Feed Zac Efron to an alligator

... along with 10 other tormentable celebrities who were slipped into games without their knowledge

For as long as videogames have featured realistic faces, videogame designers have been ripping off celebrities to make their characters. We're not talking about stars who license their faces to appear in games, but about characters who look eerily similar to those stars. On purpose.

It's not necessarily through malice or lack of originality that these characters are created. It's just that it's difficult to come up with new, believable faces and personalities, and drawing from someone you recognize - like, say, a famous actor - can make it a lot easier. It's something writers and artists do in all fiction media - novels, comics, even movies - and it frequently gets covered up before that work is finished. Sometimes, though, the artists leave the source of their inspiration just lying around in the open, waiting for someone to take notice. Some are obvious, others less so, but when they show up in videogames, they offer unique opportunities to control and humiliate famous people - or just carry them to victory. Let's dig into a few of our favorites:

Metal Gear's Solid Snake is... a bunch of different guys
Solid Snake is truly the James Bond of videogames - not only is he a gadget-happy superspy with a knack for getting out of tight scrapes, but he's been "played" by a number of different actors, usually without their knowledge. Originally named after Snake Plissken, the world-weary mercenary played by Kurt Russell in Escape from New York, Snake started out looking more like Terminator star Michael Biehn. In the two follow-ups to the original Metal Gear - Snake's Revenge and the Japan-only Metal Gear 2 - he bore strong resemblances to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mel Gibson, respectively.

It wasn't until the Metal Gear Solid series - and Metal Gear Solid 2 in particular - that Snake started to resemble the man he was named after, just a little (his assumed name of "Iroquois Plissken" in 2 made the homage even more obvious). By Metal Gear Solid 3, though, the resemblance was undeniably strong - there was the long hair, the patchy beard, the refusal to shake hands with deceptive authority figures - and the eyepatch made it complete. Naked Snake looks so similar to Snake Plissken, it's a wonder nobody's been sued.

Give it time, though - we're still waiting to see what Tom Skerritt does when he catches wind of Snake's graying, mustachioed new look in Metal Gear Solid 4.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.

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