21. Michael De Santa (Grand Theft Auto 5)
Michael De Santa's always been an overachiever. Hell, his debut, GTA 5, was one of the latest releases on current-gen consoles, and we're already counting him as one of the best characters of the last seven years. How'd that happen? Well, for one, Rockstar North knows how to write a compelling character. Michael's the successful crook, having looted and killed his way to wealth beyond reason. But anyone who comes by money in such a way is bound to forever chase happiness and satisfaction. The joy in Michael's character is seeing the career criminal no longer needing to resort to his craft, but doing it anyway because he can live no other way.
20. Booker DeWitt (BioShock Infinite)
In many ways, this ex-Pinkerton agent is gaming's everyman. He marvels in disbelief at the fantastical world around him, yet he's able to keep a cool head under pressure. Booker's moral compass points towards the realm of good, but he's willing to kill to get the job done. And a troubled past won't stop him from striving for a better future, doing everything in his power to deliver Elizabeth from captivity. Columbia feels real because of Booker and his believable response to it all--and when he's not facing off against terrifying strangeness, he sure rides a mean sky-hook.
19. Garcia "Fucking" Hotspur (Shadows of the Damned)
You'd expect a demon hunter to kill thousands of hell beasts, but Garcia Hotspur does it with a punk rock charm most others lack. Hotspur is Sid Vicious, Ash from Evil Dead 2, and El Mariachi all in one badass leather jacket, meaning hes always the coolest mother-effer in the room. While his obsession with jokingly referencing his genitals might come off as immature, his relationship with his love, Paula, is surprisingly grown-upthat is, until she's kidnapped by the leader of the City of the Damned.
18. Rucks (Bastion)
That man. That voice of silk and honey, flowing from the game through your ears and into your soul. Even though Rucks may not be the protagonist of Bastion, his voice is how its story is communicated, and you cant help but be drawn into the narrative thanks to the way his baritone words draw you along. Also, is he the bad guy? Did he have a hand in creating the Calamity Cannon? Was The Bastion his guilt project? One can only wonder
17. Bayonetta (Bayonetta)
The strongest female lead in gaming? Well, while Lara Croft gazes at her pretty hair in the mirror, Bayonettas hair is taking down a monster the size of a skyscraper. Bayonetta is physically and wilfully strong, not to mention sexy. Its hard not to be when youve got the body of a goddess and your clothes keep disappearing because theyre actually your hair, which is busy fighting things for a bit. Shes got a great line in put-downs, has more moves than Jagger, and thinks nothing of throwing a church at someone to settle an argument. Thats a winner right there.
16. Mordin Solus (Mass Effect series)
This affable scientist Salarian was a huge asset in the fight against the Reapers--but he was also one of the most distinct, personable crew members to ever set foot on the Normandy. With his rapid speech, impartial attitude, and analytical assessments of any situation, Mordin interpreted things in ways no one else could. Granted, his work on the Genophage was devastating on an intergalactic scale. But his integrity and compassion shone through his detached demeanor, and Mordin was always selfless when it mattered the most. Plus, his genetics expertise is outclassed only by his knack for singing Gilbert and Sullivan.
15. Sam Greenbriar (Gone Home)
Many games are rated Mature, but Gone Home achieves some rare emotional maturity by demanding players deconstruct the motives of a family in crisis, with Sam at the center. As Kate, Sams older sister, you search your familys empty house for clues to Sams disappearance, and in the process you get to know Sam better than you know most of your real-life friends. By analyzing Sams fractured teenage life from the position of an understanding sister, you build real empathy for Sam that makes her hard to forget, especially in the male-dominated world of gaming.
14. Monkey (Enslaved: Odyssey to the West)
For a long time, Monkey was a total loner. He did what he needed to in order to survive in a post-apocalyptic world--one full of robots intent on capturing and/or maiming human survivors. But his initially forced relationship with Trip eventually transformed the lone wolf into an empathetic protector, one that was as relatable as he was believable. We'll never forget the scene in which Trip finally deactivates the headband with which she'd been forcing his assistance, only for him to look her dead in the eyes and softly whisper, "Turn it back on." Chills, man.
13. Eddie Riggs (Brutal Legend)
Good ol' Eddie Riggs never asked for a starring role--after all, a good roadie stays out of the spotlight. But when problems need fixing, you can bet he'll do what it takes to make things right. All in the name of metal, of course. What makes Eddie such a memorable character is his loyalty to the people and ideals he holds dear. He's not one to shy away when folks need help, often providing words of encouragement (or face-melting-yet-inspirational guitar arpeggios) whenever his pals start to lose confidence in themselves. And, no matter how the world around him changes, his devotion to pure, unadulterated metal is unwavering. Few things are more noble than a man who would rather die than give up the things he believes in.
12. Handsome Jack (Borderlands 2)
Unless you have thick skin, Handsome Jack is sure to wear you down with (admittedly hilarious) rude quips. In addition to frequently insulting your intelligence and physical appearance, he'll say hurtful things like: "...So people are dying left and right and all of sudden this guy decides to run at me with a spoon. A SPOON, HAHAHA! So I scoop his stupid little eyeballs out with it and his kids are there all crying like, 'WAAHHHH!' And he's runnin' into stuff and... hahaha! Oh man... I guess you had to be there. Anyway... the moral of the story is, you're a total bitch." Sad face.