Gaming's most overly elaborate evil schemes

Cat-strokingly good plans for wickedness

It’s a tough road for a supervillain to walk these days. There’s just so much to keep track of when you’re planning world domination. It’s such a chaotic lifestyle that sometimes basic logic just flies out the door.

Video game villains are no exception. We’ve played a few titles where the bad guys’ plans are so absurd, so unnecessarily complicated, that we don’t know whether to be afraid or amused. Maybe they’re just looking for style points. Maybe they hatched their schemes while drunk off their asses. We may never know. But we do know that these are some of the most baffling examples of evil schemes we’ve ever seen.

Resident Evil 4

Ah, the humble mind-control parasite. In Resi 4, Spanish cult Los Illuminados plot to use these cortex-altering slugs, dubbed Las Plagas, to brainwash the president’s daughter. Once young Ashley Graham has been brain-jacked, the group would have direct access to the president’s own neurons and thus be able to have him do all their evil biddings.

That’s a little fussy, but it’s reasonable enough as this type of shenanigan goes. But rather than simply break into Ashley’s bedroom and inject her noggin with the parasite while she’s sleeping, they instead kidnap her and bring her out to the middle of nowhere. This could have been so much simpler.

Metal Gear Solid 2

Trying to keep up with the plot of Sons of Liberty is akin to eating 14 pounds of ice cream. Although the subsequent brain freeze wouldn't be nearly as painful as the strain Kojima’s complicated, convoluted yarn places on your cranium. Even trying to write the cliff’s notes for The Patriots’ evil scheme is exhausting. In essence, the globe-controlling group of A.I.s want to manipulate all of society through the control of digital information. They also want to create the perfect Solid Snake clone via the S3 plan, which basically involves puppeteering the entire game’s cast.

Over the course of their Machiavellian scheming, the evil computers trick Raiden into becoming a Snake wannabe as he tries to rescue the president on an oil rig, while terrorist group Dead Cell are merely there to play the part of a poor man’s FoxHound unit from MGS1. Rather than con every major character over the course of the game in an elaborate Punch & Judy sketch, couldn’t the Patriots have just spent a few more bucks improving Raiden’s VR training? Just a thought. 

Metal Gear Solid 5

Let’s be honest, this whole list could probably be Kojima games and it wouldn’t be inaccurate. In The Phantom Pain, we learn of Skull Face’s nefarious plans. (Because if your name is Skull Face, any plan you hatch is going to be nefarious.) His scheme is to unleash a parasite that will kill anyone who speaks English in order to prevent the total westernization that he sees as the outcome of world peace. So obviously killing all English speakers and providing nuclear weapons to all remaining language groups would still achieve the whole world peace bit, right?

Let’s be real. If a game is presenting a bioterrorism plot, the scientific premise is probably shaky at best. Even if Skull Face’s disturbing path to peace made any sense whatsoever, there’s no biological connection to language. So unless his parasites have ears, this whole idea is nonsense.

Mirror's Edge

Parkour is pretty damn cool. Its blend of athleticism and grace is certainly to be admired. But the evil totalitarian police in this Dice title maybe take that admiration for Faith and her companions a tad too far. The Runners are skilled, but they’re also glorified mail carriers, sprinting across roofs and walls to convey illicit information beneath (above?) the noses of those who would censor the truth.

In response to this not-so-underground resistance, the government launches Project Icarus. This campaign trains its own police force in parkour so that they can keep pace and take down the Runners. Not sure why they felt fighting fire with fire would be more efficient than fighting Runners with bullets. Maybe sniper rifles just don’t exist in The City?

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

The Call of Duty franchise has hosted some truly hare-brained schemes in its many years, but the one in Modern Warfare 2 is something special. Here, General Shepherd wants vengeance for the devastating nuke explosion in the original Modern Warfare. And he chooses to go about it by subverting military resources and intelligence to instigate World War 3.

With the full brunt of the U.S. military behind him, the General believes he has succeeded in solidifying his country’s place as the globe’s dominant superpower. But honestly, what an exhausting amount of pointless effort it all was. Why go to all the trouble of killing Ghost and Roach in order to personally take credit for the future killing of terrorist no-gooder Makarov? Couldn’t the he simply have used the horrendous No Russian airport attack as leverage to request more troops? And was getting the personal glory for Makarov’s potential capture really worth government-wide cover ups? Gotta get your priorities straight, man.

