The Top 7… 'Whoops, you're evil!' moments

Stripped down to the bone, most videogames are about running errands: go here, kill that thing over there, bake a cake. There’s almost always a clear justification for them – save the world, get revenge, etc. – but usually, the real reason you do these things is simply because the game told you to. But can the game be trusted? Are you fighting for the right side? How can you be sure?

Over the years (and especially in recent ones), a handful of games have tried to make the point that blindly following directives isn’t always the best course of action, even when it’s the only one available. One minute you’ll kill your way through what you think are a group of terrorists (for example), and the next you’ll find out that they were the ones trying to save the world, not you. Suddenly you’re the unwitting villain, duped by the game, and if you’re lucky you might get a chance to redeem yourself. When done right, these twists can make for a powerful moment; here are some of the most memorable.

Do we even need to mention that the following is FILLED WITH MAJOR SPOILERS?

What you thought you did: Waged war against a cannibalistic dictator responsible for ethnic cleansing and known for wearing a coat made from the skins of his enemies.

What you actually did: Oppressed the hell out of some Latin American farmers because your employer wanted a monopoly on a plant they were growing.

Wait, what!? Of all the games on this list, Haze’s side-switching plot twist was the least surprising. Ignoring the fact that it was advertised right there on the back of the box, the game dropped a steady supply of unsubtle hints that you were in the wrong: you and your squadmates (all of whom were insufferable fratboy douchebags) wore faceless stormtrooper armor and fought for a corporate army. You were dosed up with a supersoldier drug called Nectar, which would wear off at key moments, replacing your colorful, bloodless view of the battlefield with horrific vistas of murdered civilians and screaming wounded. And you never really seemed to have a clear idea of why, or even what, you were fighting.

But while your character had doubts, he wasn’t convinced of the wrongness of his actions until he’d captured the “dictator” - who turned out to be a kindly old man in a cotton vest, named Merino - and watched as his psychotic squadmates laughed and dismembered Merino for fun.

Long story short, the protagonist tries to intervene, the chopper he and his buddies are riding crashes, and the squad is rescued from the wreckage by Merino and his rebel fighters. Once everyone’s back on their feet, you’ll understand the full hallucinogenic effects of Nectar, as your former buddies go from this…

Above: As seen under Nectar’s influence

To this:

Above: Note the bloodstained gloves, sunken eyes and severe drug addiction

But kill-crazy squadmates and sympathetic rebels are just the beginning, and after you switch sides you’ll learn that Mantel, the corporation pulling your strings, has covered up the fact that prolonged Nectar use has killed tons of its troops. Worse, the only reason it went to war with whatever Spanish-speaking country you’re in was because the natives were harvesting the plant Nectar came from, and Mantel wanted a monopoly.

Being a satire of videogame conventions, and of gamers’ willingness to play as faceless goons who kill everything that moves for flimsy reasons, Haze couldn’t just let you off the hook once you’d crushed your former employer. Instead, after you’d diligently followed Merino’s orders, it was revealed that he was about to use Nectar for his own ends, and would probably become just as evil and psychotic as the Mantel troopers you’d been fighting. Because the lesson here is that war is futile, those in power tend to abuse it and gullible dumbasses with no clear convictions probably shouldn’t sign up to fight in wars.

Not that anyone played Haze long enough to find that out, of course.


Top 7


  • Egonor - December 3, 2010 7:07 a.m.

    No KotOR?
  • nathankurt - November 23, 2010 1:44 a.m.

    what about assasins creed
  • EvilInkarnate - July 16, 2010 9:52 a.m.

    A Captain Dynamic: When I beat MGS 1 after the ending I just sat the on my bed, staring at the TV repeating "Wow". Bioshock 1 is still my favorite game of all time I think. However, reading the SoTC thing makes me really regret not having played it. reCaptcha: bear President-elect. Sounds like Soviet Russia.
  • gilgamesh310 - July 14, 2010 10:59 a.m.

