There are SPOILERS within this article however, keep in mind before continuing.
So this is my attempt now to list the top 10 badass videogame characters. To me being manly, or being "badass" is a little more complex than just being a hulking piece of killing meat. There are a few things that can qualify a character to me for this title, among them is their physical capability to fight, their intelligence, their attitude, their story roles/purpose and their look. Sometimes also there is an x-factor, a unique justification to keep in mind. So without further ado, let us dive head first into this pit of sweat, blood, and grit that is the top 10 badasses of gaming.
10. Ryu Hayabusa (Ninja Gaiden)
Accomplishments: Has saved the world numerous times from evil, is the star of some of the hardest games ever made, and is a freaking Ninja.
Characteristics: Ryu Hayabusa, star of the Ninja Gaiden series of games, is a pretty simple character. He's very stoic, and never flinches from evil. He's the archetypal badass heroic ninja. Unlike the traditional ninja, he doesn't skulk in shadows, waiting to sneak attack his unsuspecting prey. Instead, he comes at you, because frankly, he doesn't need stealth to utterly annihalate anything in his path. His expertise in a variety of melee weapons is unequalled, and he wields everything from a katana to a kasuragami to get the job done. He makes the player feel powerful, yet at the same time, the challenge of the Ninja Gaiden series makes Hayabusa a man of supreme skill. It's all the more impressive that he can cause so much destruction when every enemy he faces is actually a major threat. However he does seem to lack much of a personality, and is always woodenly acted. As well as that, he never displays much of a reaction to the fact that he saves several hot women through his adventures. He probably gets even less than Mario.
Assessment: Hayabusa scores perfectly on ability to fight, and has a badass look. However the lack of narrative related badassery and a boring attitude keeps him being higher on this list.
9. Garrus Vakarian (Mass Effect)
Accomplishments: Aided Commander Shepard in combatting the Reapers twice. Formed a squad of vigilantes who managed to raise hell on Omega, and succeeded in surviving an intense siege for several hours singlehandedly against the best mercenaries Omega, the scum den of the Universe had to offer.
Characteristics: Garrus Vakarian is an interesting character in an already interesting universe. Originally an officer in Citadel Security, his sense of justice made him rail at the bureaucracy imposed on his activities. He joins Commander Shepard to learn how he can make a true difference in enforcing the law. He is not truly badass in the first game, but he organically becomes one through his growth of experience. His stint as Archangel on Omega, the leader of a group of vigilantes sick of putting up with the rule of organised crime there, was his baptism of fire, an experience which crafts him into a survivor and a warrior, capable of joining Shepard a second time in the war against the Reapers. He displays a brilliantly irreverant attitude: he has a sense of humour but knows when to take things seriously, and he is one of the romantic interests available to a female Commander Shepard in Mass Effect 2. In every scene and every line he utters he comes across as confident, just and courageous. Mass Effect 2 however does allow a choice in regards to Garrus' character development, which may very well alter his future appearances in the series. His only weakness arguably his appearance, as though the Turian race look intimidating, they also look very similar to one another, and Garrus does not look particularly imposing when placed next to say, a Krogan. Looks can be deceptive as the popular saying goes though.
Assessment: His ability to fight is impressive, he is a three dimensional character with a purpose and belief in himself. However he doesn't quite maximise the effectiveness of any of these characteristics, but his organic growth from have a go hero to true badass is fun to see.
8.Mike Haggar (Final Fight)
Accomplishments: Becomes the Mayor of Metro City through a unique campaign; cleaning the streets up with his own bear like hands.
Characteristics: Mike Haggar is a MAN's Politician. No flimsy excuses, no wordy debates, no sycophants, no broken promises. A former Pro wrestler with a call of duty to his fair city, Mike Haggar wants to see one thing and one thing only: The end of crime in Metro City. With a little help from Guy and Cody, Mike Haggar wins votes and piledrives no gooders with a forthright blitzkrieg strategy. There isn't much more else to say. The Dude piledrives SHARKS!.
Assessment: Haggar has the physique, he has the manly moustache, and he has the goal. Only thing is he of course lacks much else in the way of great story direction, but that's probably more the games fault than his.
7. Regnier (Kingdom Under Fire)
Accomplishments: Both Bersia's greatest hero and most feared terror, the former Rick Miner died fighting against the attempts of the demon realm Encablossa to destroy the Age of Light, only to be resurrected as Rick Blood, an immortal. He would proceed to save the Age of Light. His resurrection had a price however, and now as Regnier, he spreads terror throughout the land as an envoy of Encablossa, as unstoppable as he was as Rick blood.
