Gaming’s least hard hard-men

Promoted as the hardest thing since Chuck Norris’ forehead, the following collection of grizzled marines, legendary soldiers and black-hearted school children cut imposing figures. Break past the Duke Nukem tough veneer, though, and you’ll actually find most of these hard men are really as daunting as the Wii’s processing power.

If over-pronounced bouts of masculinity are a sign of insecurity, then these boys must all sleep with security blankets constantly clutched betweens their stupidly-sized biceps. Cowardly, comically inept or just addicted to being murdered, they’d be ill prepared for an animated argument, let alone the vicious virtual worlds they live in. So, when danger calls or the faeces hits the fan, and you can afford them… call someone else.

Warning - contains spoilers.

Why you’d think he’s a hard man

Above: Seemingly hard on the outside...

On first glance Snake Eater’s malevolent Ruskie solider is Joseph Stalin melded with a feral Pikachu, without the laughs. Throughout the course of Big Boss’ Cold War adventure Volgin brutally beats subordinates to death, launches a nuclear missile on his own motherland and dabbles in a little sexy sadism time with the one-eyed operative’s love interest, Eva. All this and he can harness the elements themselves, with lightning constantly coursing through his body

Why he’s not hard at all

Looking back at his evil deeds they’re not really that dastardly or, more importantly, hard. The subordinates he kills are either drunken or weedy weapons scientists, the missile he fires is into a largely unpopulated area and his sadistic sexual behaviour is with a woman so promiscuous, she chooses to brave the cruel Russian cold in nothing but her undercrackers for most of the game.

Above: But all about the man-love on the inside

He’s also a bit of a coward and, when he actually has to fight Big Boss mano-a-mano, he cries for Ocelot’s help, before getting his electrified ass handed back to him. And, the less said about his relationship with the effeminate, thong-wearing Major Raikov, the better.

Not as hard as… Sokolov

Sokolov is death-proof. Despite seemingly dieing in MGS 3, he reappears in MGS: Portable Ops. The karate stance he dons when Big Boss first saves him shows he’s well schooled in martial arts too. Granted, he pisses his pants during Ocelot’s Russian roulette interrogation, but we’ll just blame that on a rebellious bladder. Real men relieve themselves wherever they want.

Above: Don't mess with his kung-fu

Why you’d think he’s a hard man

Above: We can tell you're sucking it in Ropeburn

Travis Burfield, known as Ropeburn from his spandex-hugging wrestler days, has all the assets of a vintage hard man. Surly, broad-chested and adopting a ‘suplex now ask questions later’ approach, he’s the head of security in a totalitarian city where the flow of information is suppressed. What’s more, he’s neck-deep in a citywide conspiracy – Project Icarus – to kill all the beautiful parkour people ferrying info between rooftops.

Why he’s not hard at all

Not as hard as… Celeste

She might not look that tough as she guides you through the game’s tutorial, but Celeste soon proves to be a backstabbing, karate-kicking super assassin. The fight against her at the end of the game is much more challenging than the two second scrap against Ropeburn. Score one for girl power and zero for sweaty man-hugging wrestlers.

Above: Arms of steel are no match for a piercing glare

David Meikleham
Google AMP Stories Editor

David has worked for Future under many guises, including for GamesRadar+ and the Official Xbox Magazine. He is currently the Google Stories Editor for GamesRadar and PC Gamer, which sees him making daily video Stories content for both websites. David also regularly writes features, guides, and reviews for both brands too.