    A brilliant article. Some of my favourite games of all time are on this list. The ending to shadow of the collosus is gut renching, it really does make you feel like a proper evil bastard and regret everything done up to that point. That's why I could never play through the game a second time.
  • Chippie17 - October 26, 2009 7:57 p.m.

    Completely saw the Haze one coming
  • Chippie17 - October 26, 2009 7:56 p.m.

    Completely saw the Haze one coming
  • Satanshadow94 - May 6, 2009 8:18 a.m.

    Come on guy's about the haze one you could have figured this out by whatching the video the only time you are in a futuristic millitary and aren't being munipulated is Halo and look how that worked out for bungie it will be one of the many type's of stories that you want to stab a bunny
  • rezapoc - April 30, 2009 7:24 p.m.

    what about half life where you go to xen and are filled in on what evil deed you've done by the g man at the end.
  • ballplayer27 - April 4, 2009 12:40 p.m.

    Before anyone else comments: I know I misspelled your. It was a typo, not an actua "misspelling".
  • ballplayer27 - April 4, 2009 12:38 p.m.

    As always, awesome article. Problem: Some (many?) of yor readers are, in fact, fratboy douchebags. I am personally a member of a fraternity and I enjoy playing videogames and reading your articles. I know the stereotype that you are talking about, and have met many of them, but I do not think that the majority are like that. Do not get me wrong, I am not going to stop reading your site because I am offended. It is just slightly irritating that we all get cast in that light. Like I said, great article, that was just annoying. Keep up that good work, and if possible, lay off the fratboy stereotype if you can. Thanks, Brad
  • Gotxxrock - March 14, 2009 12:43 a.m.

    I almost wanted to weep at the end of Braid. I sat in front of the TV (after playing the game for several hours) for about 10 minutes when it reverted back to the "In Game" title screen, and had no idea what to think. One of those defining moments in life... from a god damn video game no less (not to degrade the value of good old interactive electronic visuals!!)
  • gmilf71 - March 7, 2009 7 a.m.

    even in the end of haze. i first felt sorry for poor merino. then when i heard: "do not fear. these emotions, they are just chemical reactions in your head..." and "you worry to much, my friend! they were just animals!" , i was like, oh damn. this guy's evil to. i think that was the real twist.
  • snipes98 - March 6, 2009 8:56 p.m.

    Bioshock had a surprising twist but SOTC made you think the most, killing those creatures just got harder and harder...
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - March 6, 2009 8:55 p.m.

    We discussed KOTOR in the office, but decided it didn't really fit the concept of the article, which is well-intentioned protagonists (or players, at least) suddenly finding out they'd actually been doing evil the whole time. Meanwhile, KOTOR's big twist (SPOILER ALERT) is about finding out that you were evil before the game even began, and that you've been manipulated into doing the right thing when all along you thought you were... doing the right thing. Again, it doesn't quite fit. As for Crackdown, Assassin's Creed and MK: Deception, those were all considered, but in the end this is a Top 7 and we felt the entries that were included were stronger. Just assume that your favorite is #8.
  • Vallanthaz - March 6, 2009 7:51 p.m.

    No KOTOR Darth Revan realization?! Fail! =P
  • speedyrel - March 6, 2009 1:15 a.m.

    What about assassins creed?
  • Gilbert_pwns - March 5, 2009 11:36 p.m.

    They should have included the story mode in Mortal Kombat Deception. Another one of those twists the big thing is you spend your whole life until you finally realize what youve done.
  • key0blade - March 5, 2009 12:18 p.m.

    nice one GR! i didnt realize how evil Braid was...
  • TriLun0r - March 5, 2009 12:42 a.m.

    Umm...sorry, but what about Crackdown? It caught me off guard at the end, because I was already killing civilians...didn't think it got worse that. Fine, maybe #8.
  • deadgeeks - March 4, 2009 8:02 p.m.

    dude wheres ninja gaiden? and darkwatch? and just for the fun of it why not darth vader?

Showing 1-20 of 84 comments

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