The ugly truth
Whether it's the fault of starry-eyed art departments or marketing overseers with an eye for sexy box art, most playable character rosters could double for fashion model listings. Seriously, whether you can play as a guy or a girl in any given game, chances are your character is going to be really, really, ridiculously good looking - in anything from Altered Beast to Zelda. It's gotten pretty old.
Fortunately, through dedication to a non-standard aesthetic (or perhaps a basic misunderstanding of human faces), some less-than-perfect specimens slip into the final product. And I'm here to celebrate the least perfect of them all. Come with me for a look at some of the ugliest characters ever to surface in your video game, and let's hope to see more of their kind in the future!
It's cool that Nier is a JRPG character who doesn't look like he's cutting PE class to save the world, but he didn't have to swing quite so far in the other direction. Speaking of PE class, his wrinkly face is particularly weird on top of that smooth and muscular frame. For real, though, just bush up his eyebrows a little bit and he's the bodybuilder version of Andy Rooney.
Trevor (Grand Theft Auto 5)
Take away the eczema sores, the patchy male-pattern balding, the huge bags under his eyes, whatever is going on with those eyebrows, and the last dozen years of speed addiction, and Trevor Philips could actually be a pretty handsome guy. But you and I both know he'd rather be ugly as hell than give up that sweet, sweet meth.
Max Payne (Max Payne)
I'm not calling Remedy's Sam Lake (the original face model for Max Payne) ugly. He's actually pretty good-looking, in that hardcover-dust-jacket way. But Sam Lake with his face permanently pinched into a bizarre sneer with eyebrows arched, nose wrinkled, and mouth smirked? Yeah, that's ugly. Fortunately for Mr. Lake, Max got a new face for both of his sequels.
The other Whispering Rock campers are cute in a demented way, but Raz's little overripe tangerine of a face is just too much for me to stomach. Not to mention his facial features are all so squished down that he looks like his parents bound his head as an infant - wait, maybe that's why he developed psychic powers?
Default character (Saints Row)
Motherfucker looks like Brock Lesnar forgot his sunscreen and got stung by a bee.
Perhaps in other cultures, a high, wrinkly dome atop your head is a sign of power and nobility. To me, it just looks like a potato. Though it's more of a baked potato that's been left in the oven too long for Heihachi, with steam shooting out from either side. I'm pretty sure his brows are permanently furrowed at this point, too. I'd never say any of this to his weird face, of course, lest I get mine rearranged.
Wario (Wario World)
Does including Wario on this list seem a little too on-the-bulbous-pink-nose to you? I can see where you're coming from, but I must disagree. It would actually be an insult to leave off that baggy-eyed, crooked-stached, Chiclet-toothed visage. Wario basks in his propensity to inspire physical revulsion, and I ain't gonna hate on him for it.
Barney Calhoun (Half-Life)
The security guards in Half-Life are clearly modelled after Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show. That said, Valve probably would've been better off using a picture of Don Knotts for reference, instead of travelling some eight years into the future and exhuming his desiccated corpse. Fortunately, Barney clearly got some sun/nutrition between then and his starring role in Blue Shift.
Before I saw Steve, I never would've thought it possible to pack that much dishevelment in an eight-by-eight pixel area. But there he is, squares expertly stacked to suggest a cruddy little goatee and uneven, ruddy skin. Do you think if Notch knew Minecraft was going to be a worldwide phenomenon, he would've spruced Steve up a bit? I hope not.