This list simply wouldn't be complete without the Batman. In the Arkham games, Rocksteady Studios did a magnificent job bringing the beloved comic hero to life. He moves like Batman, fights like Batman, and he's so gosh-darn serious about everything that you just want to squeeze his little Batman cheeks. From his brooding crouch atop Gotham City gargoyles to his ability to knock the heads of goons together, this is the Batman we know and love. His portrayal in these games sets the gold standard for the previously maligned category of licensed games. We can only hope that other famous characters from books, movies, and comics will be given similarly great treatment in the future.
Balthier is the consummate gentleman rogue, and is one of the most likeable characters that Square Enix has ever produced. From his delightful entrance to his touching final sacrifice, Balthier plays the part of the leading man and he knows it. Despite that, he's generous with his fellow party members and doesn't intrude on their moments of glory. He trusts in the competence of his female companions, supporting them without feeling the need to "save" them at every opportunity. He's a mature character who tackles the problems of his past head on, with a complete lack of that patented Final Fantasy angst. Basically, men want to be him and women want to… well, you know what I'm talking about, ladies.
Ezio Auditore da Firenze is such a fun character that it's enjoyable to simply call out his name in its adorably exaggerated accent. Master Assassin, parkour expert, and incorrigible flirt, Ezio is a man of many talents, and excellent fashion sense, to boot. His adventures throughout the Assassin's Creed series brought him in contact with many of the most important figures of the European Renaissance. It's just too bad his descendant Desmond is a bit of a dork. Fortunately, we spend most of our Assassin's Creed time as Ezio.
When we first meet Kanji in the RPG/social simulation Persona 4, he's a tough-looking ruffian who has a bad habit of getting in trouble for beating up gang members. As we get to know him better, though, we learn that he's dealing with some tough issues for a teenage boy. He's worried about what his interest in pursuing a career in sewing means for his masculinity, and he's wondering if he might be gay. This is not the kind of character story that we usually encounter in a video game, and Persona 4 tackles it with class and compassion. With the main character's help, Kanji slowly learns to accept himself for who he is, even if he takes flack for it. Throughout it all, he's a likeable character who approaches his problems in a very realistic way for someone of his age, making him a character that players of all ages can appreciate.
Bastion's omnipresent narrator Rucks is one of the more creative examples of characterization in recent video game history. His warm, folksy voice guides the player through almost the entire game, and evokes a feeling of trust even once it becomes obvious that he knows far more about what's going on with the Calamity than he's willing to tell. Like many things in Bastion, Rucks' true nature is left up to the player to decide, and that decision will weigh on the player's final decision at the end of the game. Rucks' narration and the fabulous performance of his voice actor are major reasons why Bastion is a must-buy hit.
I'm sure there are personal favorites and least favorites which failed to make this list, so, by all means, use the comments section below to plead the case for your entry, or to reopen the wounds of a horrid game worthy of an extra dash of salt.
By Becky Cunningham
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*