it comes to video games, nothing sells a game’s storyline like its protagonist.
Where would Donkey Kong Country be without Donkey Kong? How big would the Tomb
Raider series have been without Lara Croft? Could you really be confident in
the success of Super Luigi Bros? Okay that last one might work. The point is,
every game has a hero. More importantly, those heroes come in extremely unique
shapes and sizes.
Very often, video games portray their lead characters as powerful and reliable. Sometimes this goes as far as making those very heroes intimidating to look at. There is a whole mess of over the top protagonists that would make you think twice about their moral alignment. You don’t judge a book by its cover though, right? Here are ten of the most intimidating looking protagonists video games have to offer.
10. Marcus Fenix (Gears of War)
Marcus is the first and quickest to be mentioned on the list. Why? Marcus is a jacked up, cookie cutter, action hero. There’s nothing wrong with the unoriginal qualities that make Marcus so nerve-wracking to be around, it’s just obvious what those qualities are. Marcus becomes the leader of an army, a popular achievement for those wanting to be heroes. He leads that army in a war against an alien race; another popular choice. Bundle those heroics into a steroid pumped, chainsaw wielding badass and you have created a being that looks like he could punch your head square off. Let’s just put it this way: when was the last time you felt confident walking up to a guy like Marcus to tell him he was wrong?
“Get the !@#% out of the way, please?”
9. Death (Darksiders II)
Although he doesn’t play his classic role of ‘ruler of the underworld’, it doesn’t stop Death from displaying his famous skull-looking facial attribute. Darksiders II presents Death as the playable character who leads a group called the Four Horsemen against their murderous race of beings. It’s not hard to become a protagonist when almost every creature in your game is evil on some level. The way Darksiders II portrays a dismal environment yet have you root for the moral killings of an eternally noted evil creation is quite an accomplishment. Death has been depicted millions of ways, but none seem to capture such intimidating and cool originality. Often we see a grim reaper that plays on a silently slow and creepy vibe, which can be effective but usually lacks any true form of imminent danger. Something about this interpretation of Death creates an even eerier and more realistic feeling. This may not be the most intimidating depiction of the skull-faced rider you’ve ever seen; but it’s the best encounter with Death you will have since meeting Greg in Conker’s Bad Fur Day.
- "My brother, War, stands falsely accused of unleashing Armageddon upon the human race. His fate concerns me. Yours.. does not."
8. Protagonists of the Grand Theft Auto series
You could take nearly any Grand Theft Auto game and find a hero that scares you. This is probably because if it weren’t for the horribly corrupt environment surrounding these characters, they would never be considered heroes. It’s pretty impossible not to look intimidating and still survive when you have places like Vice City, San Andreas, and Liberty City. Start with Tommy Vercetti, the oddly forceful mafia hitman in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Tommy dresses like a retiree living in Key West, but he scream scares the living heck out of everyone he encounters. You could also look at Carl Johnson, also known as CJ from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. CJ is overall as corrupt as Tommy in the end, even if driven by vengeful thoughts of his younger brother’s murder. Still, CJ acts as your primary protagonist and does well utilizing his obvious muscle to make people feel unsettled.
but not least is Niko Bellic from Grand
Theft Auto: IV. Niko leads the pack in intimidation because he is probably
the only morally salvageable individual. Niko gives up his troubled past to
pursue the American dream. The protagonist’s true colors shine brightly
throughout the game though, as he is forced into many violent situations. Niko
is the most intimidating of the Grand
Theft Auto protagonists because of how quickly he is able to move on from
psychopathic experiences with other individuals.
- "Life is complicated. When the war came, I did bad things; after the war I thought nothing of doing bad things. I killed people, smuggled people, sold people. Maybe here, things will be different."
7. Ezio (Assassin’s Creed II)
Something about the Assassins Creed II protagonist gives him an intimidating edge that wasn’t quite captured in his former and latter brethren. Any fan will tell you, the Italian’s background more than justifies his sharp personality. You can’t blame a guy for wanting to put his assassin heritage to good use after watching his father and brothers hanged in front of him. As players take control of Ezio, they begin building confidence in how to charm normal folks while taking no mercy on the immoral individuals who ruined his family’s life. When someone jumps of a roof, slits a man’s throat, and seconds later disappears back into everyday life; you are usually dealing with a psychopath. On some level maybe that’s what makes Ezio so intimidating. Any hero who can perform highly murderous acts with such moral ease and perfection, definitely deserve to be on this list.
- "Fear not the darkness - but welcome its embrace."
6. Duke Nukem (Duke Nukem series)
His creative genius may be eternally stuck in the 90’s, but Duke Nukem is a perfect candidate for this list. This is one overly masculine, alien-blasting badass. It’s not just his 200-plus pound, 6’4 build either. Duke started as a quiet action hero hired by the CIA, only to evolve into his own embodiment of wise-cracking destruction. The wise cracks inspired by famous action movies are in fact what probably put this protagonist over the top. His deep voice and harsh personality never sways and has even been used to troll innocent victims in unprotected Ventrillo chats across internet. It was no mistake giving Duke sunglasses, oversized shotgun shells, and fit him with a sleeveless, yet still muscle hugging shirt. Stick a huge cigar in his mouth and you have the cliché 80’s action hero. The developers of Duke Nukem were clearly on a mission to make their protagonists intimidating demeanor last ‘forever’.
