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Protagonists of our favorite video games are probably what makes them so great in our eyes. Nobody likes to be stuck controlling a flat, badly developed character with no arc and no distinguishable motivation, because those things are crucial for our suspension of disbelief. But luckily for us, there are many heroes that we can control and enjoy their complexity and the way they evolve throughout the game.

However, some of them have such complex, rich personalities that they are not completely white on the black-white spectrum and could fill greater shoes than those of a stereotypical hero we are used to in most cases. In fact, we could think of quite a few that would also work great as antagonists.

Are you having ideas already, or is your mind completely blank? Not to worry, we’ve comprised a list of 10 video game heroes that could also be kickass bad guys, so take a look!

10. Pac-Man
Pacman arcade

Pac-Man is one of gaming’s favourite sons, and his story seems to be a fairly simple and one-sided one. As he works his way through a maze satisfying his seemingly endless hunger eating all available Pac-dots, he also defends himself against approaching “ghosts” to survive.

But what if he isn’t the flawless hero we all think he is? We’ve come to consider that the sustenance Pac-Man devours belongs to him, but what if it isn’t collected by the man himself? What if he’s stealing from the poor ghosts who chase him away to stop him stealing their harvest?

Now, I’m not suggesting you suddenly re-think your whole Pac-Man outlook, but consider the possibility of an alternative title where players control their team of ghosts trying to protect their food from a greedy, yellow murderer. I know I’d play it!

9. Ezio Auditore

As the most charismatic member of the creed of assassins to date, Ezio will certainly be many gamers’ favourite. His story, however, is essentially the same as that of the other assassins in the series, and so realistically, this next point could apply to any one of them.

The Templars, the major “antagonists” of the Assassin’s Creed series, are in fact based on a far more noble order than the games would have you believe. During the Crusades, the order of the Knights Templar was conceived to halt the growth of crime that saw many pilgrims slaughtered as they went in search of Holy lands around Jerusalem.

Surely the Templars would make a far more heroic faction in the series, with the sly, skulking assassins doing everything they can to undermine the noble order? And why choose Ezio to stand as villain-in-chief over the others? Well, everyone likes a charming villain, don’t they?!

8. Gex

There aren’t many anthropomorphized geckos in gaming history, and so it may seem a shame to knock the heroic credentials of the most famous of them.

TV-loving super sleuth Gex, however, certainly has the type of backstory that would make him an intriguing villain as well. Hiding a grieving past behind a carefree love of entertainment, Gex could quite easily have slipped into a spiral of angry despair and sought revenge against the people responsible for his father’s death.

When then given the opportunity to become the face of Rez’s plot for world domination, Gex could easily have let his grief get the better of him and become an acrobatic evil like none other. Sadly, however, this does beg the question of just who may want to stand against the smart-alec lizard.

7. Bayonetta

Certainly one of the least farfetched theories on this list would be that of considering how a violent witch that fights against a race of angels could become a great gaming villain. After all, she’s a violent witch that fights against a race of angels.

Bayonetta’s past is such that her birth caused a mass conflict between previously peaceful clans, leading to her being expelled from their world and sealed away for 500 years. This results in the angels becoming her antagonists, but who’s to say which of these clans is actually the good and which is the evil?

Tradition dictates that angels are good and witches are evil, while Bayonetta’s aggressive nature and use of “torture attacks” certainly suggests the same is true. Fighting against such a powerful and ruthless foe would be an intriguing twist on the Bayonetta formula, and she certainly has the fiery personality to make her a formidable villain!

6. The Dragonborn

This character may have no fixed personality or behaviour since it simply stands as the base for the player’s avatar in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but there’s more than enough built into the story around the character that would make the Dragonborn a fearsome enemy.

Able to defeat challengers with the power of just a throaty shout, the Dragonborn carries the kind of ridiculous powers that are usually reserved for a game’s biggest and baddest. How often is a hero so overpowered?

Let’s couple the Dragonborn’s immense power with the fact that, at some point, near enough every one of you would have turned him effortlessly into a murderous, thieving rogue and you’ll realize just how high the potential for evil is.

