Gaming's most malicious machines

Sure, organic enemies are tough, don’t get us wrong. Nazis, mercenaries, cannibal chefs, insane clowns, monsters of every shape and size, zombie everything: gaming’s fleshy baddies have a rich tradition of wreaking havoc and murdering our favorite characters. But fully organic opponents have always lacked that extra something that makes a truly epic amoral sociopath: processing power. The technological terrors below have all the advantages of clean circuitry and streamlined programming to churn out the homicide. Untroubled by annoying human traits like the necessity for food or an aversion to wide-scale genocide, these machines can compute carnage at a speed that leaves the human brain in the dust.

SHODAN (System Shock, System Shock 2)

Now this is the kind of lady you take home to mom … if your mom is a sentient AI with a taste for murder.  Originally designed to oversee an orbital mining/research space station, SHODAN takes off the kid gloves when a hacker peels back the ethics software keeping her in check. She then proceeds to slaughter everyone onboard.

Why is she on this list?  Beyond being incredibly efficient at exterminating humans with her army of cyborgs and mutants, she wasn’t satisfied with just killing the local population and then amusing herself for eternity playing Battle Chess with their cybernetically reanimated corpses. No, SHODAN considers herself a godess and won’t rest until all of humanity has been eradicated or genetically transformed into servile mutant killing machines. No slouch at mind games and manipulation, she spends the better part of System Shock 2 impersonating a dead scientist, tricking a desperate soldier into putting down the ravening hordes that she herself was responsible for creating. Talk about feminine wiles; human girls have nothing on SHODAN.

GLaDOS (Portal, Portal 2)

A sort of spiritual successor to SHODAN, GLaDOS is a great example of why giving your hyper-intelligent AI access to deadly neurotoxins BEFORE installing her “morality core” is probably not a great idea. Created to oversee the Aperture Science Enrichment Center, GLaDOS at first comes off as a reassuring, if slightly detached guide through what’s essentially a futuristic obstacle course. It’s not long, though, before the wheels come off, and GLaDOS is revealed for what she is: a human-hating, power mad machine intelligence who under no circumstances will be responsible for providing her victims with cake.

HK-47 (Knights of the Old Republic)

While all of the machines on this list have a certain propensity for death, no one delights in it quite like HK-47. Like the Spiderman of homicidal robots, HK-47 happily quips away while brutally butchering inferior “meatbags” with deadly blaster fire. Created as a more subtle approach to destroying the Jedi Order, HK-47 proved every bit as efficient as his planet destroying super-weapon predecessors. With a trail of dead Jedi in his wake that would put Darth Vader to shame, HK-47 is every Sith Lord’s dream: a remorseless assassin droid who, in his own words, is always “anxious to learn more of lying, betrayal, and new ways to harm innocents.”

Omega Weapon (The Final Fantasy series)

It’s hard not to respect an entity that’s a bizarre fusion of magic and technology birthed by unadulterated hatred. Though Omega Weapon doesn’t share SHODAN’s megalomania or HK-47’s ability to make murder hilarious, it is reflective of another kind of evil entirely: impossible video-game boss evil. This mother has somewhere in the vicinity of 1 million hit points. Let us just restate that for the record:  ONE MILLION hit points. While we’re still unclear as to what, precisely, an actual hit point is, we’re damn sure that that’s at least 900,000 too many – even in a game in which you can summon a meteor strike.

Omega Weapon was originally a monk that was cast out of his order for rebelling, or something, and got so pissed off about said proceedings that after his death he was reborn as a party wiping mechanized superboss. Or something. But let’s be clear here, Omega Weapon’s defining characteristic is that it’s insanely difficult to beat; throwing city-leveling mega-attacks at this thing is like a Chihuahua trying to bring down a brick wall by pissing on it.


  • hfghg - April 10, 2011 1:20 p.m. Fashion Female attire spring, personality Men's clothing + Shoes, Travel bag that grabs an eye coat + Chao packet Free transport
  • BertTheTurtle - April 9, 2011 3:42 p.m.

    As was mentioned earlier, this list seems tailor-made for the Reapers.
  • mothbanquet - April 9, 2011 12:36 p.m.

    Seriously. No Sovereign???
  • razorwiretensho - April 9, 2011 5:01 a.m.

