While we talk plenty about what brings the player into a video game and story, this is often the most immediate method: an interesting protagonist. When it comes to video games, there are plenty kinds of protagonists: the old school gaming heroes like Link, Megaman, and Mario may jump to mind first, or characters at the helm of major series like Commander Shepard (from Mass Effect) and Marcus Fenix (from Gears of War.) But that certainly isn’t the only kind of character that capture the attention of players.
With that in mind, these are the most interesting video game protagonists of the last ten years.
- Master Chief – The Halo series:
Master Chief is perhaps one of the most recognizable characters of gaming, and we haven’t really even seen his face.
How’s that for a protagonist?
Master Chief captures gamers through his role in one of the most intriguing and iconic stories in gaming today, the Halo series. Chief’s character is well built and perfect for the Halo universe.
After all, he’s a spartan. Even his existence alone introduce very interesting questions for the universe itself, something Halo games are adept at doing.
- Niko Bellic – Grand Theft Auto IV:
Niko Bellic is likely the most iconic voice in all of the Grand Theft Auto Games, if not second to his cousin Roman.
Bellic captures the audience from the beginning of the fantastic story of Grand Theft Auto IV, and brings the player right into the life of an immigrant trying to make it in a world of crime, and declining calls from your cousin to go bowling constantly all the while.
Bellic’s enemies and friends alike feel very real, and it’s certainly a help that Grand Theft Auto IV had perhaps the best story of the series up to that point.
- Lee Everett – The Walking Dead Game Season 1:
If you played him correctly (and even if you didn’t,) Lee Everett is one of the most recognized and pivotal protagonists of the last ten years, appearing in the game of the year winning Walking Dead Game Season 1.
Lee also becomes a hero perhaps the quickest of any others.
The character first sees Lee in a cop car, charged with assaulting and murdering a man. As the story progresses, it doesn’t take long for this former criminal to rescue and take in a young girl in the neighborhood, Clementine. Lee’s journey then becomes keeping Clementine safe, and finding the girl’s parents if they’re still around.
Lee’s journey is full of highs and devastating lows, and Everett is such a strong character (and you decide so much yourself) that the result is you feel every bit of it.
- John Marshton – Red Dead Redemption:
Red Dead Redemption has one of the most vibrant universes Rockstar has ever created, and an authentic road of real characters all the way down the line of its amazing and engaging story.
When you first meet John Marston you see him in the aftermath of a near lethal betrayal where he was left to die. You play through Marston’s redemptive journey to return to the world.
Marston’s motivations and conflicts are incredibly real, and reach the audience perfectly throughout.
The connection formed leaves the player in awe as the incredibly unique conclusion comes with Marston facing a firing line of his foes.
- Clementine – The Walking Dead Game Season 2:
Clementine certainly breaks the mold of a traditional hero, but does so in every conceivable wonderful and badass way.
In the aftermath of the Walking Dead Game Season 1 we are left with a Clementine hardened over a long journey of victory and triumph in a world of survivors. Clementine grows from an innocent naïve young girl to a more hardened and adept warrior, still keeping her morale compass.
Clementine’s journey continues in the Walking Dead Game Season 2, as Clementine pushes to survive, no longer looking for her parents.
Clementine has been taught well by Lee Everett, but it’s a grueling world that few make it in. Players who have already attached to Clementine through her own great character arc begin a whole new one determined to succeed where some characters failed in Season 1.