Video Games Where You Play the Villain

by George Herman about a year ago in list

It's not always fun being a good guy. That's why the few video games where you play the villain have some of the greatest characters and often most influential storylines in gaming history.

Video Games Where You Play the Villain

Bad never felt so good, and what better way to play bad than through villainous evil deeds? These following games have some of the craziest stories and even the most intense protagonists, whose quests often lead them far and well beyond the brink of total mental destruction. Your goal? Your ambition? Mostly, it's to destroy the human race, or at least to kill as many people as possible (anyone remember Postal?), but they also centered around or advocated extreme violence in some capacity. Video games where you play the villain don't hesitate to make you, the player, ask what it means to even be the villain, whilst still pressuring you to further these demonic activities.

These games take players into realms far unimaginable, down dark paths filled with a mixture of vengeance, murder, mayhem and destruction. Complete chaos, like the mind of the Joker, is more like it. The more a player induces pain and murder, or the more rampages the payer partakes in, the more the reward (even, sometimes, a lack thereof). That's what truly being the villain means, and these few games treat this trait of character as not only one to be reckoned with, but one that can take a player and character to a whole new (and often frightening) level of self-discovery.

Being that it's more of an art piece than it is a video game, Shadow of the Colossus is probably the most interesting case of video games where you play the villain—if only for making you ask into your own villainy as it progresses. You play as Wander, a young boy who is told by an evil spirit, Dormin, to destroy 16 Colossi in order to save his love, Mono. The more you play, or more accurately the more you destroy Colossi, the tone of the gameplay grows darker and more depressed.

Despite never fully being explained, it's clear that Wander's search to save his love actually led to the release of Dormin's evil spirit. First ever released in 2005, and adapted into HD format as of February 2018, Shadow of the Colossus has been remarked as being one of the most influential titles and, like others on this list, is considered among the best video games.

Who can forget this masterpiece of an open world video game? Grand Theft Auto V brought players to a whole new, sun-drenched virtual California called San Andreas, completely updated and revamped since last played in 2004 in GTA: San Andreas.

While both may be two of the best ranked Grand Theft Auto games ever made, it's clear that only V holds the title of being among video games where you play the villain—or villains, I should say. While Carl Johnson may have been a bare knuckled brawler with a bad temper, Trevor Phillips is not one to be reckoned with. Neither is Micheal de Senta, a career criminal and master bank robber who faked his death so his ole pal, Trevor, wouldn't find him again! Talk about issues, these video game baddies got some evil deeds to amend with, and given the immense possibilities in-game, I'm sure they have enough therapeutic devices to contend with.

First released in 2006, Destroy All Humans proved to be a game all of its own with its main character Cryptosporidium 137. While he may be an alien harvesting human brains for the continuance of his race, it's still immoral, which is why it ends up among video games where you play the villain.

The sequel, based in 1969, brings an array of new abilities to the playing field, even upgrades for your alien spaceship. Though the later iterations and overall franchise never seemed to actually pick up speed, the initial game remains a nostalgic hit and will always leave fans raving over its parody of Cold War-era alien invasion films.

An unusual franchise for its use in a variety of storytelling tactics, in addition to employing among the most ruthless, if not altogether most dangerous of all playable video game protagonists, the Hitman series is of course among video games where you play the villain. All we know about Agent 47 is that he kills people and he's the absolute best at it (and may even make John Wick look like an amateur).

With two franchise movie installments, a few novels, and a berth of video games, Agent 47's story is one interestingly still full of mystery. Allowing players to kill their targets by any means necessary, using either something like a long range sniper rifle or a handy tire iron, plus giving endless amounts of possibilities in disguises and play-through, Hitman alone has opened the door for action packed, stealth-based shooter video games with a subtle hint of mystery and madness.

There cannot be a case of video games where you play the villain without at least one of the many Star Wars franchise saga titles, given the plethora of baddies and villains alike to choose from. The father of them all, however, can only be the likes of Star Wars: TIE Fighter, a simulation space combat that's incidentally the sequel of Star Wars: X-Wing.

Since it was released way back in 1994, neither the graphics nor the gameplay are all that up to date or revolutionary, but the game as a whole remains a classic among not just the Star Wars franchise, but video gaming itself for being a critical success. Call me insane, but it's even been considered among the greatest video games of all time, like that of even Shadow of the Colossus.