Heavy Rain

Someone’s got daddy issues. But just because your own was an alcoholic asshole, that’s no reason to engage in ludicrously convoluted serial killer shenanigans. Now, we admire a skin suit-weaving, moth-rearing mass murderer in our games as much as the next unhinged individual. Yet the Origami Killer’s insistence on making fathers such as Ethan Mars jump through Saw-style hoops to save their sons is simply a case of wasted resources.

Besides, his strategy requires an intimate, Nostradamus-esque foresight regarding the earth’s atmospheric processes. If the weather forecast changes even a teensy bit, there wouldn’t be enough of those hefty rain drops to drown poor Shaun within his strict schedule. Rather than murdering children to cope with your own traumatic life experiences, might we suggest finding a good therapist?

Jak 2

Why oh why must villains toy with captured heroes? The road of zingers and dragged-out manipulation is  never as efficient as good old fashioned murder. Kor in Naughty Dog’s PS2 sandbox is a classic case. Rather than kill Jak when he teleports to Haven City, the baddie encourages him to join a citywide resistance that could ultimately reveal his true identity as a huge alien bug and kibosh his plans to steal the Precursor Stone. As the secret leader of the Metal Heads, Kor disguises himself as a frail pensioner, all the while looking after what turns out to be a child version of Jak. And it just so happens that adolescent elf-boy is the only one who can gain access to the stone.

Helping Jak network with some of the most motivated, deadly freedom fighters in the city doesnt exactly seem like the best way to assassinate your arch nemesis. Given that Kor has no need of older-Jak’s services, why not just swallow the pixie-eared one whole? These dastardly insects and their stupidly protracted plans. They’ll never learn.

Conker's Bad Fur Day

If you ever seen a member of the big cat family shopping at your local DIY emporium, run for the hills. As Conker’s Panther King proves, kitties of that size don’t know squat about home repair. After the royal cat’s favorite table loses a leg, he instructs his evil scientist sidekick to find him a replacement. They agree that using a red squirrel is clearly the best solution. Clearly carpentry isn’t a well-respected profession in this kingdom.

Rather than phone a professional to knock him up a spare leg, the Panther King would rather concoct an elaborate, Matrix-riffing fake bank heist to capture our alcoholic mammal. Not only does the cat have to enlist the help of the Weasel Mafia to assist in his evil plans, but the entire scheme proves fruitless when a Xenomorph bursts open from his chest for no apparent reason. Where’s a chrome-domed Sigourney Weaver when you need one?

Donkey Kong

Riddle us this, oh gentle readers. What’s more dangerous: a procession of slowly tumbling, easily avoidable barrels or a ten-foot gorilla with the muscle mass to peel off a plumber’s skin like a freshly plucked banana? We get that DK has quite the cross-species simian crush on Pauline, but why rely on tumbling drums of wood to vanquish Mario when you could just rip his arms off?

Honestly, the amount of overly elaborate, needless effort that goes into this plot is absurd. First you need access to a seemingly unending array of vertically stacked platforming structures. And then you need to get your ape mitts on a gargantuan supply of barrels, in the vain hope that one of them topples the iconic toilet jockey. If Kong had any concept of efficient time management, hed have yanked off Marios legs during the first level and freed up his time for some sweet, sweet monkey lovin.

 Any Sonic game ever

What educational institution gave this brainiac an advanced degree? Dr. Robotnik is pretty bad at this whole world domination thing. He’s got a real bad case of the Death Star Syndrome. He’ll make a big, lumbering machine that has devastating attack power, but also has a major design flaw. “Oh, the hedgehog bounced off the top of it eight times? Curses, that’s its one weakness!”

And he never learns. Each time he has a run-in with Sonic, he’s got some bizarre new contraption. While that does make the boss fights interesting, it’s really inefficient for achieving his goals.

Goldeneye

Ah, James Bond, the source of so much gloriously absurd villainy! The movies set the gold standard for bad guys who are so dedicated to being over the top that they utterly fail in the simple task of killing 007.

The game version of the Goldeneye movie was a landmark in the development of first person shooters. It is not a landmark in fully-realized, smart antagonists. There’s a faked execution, loads of inefficient double-crossing, and lots of near misses where killing the target really should not be so difficult.