The best new characters of 2010

Mario, Kirby, Samus and Donkey Kong will not appear on these pages. Neither will Ezio, Sam Fisher or Commander Shepard. While we spent plenty of time with these videogame stars in 2010, they're old. Familiar. Expected. Lovable yet predictable.

You certainly can't say that about the following 10 characters, first introduced to us over the past 12 months. They're new. Surprising. Exciting. We'd barely heard of them at the start of the year, but by the end, we couldn't stop talking about them. Or wanting to see more of them.

Who were your favorite freshman faces? Tell the world in the comments below.


Introduced in… Bayonetta

Her clothes are actually her hair? No, stop right there. If Bayonetta were the shameless, overtly sexualized puppet her naysayers would have you believe, Platinum would have made her more instantly likeable. More giggly. More vacuous. A kind of popcorn/soft porn character with 'titillation' as her middle name. Bayo Titillation Netta.

The reality is, past the crotch shots and glimpses of soft girl bits, Bayonetta's quite abrasive and initially difficult to like. She's cruel in conversation, more womanly than girly (well, she is over 500 years old) and it's not until you're quite a way into the game that you come to appreciate the true depth of her character.

She's intelligent. Maternal. She's got utmost confidence in her abilities and a strength that takes over instantly when it needs to. And sure, her hair attacks leave her in little more than her birthday suit, but we're all mature enough to enjoy that while still taking in the rest of the spectacle on offer, right?

Eleanor Lamb

Introduced in… BioShock 2

As we've written a million times before, we thought BioShock 2 was a mistake when originally announced. And as we've admitted a million times since, we were wrong. What changed our minds? What convinced us that a one-of-a-kind artistic achievement could be replicated after all and, in some ways, even surpassed?

Two words: Eleanor Lamb. Sure, the weapons were stronger, the plasmids were cooler and the enemies were scarier, but the biggest thing that BioShock 2 had over BioShock 1 was an emotional core. Until the famous twist, our only motivation in the first game was saving an unseen stranger's family. In the sequel, our motivation is clear and strong from the start: save your Little Sister, or you will DIE.

Eleanor wouldn't make this list if she was merely a helpless MacGuffin, though. She's later revealed as a surprisingly badass grown-up with incredible fighting prowess and – during the final scenes – as a living, breathing reflection of your moral choices throughout the game. In the end, she is you.

John Marston

Introduced in… Red Dead Redemption

The man pictured above is one mean motherfucker. Or, at least, he was. That’s the beautiful - and poignant - thing about John Marston. Unlike every other Rockstar protagonist we’ve played as thus far, John’s days of greed, lust and immoral violence are behind him. He used to be an outlaw, but now he just wants to support his family, and the only reason he’s quit tending cattle and restarted killing men is because he needs to save that family.

Even then, he only kills the bad men (unless you want the game to punish you, of course). He’s polite to pedestrians. He’s patient with crazies like Seth and Irish. He turns down prostitutes. Hell, he even picks flowers when the mood strikes. Niko Bellic and CJ Johnson talked a lot about cleaning up and going straight, but then spent their entire games acting increasingly psychotic. John Marston has already succeeded in turning his present life around... tragically, however, his past life is destined to catch up with him.


Best of 2010


  • Sleuth - April 27, 2011 4:46 a.m.

    Legion is fascinating in Mass Effect 2 and I'm looking forward to seeing him in ME3. Alan Wake was an excellent new character in 2010 by the way.
  • soren7550 - January 6, 2011 3:59 a.m.

    Thanks to Eleanore and my good choices, I nearly started bawling terribly. But what about Sir Walter Beck and/or Ben Fin from Fable 3? They were awesome!
  • johnthe5th - January 3, 2011 5:35 p.m.

    You forgot Anthony Higgs!! /s
  • mattdark - January 2, 2011 11:50 p.m.

    I happily agree with the choice of Sazh, out of all the characters in the game, his story seemed to have to greatest part, and his character seemed to have the strongest reason to fight, he truly was the stand-out character for the game.
  • NightCrawler_358 - January 2, 2011 8:26 p.m.

    Haha shelby! the line about him also capturing your hearts was pretty good. Also, if Oswald was in here, maybe you could also include Scott Pilgrim's first videogame introduction? Anyways John Marston is the best.
  • JADENkOTOR - January 2, 2011 2:06 a.m.

    and Jack from ME2 should have made the list. She is number 1
  • JADENkOTOR - January 2, 2011 1:56 a.m.

    John Marston is a total rip off Clint Eastwoods character William Munny in Unforgiven. Marston is cool but not original This is a good list but where is Commander Shepard and Mario and Ezio and Kirby? No Donkey Kong?
  • BurntToShreds - January 1, 2011 11:33 p.m.

    I actually think that CJ from San Andreas cleaned himself up by the end of the game. Sure, he got dragged back into the gang stuff, but he was also being harassed by Officer Tenpenny. He also had to work with weird characters to get back at the people he once treated as brothers. It seems strangely like a parallel to Red Dead Redemption in that respect, except for the part where CJ got a happy ending. I really miss all the wacky stuff Rockstar used to do in GTA. I hope they bring back the same craziness for GTA5.
  • mysterioso2006 - January 1, 2011 7:18 p.m.

    Surprised Lily from FNV didn't make it. Tabitha is equally hilarious, sure, but Lily is much more important to the story (she can become a companion!). And the whole sweet little granny shtick ("What was that, deary," etc.) coming from this monster with that gravely voice was quite refreshing.
  • philipshaw - January 1, 2011 6:25 p.m.

    John Marston has been my favorite character of this year and maybe even the generation by some distance
  • EnigmaSpirit - January 1, 2011 7:33 a.m.

    Does anyone else think Sazh looks alot like Michael from Lost?
  • WickedSid - December 31, 2010 10:23 p.m.

    Oh No! They Revealed the Identity of THE ORIGARMI KEELER! I still get shivers when I think about Marston's Death. Damn, that scene was so great.
  • Overlord153 - December 31, 2010 9:13 p.m.

    @FelixtheCat We can probably tell you like Juri by looking at your picture.
  • sed598 - December 31, 2010 4:16 p.m.

    Really no Chuck Green?
  • kachigop - December 31, 2010 3:50 p.m.

    Wasn't John Marsten technically not new because he was in Red Dead Revolver...? I never played that game though so maybe I'm incorrect. All I know is that RDR was an amazing game and I was so pissed when John kicked the bucket.
  • reaperman22 - December 31, 2010 1:19 p.m.

    i loved Tabitha's broadcasts but unfortunately i had to disintegrate her and the real Rhonda :(.... oh well Raul is a pretty funny character, i probably would of chose yes man as fallout's character though or if you really wanted a super mutant then Lilly would be a good choice, its so funny how occasionally she will just start talking to her second personality or starts talking to her grand kids
  • CaptainSalmon - December 31, 2010 1:10 p.m.

    Loved both Legion and Sazh oh so much. Really annoyed me that they weren't that brilliant when it came down to choosing your squad (for both games). :/
  • ArmTheBomb - December 31, 2010 10:36 a.m.

    Awesome list. I'm glad Eleanor made the list, as I agreed with everything writen below her name in the article. Fantastic character.
  • texasgoldrush - December 31, 2010 9:58 a.m.

    Why isn't Trip on here? Monkey is great but Enslaved really is Trip's story.
  • malakai - December 31, 2010 9:49 a.m.

    zhazz seriously looks like a 40 yr old version of my best mate and that picture with his hand on his chin is actually an injoke between us but its about louis from l4d. the only difference between them is my friend is hispanic not black

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