Top 10 Big-Time, Badass Video Game Villains

We pay homage to sweet, sweet tyranny — counting down the top ten scene-stealing villains of all time.

Born to Be Bad

Sometimes, it's good to be bad.

It's no secret that villains have all the fun. They get the best lines, wear the coolest outfits and are usually one step ahead of the hero. They also get to kidnap princesses, blow up planets and cackle maniacally while spinning in swivel chairs -- what's not to love?

To pay homage to sweet, sweet tyranny, we're counting down the top ten scene-stealing villains of all time. These are the guys that completely stole the show, and owned the games they appeared in. They're the enemies we wish we were controlling; even as our hapless hero endeavored to defeat them...

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10. Sarah Kerrigan (a.k.a. Zerg Queen) - StarCraft

Originally an expendable Terran psychic spy/assassin (sheesh, that’s a mouthful), Sarah Kerrigan was a tragic figure in the StarCraft series who ultimately rose to become one hell of a supervillain.

Kerrigan was abandoned on a mission as the insectoid – and not to mention grotesque – race of Zerg closed in. She was captured and subsequently turned into a powerful half-bug/half-human hybrid while retaining her psychic abilities and eventually took over leadership of the Zerg population.

Even with a cockroach appearance that makes you want to grab the nearest thick-soled shoe, Kerrigan is still a foxy minx and the StarCraft universe would not have been nearly as exciting without her presence. Many StarCraft fans are captured by her bad-ass attitude even if she is the evil mama to a swarm of Zerglings capable of unleashing hell on the Koprulu Sector.

9. Albert Wesker – Resident Evil series

He might be a jerk, but it’s hard to deny Albert Wesker his place in this stage-stealing baddies slideshow. For one, he’s been in nearly every Resident Evil game to date and every time he appears, he’s got some vile machination up his Matrix-style leather trench coat sleeves.

That, and he seems to have his finger in every pie. Wesker was a double agent for Umbrella Corp and when the company went belly up, he tried to revive it by involving himself with the Las Plaguas shenanigans which eventually lead him to conspire with the Umbrella clone, Tricell. He was last seen being thrown into a pit of lava by the super-buffed, Chris Redfield. But since Wesker’s pretty much Lazaras with sunnies, we have an inkling he will eventually become the supreme ruler of the Resident Evil universe (and make Jill Valentine his sex slave...)

8. The Flood – Halo: Combat Evolved

Despite being essentially a bunch of plants, the Flood managed to steal the show in Halo: Combat Evolved. We're thinking specifically of the infamous Library stage, where the virulent parasite caused us to mess our pants and scramble for the nearest exit.

The Flood made an indelible impression on gamers; mainly because of how out-of-the-blue they were. One moment you're battling alien soldiers in a typical warzone setting -- the next, you’re locked in a room being pursued by jellyfish-like critters and zombies made from bits of your former allies. It was completely unexpected, and subsequently threw the plot into a tailspin. Those that lived to tell the tale can attest to the level's difficulty (as can the numerous tutorial videos on YouTube…) As players that, by sheer luck or superhuman skills, have passed the Library can tell you, The Flood is one mean mother.

7. Alma – F.E.A.R. series

Shamelessly taking a cue from the creepy girl in The Ring and vomit girl from The Sixth Sense, Alma is the vengeful – and unfortunately, psychic – villainess of the F.E.A.R. series.

She manifests herself in three forms: Creepy girl in red dress, naked emaciated woman or healthy naked woman. All of those forms are bone-chilling when they appear in-game as Alma conjures up a storm of nightmarish images scary enough to make you want to turn off your computer/console and crawl under a doona, rock back and forth crying “No more!”. It gets worse after you find out she’s actually the protagonist’s mummy. And if she didn’t make an impression in the first F.E.A.R., she sure made a memorable return in the sequel when she rapes Michael Becket, the playable character, when he’s strapped to a chair and makes him father her child. Enough said.

6. Atlas/Fontane - Bioshock

Altas was your only friend when you found yourself stranded on the submerged city of Rapture, populated mostly by deranged mutant Splicers who would readily slice you up for fun. He was an unwilling victim, of this underwater pandemonium; just like you. Through a portable radio, his voice (with sexy Irish brogue) not only provided companionship, but also guided you out of danger. What an endearing chap. You can almost shed a tear for him. Too bad he’s a deceptive git.