Characteristics: The story of Regnier is a fairly tragic one. His daughter was born without a soul, and he was forced to send his own wife to a sanitarium when she tried to kill her. Despite this difficult emotional turmoil, he marched into battle to face the Arch Lich Kiliani, where he met his end. Or so it seemed, as he would be resurrected by the Ancient Heart, a divine artifact, and made immortal. Thanks to this power he defeated Kiliani under the name Rick blood and passed onto legend. But 50 years later he would resurface, seeking to do whatever it took to break the control the Ancient Heart has over him. To this end he embarked on a campaign slaughtering numerous hardened warriors, eventually destroying the Ancient Heart during a battle with the human warrior Walter. However this would not be the end. Transported to Encablossa, Regnier would be cleansed of his human past, and becomes the vanguard of the Encablossian army. Through a strange course of events Bersia's greatest hero has become it's greatest threat. Regnier is truly feared by all but a few men in the land of Bersia. He is beyond intimidating, looking almost like an ogre. He is driven by a desire to find his freedom from his divine cage, but has now become the same as the creature he defeated to gain his notoriety in the first place.
Assessment: Perhaps none of this matters as much as to much of a badass he is, other than the fact that he has rarely been defeated and is made to appear as fearsome as a demon to his enemies. However the Age of Light has chosen it's own protector in kendall to face him in battle, and chances are in the next game he will fall in defeat, so he loses a few points for that.
6. Rugal Bernstein (The King of Fighters)
Accomplishments: He encases the fighters he beats in metal statues which he decorates his air ship with. Also seems to keep coming back as if death really means nothing to him. Oh and three words for ya. SNK Boss Syndrome. GENOCIDE CUTTAH!!!
Characteristics: Rugal Bernstein, is an intimidating figure. He's tall, imposing, and owns a spaceship littered with statues of his dead opponents with their bodies encased into them. He is also the creator of one of the most overpowered, over prioritized bullshit cheap moves ever, the Genocide cutter. Then there's the Omega version powered by Orochi divine power, and hell, his souped up version in Capcom vs SNK 2 is called "God" Rugal. He definitely has a god complex and arguably the fighting power and the regalness to back it up. Even his secretaries could rip you limb from limb. Just making an appointment to see this dude and continuing to live is an achievement. Still though, guy can't seem to beat Kyo Kusanagi. But every villain seems to have a goody goody who just has their number. The fact he keeps coming back and won't give up shows Rugal Bernstein is still a true badass.
Assessment: Would you mess with this guy? Thought not. Rugal is the true SNK boss and that's enough for a good spot on this list.
5. The Doom Marine (Doom)
Accomplishments: When the human race fucks up and opens the gates of hell, this man didn't shut them. He went in there and fucked the demon race up!
Characteristics: This guy... well he doesn't have much of a personality, it's true. Although I always regarded the expressions on his face that you see at the bottom of the screen a nice touch. The smirk on his face when he picked up a nasty weapon to eviscerate demons with probably mirrored the players and I appreciate that. But here's the thing. Demons are the epitome of badass mooks. Forget bugs, aliens, soldiers or rats. Demons are what badasses like this gentleman kill. Suriving the denizens of hell he made a trip to the other side and took on all comers, letting blood in an endless sea of flames with his shotgun, his BFG, his bare hands if he had to. The Doom marine is a legend of the FPS genre, and every imp, every baron of hell, and every Cyberdemon he brings down is just another notch on the reasons of why he deserves to count himself among this list.
Assessment: His rampage through hell more than proves his fighting ability. His look is generic however but being able to see his face is a nice touch which shows he has attitude. Sometimes you just can't really argue with a guy who rode through hell and back, spilling blood all along the way.
4. Yuri Volte Hyuga (Shadow Hearts)
Accomplishments: He earned his nickname of "God Killer". Possessed by the spirit of Amon making him kindred with the most badass manga character of all time, Devilman. And he is stylish in doing it.
Characteristics: JRPG characters tend to not be very badass to be honest. They have to be young pretty boys a lot of the time, who really takes that seriously? Yuri is an exception. His story is one of love and loss, being forced to watch his love Alice die in his arms. This writer appreciates the very deep and sympathetic character that Yuri has, but what's important is he doesn't let it distract him too much from getting the job done, fighting evil, making irreverant comments to his foes before proceeding to kick their asses. He can count the demons Asmodeus and Astaroth among his conquered foes, so yeah, he's got quite the victim list. But perhaps it is emotional fragility that makes him seem so impressive a character. Being badass isn't just about violence and it isn't just about looking cool. To this writer, it's just as much about having the balls to stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves, and fighting to protect the ones you love. Yuri Volte Hyuga is a guy we can identify with, and yet he is what we should all aspire to me, willing to do anything to save the ones he cares for.
