill|
I’ve ragged on Nathan Hale before in my blog, but I see no reason why I shouldn’t do it again. There is a lot wrong with the current situation of military shooters and Nathan Hale can act as an example for just about every single problem there is. He is strangely not a mute character even though the amount of dialogue he gets makes Link look like a chatty Cathy. Basically, Hale is a total non-entity in both games he stars in, but you wouldn’t know that by playing them. The player is constantly told how special and amazing Hale is. This is, of course, simply trying to stroke the egos of the player, as Hale is little more than a faceless create-a-character avatar. The problem is that you can’t make a shapeless lump of clay into a badass. Aside from his total lack of personality, we have his total lack of design. Hale is so generic, if you told me that he had been given cameos in all Killzone, Call of Duty, and Medal of Honour games, I would totally believe you. The same shaved, stubbled, scowling face is in every modern military shooter you’ll ever find. What makes Hale worse than most of those characters is that he is the star of an Insomniac game, and a particularly cheesy one at that. Although Resistance 2 tried to scale back the silliness by copy and pasting everything they could from Call of Duty 4, Resistance 1 was full of weird and wacky guns, as well as an over-the-top alien invasion plot. Why Insomniac decided that he should have the personality of a popped balloon is beyond me.
2.) Dante (Devil May Cry series)
|Fingerless gloves for better gun firing, but still no straps to keep your sword on your back|
Ok, before I get flak for this one let me explain why Dante makes the list. The problem with Dante is the sheer amount of inconsistency in the character, not the specific characterization of style of the character. Everything about the character seems to have been done by a marketing team after the first game, and after every game his characterization seems to have been reassessed in order to meet the goal of the marketing team. Devil May Cry 1’s Dante plays a lot like Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil 4, which makes sense considering that Devil May Cry was supposed to be Resident Evil 4 early on in development. The reason I compare the two is that Dante in this game fires off the same one liners with the same straight-faced delivery that players would come to love about Leon. Dante in this game wasn’t obsessed with being cool, he just was, but that didn’t mean that there wasn’t a lot of over the top angst, which always seemed a little out of place. Devil May Cry 2 kept the somber Dante, but threw out any actual charm in his delivery, and it marked the beginning of Dante’s personality being used simply to show off how cool he was. Devil May Cry 3 had a completely different Dante. He is brash, loud, arrogant, and basically just there to show off. The Dante carrying himself with quiet dignity was gone. I know many gamers are shouting that the reason this Dante is immature is because 3 was a prequel, well that brings me to Devil May Cry 4. Dante in that game actually hadn’t evolved much from his adolescence in 3, which is unsurprising in a way since most of the game’s characterization centred around Nero, and the game was lazy enough that I can just assume that they copy and pasted Dante into it. Now we have DMC, which many fans have already divorced from the series despite it not having been released yet. This Dante has not only had a makeover, but seems to be trying to go for the dark and mysterious hipster personality. You can argue that Dante has simply evolved between games, but it seems clear that this evolution has taken place for the sole purpose of appealing to young, cool gamers, and was decided by people quite divorced from young, cool gamers. For his strangely inconsistent personality created by focus group-style input, Dante makes my number 2.
1.) Kratos (God of War series)
|Not even Sackboy can make Kratos likeable|
Like Hale, this has not been the first time Kratos has been mentioned in my posts. Kratos wins hands-down as the most unlikeable video game character ever created. I spent the better part of the God of War trilogy hoping that someone would kill this awful prick. Let’s put it this way: if someone stole your sandwich, you would reasonably be upset, but would probably, at most, scold them. If someone stole Kratos’ sandwich, he wouldn’t just kill them in the most brutal way imaginable, but he would also slowly torture everyone that person held dear in front of them beforehand. It isn’t like you can’t play an anti-villain in a video game, but there isn’t anything else to Kratos. He’s given a tragic backstory that motivates him the same way that my choice of underwear motivates my life. Basically everything that has ever happened to Kratos is used by him as an excuse for elaborate revenge fantasies. His characterization is about as lazy as it gets (Even Marcus Fenix has friends). All the developers have to do is make Kratos act in the most angry and overblown way possible and they have their character. Sure he makes the player feel like a badass, but you can do this, while giving your character at least one redeeming feature.
|I know Marcus. I’m just as surprised as you are that you didn’t make it on the list|
Well there’s my list of pretty crappily made popular video game characters. I want to again stress that I actually like Dante, but that doesn’t mean that everything about him wasn’t decided in some attempt to grab on to the youth audience. Nathan Hale is fortunately such a non-entity in the series that he spawned that it is not just easy to ignore him, but actively hard to remember that you aren’t just playing a faceless marine. Then there’s Kratos, sweet, hate-filled Kratos. While I enjoyed the God of War series, Kratos did his best to try to convince me to hate it.
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer