Who says you’ve got to be a good guy to well… be a good guy? Some of our favourite protagonists in games are the good guys who aren’t really good at all. We’re talking about guys who are complete and utter shit stains that have a hidden heart of gold. The guys who, if you ever met them in a dark alley, would be just as likely to knock you out and steal your wallet as they would be to say hello and keep on walking. Alright, they aren’t all THAT bad but these blokes aren’t the huggable type to say the least. In modern gaming the stories and characters are more fleshed out than ever which means the characters have deep background stories and fully realized personalities. We had a hard time narrowing down our favourites but here are our top 10 badass good guys in modern gaming.
10 – Grayson Hunt (Bulletstorm)
Starting off with a bang we give you the main protagonist in the no-holds-barred, potty mouthed Bulletstorm. Grayson is a drunken space pirate who harbours some serious resentment, a bad attitude and he packs a few BFGs. Ok, so you’re misunderstood and you’ve been wrongfully exiled and there’s a bunch of freaky mutants on an alien planet that want to pick their teeth with your bones. Is that any reason to be such a dick? Alright, well maybe he has good reason but despite his extremely rough exterior his intentions were pure… sorta. Exact revenge, clear your name, and make the world a better place… with swearing, guns and booze. What’s the problem?
9 – Max Payne (Max Payne… DUH)
Here’s a guy who has a genuine reason to be as deeply messed up as he is. In three games we’re not sure if he’s gotten better or worse! His family has been murdered by junkies, he’s been framed for the murder of a DEA agent and he’s wanted by the NYPD. That’s a rough start to your day right? After he clears all that up he still ends up being an alcoholic addicted to painkillers come the third game in the franchise. That doesn’t stop him from going on a rescue mission for some estate mogul’s wife though so even though he’s as broken as the launch of Battlefield 4 he’s still got a glimmer of goodness way deep inside.
8 – John Marston (Red Dead Redemption)
Old John here didn’t have the best of beginnings so you can’t blame him for being a little rough around the edges. Born to a prostitute (who died) and the son of a hate filled old Scottish man (who died) he grows up in an orphanage that he eventually runs away from to the cradling arms of a local gang. They say that a good upbringing lays the roots for a good adulthood so that part is already way screwed up for John. After being left for dead in a robbery gone bad John vows to change his ways but is forced back after a politician kidnaps his family in order to get John to do his bidding. You can take the cowboy out of the gunfight but you can’t take the gunfight out of the cowboy… or something like that. For the most noble of reasons John uses every nasty trick in the book to achieve his goals.
7 – Duke Nukem (Duke Nukem… OBVIOUSLY)
You can’t have a list of badasses without having Duke Nukem somewhere in the top 10… even with his piss poor outing in Duke Nukem Forever he still remains one of gaming’s best of the worst. Kicking ass, taking names and chewing gum Duke is the ultimate alien hunter. He is the epitome of politically incorrect, he’s a misogynist and he’s got a foul mouth but his endgame is saving Earth and his two (you sly dog you) girlfriends so he’s not half bad. As Duke famously said ‘It’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I’m all out of gum’.
6 – Morrigan (Dragon Age Origins)
The first on the list that isn’t the main protagonist in a game Morrigan is still a solid badass. Raised in isolation by her mother Flemeth, Morrigan is a fabled Witch of the Wilds. Likely due to her isolation Morrigan is a little bit socially awkward and has no patience for the plights of man. Compassion is not her strong suit as she sees little reason in helping someone if it doesn’t come without personal gain. As a companion she can be hard to deal with but her power comes in handy in every battle along the way. In the end Morrigan offers the player an alternative to killing the Archdemon by having the Grey Warden impregnate her and if that’s not just the sweetest thing I don’t know what is. For that reason alone (cuz nerds don’t get laid much) Morrigan ranks as both a badass and a good girl.
5 – Geralt of Rivia (The Witcher)
A mercenary/monster hunter living under his own moral grey area code of ethics, Geralt of Rivia is likely more hero than bad guy. He might be a killer for hire but he has a soft spot for the oppressed and will go out of his way to defend them when need be. Still, we’re talking about a man who once demanded the unborn child of a princess in return for services rendered. When the child turned out to be a girl he refused her but has crossed paths with her numerous times eventually taking her in as his own daughter. ‘The White Wolf’ is not a man one would like to cross but who would be steadfast and strong to have at your side. 100% badass.
4 – Urdnot Wrex (Mass Effect)
How could I place a guy with a sunny disposition like Urdnot Wrex on a badass list you ask? Yeah right. In the Mass Effect universe you won’t find a race quite as unlikeable as the Krogan; a species so badass that they were rendered sterile in an attempt to wipe them from existence. Wrex is one of the baddest of the bad. A powerful biotic warrior who has spent most of his life as a merciless gun for hire he finds himself on a journey to cure the Krogan of the genophage. Wrex hides his finer qualities of strength, courage and honor under an exterior of pure unadulterated anger. He may seem evil at first but he is bent on saving his people and that makes him at least a bit of a good guy.
3 – Marcus Fenix (Gears of War)
A decorated war vet Marcus Fenix was stripped of nearly all his pride when, during one of the human’s worst battles against the Locust, he abandoned his post to attempt to save the life of his father. Sentenced to rot in prison (40 years!) he is busted out 4 years later by longtime pal Dominic Santiago after everything falls apart. It doesn’t take long for Marcus to restore his name and take the fight back to the Locust but he’s got one hell of a chip on his shoulder as he does it. Chain sawing and curb stomping his way to victory Marcus is well deserving of his top 5 positioning in the best badass good guys of gaming.
2 – Edward James Kenway (Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag)
It was a pretty good toss-up between Eddie and his assassin brethren Ezio Auditore but the fact is that pirates always win. In essence assassins are the white guy’s version of a ninja so a ninja crossed with a pirate will win badass awards every single time. Edward comes from humble beginnings and after setting himself up in a career with the British Royal Navy as a privateer he decides that he has a taste for finer things. With a lust for wine… well rum at least, gold, fame and glory Edward becomes one of the most feared pirates to ever sail the seven seas. Despite his selfish motivation Edward struggles with his conscience on more than one occasion and, without giving anything away for those that haven’t played the game yet, proves himself to be more than just another swashbuckler flying the Jolly Roger.
1 – Kratos (God of War)
A Spartan Warrior Kratos is likely the toughest S.O.B. on this list hands down. We’re talking about a man who would rip your own arm off to beat you with it before making you swallow your own eyeballs. He’s got a taste for violence of the goriest kind but it all started back when he was a young man. His brother stolen from him by the Gods he has sworn revenge on the Olympians from that very day. Fierce with pride and with the noblest of reasons Kratos is a force to be reckoned with and without a shadow of a doubt the most badass guy with a hidden heart of gold (we’re talking real hidden) to grace this list.