There’s really nothing better than coming across a really compelling character, whether it’s someone you love to hate or someone you can root for. The group below represents character that I felt brought a little something extra to the table whether it be a colorful personality, memorable segment, or something else entirely. You could say, these characters have a particular ‘X’ factor. This year a number of really interesting characters graced our games and here are my favorites from this past year. There’s a really good amount of characters to pick from so this isn’t going to be easy.
And the nominees are:
Thane Krios – Mass Effect 3
Ok, so yes, he was featured heavily in Mass Effect 2 so technically, he’s a returning favorite for me. We know from the second game that Thane’s time is limited as he’s suffering through the end stages of Kepral’s Syndrome. So while you may think he only has a short time in Mass Effect 3, you’d be wrong. Play through Mass Effect 3, witness the utter badassery that the Drell Assassin lays on Kai Leng even with his illness in full swing and you’ll know why he’s on this list. Thane led us on a rollercoaster of emotions from his heartwarming moment with his son, Kolyat, as he lay dying in the hospital to the exciting action sequence on the Citadel. While he isn’t someone you can take with on missions anymore, he certainly is still one of the most memorable characters in a game chock full of them. Thane, you will be missed.
Handsome Jack – Borderlands 2
The witty, sarcastic, and enigmatic man known as Handsome Jack heads up the Hyperion Corporation in their attempt to unlock a new Vault on the planet Pandora in Borderlands 2. Jack brings a strong antagonist to the franchise, though he’s someone you can’t help but really love. The man is constantly coming on your ECHO unit to either make a sarcastic comment, drop a hilarious one liner, or make a threatening remark. Jack has some of the best writing in this game and coupled with a very interesting story, he’s a big reason why Borderlands 2 succeeds. I was really surprised how well his character was fleshed out and also Dameon Clarke did a fantastic job lending his voice to really bring the character to life.
Vaas – Far Cry 3
How could I not add the leader of the Rook Island pirates to this list? I don’t think I’ll ever forget his introduction to the world at Ubisoft’s E3 2011 press conference. As the player sits captured by this man, he sits in front of you, very composed, asking if he’s ever told you the definition of insanity. It’s like he’s having a one sided conversation all calm like and then suddenly he snaps and flies off the handle. It’s really well done, well written, and well acted. From what I’ve seen so far of Far Cry 3, Vaas is one of the highlights of the game. Michael Mando really brings this character to life, full of unpredictable behavior with a little bit of humor mixed in as well. Still, I wouldn’t want to run into him even on the very best of days.
Robert Darden aka the Radio Man – Spec Ops: The Line
Hopefully you’ve played this one because it’s one of the year’s surprise hits for me and part of the reason is because of this man. While we’re never given a huge amount of information on the Radio Man, he stands out due to the quality of his lines and the outstanding performance from Jake Busey who brought this character to life with his voice. For most of the game, the Radio Man represents the antagonist, making sarcastic remarks and driving your character forward in hopes of finding him and getting some answers. He’s wired the entire city of Dubai with speakers, allowing him to broadcast his messages, keep tabs on the city and also to play music. In the game, big firefights were typically triggered by Vietnam era rock music giving the game a pretty interesting edge to it.
Haytham Kenway – Assassin’s Creed III
While generally seen as the primary antagonist in the game, Haytham tends to be more complicated and represents a character players tend to gravitate towards. His personality is closer to Ezio’s than Connors as Haytham tends to be more outgoing, confident, sarcastic, and cunning. He’s skilled with a blade as well as being a fast talker. Haytham plays a major role in the game’s story, which I won’t reveal here for those of you still playing. Oh, and did I mention he’s Connor’s biological father? Talk about Daddy issues…
And the winner for Best Character of 2012 goes to….
Winner: Handsome Jack
Jack is easily one of the best written villains to come around in a long time. Part of the reason why I picked him is because he’s more than just an antagonist. He’s likable in a crazy way because he’s constantly coming at you with sarcastic remarks, dark humor, or just something really out there, you tend to look forward to hearing what he has to say next. Not only that, the voice acting is phenomenal and really makes him a believable character. By the end of the game, he becomes just about completely unhinged so through the game, you definitely see his character evolve as well. In the end, he’s an interesting character that helps elevate the game as a whole. Would it be the same without him? No, not at all and that’s why he’s here.