Yes, your best buddy takes a steaming crap on your friendship when he reveals himself to be the alter ego of Rapture’s criminal mastermind, Frank Fontaine. You realise then that you have been unwittingly doing his bidding through subliminal mind-control. Atlas/Fontaine makes the list for lulling you into a false sense of security and leaving you feeling dirty and abandoned. Kind of like how Luke from Star Wars felt when he found out Leia was his sister after they sucked face with each other

5. Lieutenant General Shepherd - Call of Duty series

He was your ally in the original Modern Warfare, but the battle-hardened Lieutenant General Shepherd shoots you in the back (quite literally) in the sequel and kills most of your friends. We’d really love to hate him, but his final scene in MW2 was just downright impressive.

Whose jaws didn’t drop in awe as Shepherd, who was probably pushing 60, took down two hardened army soldiers almost half his age? Go grandpa, go! And did I mention he was voiced by Bishop from the Alien movie franchise? You just can’t beat that.

4. Pyramid Head - Silent Hill series

For our money, Pyramid Head is the most terrifying creation in the pantheon of video game villains. From the moment he makes his chilling debut in Room 307 -- complete with rape and murder -- you know you're up against a different type of foe... something cruel, unknowable and terrible.

With his iconic visage and indomitable thirst for sadism, Pyramid Head was the chief horror of Silent Hill's Grand Guignol. It's no surprise that he was the standout character in the film adaptation. Once you stare into that black visage you are never quite the same again. Brrrr...

3. Psycho Mantis – Metal Gear Solid

In retrospect, the blocky animation, cheap latex outfit and camp Russian voice really didn’t do Psycho Mantis any favours. That, and his namesake is a green exiguous insect. Yes, very scary indeed.

But if you think back to when the PSX was the crème de la crème of consoles, facing the arch-nemesis of Solid Snake would have sent cold shivers down your spine. Psycho Mantis jumps out of the game and into real-life when he performs demonstrations of his supernatural abilities. He moves the player’s controller (by making it vibrate), cuts out the screen in the middle of a fight and makes creepy comments about the games you’ve played (by reading off the memory card). Okay, so it doesn’t sound so impressive in the year 2010, but those ‘cheap gimmicks’ have made a permanent mark in many a gamer's memory banks.

2. GlaDoS - Portal

“Your entire life has been a mathematical error... a mathematical error I’m about to correct!” “You’re not smart. You’re not a scientist. You’re not a doctor. You’re not even a full-time employee! Where did your life go so wrong?”

Those are but some of the choice quotes from Portal’s malevolent supercomputer, GLaDoS, aptly delivered with a monotonous disembodied voice. Beside her killer turret gun babies, GLaDoS is the only other speaking character in the game and she instructs (i.e. - forces) the player to run through sterile chambers to test a nifty portal gun all while constantly promising a cake at the end of the trial. Sounds reasonable enough. Expect most of the chambers involve life-threatening obstacles with some intended to be run by military androids instead. GLaDoS is less than encouraging, telling fibs and dropping ominous messages like “When the test is over, you will be... missed”. Then, of course, the cake turns out to be a lie and GLaDoS tries to ‘bake’ the player after the test. Okay, so she’s a murderous heap of wires and metal but her warped personality and hilarious non-sequitur one-liners make her one of the most memorable villains in the gamersphere. As her lil’ turret guns would say: “No hard feelings”, right?

1. Sephiroth - Final Fantasy series

Cloud? Who the hell is Cloud?

When Final Fantasy VIII first came out 13 ago (yes, it has been that long already), its megalomaniac supervillain, Sephiroth, was on everybody’s lips. He was the embodiment of the phrase “It’s good to be bad” and pretty much single-handedly catapulted the game to cult status (as certified by the game’s director himself).

His reputation of being ridiculously hard to beat only served to bolster his star status. Hell, we even forgave Sephiroth for killing our beloved Aerith because he is just so damn cool.

Meanwhile, mopey protagonist and army dropout, Cloud Strife, is left to languish on the sidelines. Square-Enix (formerly known as Squaresoft) has continued to milk the success of its favourite bad seed, resurrecting him in Kingdom Hearts, Dissidia: Final Fantasy and using him as a central theme in the CGI movie, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

Seriously, the guy is more enduring than a Galápagos tortoise...

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