A version of this article originally posted in February of 2013.
It's weird how many of gaming's biggest stars are thieves, isn't it? Yeah, we said it--thieves. Crooks. Bandits. Prowlers. Pickpockets. Dirty. Stinking. Thieves. Some are deadly. Some are deceitful. Some are... lovable?
The release of Eidos' Thief reboot has us feeling nostalgic for some of these dastardly rogues, so we're focusing our searchlight on the virtual burglars, swindlers, and looters we find most appealing. Hold on to your wallets and follow close as we count down the video game thieves that stole our hearts...
Last seen supplying intel in: Mass Effect 3
When we first met Kasumi Goto in Mass Effect 2, the intergalactic thief was distracting us from saving the universe in order to settle a personal score with Donovan Hock, the weapons dealer who robbed Kasumi of her former love and partner, Keiji. It didn't take long for us to warm up to Kasumi's calm and collected demeanor, and yoinking the grey box from Hock's secret vault proved to be a surprisingly fun diversion. Once aboard the Normandy, Kasumi wormed her way into our good books even further by providing friendly companionship, even though she only had a few lines to spare.
Her chilled aura and continued loyalty to Shepard also made Kasumi a welcome sight in Mass Effect 3, even if it was a brief (albeit action-packed) reunion. Mass Effect 3's ending DLC may have wrapped up Kasumi's story, but we wish she stuck around to buy us that drink she promised.
Last seen hugging the the dark in: Thief
Though the new version of Thief's hero might be somewhat tame by comparison, fans of the original games love that Garrett is an arrogant, selfish, and cold-hearted douchebag. By all accounts, Garrett is the polar opposite of a likable rogue, and yet we can't help harbor some fond feelings for the "One True Keeper."
Maybe it's because we empathize with his troubled past. Maybe it's because we know he'd have our backs in a back alley brawl. Or maybe it's simply because, like everyone else on the planet, we're inexplicably drawn to sarcastic jerks. Like Batman's Selina Kyle, Garrett is a thief who puts on a tough front but always pulls through for the good guys in end (as long as there's a payoff). In fact, we imagine if Garrett and Selina lived in the same era they'd get along famously and make cute little one-eyed cat babies.
Last seen stealing potions (and hearts) in: Final Fantasy III (VI in Japan)
In an RPG universe where thievery is considered a full-time career, Locke Cole is one of the only Final Fantasy criminals who stands out in a crowd. A self-proclaimed treasure hunter by trade, Locke's unending quest to do right by his late fianc Rachel colors his every action. That quality makes him a loyal and relatable member of Terra's team.
True, he'll likely hit on your girlfriend while you're grabbing a tonic at the Inn. But when the crap hits the fan and you're struggling to keep the world from snapping in two, this Kohlingen pickpocket is the type of guy you want fighting by your side. Charismatic, stylish, and quick with a Zwill Crossblade, Locke is one of the most likable thieves in the Final Fantasy series. He's at least on par with FFXII's Balthier and FFX's Rikku. Heck, we might as well throw in FFIX's Zidane in there too. Come to think of it, is anyone in FF not a thief?
Last seen stealing keys in: Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
Some thieves steal everything in sight, unable to free themselves from the tight grip of kleptomania. Others dabble in the art of pickpocketing as a hobby, or to steal what they need to survive. Then there's Sly Cooper--a thieving Racoon who's more interested in out-stealing other stealers than relieving another individual of every dime they have to their name.
His moral compass is incorruptible; his comforting grin unwavering; and, really, his burglaring is usually just a facade that masks his frequent but secret world-saving operations. With a crew of bets buds at his side, a gorgeous lady-fox on his mind, and the dexterous mits of a seasoned thief, Sly Cooper is the sort of "criminal" that inspires children to steal from the rich and give to the poor. Plus, "they" are making a movie about him (as seen in the picture above), so Yeah--he's pretty great.
Last seen hanging by a thread in: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
If ever there was a modern Han Solo of video gaming it would be Nathan Drake. And like the iconic Star Wars smuggler, Drake is an expert thief-excuse us, Treasure Hunter--we can't help rooting for. And let's be honest: Drake is a thief. What's left when you remove his charisma, classic good looks, and one-liners? A remorseless killing machine who gets his kicks from desecrating historical sites for loot he can pawn off for better gear.
Despite this, Drake is a decent guy at his core who will shelve his materialistic interests to save the girl(s), defend an old mentor, or plunder ancient cities to stop a madman. Much like Han, Drake can't turn a good cause down, even if it means leaving a few priceless artifacts behind for the next playthrough. Add Nolan North's everyman voice acting and Naughty Dog's strong writing acumen to the mix, and it's easy to see why Drake is one of the most liked thieves in gaming.
Last seen poppin' and locking': Lock 'N Chase
1981 was a rough year. The US recession hit its peak, Bob Marley went to his great gig in the sky, and Eight is Enough aired its final episodes. Yet, despite these hardships, one unnamed thief took fate into his own hands and kicked off a crime spree that would live on in arcade infamy.