5. Lee Everett

Telltale’s The Walking Dead proved to be an acclaimed masterpiece when its first season launched a few years ago, not least for its large cast of diverse and complex surviving characters.

At the front of this was Lee, who had far more to his person than just being your typical hero. If you haven’t played the game, I have to warn you that spoilers will follow. I also have to urge that you immediately stop reading this and go play it.

Anyway, as the game unravels, players learn that their seemingly responsible and sensible hero Lee started the game in the back of a cop car as he was being tried for murder. And he eventually makes no bones about the fact that he did it. While he remains a caring and stoic guardian for Clementine, he could just as easily have bowed to the increasing pressure and become more of a threat to the survivors than the hordes of undead swarming around them.

Switching the perspective later in the game while he lived up to his reputation would have made for a surprising twist, and a spurned and chastised Lee could have become a terrifying antagonist.

4. Lara Croft

You may be cursing me for suggesting your earliest gaming crush could possibly anything other than the exciting adventurous heroine we all know her to be, but just hear me out for a second and let’s consider her lifestyle.

Croft, though the victim of some undeniably hard times, is essentially a glorified jewellery thief. She’s smart, resourceful and – eventually – quite the scrappy fighter when she needs to be. In her games, we take it as red that she’s entitled to liberate the trinkets and treasures she desires, but what if she isn’t quite as welcome as we believe?

Several games these days put players in the shoes of these daring adventurers, but standing as the guardians of these ancient beauties while pilfering thieves attempt to snatch them could be an interesting take on an established formula.

3. Commander Shepard

Shepard could fall into the same customizable category as the Dragonborn did earlier on in this list, but here, we’re looking at the stock Commander Shepard. You know, the one whose face is on the box.

Many may see Shepard as an intergalactic hero who saves countless lives from alien threats, and question how anyone could truly be considered more of a villain in the piece than EA were after they botched the ending of a truly great trilogy.

Shepard’s personality, however, is packed full of the type of narcissistic tendencies than many great villains carry. He’s selfish, manipulative to the point of dragging spellbound souls on suicide missions with him and he’s also a notorious Lothario. He happens upon heroism in the Mass Effect trilogy, but in another life he could just as easily have become a despised evil-doer.

2. Big Boss

More of a moniker or a legend than an actual person these days, Big Boss has served players as the protagonist for a number of the more recent Metal Gear Solid games. Most recently, the face behind the name has changed (slightly!), but the heritage of the character lives on.

While Boss is a truly impressive hero, his physical attributes and perceived immortality in the face of so many disasters could easily translate him into the role of a menacing villain. He’s ruthlessly efficient, intelligent beyond comprehension and able to avoid detection in even the most barren landscapes. He’s also lost a heck of a lot through his life and would have had more than enough reasons to go rogue if he ever chose to.

And the cherry on the cake? Boss can run 100 metres in near world record time at 11 seconds. And how do I know this? Because I have too much time on my hands and decided to time it during a playthrough of The Phantom Pain.

He’s genuinely almost as fast as his horse, the crazy bastard…

1. Trevor Phillips

But speaking of crazy bastards, we’ve come to the head of our list, and the gaming “hero” who could most easily become a psychotic villain is GTA V’s Trevor Phillips. Trevor is essentially the character that embodies the classic GTA habits of most of the series’ players, and it’s no major stretch to imagine him as a tyrannical villain rather than a puzzling hero.

Trevor’s apparent indifference to experiencing pain is matched only by the motivation he gathers by inflicting pain upon other victims, no matter who they may be. Trevor would be the evil-for-evil’s-sake type of villain; the kind of murderous psycho that everyone prays doesn’t exist in the real world anymore.

He is, what we Brits like to call, an absolute nutter and is pretty much bordering on villainy with every move he makes across the San Andreas landscape. Is there any gaming hero more easily suited to make the transition to villain? Not bloody likely, but let us know what gaming heroes you think are tottering on the borders of good and evil in the comments section below!


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