Friday, 14 October 2011

Looking at Characters: Identifying Appeal (Part 2)

Continuing my research into appealing characters I move onto the top 5 in's list of Top 50 Video Game Characters.

05. Lara Croft First Appearance: Tomb Raider: 1996

Created for the action/adventure series Tomb Raider, Lara Croft is Video gaming's answer to Indiana Jones, with all the exploration and fighting supernatural creatures in an attempt to acquire a rare/ancient/powerful relic, she's also an object for sex appeal.

Lara isn't a fragile girl though, more than capaale of taking care of her self and being profcient in many skills from shooting to rock climbing. Her sharp wit and attitude towards other tomb Raiders and her ability to laugh even in the face of danger instanly made her the cool girl in the games world.

Despite her overly sexualised appearance Croft is still an excellent example of a strong female character which is something both the film and games industries lack.

04. The Nameless One
First Appearance: Planescape: Troment (1999)

Star of the 1999 roleplaying game, The Nameless one is an immortal who is on a quest to learn why he cannot die. Having lived thousands of different lives when the nameless one is killed a random soul in the world is sacrificed to resurrect him, these souls go on to become Shades which seek out the nameless one for the sake of revenge.

One of the key differences to this character is the rich background he get about the character the more you play and explore the world. It's this crumb trail of information about the main character that keep players coming back.

First Appearance: System Shock (1994)

SHODAN is the meglomanical antagonist of the System Shock series. Built as an artificial Intelligence Network, SHODAN (Sentient Hyper-Optimised Data Access Network) for the Citadel Station in the game which is the environment in which the player traverses the constant knowledge that SHODAN is every where adds tension and a constant sense of dread to the player's experience.

He unique speaking pattern fillen with sound glitches is as much of her personality as her surperiority complex to humans. Although She is ever present the AI doesn't have any bearing on what the player does and is really more a psychological attack as when players thwart her plans she does nothing but scream and threaten the player in her unique voice. In a way she's a hug influence on GLaDos from the portal series whom shares many traits with her.

02. Mario
First Appearance: Donkey Kong (1981)

One of the most iconic characters in entertainment rivaled by only Mickey Mouse. Mario's adventures in Platforming have taken him to super stardom, like his fellow Nintendo character Link, Mario is silent puring gameplay only making sounds when he's jumping or on title screen's where players will hear his voice and exclaim "It's-a me!" or "Woo-hoo! Let's Go!".

What makes Mario so appealing is he's an all-rounder and an average guy, but also a fish out of water, being a human plumber in a Mushroom kingdom fighting giant turtles. Much like Mikey Mouse, his appeal can stretch to people of all ages. Again he is the willing Hero and is bright/colourful, with simple charm mario is a clear gaming Hero that will carry on forever.

01. Gordon Freeman
First Appearance: (Half-Life 1998)

The main protagonist of the Half-Life Series, Gordon freeman starts his story as a lowly scientist at the black mesa institute. When all hell breaks loose as inter dimensional beings spill into Gordon's world what seperates him from other FPS characters is that he is probably one of the most under qualified charcters yet.

His appearance isn't that typical either, with a tidy goatee and thick glasses, the only thing that makes Freeman recognisable as the Hero is is bio-suit, deisgned to keep him safe on his exploits.

Much like Isaac Clarke from Dead Space, what makes Gordon Appealing is the fact he isn't just another meat head. Half Life keeps up the tradition of the silent protagonist and many NPCs don't really draw attention to it as such is the tradition. Gordon shows players that given the right ciorcumstances anyone can be a hero.

With that done I've looked at Empire's Top 10 Video game characters, through it there's been a range of different characters for different games, some break the mold of convention like Gordon Freeman, others fit their role perfectly like Mario. Through this I've learned there is a variety of different characters that can be cast in a tale and often it's a combination of elements that makes a character truly appealing.

Next I'll be looking into Concept art to further see how professionals design their characters visually.

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