GamesRadar E3 2011 Awards: Coolest Character Reinvention

The game industry runs on sequels. So much so, in fact, that when we tried to brainstorm our favorite new characters introduced at last week’s E3 2011, we struggled mightily. Then we realized: our favorite new faces at the show were actually the same old faces we’ve been seeing for years, but now updated with excitingly revamped roles, powers and personalities. Here are the most improved.

The Nominees:

Agent 47 in Hitman: Absolution

He’s still bald. He’s still barcoded. He’s still rocking a classy suit and tie. Agent 47, however, isn’t the same assassin from five years ago, when the last Hitman game was released. If anything, he’s more like Batman in Arkham Asylum, with increased athleticism, increased spontaneity and – most intriguingly – increased awareness. The new Detect-… err, Instinct Mode enables our antihero to see through walls and predict enemies’ future movements. Preview 

Lara Croft in Tomb Raider

Lara Croft is iconic for her beauty, agility and overall badassery, but not really for her personality. Until now. The new Tomb Raider doesn’t just reboot the franchise, it reboots the main character. As an unsure, inexperienced and frightened 21-year-old experiencing death and danger for the first time, Lara loses some of that aforementioned badassery, but becomes a much more likable and relatable hero in return. Preview 

Serah Farron in Final Fantasy XIII-2

After spending the majority of Final Fantasy XIII as an inanimate object (she was turned into a crystal early on in the story), Serah's role in XIII-2 as a living, breathing person is already a vast improvement.  Even better, she transforms from damsel-in-distress to courageous hero – when her sister Lightning mysteriously goes missing, Serah takes up arms and makes it her quest to find her. Preview 

The Penguin in Batman: Arkham City

Perhaps the most hit-or-miss of Batman’s rogue gallery, The Penguin is usually portrayed as either a simple crime boss with a few eccentric quirks or, waaaaay on the other extreme, as a deformed mutant freak who eats raw fish and literally resembles the fat waddling bird. Arkham City, however, has found a more believable – and more believably creepy – middle ground, with an Oswald Cobblepot who is obviously grounded in reality, but whose quirks verge from “eccentric” into “violently psychotic.” A few examples: He collects humans in a massive museum, his monocle is actually the bottom of a broken bottle stabbed into his eye socket and he pits kidnapped policemen against each other in an underworld fight club. This Penguin is no one-joke pushover. Preview 

Captain Anderson in Mass Effect 3

As far as we know, Captain (or Councilor, if you didn’t play as a complete renegade bastard) David Anderson has not undergone that drastic a transformation for Mass Effect 3. But he’s now a member of your squad! And likely “too old for this shit!” And even if he only sticks around for the opening mission, the opportunity to see this Alliance veteran on the battlefield – outside of what was described in the companion novels – has us excited enough to include him here. Preview 

And the winner is…

Lara Croft in Tomb Raider

We can’t emphasize enough just how instantly winning and engaging the new Lara Croft is in what we’ve seen of Tomb Raider so far. Unlike the other nominees, she hasn’t been given extra powers…. if anything, she has less strength and skill than before, but that’s why you can’t help rooting for her. Unlike the Angelina Jolie caricature, this Lara really could be an archaeologist and, at the same time, really could be seriously injured or killed. As a player, you’ll want to help her complete her journey, discover her self-worth, fulfill her destiny and ultimately become the confident Croft we’ve come to know over the past 15 years.

Most graphics | Coolest character reinvention
Best response to fan feedback 
Best trailer | Most satisfying gore | Guiltiest pleasure
Most shameless rip-off 
Best new game we know nothing about
Worst first impression | Best game for masochists 
Most likely to consume our lives | Artsiest-fartsiest
Most tasteless 
Might not actually suck | Proof that 2D isn't dead | BEST OF SHOW 



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  • BishopofHippo93 - June 23, 2011 2:13 p.m.

    I swear, if Captain Anderson dies, I'm going to be pissed and all those reapers in their goddamn faces. Also, the new Lara looks awesome. Really looking forward to the game.
  • Yeager1122 - June 23, 2011 1:33 a.m.

    Couldnt agree more with this one really like the look of the new lara.
  • JakeyBaby - June 22, 2011 8:57 p.m.

    New Lara? Really? I'm sure she's massively better than the plastic old Lara, but does anyone else notice how distinctly Final Fantasy (and therefore dull) she looks? I know Eidos are Square Enix now but sheesh!
  • LIKEUCARE - June 22, 2011 2:18 a.m.

    The winner is spot on! The upcoming Tomb Raider's actually more appealing than all previous games. IMO, this is a nice fresh reboot! As for Agent 47, not having the same voice actor is a huge letdown... worst, Jesper Kyd, musical score composer of previous Hitman games will not be composing this new Hitman game. Very sad...
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - June 22, 2011 12:20 a.m.