- “It’s time to kick ass and chew bubblegum… and I’m all outta gum.”
5. Galen Marek/Starkiller (Star Wars: The Force Unleashed)
He’s a Jedi. Although that should be enough to intimidate any person, there’s a mix of reasons that make Galen Marek a wonderfully brutal hero. Like many characters on this list, Galen began with a troubled personality from a dark past. Players take control of the sith-in-training known as Starkiller, but soon learn how moral and deep his ideals really are. Just like every other choice on this list, all you really have to do is take one look at the guy and understand why you wouldn’t want to cross paths. The man is scarred, battered, and broken looking. With fire in his eyes and a burning vengeance coursing through his body, Galen turns from one of the scariest individuals to ever hold a lightsaber, to playing an integral part in the very formation of the Rebel Alliance that would one day bring down the Empire. Maybe it’s his ability to explode droids with his mind. Maybe it’s his experience tossing people into each other like they are ragdolls. Whatever reason you choose, you will come to the same conclusion. When you create a character, who amazingly once trained with the infamous Darth Vader, you have created one terrifying hero. There’s no doubt Galen Marek will be one of the most intimidating protagonists the universe will ever have to offer.
- “What kind of distraction? An assassination?”
4. Corvo (Dishonored)
After being framed for the murder of the very person he was protecting, Corvo became one of the most unique hero’s ever seen in video games. For starters, Corvo never speaks, giving players their own form of personality through the infamous assassin. On some base level, Dishonored mimics the approach seen in Assasin’s Creed. The games are based on stealthy movements throughout shadows to ultimately commit murderous acts. Corvo goes the extra distance with his story though, which is what pushes him above Ezio on the list. Corvo not only beheads his enemies, but he does so utilizing magical abilities which could arguably come from the devil himself. To top it off, Corvo commits these actions donning a vicious looking mask and mechanically altered human heart. So why exactly is he a protagonist? Corvo does everything for the benefit of his city, rather than becoming moral through a quest of justified revenge like many on this list. The entire Dishonored game actually ends based on the level of chaos Corvo chooses to instill and prevent throughout the game. Is there any better way to show intimidation through a character than having one that looks this scary while being one of the most moral heroes in gaming?
“You watched and listened when other men would have shouted in rage.” (The Outsider to Corvo)
3. Dovahkiin (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)
This is one terrifying protagonist. Dovahkiin, also known
as Dragonborn, are easily one of the most ghastly heroes you will ever come
across. These mortals are extremely unique having the soul of a dragon, but
body of a human being. Aside from looking like he could bench press a building,
Dovahkiin wears a scary horned mask, essentially emulating a dragon as much as
he can. What propels this Dragonborn toward the top of this list is his ability
to consume a dragon’s soul and gain its knowledge. That’s right. He can
actually shout dragons out of the sky, and metaphorically eat them, gaining
their years and years of knowledge. There are few protagonists that instill
fear more than the ultimate dragon slayer.
- “Fus Ro Dah!”
2. Kratos (God of War)
Was there any other character that popped into your mind faster when reading the title of this article? First of all, unless you are King Leonidas, it’s pretty hard to look intimidating in a loincloth. Kratos could be wearing anything and you still would never want to meet face to face with anything that looks like him. It could be the fact that Kratos began as an antihero, ripping through creatures like an egotistical and ignorant powerhouse. He once commanded Sparta’s army, killing hundreds of people for just associating with his enemies. As games were added to the series and time went on though, Kratos grew into hero who would ultimately restore balance of power to mankind. The forever-scowling protagonist is clearly just an intimidating result of years and years being involved with multiple forms of extreme violence. Let’s not forget the intense title of this game either. I’m just saying, no one would be worried about coming face to face with the God of Cupcakes; now would they?
”I am what the gods have made me!”
1. The Nameless One (Planescape: Torment)
Aesthetics are what place The Nameless One, at number one. Just look at him. Of all the protagonists mentioned on this list, none looks quite as horrid and determined. He just looks like the type of person who just won’t quit. In fact, the whole point of Planescape: Torment is that he won’t. The Nameless One has a back story like no other, being immortal and experience multiple lifetimes of violence and pain originating from his own horrible acts. Every time this character ‘dies’, he loses his memories and begins life anew. Sadly, The Nameless One is always determined to finding his memories and learning about his immortality. This is what makes him one of the most tormented souls and overall becomes one of the most terrifying characters in gaming. Imagine having to constantly relearn his terrible past, while always haunted by new realizations of the same horrible memories. It’s a vicious cycle that makes The Nameless One a vicious and ultimately intimidating protagonist.
- “I wonder what it was I said that made death reject me.”
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