Characters vastly improved by sequels

Big Daddies in BioShock 2


The surreally outdated diving suits. The massive metal helmets that seem too heavy for any normal human being to wear without snapping his neck. The glowing mechanical eyes that switch from yellow to red, indicating an even scarier switch on the inside, from a temperament of indifference to one of homicidal rage. The crushing footsteps and echoing moans. The drill.

Big Daddies were instantly iconic monsters even before we first played BioShock – the early concept art alone was enough to disturb our dreams – but they were still only that. Monsters. We feared them. We maybe felt a little sorry for them. Until BioShock 2, though, we didn’t understand them.


Darth Vader should serve as a warning: The more you know about a villain, the less frightening and interesting he becomes. Somewhat miraculously, however, the opposite is true of Big Daddies in BioShock 2. Discovering exactly how these pitiful creatures are created, trained and bonded to the Little Sisters, as well as what kind of undeserving people are chosen for transformation – prisoners, political dissidents, whistleblowers – intensifies the terror and tragedy you experience when killing them.

These aren’t monsters. That Big Daddy is Mark Meltzer, a devoted father who traveled to Rapture in search of his kidnapped daughter, only to be captured himself and offered a choice: die now, or live forever as a mindless slave bonded to your corpse-harvesting child. That Big Daddy over there is Augustus Sinclair, a former friendly guide who fights the genetic brainwashing long enough to help you one last time, then begs you to put him out of his misery. And that Big Daddy in the water’s reflection? The Big Daddy who, despite years of mutation and mutilation, possesses the free will and moral code to take down Rapture’s new tyrant? That’s you.

Dom Santiago in Gears of War 2


Marcus is the gruff one. Baird is the cocky one. Cole is the black one. And Dom is the nice one. That’s about as deep as character development goes in 2006’s Gears of War – a couple of unique details for each macho meathead to guarantee that players can tell their identically, freakishly bulging bodies apart. We do hear a lot about how Dom has a wife and how Dom is searching for said wife, but apparently the quest is never urgent enough for him to abandon his military duty or stop following Marcus around. After all, Dom is just a sidekick.


What do you remember most about the story in Gears of War 2? What scene stands out the clearest in your mind? For us, the answer is obvious, and has nothing to do with Lightmass bombs or Riftworm assholes – it’s the long, quiet and heartbreaking moment when Dom finally finds Maria. Her condition and his reaction to her condition are a shock, but what’s equally surprising is that the game tosses Marcus Fenix aside in order to focus on them. Dom and Maria are the clear heart of this sequel’s narrative, the charged emotional core that sets Gears apart from other shooter franchises. At one point, the protagonist is even following the sidekick through missions.

Perhaps Marcus will regain narrative dominance while searching for his father or vaguely romancing Anya in Gears of War 3. Then again, have you seen Dom’s epic mega-beard? We know who we’re picking in co-op.

“Soap” MacTavish in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2


Muppet. Fucking New Guy. Bravo Six. Soap. How else are we supposed to describe Sergeant John MacTavish in Modern Warfare, when he’s nothing more than a pair of weapon-wielding hands for the player to control? All that really defines our protagonist are the reactions (or nicknames) he inspires in other characters like Captain Price. And if gaming’s greatest mustache views Soap as a reliable rookie – but a rookie, nonetheless – then so do we.


What a difference five years can make! By the time Modern Warfare 2 begins, Soap basically is Captain Price. He’s risen to the same rank. He leads an equally secretive and selective team, to whom he assigns equally random call signs like “Roach.” He even has a signature hairdo, trading the traditional mustache and muttonchops for a fashion-forward mohawk. The developers definitely want you to draw this comparison, too… just like Price, Soap smokes before your first mission together, and just like Price, Soap saves you from a lethal plummet before that mission is complete.

Filling the void left by Captain Price’s assumed death in Modern Warfare 1 would have been cool enough, easily worthy of inclusion on this list, but then Captain Price returned and we got two Captain Prices in a single game. Bliss.


  • Sleuth - April 27, 2011 4:16 a.m.

    Garrus/Turian Batman is always in my crew.
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - April 25, 2011 11:34 p.m.

    That's sort of the same Price, but not really.
  • soxknight1127 - April 25, 2011 9:49 p.m.

    Soap was a good call but I would have gone with Price. He goes from cool but forgettable in COD2 to badass with great facial hair in COD4 to badass with great facial hair who nukes a space station in Modern Warfare 2.
  • wrpen99 - April 24, 2011 8:59 p.m.

