It may go without saying, but one of the most amazing parts of being a gamer is the relationships we develop with the characters in our games. The sign of a great story is when they make us feel a personal attachment; like we have a responsibility to help our favorite characters reach their goals. 2012 was a great year for characters, with many familiar faces and especially some newer ones bursting onto the scene and capturing our attention. Below you will find my list of the top 10 characters of 2012. Some are the main protagonist of their title, others may be the main villain, but all were absolutely amazing. Here’s hoping 2013 can match! Heads up: high possibility for spoilers. I tried to avoid them, but it can be tough.
Honorable Mention: Tiny Tina from Borderlands 2 – She’s not in the game nearly enough, but there is something about hearing a 13 year old explosives expert sending you on a mission to rescue her padunkadunk that screams awesome. Gearbox found a way to get her more face time in the recent Mr. Torgue DLC, and hopefully that trend will continue with further content, because she is hysterical.
10. James Heller from Prototype 2 – I actually liked Prototype 2 quite a bit, and James Heller was a big reason why. He didn’t ask for Alex Mercer to make him the second coming of… well, Alex Mercer, but it happened and all he wanted to do is get his daughter and split. I felt something for the guy and his situation, and it felt pretty awesome to destroy Alex Mercer in the end.
9. Grimlock from Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron – Grimlock SMASH! If you’re a child of the 80’s like me, you were probably the coolest kid on the block if you had the Grimlock Transformer figure. He is one of the all-time classics in the Transformers Universe, and it was really cool to see High Moon bring him to Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron. While it is still a little strange that the Dinobots exist before ever going to Earth, Grimlock as a playable robot dinosaur is one of the coolest things you could do in a video game in 2012. The mechanics were solid and the fire breathing was a nice touch.
8. Max Payne from Max Payne 3 – This may not be the Max Payne everyone is accustomed to, but this Max Payne is still pretty awesome. He has so many faults and failures, but finds a way to get through and pick himself up in the end. I love his narratives in the game and it really adds to the mood. I know there were a lot of people disappointed in the game overall, but it certainly shouldn’t have been because of Max Payne himself.
7. Corvo Attano from Dishonored – Corvo is the stuff of legends. Accused of killing the family he swore to protect, he decides to go on a massive killing spree to clear his name. Or does he? One of the best parts about Corvo is that he is entirely who you make him out to be. If you are skilled in the art of stealth, which I am absolutely not, you could, potentially, make it through the game without killing a soul. No matter how you play him, Corvo is a really awesome character to play as and Dishonored as a whole is well worthy of all the praise it has been receiving.
6. Connor from Assassin’s Creed III – Ezio Auditore da Firenze is easily one of my favorite characters of all time, so being tasked with following him in a series already puts a character behind the eight ball. Fortunately, a Native American by the name of Ratonhnhaké:ton was up for the task. He would eventually take up the name Connor, and much like Ezio, Assassin’s Creed III shows Connor from his youth right up to being a full blown assassin. He was brash and thick headed, and he manages to get himself in a lot of trouble because of it, but I think it is really cool to see him develop throughout. I might have ranked Connor a little higher than he may deserve based on the supporting characters he gets to interact with, but to be fair, they help make him who he is.
5. Wei Shen from Sleeping Dogs – The story of Wei Shen was simply fantastic. As a cop going deep undercover within the equivalent of the Chinese Mafia, Wei was forced to make some really tough decisions in order to keep his cover and rise up within the Son On Yee. Throughout the process, he begins to become attached to the people around him and he has to fight the balance of what he is there for and essentially becoming what he is pretending to be. He is a very relatable character and I think United Front Games did an outstanding job making me care about what happened to him.
4. Commander Shepard from Mass Effect 3 – This really should come as no surprise, although considering how much time I’ve spent with Commander Shepard over his three games, it’s crazy to me that there are three characters I liked more in 2012. Commander Shepard is the quintessential hero. He is literally the prototype of everything you can home for in a game’s protagonist. It actually saddens me that this had to be the end. I really wish they could continue the story of Commander Shepard in Mass Effect 4, but it’s not sounding likely.
3. Lee Everett and Clementine from The Walking Dead – These two are a package deal, as you really can’t have one without the other. Would Lee have been nearly as interesting without the dynamic of caring for Clem? Probably not. Would Clementine be nearly as interesting if we weren’t seeing her through Lee’s eyes? No, she would just be Duck. These two were magical together and really knew how to tug at my heart-strings.
2. Vaas Montenegro from Far Cry 3 – I had a really had time not making Vaas #1, but the sad reality is that he just wasn’t in Far Cry 3 nearly as much as he should have been. Vaas is psychotic, ruthless and at the same time, quite hysterical. I mean, here’s a guy that ideally we should probably hate because of all the crazy shit he’s done and the fact that he keeps trying to kill our new friend Jason Brody, but I couldn’t help wanting to run into him every chance I could. I could have lived without dealing with Hoyt Volker for the entire game if it meant Vaas getting more face time. If Ubisoft wants to sell some DLC, they need to have an expansion that features more Vaas. Or hell, how about this? An expansion that has you play as one of Vaas’s henchmen directly dealing with Vaas throughout. There you go Ubi… I just made you at least a million bucks.
1. Handsome Jack from Borderlands 2 – It was a great year for bad guys, with Vaas and Handsome Jack teaming up for possibly the greatest bad guy duo to come out of a single year that I can ever remember. Handsome Jack had it all: charm, charisma, intellect and a shitload of money. Some of the things he says in the game over the ECHOnet were so funny, I had to pause the game to stop laughing. Handsome Jack is the ruler of the Hyperion Corporation, a gun manufacturer that is mining the planet of Pandora for an element called Eridium. He taunts the Vault Hunters throughout the game in his endless fight to kill them and in the end, nearly pulls it off. The father-daughter dynamic he shares with Angel also added the human element of his character and helped show some partial motives and understand him better as a character. Plus, he had a diamond pony named Butt Stallion. Oh and, just remember, the moral of the story is: you’re a total bitch.