7 Videogame Antagonists We Love To Hate
There’s a difference between a boss and an antagonist. The former is just an enemy to be defeated. The latter can provide a foil to a protagonist, set into motion the events on which a game’s story hangs and give us players a motive, just like these lot…
7. Dr Breen
The de-facto ruler of the Earth and puppet of the combine, Half-Life 2’s Dr Breen is an incredibly dislikable man, even if you put aside the fact that he’s trying to take you down throughout the game. Not only is he a turncoat who worked with the Combine in order to save himself and gain his position of power, he actually believes that he is some kind of hero for doing so, suggesting that his alliance has saved, or may even benefit, the human race.
Staking a claim for the most sadistic villain on our list is Final Fantasy VI’s Kefka. Despite his jester-like appearance, Kefka is anything but fun-loving; he is unstable, hot-tempered and cruel. From poisoning the water supply of a castle to kill all its inhabitants, Kefka moves to make himself a god and enslave the world, before ultimately deciding that he would rather just wipe out all existence. When it comes to pure, un-hinged psychopathy, Kefka is hard to beat and that makes him an intimidating foe.
A comedy antagonist she might be, but the Portal series’ Glados is still one of the best. Her thinly veiled, brutal insults are made all the better by Glados delivering them as if she is simply stating a fact, or even being kind. Case in point, after insisting that test results to reveal that “you are a horrible person”, Glados proclaims: “Don’t let that ‘horrible person’ thing discourage you. It’s just a data point. If it makes you feel any better, science has now validated your birth mother’s decision to abandon you on a doorstep.” Ouch.
4. Andrew Ryan
Rapture is often described as being the true star of Bioshock. That might be the case, but Rapture is inseparable from antagonist Andrew Ryan – it was built as a reflection of his vision and its downfall represents the flaws in his ideology. As a consequence, the very act of exploring Rapture serves to mythologise Ryan. Everything you learn about the place and the person only adds to the anticipation of finally coming face to face with the man himself.
3. Liquid Ocelot
Perhaps one of the reasons Liquid Ocelot stands out as one of videogames’ greatest antagonists is because of his constant presence throughout the Metal Gear Solid series – in fact, he is the only character who appears in every mainline MGS game. That consistency builds his legend as a fighter and his status as a rival, ultimately culminating in an epic fistfight atop a Metal Gear in MGS 4 in which we’re taken on a nostalgia-fueled trip through Metal Gear history. Then there is the mystique of the man, created by the fact that you’re never quite sure where his loyalties really lie…
2. Persona 4’s Serial Killer
Don’t worry, we’re not going to spoil Persona 4 by revealing the identity of the serial killer you spend the whole game hunting. Indeed, the mystery of their identity is part of what makes them such a great antagonist. There’s a sense that you’re always one-step behind the killer, though the game is great at teasing you with a number of false dawns that give you hope that you’re getting close. The killer’s status as a great antagonist is enhanced by the fact that they are not only a threat to your friends, but that they make them a threat to you, turning elements of their psyche against themselves and the group.
When you think of videogames’ most iconic antagonists, you can help but think of Final Fantasy VII’s Sephiroth. He’s involved in a bunch of memorable moments, from murdering one of your party members, to the cutscene where he turns his back on you and walks off into the fire. Perhaps the thing that best makes him stand out as an antagonist, though, is the fact that there’s a long build to your confrontation with him. Though you come across him at multiple points during the game, those are simply teases, the actual conflict delayed till later in the game, not least because you’re too insignificant for him to bother with early on. That Final Fantasy VII makes the effort to tell you the story of his transition from hero to madman helps too. Not only does that make clear what a dangerous foe he is, the story of what sent him over the edge even elicits some sympathy.