Last time, we talked about our favorite characters, so today, of course, we get to rail on about the characters that we hated: the Worst Characters of 2015. No, we’re not talking about great villains. As you may remember, we talked a lot about villains last time, and a couple of us even nominated the Bloody Baron from the Witcher 3. No, today we’re going to talk about characters we hate for other reasons…reasons outside of the actual game: poorly-written, annoying, or otherwise worthless characters that just make the game experience worse in some way.
Gareth Newnham, News and Reviews Writer – My pick for worst character goes to Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight. The Joker was always going to be some huge clown shoes to fill, but the pair are both incredibly dull and one dimensional in comparison to the other villains vying for screen time, which makes you wonder why they chose them in the first place. This is all the more disappointing as far as Scarecrow is concerned because not only is he one of DC’s most interesting and legitimately creepy villains, but he was possibly the best thing about Arkham Asylum. Sneaking up, gassing Batman, and then running off to leave poor Brucie to relive his parents’ death all over again before appearing to become a giant and tear the Asylum apart in some incredibly trippy and memorable moments. However in Arkham Knight, he’s just an obnoxious voice-over. Even the thugs get sick of him, remarking how they don’t miss his sermons on fear after you’ve defeated him.
And the Arkham Knight’s only reason for existing is to throw you off the scent to his true identity. The problem is, the only thing he ever does is tell you how much he hates Batman. Every encounter, every conversation with the Dark Knight or other villains or even his own militia: “I hate Batman,” “oh did you know I hate Batman?” “By the way, I really hate Batman.” It’s almost as if he protests just a little too much. Then, when he’s finally unmasked…well anyone who has ever read a Batman comic will see it coming a mile off and even if you hadn’t, his identity was so heavily telegraphed they may as well have just spray painted his name on his body armour and been done with it.
My pick for Joker as the best of 2015 was a clear choice for me: a psychological, mysterious, funny, well-acted and truly evil villain that fits so well into the Arkham Universe. My choice for worst character is the Arkham Knight. (warning, spoilers follow)As per Gareth’s reasons, he’s annoying, predictable, poorly-written and, frankly, boring; in other words, the complete opposite of Joker. I am not a big comic book reader, so didn’t know much about his true identity, but it didn’t matter anyway because the game gave it away hours before the big reveal. The game is called Batman: Arkham Knight. He’s obviously one of the most important factors to the storyline and something that Rocksteady were hinging the whole marketing process around. Unfortunately, he didn’t even come close to living up to the hype, and it was the Clown Prince who regained his crown as the ultimate villain in the end, and rightly so.
Reid A Gacke, Editor in Chief (@OnlySP_Reid) – Since I can’t really nominate the whole cast from Kyn (though Brahm is a strong contender by himself) and because Hideo Kojima isn’t a video game character (bear with me), I’m going to have to give this nomination to Quiet from Metal Gear Solid V. Fair warning, I did not play Metal Gear Solid V, so I can’t speak specifically to Quiet’s character perse (though all the clips I’ve seen make her seem very Mary Stu-ish and irritating), but rather how Hideo Kojima chose to portray her…or, rather, how he chose to justify that portrayal.
Let’s get one thing straight. If Hideo Kojima had just made yet another scantily-clad, buxom lady supporting character in an action game, Quiet wouldn’t even be a consideration for this award and good ol’ Brahm would be walking away with it with his empty head held high (friggen’ idiot…). She wouldn’t even be a contender for Best Character, of course, but she wouldn’t be the first, nor the last, female character showing too much skin in a game. And you know what? I honestly don’t even care about that. In fact, I generally enjoy sex appeal – even unwarranted and overabundant sex appeal – in games and I think if we had more variety of portrayal of female characters in general, there wouldn’t even be a discussion to have about it. The fact that Quiet is so oversexualized is a problem, perhaps. but even that doesn’t bother me much. Again, she’s hardly the first and she definitely won’t be the last.
It’s the fact that Hideo Kojima chose to try and justify this oversexualization – and in the absolute stupidest way possible – that clinches this award for Quiet. She breathes through her skin? Are you kidding me, Kojima? You promised us early on an actual justification for her scanty clothing – which, yes, I agree is silly for a bad ass, combat-ready woman but is also a justification that really wasn’t needed in a series that is already over-the-top, silly action – but what you gave us was worse than having no justification at all. It was an excuse to make nearly every scene she’s in into a wet t-shirt contest without the t-shirt and it made every scene with her in it cringe-worthy and difficult to watch. And besides, her design doesn’t even back up that justification. She could be wearing daisy dukes and a tube top and have the same amount (or more) skin exposed than she does now with those stupid tattered tights. Just not as much “intimate” skin. Which reveals Kojima’s true motivation: he was going for sex appeal, plain and simple (as if we had any doubt). Again, that would have been fine…if he respected us enough to just admit it.
I’m not even telling Kojima to keep it in his pants here. I just wish video game creators would have the balls to stand by their decisions and stop trying to justify them in the stupidest ways possible. If you think the fact that putting one of your characters in the skimpiest, most fetishistic outfits you can imagine will draw the ire of a certain sect of the gaming community, then you have to make a decision: either stand by the design bravely and take the heat – a stance I would actually respect – or, if it really bothers you that much, don’t do it. You can’t please all the people all the time and giving us a poor justification for a decision obviously made solely by your libido isn’t going to pacify anyone. It’s only going to piss off people that wouldn’t have cared in the first place. Like yours truly.
My first nomination is GORTYS from Tales from the Borderlands. I would have enjoyed that game so much more without that character. Part of it is that voice. Oh my god, that voice! But what makes it infinitely worse is that GORTYS is such a huge part of the overall story arc. Yeah, that story arc that seems like it was conceived of by a six year-old. That one.
To be fair, I really dislike CLAPTRAP too, and am annoyed to no end that Gearbox insists on using him as some sort of mascot for the Borderlands games. For me, both of those robots are the Jar Jar Binks, of Borderlands, minus the racial undertones of course.
My other nomination is Halo 5: Guardian’s Kelly-087, from Master Chief’s Blue Team. I’ve already gone on, at length, about the companions in Halo 5: Guardians, but I’ll use this opportunity to again express my disappointment.
A token female characters to facilitate online co-op, is just wrong and Kelly really is the ultimate token female character, in Halo 5. Microsoft and 343 obviously went out of their way to make sure the teams had an even amount of male and female characters. Unfortunately, none of those female teammates say or do anything.
If you’ve read the Halo books and watched the animated series, you should know who Kelly-087 is. She really has a pretty awesome back story, personality, and even some unique abilities. Unfortunately, the game reveals almost none of that and reduces both her and Linda-058 to “the girl characters” on Master Chief’s team.
There is plenty more wrong with narrative in Halo 5: Guardians, but again I’ve already weighed in on that topic, at length.