    @DeifiedData You may be proven right in the end - they could go too far in the other direction, towards the opposite extreme of "weak and vulnerable." She's no princess, however. In the end, she'll have to rescue herself, which gives me confidence the correct balance will be found.
  • DeifiedData - June 21, 2011 11:58 p.m.

    @Charlie: Sorry, I didn't mean to put words in your mouth, so much as comment on the situation. Rest assured that I'd never comment on an article without reading it in full. My worry is that this doesn't become another Samus Aran in Other M scenario. The fans are ecstatic over finally having one of their favorite heroines fleshed out and given personality and vulnerability...until they play the final game, and complain about how weak and touchy-feely their heroine has become. Some fans are simply impossible to please, I suppose. I have no sentimental attatchment to the character of Lara Croft, myself, though I hope they strike a healthy compromise between the "badass, emotionless heroine" and the "weak, vulnerable girl-thing" that 99.9% of female characters seem to inhabit.
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - June 21, 2011 10:20 p.m.

    @DeifiedData Perhaps you didn't read the text - the reason we love the new Lara Croft has nothing to do with graphics or technology and everything to do with personality. She's believable as a person now, and except for the fact that she's a "woman in jeopardy" who you want to help protect, she doesn't seem objectified. She's still attractive, yes, but her clothing is very ordinary and subdued - if you have a problem with female protagonists in tank tops, then you must also have a problem with Chell in Portal 2. Of course, Lara very well COULD be objectified in the final game. So far so good, though.
  • DeifiedData - June 21, 2011 9:04 p.m.

    I love how every outlet sings the praise of the Croft retcon, yet we all know she'll be every bit as objectified in her new, more (relatively) believable form. Changing Croft from a blocky, polygonal 10 to a "realistic", down-to-earth 10 is hardly a reinvention - it's just the ever-advancing march of console technology. Fact is, everyone who buys this game will still do their damndest to manipulate the camera into looking down her shirt. In this day and age, the fanservice may have been the only thing seperarting this series from the subjectively superior Uncharted series. I'm a fan of neither, so it doesn't concern me, but I can help but observe.
  • Sjoeki - June 21, 2011 4:19 p.m.

    Yup, couldn't agree more, and I've got a couple predictions too: Wednesday, Best game for masochists: this can only be dark souls. Thursday, Most likely to consume our lives: I'm guessing skyrim Thursday, Most tasteless: Could it be postal 3? Nice articles and looking forward to the next ones!
  • philipshaw - June 21, 2011 2:51 p.m.

    Spot on, new Lara Croft is so much more interesting than the old design
  • RicePuddingUK - June 21, 2011 11:31 a.m.

    47 was going to be my choice until I read in Edge that the original voice actor David Bateson has gone, so he's not 47 to me anymore
  • quincytheodore - June 21, 2011 5:33 a.m.

    Yay, new Lara! Vote her for best trailer too, and dare I say, best of show. A bit unlikely, I know, there are some pretty good ones here. I'm usually skeptic about new games or reboot, but the trailer alone basically convinced me of a franchise I barely cared about.
  • FlikNightshade - June 21, 2011 2:58 a.m.

    Gotta say I agree 100% on this one. Although, I'm very anxious to see Anderson in my Mass Effect 3 party now.
  • FauxFurry - June 21, 2011 2:49 a.m.

    That's a whole different take on Bottle Bottom eye glasses! That take on Penguin might be even more extreme than the other bird-themed member of Bat-Man's recurring cast. Maybe they'll reveal that the Riddler wears nothing but scraps of paper on which riddles are scrawled in the blood of whoever failed to solve his previous puzzles or the Rainbow Creature is a rapist(like Doctor Light)who creates rainbows using locks of hair from his victims next? Thinking of DC, I'm hoping that the videogame equivalent of Wonder Woman who also happens to be an archaeologist isn't as miserable a failure as Wonder Woman's own re-invention during the 1960s was. She might be more reminiscent of a female version of a male Shoujo/New Shonen manga (romantic)lead character. It'd be nice to see a character whose re-invention actually made them better rounded instead of just adding new super powers or costumes to their repertory. That might work for Mario but that's purely a Grandfather Clause kind of thing at this point.
  • killorabbit - June 21, 2011 2:35 a.m.

    Can we give at least a special mention to female Shepard?
  • Clovin64 - June 21, 2011 1:59 a.m.

    My magic 8-Ball tells me that Anderson will only fight alongside Shepard in the opening mission. Thats just my suspicions though. I might be wrong.
  • KolbitosFruitJuice - June 21, 2011 1:55 a.m.

    As much as I have a huge man crush on David Anderson, I'd say Laura takes the cake on this one. Her re-invention is quite breathtaking and refreshing.
  • AirickG - June 21, 2011 1:46 a.m.

    Lets be honest, who didn't see that coming. Not that I disagree or anything. oh, and first. maybe...