    I think AM from I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream is also worth a mention. I mean, the guy keeps the last few humans alive and damn near immortal just so he can torture them in the most horrifying fashion for all of eternity. AMIRITE?
  • Skykid - April 8, 2011 8:18 p.m.

    Yeah, 343 Guilty Spark is a nutjob. Age certainly didn't mellow the crazy factor. *shudders* Still scares the living crap out of me.
  • RacoonHail - April 8, 2011 5:47 p.m.

    Seriously? No Durandal from Marathon? That AI manipulated and abused you and other humans for two lengthy games! Yeah he kind of turned into a good guy at the end of the second Marathon, but was a royal dick about it the whole time. He should be on this list.
  • p0wnd - April 8, 2011 5:21 p.m.

    How about the computer from the Bioshock 2 DLC, Minerea's den. Or the Decepticions?
  • philipshaw - April 8, 2011 2:19 p.m.

    Great list
  • deedob - April 8, 2011 11:43 a.m.

    343 Guilty Spark: "Built by the Forerunners, an ancient race of enlightened beings..." [possible spoilers] The forerunners have been revealed to be ANYTHING but enlightened. They were sworn to "protect" the lesser races... as long as they were the dominant species of the galaxy. Otherwise they would wage war on the race threathening their dominion until those other races became "lesser", or were exterminated. They destroyed refugees, prevented the evolution of races, destroyed others, manipulated information and "supressed" any member of their own society who disagreed. The closest thing to space nazis we can find. They have killed themselves for all intent and purposes. Just a bunch of douches.
  • Hobogonigal - April 8, 2011 8:08 a.m.

    Guys, Andross from Lylatwars. Otherwise, great list.
  • RicePuddingUK - April 8, 2011 7:11 a.m.

    HK-47 is over-rated, he got his ass kicked everytime I had him in my party, I don't think I even had him in my party on my first playthrough of KOTOR.
  • Spybreak8 - April 8, 2011 6:37 a.m.

    Man, how the heck can a species of machines that devour a whole galaxy - The Reapers - not be here?! They're so f'n bad mothers that they can mind control slaves with indoctrination! Glados will scream of fear.
  • Myko - April 8, 2011 6:35 a.m.

    nice Shodan, loved system shock 2, I remember it as one of the first fps/rpg games that put you in this world by yourself and the twists and turns that went on with the story was something that I have never seen before on a game. Since then Bioshock has come out and very few people realize that it was inspired by system shock, which it kind of put a damper on the game bioshock for the fact that having known that it was made by people that worked on system shock, I pretty much had an idea of what would happen near the end, all in all Bioshock was a great game, very updated from system shock, but I would like to see another system shock remake, would be sweet.
  • TickleSumo - April 8, 2011 6:05 a.m.

    Surprised theres no AM fro i have no mouth and i must scream
  • Risonhighmer - April 8, 2011 5:34 a.m.

    AM From I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is definitely the pinnacle of Malicious.
  • Ultima - April 8, 2011 4:48 a.m.

    wow I had forgotten all about my first encounter with Mecha-Hitler and his chain gun arms, ahhhh good times! (p.s - why do most comments lately seem intent on mentioning things that are not in the article instead of things that are?)
  • EnragedTortoise1 - April 8, 2011 3:15 a.m.

    I Have No Mouth And I Must Vouch For A.M.
  • aequitas13 - April 8, 2011 2:31 a.m.

    No Mech Servants/Sentinels from Thief II? "Please be warned: A misguided soul. All should hear the words of Karras... the words of Karras." and "Unauthorized Human. Thou Shalt Not Escape!" Not quite on par with Glados or Shodan, but definitely added to the fear factor in that game.
  • shodan561 - April 8, 2011 2:25 a.m.

    yay! Shodan gets some love!!! Ever since i played SS2 i have used Shodan561 as my game name for everything lol.
  • NotBraze - April 8, 2011 2:17 a.m.

    I desperately want to play System Shock 2, but I'm on a Mac and I have no way of playing it. If only they'd rerelease it over XBLA. 15th Anniversary maybe? Also, I agree that Reapers would have been a good candidate for this list. GLaDOS may have wiped out an entire team of scientists, but the Reapers have been repeatedly wiping out all organic life every 50,000 years and use the left overs to reproduce. “We impose order on the chaos of organic evolution. You exist because we allow it, and you will end because we demand it.” Can't get much more malicious than that

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