Time for gentlemen, please
Video games are obsessed with attitude. Being a moody, scowling, aggressive asshole has somehow become synonymous with being cool. And while I enjoy playing as a handsome rogue every now and then, Im often left wondering: where have all the gentlemen gone in gaming? Surely there are some characters who mind their manners, hold doors open for ladies, and know how to brew a proper cup of tea.
The following list represents the depressingly small--yet utterly elite--club of polite, video game gents. These are the chaps who you can rely on to always give up their seat on the bus for a pregnant lady; who will always offer total discretion when you ask them to help you bury another dead stripper in the desert. These are the nine most polite gentlemen in gaming.
Professor Layton (Professor Layton series)
Ah, Layton. The classic British gentleman as imagined by a bunch of Japanese developers, living 6,000 miles away from old Blighty. The Prof is never too busy to help out, always apologises for intruding on other peoples business, and is definitely not a ticking time bomb of repressed anger and resentment for being constantly forced to do puzzles instead of just having normal conversations with people. No, sir.
Yes, I mock Layton--mercilessly--but I do admire Level-5s attempt to make gaming more pleasant and family friendly. His adventures are an exercise in faux-Victorian whimsy that many find utterly charming, and thats all down to the strength of the protagonists character. Laytons politeness is a shining example to younger players, and a welcome tonic to all the surly chumps were forced to endure in games like Man-Shooter 3 and Generic Zombie Outbreak 5.
Stede Bonnet (Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag)
Most of the pirates in Black Flag are aggressive old sea-dogs with a penchant for rum, violence, and board games. Quite right too. However, the first pirate you meet--Stede Bonnet--is a rather upstanding gentleman. In fact, hes kind enough to help Edward Kenway get started as a swashbuckling assassin, sailing him to the nearest town and buying him a brand new sword.
Bonnet isnt really cut-out to be a pirate, but he does manage to survive to (almost) the end of the game. Its implied that hes captured and hanged for piracy while Kenway is imprisoned, which is a real shame. He always seems like such a decent chap.
Dudley (Street Fighter 4)
Despite coming from a wealthy family, Dudley has been through his fair share of hardship. His backstory explains how he lost the family fortune, and his business, prompting Dudley to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a boxer. Despite the violence of his current career choice, and suffering many savage blows to the head, Dudley remains every inch the gentleman.
He reminds fallen opponents--who fight far dirtier than him--that they have lost their dignity. He carries a delicate rose, hes often compared to a chivalrous knight, and he uses the proceeds from his boxing to restore his familys prosperity. Plus, he has a perfectly cultivated moustache, marking him out as a man of true distinction.
Steve (Rogue Galaxy)
Ok, so Steve is technically programmed to be polite, but that doesnt make a hoot of difference in my book. The thing I like about Steve is how willing he is to help out around the Dorgenark--he just loves to lighten the load and keep crew spirits high. Hes pretty handy in a scrap too, although he only fights to help his buddies out; hes very much a man(ish) in control of his emotions.
Sure, Steve has a few dark secrets (like the hidden memory file inside his head), but he bares his problems with fortitude and a can-do attitude to life. There are all kinds of robot butlers in video games, but Steve isnt tied to servitude, which marks him out as a true gent. Hes not being paid to be polite, and--as my mother is always keen to stress--good manners cost nothing
Alfred Pennyworth (Lego Batman)
In contrast to Steve from Rogue Galaxy, Alfred Pennyworth is paid to be polite. Hes also a human being, and his master is a mentally unstable, masked vigilante so theres that too Alfred is a non-event in the Arkham games, but he does assume a more substantial role in Lego Batman.
Hes a playable character, and his special attack is whacking enemies with a serving tray (for which Im sure hes truly sorry). Despite being in constant peril, Lego Alfred constantly maintains an air of reserved calm, and never forgets his manners--both admirable traits. Well done, old chap.
Captain Ash (TimeSplitters series)
Like all men who have been brought up correctly, Ash knows when to shoot holes into his foes, and when to break for a cup of tea and a slice of Tiffin. 11am is an acceptable time for tea, as is 3pm. True gentlemen move onto gin at 5pm, and whisky after 11pm. Thats just how it is. Where was I? Oh, right Ash.
Ok, the Captain is a bit of a colonial British stereotype, with his lustrous tache and his smartly-ironed jungle-explorer outfit. His appearance in the Splitters series is relatively brief, sadly. Even in his brief cameo, he harks back to a time when it was acceptable to spend hours playing Bridge in giant wooden houses, before machine-gunning 500 natives and adjourning for a spot of lunch. In many ways, a simpler time.
Sir Hammerlock (Borderlands 2)
Sir Hammerlock is a gentleman pressed from the Captain Ash mould. Hes a seasoned hunter, so isnt afraid to put bullets into aggressive oiks, but he hasnt lost sight of lifes niceties. In the lawless world of Pandora, Sir Hammerlock maintains a very gentlemanly moral code.
While most of Hammerlocks speeches mark him out as a colonial stereotype, he does offer some surprisingly astute insight. I see our fearless leader Jack is looking for you. Charming fellow, isnt he? Spouts drivel about bringing peace to the frontier, then shoots unarmed men, women and children like it was going out of style. And, fair play, he always pays his debts--another sign of a solid gent. Id buy him a pint.
Herbert Dashwood (Fallout 3)
In a world of savages and basic human survival, Herbert Dashwood stands proud as a true gent. Doesnt matter that hes living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where life is cheap and mutant bugs are just as likely to be the new rulers of the planet as human beings: Herbert bears it all with fortitude.
Not only that, Dashwood rises above all the petty racism between humans and ghouls, spending most of his adventuring life with his best friend Argyle. In his dotage, after amassing a well-deserved fortune, Dashwood retires to Tenpenny tower. Does he become too wealthy and arrogant to share his stories and hospitality with a total stranger? No, he retains his class to the end, making the player feel most welcome whenever they visit.
Henry Hatsworth (Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure)
To be honest, Im not sure Hatsworth qualifies for this list. Sure, he looks the part, but hes a pretender; a Layton copycat. Real gentlemen--people of good standing--dont imitate others, or deliberately court attention by affecting a plummy accent and wearing tweed. Yeah, he solves puzzles, but he doesnt do so with good grace and fine manners. Hatsworth lacks class.
There you have it--a list of the most polite gentlemen in games. While I tried to keep this feature from being a collection of British stereotypes in games, I see that most of the entries are supposed to hail from my home country. Fair enough--there are worse images to cultivate. Got any suggestions for gents that Ive missed off this list? Leave them below. Thank-you.
In the meantime, perhaps you'd like to read some more Radar features, old sport? Here's one about The Top 7... Games Where The Bad Guys Actually Win, and another spiffing effort on 11 Random Objects That Look Like Video Game Executives. Super.