5 Memorable Antagonists
Nearly every game has an antagonist. Whether it’s a being of untold power, or your fellow man, over decades we’ve faced off against those we’ve come to love as well as those we’ve only developed a stronger hatred for. Today, we pay respects to a few of the enemies who left a mark on gaming in their own ways.
#5—Yellow 13, Ace Combat 4
Fans of the series will have fond memories of Yellow 13, the unnamed leader of the infamous Yellow Squadron of the Erusean Airforce during the events of Ace Combat 4. During repeated encounters and cutscenes through the game, players were treated to a surprisingly compelling character that was known as an unforgivably difficult enemy for his time in terms of AI, and one of the more ‘human’ feeling antagonists for the time when the game was released.
He was also an honorable foe, expressing not anger or a lust for vengeance for the player, but a mutual respect, knowing they were just two pilots on opposite sides of the war–pawns on a chess board, going where they were needed. Yellow 13 would meet his end making a final stand over the capital of Erusea, before being shot down in flames of glory, a warrior’s end among the skies.
#4—Mehrunes Dagon, The Elder Scrolls (series)
The Daedric Prince of Destruction, Mehrunes Dagon has been a lingering shadow throughout the entirety of the Elder Scrolls series. Motivated by a lust of conquest, and a need for chaos, Dagon’s goal is a simple one beyond the complexity he has used to attempt to gain it; the mortal world of Nirn, specifically the continent of Tamriel, is but a victory away from being his foothold in the plane of mortals.
While he is the deity behind some of the most infamous moments in the franchise, his closest claim to victory would come during The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. He had a mortal cult worshiping him called the Mythic Dawn, and they nearly ended the blessed Septim bloodline that controlled the Amulet of Kings which was a necessary tool to ‘close shut the jaws of oblivion’. The only thing that stopped him was a determined hero (the player) and a son of the Emperor that had been hidden away none-the wiser. The two would face down Dagon when he laid siege to the Imperial City, and it was only due to the power of the Amulet of Kings that Dagon’s plans were thwarted.
#3—Andrew Ryan, BioShock
Andrew Ryan is the eccentric business tycoon at the center of the jewel of the sea, Rapture. A city built beyond the reaches of global governments, with the mantra “No Gods, No Kings, Only Man.” A man in defiance of authority, a believer in absolute freedom for man and woman to pursue a life they see fit without traditional laws and regulations.
Where Rapture would see initial successes, over time Andrew would see his dream of this entrepreneurial Utopia start to crumble and he’d find himself becoming the very thing he hated as he tried to keep his crowning achievement from slipping away from him. Even in the final days of Rapture, as the population dwindles and writhes and pain and the city crumbles around him, he stands defiant. Rather than concede, he concludes “A man chooses, a slave obeys” and uses the player as a means to meet his end.
#2—Arthas Menethil, Warcraft III/World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
When a desire for victory goes to far, it can drive even the most good-hearted people into doing despicable acts of evil. Arthas Menethil’s fall from grace began during Warcraft III, as the young paladin’s desire for glory, as well as victory by any means necessary, leads him to slaughter the City of Stratholme. Knowing that the city had received tainted grains that would turn those who ingested it into the undead, Arthas adopted a scorched earth policy. He didn’t wait to confirm who was infected, and who wasn’t; he killed them all.
It was a first step of many in his corruption, which would lead to him killing his own father after picking up a cursed blade called Frostmourne, and later still, becoming the dreaded Lich King, the leader of the undead scourge of Northrend. Arthas would stand defiant to the end of the World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King, and it was only then that his humanity shone through as he made his peace with his father’s ghost.
#1—Big Boss, Metal Gear (series)
What happens when everything you stood for betrays you? That is the question that Big Boss had answered. Once a patriotic American soldier in the height of the Cold War, that would all change following the events of Operation: Snake Eater when he found out his orders were a mixture of lies and half truths. He would slip away from the country he once fought for, and with the help of interested allies, founded Militaires Sans Frontieres (Soldiers Without Borders).
A neutral party on the global stage, the MSF was a mercenary organization that gave home to soldiers that had lost a cause to fight for, or had been abandoned and betrayed by their own home nations. It was only when MSF fell victim to a trojan-horse attack under cover of nightfall, as Big Boss saw all he had built and many of those who followed him die in front of him, that something inside of Big Boss would break.
Following a nine year coma, when Big Boss would awake he’d be consumed with ambition and revenge. His goal was to rebuild in secrecy, and the only way he could possibly do that was to divert attention. His most trusted lieutenant, also in a coma, underwent facial surgery and hypnosis so that when he awoke he believed he was Big Boss. A sinister plot, and one that would buy Big Boss enough time before initiating an uprising several years later where he would seize a small nation with the goal of taking on the world. A goal, to give soldiers eternal purpose instead of being cast aside.
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