Assessment: The guy can turn into various demon forms so whatever his appearance there's no doubt about it; he looks badass. He also is a superbly written protagonist whom comes across as a genuinely strong willed double tough fighter without coming across as just being carried by plot armour. And he has a soul. There may not be any badass on this list with a more complex personality than this character, actually there definitely isn't.
3. William "BJ" Blazkowicz (Wolfenstein)
Accomplishments: Singlehandedly won us World War 2 against a supernatural horde of demonic and technologically advanced Nazis.
Characteristics:BJ Blaskowicz, so badass he can get away with being nicknamed "BJ", is actually the original FPS character, making his debut in the legendary Wolfenstein 3D. Without a doubt Nazis are a very popular enemy in videogames and Wolfenstein romanticizes things strongly, with the Nazi's occult aspect featuring, as well as the presence of technology which has no business being in the 1940s. But before his confrontation and victory against the mechanized fascist dictator, he would consistently lead successful covert campaigns freeing villages and towns from Nazi control and foiling their various experiments with the undead and the Black Sun dimension.
Assessment: One could argue whether or not the idea of Wolfenstein is a little tasteless, glorifying a bloody war with the supernatural and a character who could only be described as a mythical super soldier. I however believe he makes a good representation of the will to fight against the Nazi's, and that makes him a hell of a badass character, and in videogames metaphors work better in this writers view, as long as one doesn't take the material lightly.
2. Big Boss (Metal Gear)
Accomplishments: The greatest soldier to ever live, prevented a nuclear war in a covert operation to stop rogue Russian general Volgin, fought and killed his own mentor, contributed sperm for the creation of the two other badasses in series, and stood up for the values of honourable warfare in the face of Patriot takeover.
Characteristics:Okay here we are, to the land of flawless, pure badassery. Big Boss, formerly Naked Snake, was a soldier dedicated to the cause of his country. Expertly skilled in the use of firearms and close quarter combat techniques, he received his training from The Boss, a female soldier who made her name during the Second World War in legendary operations. Sent on a mission to the Russian Caucases to investigate the abduction of a Weapons research scientist in Russia, Naked Snake would find his mission to be a failure at the last moment due to the defection of The Boss to Russia. Surviving being tossed off a bridge, he was sent right back in with the same mission as before, and a new one: kill The Boss. He would face The Boss' elite unit, he would face Volgin himself, and in the midst of battle, he would kill his own mentor in a battle willed by his own country. As a soldier his technique was flawless, his sense of duty and determination unmatched. But what makes him so badass to me is that whilst he carried out his duty, he carried the grave injustices which came with them and never lost sight of an ideal world, a world free of control, a world free of men dying for unjust causes. This of course would lead to his antagonistic roles in Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, where he his defeated twice by his genetic offspring, Solid Snake. Because after all, only Big Boss could beat Big Boss. Logic works. But eventually Big Boss would show he's too awesome for death, at the end of MGS4 delivering a heart felt apology for what he felt were his mistakes that led to the messy political situations that the MGS series takes place in. Sometimes, being a man, being a true man is being able to accept and regret ones mistakes. Then, having imparted all he wanted to to Snake and not a moment before, did he finally let death take him. Only because he let it most likely...
Assessment: His fighting skills were unrivalled, his actions caused massive reverberations in the Metal gear Solid universe, and he is the model for a patriotic and courageous soldier, and in the end, he could take responsibility for his actions and the the impact they had on others. Truly, one of the most respectable and complex characters to ever come out of our medium, and yeah, pretty badass to boot.
1. Duke Nukem (Duke Nukem)
Accomplishments: He saved our chicks from Alien scum whilst spouting the best one liners in the biz. Also has one of the most badass theme tunes ever.
Characteristics:Duke Nukem... well lets be honest. He isn't a deep character. He isn't in games with deep plots. But the fact of the matter is, when alien scum come and take our chicks, a most heinous and brazen act on their part, this man is the ONLY man I'd trust to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and hey, he's outta gum. So it's all ass kicking from here on out. From the original sidescrollers to the legendary Duke Nukem 3D, Nukem blasted his way through an entire race in a genocidal manner that probably made Samus Aran go "goddamn Duke!". No doubt whilst in bed with him... hey, unlike some heroes *Cough* Hayabusa *cough* you know this guy gets laid by all the chicks he saves. And you know what? When he told the Overlord he was gonna rip his head off and shit down his neck, he did it. True Badasses mean what they say. Hail to the King of Badasses, baby!
Assessment: Duke was always going to top this list. That's the only assessment you need.