The videogame landscape is always shifting and morphing in desperate attempts to keep up with our ever evolving and subjective tastes, always striving to make the competition on the other side of valley sweat. And the only things that tend to remain consistent through all the experimentation (successful and unsuccessful) are the killer image-conscious protagonists of our gaming fables. Our most iconic videogame characters.
Aside from the stereotypical sludge pack of rubbery looking muscles, painfully voluptuous women, and steely jaw bones, the videogame world boasts some of the finest artists on the face of our humble planet, and their efforts do seem to pay off. So with the not-so-revealing E3 of 2011 sailing behind us now, we can properly examine the strongest and most stylized ‘looks’ in our beloved industry.
These are the lads and ladies I’ve got on my list, feel free to pitch the case for your own ideas below if you’re feeling in the mood.
1) Dante: The original one I should add. The old school Dante donned his signature red long coat/leather gown and started twirling in his ever deadly tango of pistols, swords, and devil magic to the thunderous applause of gamers worldwide when he first took the spotlight. The impression he gave off was of a mysterious traveller with heaps of potential energy stored up waiting to explode into choreographed ass-kicking. Ebony And Ivory have always been his two most trusty companions and his milk white hair made him look like the most bad-ass kind of ice-cream you ever wanted to be like.
2) Ratchet And Clank: While Clank shouldn’t really be seen as a fashion accessory to Ratchet (as those who played A Crack In Time will note), the trademark backpack-look is one of the most recognizable things in the current gaming universe. With Clank being slung over Ratchet’s furry back and constantly gazing absently towards the player for the most part of the entire series thus far, I found it a little disconcerting and odd when I played through sections without the robotic chum providing jetpack facilities. The pair are quite literally inseparable and they’ve been typecast as such, perhaps this is the perception that Insomniac are trying to shake off by giving Clank one of the 4 character slots in the new game All 4 One, rather than having the duo once again fused together back to back.
3) Ezio Auditore: Admittedly his shadowy assassin look isn’t that different from Altair’s but Ezio has had more screen time now so he rightly should take the trophy. The big deal with the master assassin is his crazy huge hood of deceptively white innocence. All of the most striking concept art for the game, and all the most beautifully atmospheric moments in the game feature Ezio perched atop some rooftop, lurking patiently in busy streets, with his face all but covered by his huge hood and cloak. His white figure is a symbol of so many things within the games narrative. I suspect that one of the most subtle rewards of playing the Creed games is the sensation that you are controlling such a dramatic looking character. Admit it; Ezio 300% looks the part and you love it to death.
4) Agent 47: The one and only Hitman, the contract killer we all thought we’d never see again. You can see how deeply his image has burned into the gaming world by watching how excited fans got when a pre- announcement promotional online treasure trail eventually climaxed with a fragment of a clip showing a gloved hand fastening the silencer onto a night black pistol was blown open. Agent 47’s unaccountably generic but iconic image of plain suit with a red tie has earned him the status of almost a legend. Just a glimpse of his bald head and emotionless face is enough to send fans spiralling into twitchy anticipation. Hitman: Absolution is set for a 2012 release and hopes to see the return of one of the biggest names in the videogame stealth canon.
5) The Helghast: Fantastically menacing because of their human origin and closeness to our own race, the Helghan and their clunky gas masks to this day remain one of the most powerful and identifiable symbols in the gaming world. Those fiery orange eyes glaring out at you like barely contained furnaces, all those tubes and pipes wrapping around the Helghan soldiers military gear, and the darth vader-esque husks of voices distorted by the sheer bulk of the helmets. Simply put; they are not faces you will forget, and we should note that Guerrilla has cleverly placed the iconic design on the ‘bad guys’ side, meaning that players are constantly encountering those haunting masks – instead of hiding it behind the players’ own soldiers.
6) Sam Fisher: While we’re on the subject of silent killers, Tom Clancy’s Sam Fisher is another sneaky sausage whom gaming won’t likely forget. Throughout Mr Fisher’s extensive and ongoing career with Third Echelon and Ubisoft, he’s managed to attain cult status thanks to ridiculously tiny things like the sound his nightvision goggles make when they whirr up, his signature trio of green lights, and the sticky camera and split jump. Quite literally Sam Fisher is up there in the clouds neck and neck with Metal Gear’s Snake, except Mr Fisher has managed to keep things a little more even through his adventures. Skin tight military suit anyone?
7) Scorpion: The angry face of one the original titans of the fighting genre. Mortal Kombat’s merciless prince of blood and chains is arguably the most recognized character in the entire games’ roster. Whilst Sub-Zero and Raiden are pretty close, Scorpion always manages to bag the front row and betrays the probability that he is likely the developers’ favourite character. One thing that always bothered me though was his voice, almost too deep and bassy no? When Scorpion is totally covered in other people’s blood (like..never) he sports a gold and black hunter-ninja harness that holds all manner of spiky painful-ness ontop of a hefty rack of chainmail, and appears like a westernised caricature of some vague Japanese legend.
8 ) Mitsurugi: One amongst a handful of characters who have been in the ‘Soul’ series from the very beginning. He is most recognized geared up as the formidable Samurai presence in the Soul Calibur games and despite having a fairly predictable outfit he has somehow managed to rise a step above all the other Samurai warrior videogame clichés and become a key figure in the exotic franchise. When compared to heavily stylized and flashy characters like Voldo, Tira, Nightmare, Ivy, Zasalamel, and Maxi, Mitsurugi manages to keep his wardrobe strictly linear and is potentially the stronger for it. Then again because of his fairly regular fighting style in context of the rest of the characters, perhaps unlike his fellow fighters, his weapon and style aren’t iconic enough by themselves. Maybe we should see him as the grounded front man to a flamboyant and creative toy box.
So you may notice that the list only consists of characters that have an important presence in ongoing franchises. Of course the list could go on a lot longer and include a whole bunch of other characters, we’ll leave that to you. Let us know in the comments who else should be included here.