8) Best - LeChuck (Monkey Island series)
Guybrush Threepwood and Stan the Used Ship Salesman were stars, but it was the evil Pirate LeChuck who became the poster boy/ghost/zombie/demon of the Monkey Island series. Whether he’s partying on his ghost ship with his skeletal shipmates, chasing the heart of Governor Marley (she told him to “drop dead” - so he did) or brilliantly turning out to be Guybrush’s bullying older brother in the depths of an amusement park pirate ride at the close of Monkey Island 2, LeChuck is one of gaming’s great undead heroes. “I laugh at you and your puny voodoo tinkerings!”
8) Worst - Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell series)
Once a great, iconic character - now one in freefall due to a genuine lack of imagination on the part of his creators. The man was barely identifiable to begin with, a fairly plain superspy with no particular agendas. With the later games, Ubisoft have crowbarred in some misguided depth. His daughter dies (we don’t know her), that makes him all depressed (he throws his goggles into the sea), and makes us feel like we’re controlling a great big sulking sod for the rest of the game. Fisher is currently in the malaise of Brosnan Bond, or the god-awful recent season of 24. He stopped being a human long, long ago and it’s now genuinely difficult to care about him.
7) Best - Max Payne (Max Payne series)
The game is a relatively mindless shooter wrapped in a veil of cinematic spectacle, but the titular character’s setup - his downfall - is one of the best motivations for level after level of slow-motion death dealing we’ve ever known. Prancing about in his guilt-ridden nightmares, unable to reach his wife and child before they’re viciously murdered - these might’ve been rubbish levels, but they gave an extra dimension to his character, something games of this ilk can rarely achieve. He might be a film noir cliche, but Max Payne is a relatively unique specimen in games, with a superb script and suitably smooth voice acting to match.
7) Worst - Xana (Dark Messiah)
The Might & Magic universe isn’t known for its big laughs, and Dark Messiah is no comedy. Full of names like Phenrig, Menelag, and Kha Beleth, this is earnest high fantasy that should only even attempt carefully considered comedy that springs naturally from the characters of the cast. Xana is a weak attempt - a dirty lil’ sex-obsessive who lives inside your brain, trying to get you to be naughty. She was entertainment, fair enough - but with Xana, you only ever felt like you were laughing at the game and the scriptwriters, not with them...
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