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.


  • NappyAfro - April 8, 2011 1:10 a.m.

    Woah woah wait! No Dorothy from Galerians!? Wow, just wow.
  • mastersword369 - April 8, 2011 1:16 a.m.

    GR posted this exact thing a year ago. What the hell?
  • Yeager1122 - April 8, 2011 1:40 a.m.

    As soon as i read the title i knew GLaDOS would be on the list.
  • mockraven - April 8, 2011 1:42 a.m.

    GlaDOS and HK-47, my two favourite maliciously homicidal machines. Loved the article. :)
  • Gnilres - April 8, 2011 1:45 a.m.

    Where the hell is A.M. from "I have no mouth and I must scream?"
  • Japanaman - April 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.

    Wha-?!! You guys didn't mention Fulgore? I'm outta here!
  • Bianchi - April 8, 2011 1:56 a.m.

    @Gnilres i thought exactly the same D< AM rules the machine bad guys D:
  • hester2 - April 8, 2011 1:57 a.m.

    Oh, Cyrax, how I loved using your net to piss my friends off.
  • SirNinja - April 8, 2011 2 a.m.

    No Reapers?! Was this article written by the Turian Councilor?
  • FauxFurry - April 8, 2011 2:10 a.m.

    No Sigma from Mega Man X or even pre-Nerf Sentinel from Marvel Vs. Capcom 3? Their omission borders on malicious misconduct in and of itself.Wait a minute. Did ReCaptcha write this article? I thought you were cool with all of your anti-spambot measures and your crazy riddles but it looks like you've finally gone Maverick. You know what they do with Mavericks around these here parts...make them into Presidential Candidates. ReCaptcha 2012!
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • EnragedTortoise1 - April 8, 2011 3:15 a.m.

    I Have No Mouth And I Must Vouch For A.M.
  • 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?)
  • Risonhighmer - April 8, 2011 5:34 a.m.

    AM From I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is definitely the pinnacle of Malicious.
  • TickleSumo - April 8, 2011 6:05 a.m.

    Surprised theres no AM fro i have no mouth and i must scream
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Showing 1-20 of 30 comments

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