Top Ten Unlikely Heroes

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Not all heroes carry the biggest guns or have the smoothest moves. They don’t always have chiseled jaws, perfectly proportioned busts, or massive biceps that could crush a man. Heck, some barely have appendages that could pass for hands, but we love them just the same.

That’s why GameZone salutes ten of our favorite, unlikeliest heroes of modern gaming.

10) 50 Cent of 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand

Plenty of rappers have made video game appearances, stretching all the way back to Kriss Kross and Marky Mark (Wahlberg) and on up to the all-star cast of the Def Jam wrestling games. But, how many were shot in the face and walked away with a perfect smile? Nigh-invulnerability and a perfect physique would normally exclude Mr. Cent from this list, if not for the absurdity of it all. He isn’t out to save the world or even rescue a damsel. No, he’s trying to collect payment for a concert performance, which happens to be a crystal skull that is almost immediately swiped from his grasp. What’s more surprising is that amid the thousands of f’bombs and gameplay swiped from The Club (appropriately), 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand was actually a very entertaining game.

9) Isaac Clarke of Dead Space

In a medium that has taken great pains to imbue characters with personality through top-notch voice acting and the fortune of a small country spent purely on facial animations, Isaac Clarke is an anomaly. There’s only one chance in the game to catch a glimpse of his face, and the closest thing you’ll hear to dialogue is him panting and wheezing. We hardly know him, and yet, we feel for him. He’s not a marine or genetically modified hero (so far as we know). He’s simply a guy who went off to work one day and stepped into a living hell, which makes him easier to empathize with than most of the other armored warriors out there. Speaking of which, Isaac’s engineering suit is unlike anything before, and it never hurts to stand out in a sea of generic heroes.

8) Faith of Mirror’s Edge

Sweatpants, sneakers, tank-top, and an A-cup chest - Faith defies every stereotype of women in games. As a male gamer, I do find characters like Bayonetta and the women of Soul Calibur sexy, but they are caricatures. Faith could be transplanted into reality without fear of her back breaking or resorting to working the clubs, and that makes her all the more attractive. It takes more than looks to be a hero though, and Faith has parkour-skills that most of us can only dream of. Even better, everything she does is physically possible. Mirror’s Edge can be a frustrating experience, but with every slip of the foot or bullet to the back, you improve. Bit by bit, you learn just how formidable a petite girl in sneakers can be.

7) Gordon Freeman of Half-Life 2

Oh, come on… you knew it was coming. If you had never heard of Half-Life, you might be wondering what Gordon Freeman is doing on this list. After all, he’s wearing sci-fi armor, he carries the coolest guns (not to mention a crowbar), and speech is not one of his strong suits. Like Isaac Clarke, it’s the inside that counts. Freeman is a physicist, and he speaks to the geek in all of us. He represents our survival, and not because he’s stronger or faster, but because he is smarter. Well, that and he makes those glasses look good.

6) Anonymous Kid of Limbo

I don’t know who he is, where he comes from, how he died, or what he looks like, but few characters have resonated with me on such an emotional level. His scampering feet and big, inquisitive eyes imbue him with such incredible innocence that I can’t help but cringe with every gruesome death, and cheer for every victory over the twisted environment. I would have said you were crazy if you told me that a depressing, Expressionist game about a boy dying repeatedly would latch on to my heart. Now, I can’t imagine having missed out on such a moving experience.

5) Travis Touchdown of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

How did this happen? Travis should have lived in complete shame and obscurity, tucked away for the rest of his life like the Star Wars Kid in an otaku-haven. Geeks like Travis don’t ride motorcycles, they don’t have pretty half-naked women stalking them everywhere, and they certainly don’t have the skills to be assassins, let alone walk up stairs without getting winded. And that is precisely why Travis is #1.

4) Robot Unicorn of Robot Unicorn Attack

It was the middle of winter. My life was encapsulated in bleak days of grey skies and nights of sub-zero temperatures. I was broke. I was depressed. My friend, Nick Daffinson, comforted me with his profound wisdom, “Dude, you seriously need to play Robot Unicorn Attack.” It was an epiphany! Rainbows, dolphins, a silver unicorn, and perhaps the cheesiest love song courtesy of Erasure – Robot Unicorn Attack is undoubtedly one of the most emasculating games in history, at least, on the surface. After a few second you can see the sadism that lurks beneath. Robot Unicorn Attack has the face of an angel, and the soul of a Viking biker. Play, and make your wish come true.

3) Big Daddy of BioShock 2

Big Daddy is the antithesis of the traditional, armor-clad, sci-fi hero. He is anything but sleek, but he makes up for any shortcoming with sheer brutality and what I can only imagine is a god-awful stench of mold and algae. The fact that many Big Daddies were formerly the scum of society doesn’t exactly bolster their status as heroes, but I suppose having your skin and organs spliced and melded with a diving suit could count as rehabilitation. In a way, you almost have to feel sorry for Big Daddy. His sole reason for living is to protect his Little Sister, so he can’t be all that bad.

2) Weighted Companion Cube of Portal

I’ll always remember the horrible sadness after seeing the Weighted Companion Cube burned alive in the incinerator (I’m so sorry). The heart-clad box taught us all valuable lessons about love, life, and the power of friendship. You didn’t feel that way? You monster. While Chell was the official hero of Portal, it was the Weighted Companion Cube that stole the spotlight. In remembrance of the only friend we had at Aperture Science, the Companion Cube has been fondly immortalized as plushies, fuzzy dice, papercraft, and even in song. We will forever miss you.

1) Sackboy of LittleBigPlanet

I was shocked when I first encountered Sackboy. The name was suggestive, but for crying out loud, he even looked something like a (slightly disfigured) scrotum with a face… a cheerful, smiling face that I couldn’t help but love. And how could anyone hate Sackboy? Whether you like cowboys or vampires, Spider-Man or Ronald McDonald, he can be whatever your heart desires, and he probably has an expression to match. Even his angry-face is adorable. How a hacky-sack with arms ever got approved is beyond sane comprehension, but the world is a brighter place thanks to the antics of Sackboy.

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Brian Rowe
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