A great hero is nothing without a great villain to battle wits and brawn with. In fact, in some cases the antagonist can become far more memorable than the protagonist. Serial killers, lunatics, monsters and maniacs are all represented as villains but which or who is the best? What video game bad guy do you first think of? A great anti-hero can be one that is simply evil without any reason or it can be one that is evil because they’re motivated by some type of goal or purpose. A great villain engages you to come back for more; they fuel your quest for revenge or fill you with the desire to foil some kind of diabolical plan. Where does your favourite rank on this list? It’s entirely a matter of opinion and this is just mine, based on my experiences.
10 – Caius Ballad (Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning Returns)
“You shall pay for your crimes in blood.”
Caius Ballad is the main antagonist of Final Fantasy XIII-2 and the secondary antagonist of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. To me, the best villains have well-thought-out backstories and are typically more interesting than the heroes that they oppose. This is definitely the case with Caius Ballad.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a game of multiple timelines, in each of these timelines is a different Yeul; a seeress. Caius loves Yeul, so much so that he’s willing to literally destroy space and time just to prevent her from having to be the seeress any longer. As each timeline collapses, Yeul dies over and over and is locked in this eternal torture. Not only is he motivated by a very understandable cause but he’s usually accompanied by a badass soundtrack.
09- Vaas Montenegro (Far Cry 3)
“Take me into your heart. Accept me as your saviour. Nail me to the fucking cross and let me be REBORN!”
Like many great villains, the terrifying thing about Vaas is how unpredictable he is – he’s clearly just barely hanging on to whatever sanity he has left as he leads a mercenary group on a tropical island, kidnapping and murdering without remorse. He’s such a great villain that after he’s dispatched, the game loses a lot of its steam.
08 – Wheatley (Portal 2)
“Whoah! Hello? Can you see the portal gun? Also, are you alive? That’s important; should have asked that first”
Spending the opening part of Portal 2 as your only friend in Aperture Science, it’s not long before Wheatley is consumed by power and turns on you. The transformation owes everything to Stephen Merchant’s excellent voice-work for the power-mad Wheatley, bringing character and emotion to what is really nothing more than a metal football with a giant eyeball. Add razor-sharp wit to the mix and the scene in which Bad Wheatley dispenses with previous nut-job computer GlaDOS by shoving her inside a potato makes him a villain you’ll never forget. As he floats through space he realizes he’s a villain and regrets it.
07 – Officer Tenpenny (GTA: San Andreas)
“Intimidate those who intimidate others, Carl. It’s my job”
Frank Tenpenny is the primary antagonist of the 2004 video game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, voiced by Samuel L. Jackson. The crooked cop character has been done many times across many different mediums, but rarely are they as obnoxiously and relentlessly evil as Tenpenny. From the minute you encounter him he frames San Andreas protagonist Carl Johnson for the murder of a police officer who he himself killed, and then proceeds to spend the rest of the game doing everything within his vast power to make CJ’s life a living hell.
06 – The Reapers (Mass Effect)
“Reaper, a label created by the Protheans to give voice to their destruction. In the end, what they choose to call us is irrelevant. We simply…are.” – Sovereign
The Reapers, also known as the Old Machines by the Geth, are an ancient race of gigantic living spaceships and the main antagonists of the Mass Effect trilogy. Initially thought to be a myth by most of the characters, the Reapers hibernate in “Dark Space” for thousands of years and then return to the galaxy every few millennia to destroy all the Milky Way’s most advanced civilizations, most notably the “Protheans”, who gave them the name “Reaper”.
Their motives for doing this are completely unknown, and they claim that it is beyond mortal understanding. The origin of the Reapers is a mystery too, and it is said that they have existed since the beginning of time.
05 – Pyramid Head (Silent Hill)
Pyramid Head resembles a pale, muscular man covered with a white, blood-soaked robe reminiscent of a butcher’s smock. His most outstanding feature is a large, red, triangular helmet that covers his head completely. It was reportedly designed to appear painful to wear, suggesting that it serves as some kind of punishment. Pyramid Head is usually armed either with the Great Knife or a lightweight spear.
Not only is this monster extremely intimidating to witness but he will punish you physically, it’s his ability to cause mental anguish to the in game protagonist that makes him all the more memorable. He’s a metaphor for the main character’s regret over his actions and his ultimate desire for punishment.
04 – Albert Wesker (Resident Evil)
“A new genesis is at hand and I will be the creator.”
Wesker is a former STARS team-member who turned on his comrades for cash paid to him by the not-so-environmentally-friendly Umbrella Corporation. He wound up injecting himself with a serum which enhanced his speed and ability to heal; this guy has one huge ego.
03 – Andrew Ryan (Bioshock)
“In the end, what separates a man from a slave? Money? Power? No. A man chooses; a slave obeys.”
Andrew Ryan is the founder of Rapture and the owner of Ryan Industries. Players first meet the founder of Rapture as they descend to his broken-down underwater city in a bathysphere. He’s introduced by way of a short propaganda film expressing his philosophies and presenting Rapture as a place where the gifted and exceptional are free to excel.
The player soon learns that it wasn’t long before he resorted to corruption and brutality to maintain his position at the top of Rapture’s food-chain.
02 – Sephiroth (Final Fantasy)
“Tell me what you cherish most. Give me the pleasure of taking it away.”
From his cool, yet calculating demeanour to his unfathomably long katana, Sephiroth was, and still is one of the best video games characters of all time.
Before, Sephiroth was once a first class SOLDIER from Shinra Electric Power Company that was idolized by many in terms of his swordsmanship skills, intellectual actions, and discipline. His outstanding performance in the battlefield made him a celebrity war hero and an inspiration. His positive attitude did not last long until he, Zack Fair, and Cloud Strife ventured in the Mako reactor in Nibelheim. Sephiroth then proceeds to Shinra Manor to search for possible clues of his origins.
Finally learning the truth, Sephiroth goes insane, rebels from Shinra, and sets Nibelheim on fire. Believing he is the chosen one, he decides to become a god and rule the planet.
01 – Boswer (Mario Franchise)
“Hear this! I will kidnap Peach over and over again until I pull it off! Failure isn’t an option, and neither is giving up! I’ll be back! Mario! Green Sta- I mean… Luigi!”
King Bowser rules over the turtle-like Koopa Troopa race and is constantly striving to expand his kingdom by conquering the Mushroom Kingdom, although his plans are always spoiled by his arch-enemy Mario. He’s in love with Princess Peach Toadstool, and his attempts of conquest always include kidnapping her in one form or another.
Bowser has been tormenting players probably longer than any other character in the medium, his motive is simple and he always fails but you’ve got to admire his persistence.
So there you have it, which video game villain failed to make this list that you thought you’d see? Well, I’ve decided to make a second part on this subject matter by creating another top 10! There are just so many great video game villains it’s extremely difficult to fit them all into just 10. Keep an eye out for part 2 and find out who makes that list!
TO BE CONTINUED!