Considered among the most violent and brutal franchise games ever released, and with it being birthed by the hands of none other than Rockstar Games, there's no question of Manhunt's belonging as among video games where you play the villain. After all, the protagonist is a death row prisoner named James Earl Cash tricked into preforming in snuff films for former film producer Lionel Starkweather (voiced by Brian Cox—you know, the guy who played Agamemnon in Troy).

Aside from being banned in various countries for its explicit and graphic content, Manhunt was even implicated in a murder, but the claims were quickly dropped. It received a number of awards and praise for its dark tones, in addition to it being among the few stealth-based survival horror video games with such an immense following.

The Darkness was released in 2007 to some more than good reviews. It wasn't so much amazing in fan favoritism, given the game's supremely dark nature, but the overall premise, storyline, and even leveling system all were highly noteworthy. This spawned 2012-released The Darkness II, among the most twisted video games where you play the villain.

Well, "villain" may be a harsh word, but Jackie Estacado is more like an evil genius or an anti hero than anything else. Given extraordinary powers, loosely called "the Darkness," from his family's ancestral past, Jackie kills and consumes his enemies up until gaining the titles don of the Franchetti family. From here, the sequel continues his struggle with the darkness and how this demonic force grows stronger within him alone.

While some may be saying the new God of War will mark a new beginning and fresh innovation for the franchise, I think the series alone has marked itself as among the best video games where you play the villain. That being said, the new game itself is just what the series needs in recollecting itself among newer, more fresh video game titles.

As for their previous iterations, the games have showcased some menacing, albeit fearful characters. Not only is the Spartan warrior you play as, Kratos, a pretty angry dude to begin with (Ares, the actual God of War, did trick him into killing his wife and daughter), he's also willing to go further and beyond to get what he wants. He did make it all the way to four games after all, when he simply could have ended it all at the cold, dead hands of Ares, who you kill in the very first game. Like I said, Kratos is one angry dude.

The action adventure super hero title that, in some way or another, adapted the landscape of video gaming as a whole also captured comic book fans everywhere by giving players their own electrifying powers. What's so great about that, you might ask? Well, what you did with those powers was entirely up to you.

That's not holistically revolutionizing for video gaming as a whole, per se, but in the way that your actions (whether mundane or mission-based) all pertained to a moral system that would then lead to two differentiated endings made Infamous, the game itself, infamous as among video games where you could play the villain. And, yet while you still can be good in the game, personally I have to say the villain's end is ten times better (and isn't being the bad guy just so much more fun?).

Even if you weren't a fan of 007 Bond films and played spy games like them, you'll still know or have at least heard of GoldenEye, but if not Rogue Agent then you're missing out on probably one of the absolute best among them. Recruited by Auric Goldfinger, a ruthless cohort among the villainous organization known as SPECTRE, you're an ex-MI6 operative employed to assassinate Dr. No, incidentally Goldfinger's rival.

That's why GoldenEye Rogue Agent is an absolute classic among video games where you play the villain. It's one of only two other chapters in the EA listing not in the same continuity with predecessors and follow ups alike, the second being 2000's 007 Racing. Rogue Agent's "goldeneye" actually refers to the protagonist's cybernetic eye, and not with either the 1995 film or 1997 video game as many seem to believe.

With the movie being such a smash hit, and the overall franchise being an offer you simply could not refuse, The Godfather video game was every wanna-be Corleone family's dream come true. Players were invited to enter into the ranks of one of the most notorious crime families New York has ever known; while doing so, they got a chance to witness said family rise from the ashes and into the spotlight all through your doing.

The Godfather is a remarkable testament to video games where you play the villain, probably even video gaming itself. Players could choose everything from how they buttoned their shirts and peacoat, to the stye of their hair or shoes. You upgraded weapons whenever you actually found the weapon, or bought it, but actually finding it added a level of adventure to the game unlike any other shooter or open world game before it.

Though not as good as Saints Row, but at least ten times better than Saints Row 2, the fourth installment to the insanity plea of a gaming series certainly took a toll on all of us, and that is by being one of the few video games where you play a villain. They all in some way employ a villain by trade, of course, but Saints Row IV just did it the best.

The game starts out a few months following the end events of the third installment, but things (as usual) begin to get whacky pretty much immediately. Whereas the first few games were all based somewhat around criminal enterprising, this one took a turn toward the virtual. That's what makes Saints Row itself one of the best series among video games where you play the villain.

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George Herman

Call me a nerd, that’s what I am: Star Wars fanatic, Grand Theft Auto champion, comic book connoisseur, and a long-time lyricist. So, call me a nerd, but that’s not all I am!

See all posts by George Herman