    Koei had a good thing going, and they were smart not to change it. Better to keep something good and have it get boring over the years than change it for the worse by accident. Besides; 7 is everything great about the other 5 games put together, plus the added Jin campaign and playing as a general kingdom instead of only a single character, not to mention the ability to use any weapon you want, and the different element effects. To summarize, Dynasty Warriors is a great game, and it's best if it stays generally the same way. Though I'm pretty sure no one would mind if they added a mode similar to the first game.
  • Zeb364 - April 24, 2011 7:48 p.m.

    I know this has been said in these comments before but just want to state how completely I agree. Garrus rules. He came with me on every mission from the moment I recruited him in both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. Obviously the Bioshock entry is spot-on. I really enjoyed learning about the Big Daddy process and who they used in their tests. The Dom and Maria scene is what made Gears 2 more than just an epic (no pun intended) shooter for me. Lastly, I agree with FVDub that Desmond and Lucy became not only much more likeable but actual three dimensional characters throughout ACII and AC: Brotherhood. I think putting it as Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher lite is a bit generous but I agree with the overall idea.
  • jackthemenace - April 24, 2011 3:15 p.m.

    I was almost in tears when Dom found Maria. TBH, I always liked Raiden, but mainly because I played as him before I ever played as Snake. Seeing Raiden in MGS4 was a reason to finally bitch-slap my friends and tell 'em they were wrong, despite non of them giving a toss. And Garrus? When I finally found out who Archangel was, I jizzed in my pants.
  • NaughtySnape - April 24, 2011 5:14 a.m.

    Dom was always my favorite character, and my first choice in multiplayer. GoW3 will have no exception
  • nbamike - April 24, 2011 4:26 a.m.

    How about Sora in KH1 Before: Scrawny little kid who happens to be surprisingly good at killing heartless. After: Sorta scrawny teen who is good at killing heartless and nobodies.
  • LordZarlon - April 24, 2011 2:24 a.m.

    I agree with Soap. I loved Call of Duty 4 but I always thought that Soap was a stupid name for a character. I just recently bought Modern Warfare 2, cause the price finally dropped on the PC version, and when I saw that Soap was a my badass Captain it made me smile. Great article.
  • Clovin64 - April 23, 2011 9:43 p.m.

    I brought Garrus along with me in every mission in ME2... and banged him three times with my lady Shep. Awyeah.
  • 510BrotherPanda - April 23, 2011 9:08 p.m.

    I wish Nintendo would bother evolving Luigi like Capcom did with Ken. Always getting only second fiddle... Dom's beard... it's awesome, but Batman5273 should just Photoshop Mikel Reparaz onto him and make it infinitely better.
  • FauxFurry - April 23, 2011 6:13 p.m.

    The whole list is pretty much air-tight. Even a character as good as Garrus was, he only reached true greatness in the sequel. Any other characters vastly improved by sequels will have to wait until the list itself has a sequel if such a time ever arrives. I'd like to recommend, for if and when that day comes, Yuna from Final Fantasy virtue of association with Paine. That's all she needed, really. Then there is also Dan Hibiki who went from minor palette swap joke character to the one of the most hilarious fighting game characters ever. Would the sequel list focus on character who lost their mojo/minds when the sequel rolled around, then Anders from Dragon Age 2 ought to be guaranteed a spot, two if Justice counts as a separate character there.
  • Japanaman - April 23, 2011 5:12 p.m.

    What about Wee-Gee?
  • manicania - April 23, 2011 4:55 p.m.

    I've only played two of these: Dead Space/Dead Space 2 and Wario Land.
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - April 23, 2011 4:46 p.m.

    I hated Garrus in Mass Effect 1. I took him with me two times and then stopped because he sucked at combat and bored the hell out of me.
  • kluivertus - April 23, 2011 4:14 p.m.

    It needs to be pointed out: Mario Land 3 aka Wario Land is the best in the Mario Land series, and one of the best Mario games period. I think I beat that game ten times when I was a kid . . .
  • egregious - April 23, 2011 3:35 p.m.

    Garrus' badass upgrade in ME2 means he needs his own comic book series.
  • Sjoeki - April 23, 2011 1:54 p.m.

    I almost never left the normandy without garrus at my side. And raiden... he's better in Metal Gear 4, but I'm still happy I didn't have to control him instead of snake, I'm a big fan of the metal gear series but so far I'm not impressed with metal gear rising.
  • md1292 - April 23, 2011 12:36 p.m.

    Soap McTavish could never be on the same level as Captain Price. "What's a muppet like you doing in the S.A.S.?" Plus, Captain Price is the protagonist for two of the best levels in FPS: "All Ghillied Up" & "One Shot. One Kill."
  • BlackElement17 - April 23, 2011 11:10 a.m.

    Considering that Soap reverts back to being the nameless gunman by the end of Mawa Deuce is his place on this list still justified?

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