Even Stiffy, Scaredy, Smarty, and Silly of the Super D law squad couldn't rein in 'Thief's' maze-wide hunt for top hats, crowns, and telephones (which were all hot commodities at the time). Thief could have stopped them cold, but being a pacifist he chose to spare their lives and walk the non-violent path. We may never know what happened to this retro Robin Hood, but legends tell of a mysterious barfly who continues to buy rounds at Tapper to this day...
Last seen breaking locks (and hearts) in: Dragon Age II: Mark of the Assassin
Trained in the Qunari ways, Tallis is a deadly thief guided by a strong moral compass. According to her backstory in the Dragon Age II DLC Mark of the Assassin, she was punished for killing a noble who had a thing for keeping slave girls, and in our books that speaks volumes about Tallis' character (while also making us rethink our Qunari allegiance). Adding to Tallis' likability is her barbed wit, skill in battle, and uneasy sense of friendship she lent to Hawke's ragtag crew.
We know what this looks like and no, we did not include Dragon Age II's Tallis in this list solely because playing with her felt like we were LARPing with the likable (and real) Felicia Day. It's a plus, but it's just one of Tallis' many attractive traits.
Last seen smoking out Templars in: Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Assassin's Creed's heroes tend to be stoic, cocky, brooding, or all of the above. Not Yusuf. As the charming leader of the Ottoman Brotherhood of Assassins, Yusuf is the kind of guy who will swindle Templars by day and woo the ladies of La Rosa Colta by night. And he does both with a joie de vivre that makes him fun to follow. Yusuf is a resourceful, carefree, and natural leader who doesn't mind taking time away from his hectic thieving schedule to mentor newcomers in the art of bomb-making and hookblading.
Were it not for Yusuf's connections, Ezio would have remained alone and unknown in Constantinople. Moreover, his sacrifice at the end of Assassin's Creed: Revelations held Ezio's enemies at bay and kept his librarian sweetheart alive, thereby cementing Yusuf as one of the most important NPCs in the Animus. Forget Assassin's Creed IV; what Ubisoft should really be focusing on is Assassin's Creed YOLO: Yusif's Ottoman Lovin' Odyssey (working title).
Last seen licking her wounds in: Batman: Arkham City
On the surface, Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman) exists to make Batman even more uptight and grumbly than usual. Take away the bravado and skin-tight suit, however, and you have a burglar who is every bit as human and vulnerable as Bruce Wayne. We like Selina because not only does she bring a sense of humor and playfulness to the otherwise bleak streets of Arkham City, but when push comes to shove she's always there to help The Bat even the odds. She may pocket a few spoils her troubles, but we know Bruce is never really alone with Catwoman on the (ahem) prowl.
In Arkham City, she even had a chance to flee the doomed prison settlement and leave Batman to perish in its flames. Instead, she risked the last of her nine lives to rescue him, leading to both Bruce and Arkham City's salvation. In all fairness, the game does make it possible for Selina to turn the other cheek, but most of us made her take the high road and we believe she would have done the same without us to guide her.
Last seen fighting with honor in: Tekken Tag Tournament 2
The whole stealing from the rich and giving to the poor routine has been beaten to death, yet few have taken the Robin Hood complex to heart like Yoshimitsu. From the very beginning of the Tekken series, this Manji party leader worked behind the scenes to rob the corrupt and champion the the plights of the poor and disenfranchised.
Whether it's swindling money from the King of Iron Fist Tournament, feeding the poor with Mishima Zaibatsu's funds, or aiding friends and refugees, Yoshimitsu's reasons for fighting and stealing are always valiant and rarely self-serving. In a genre where most brawlers are concerned with looking good and proving their might, Yoshimitsu stands on his own as an honorable (if goofy) Ninjistu master who we're always proud to select.
Last seen smuggling sacks in: Golden Axe
Many remember Golden Axe's elves as the knee-high jerkwads who attempted to steal potions in the dead of night. Not us. Where history has painted the elves of Yuria as common thieves, we see a proud, magical race that had the courage to pick on warriors ten times their size to gather life-saving resources to survive Death Adder's reign.
And just as Gilius, Ax, and Tyris plundered their environments and enemies for food, potions, and resources, so too did Golden Axe's elves scavenge anything they could find in their own neck of the woods--even if that meant getting the crap kicked out of them between levels (and most times just for fun). Lest we forget, Golden Axe's elves also saved our hides on more than one occasion by letting themselves be punted for valuable potions. For this, we'll always extend an olive branch to the true, pint-sized saviors of Yuria.
Who did we miss?
They're liars, cheaters, swindlers, and stealers, but damned if we don't like them anyways. We gave you our top picks for gaming's most likable thieves, but we're sure there's more than slipped through. Tell us which thieves you dig the most and who else deserves a turn in our spotlight in the discussion below...
Want more? We have you covered--read our Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time preview - A blast to the charming past. And for more anti-hero action, hide out with The 12 most misunderstood videogame villains