And dammit, those are my 2 favorite things about this past year. What the heck am I going to do here? I don't really do a lot of talking on this section of D-toid, but Bloggers Wanted has always been a great way to convince me to talk as best as I can possibly talk and talking about something I've talked about already would be boring talk. So, I suppose it's time to talk the talk about something I've yet to talk of. I think I shall talk about Borderlands 2 and how it's main villain, Handsome Jack, is probably the best video game villain we've had in a long time.
Now... let's talk.
He's one of those guys that gets you thinking. Not about life, violence or just what the blerp is up with airline food, but about what truly makes an excellent video game villain. Really, just an excellent villain in general. One that's just simply evil is not enough. Being evil and witty one-liners?... no. A disturbingly provocative speech? Sure, but they gotta have something to stand up on. A strong backbone. An honest-to-goodness want, nay, NEED, to kill or at least totally humiliate this person. And that makes sense, right?
Borderlands 2 achieves this through Handsome Jack and his somewhat constant butting into everything that goes on during your quest (and we can't just simply block Jack's ECHO comms because that would be rude). Rubbing it all into your face, insulting you, pissing you off and just overall being a cocky little freak. With acting that's sincere and dialogue that will make you laugh just about as much as it makes you sigh with annoyance.
When I started to notice, at times, I wasn't enjoying Jack's dialogue, I initially thought it was because it just wasn't decent dialogue. Or maybe the delivery was a little off. But it wasn't any of that.
Was I not enjoying the dialogue simply because Jack was unjustifiably strutting his ego? Like a true asshole would?
Looking back, it seems almost as if a villain in a video game is usually written only to say what needs to be said and nothing more. If not that, they don't bother you nearly as much as they probably should. They don't get many chances to further make you wanna pursue them. But with that ECHO device, Jack is always ready to roll with anything that's thrown at you. To make whatever it is that you just went through worse and sometimes much worse.
A character is killed off and "That's just the beginning, Vault Hunter.". You're storming through his minions and "Hah. That's cute.". You find something that you think might help you and "Ya know that'll do diddly squat, right?". And what really grinds my gears is that he does it all from his comfy little fucking chair on that fucking goddamn 'H' in the sky. Often, he'll try to make you think that what he does is making him a hero. I quote, "Because that's what heroes do... they show mercy.". It makes you mad. You just wanna punch him. You love to hate him.
It should be noted again that all of it is written and delivered so believably (outside probably one lame joke). He'll get cocky, he'll get nervous, he'll get mad, all so appropriately. He feels like a real-life douche.
And because of all this, when he does get mad, when that rare moment comes where his ego is destroyed and he's made to look stupid, it's incredibly fun. Not just because of his lines or the delivery, but because of the mere fact that you broke him. Even if it's just for a second.
Just as we were promised, Jack succeeds in pretty much the same way GLaDOS did in Portal (and for the sake of it all, we're just gonna talk about Portal 1).
Throughout the majority of Portal, GLaDOS is pretty much in total control. If you want to even MAYBE get out of this place, you'll have to jump through a crapload of hoops sucker. And her robotic delivery is always so off-putting (although in a good way). You never quite know what to think of her even though she's always chiming in about your progress and your eventual... reward.
And then she tries to kill you. Immediately, everything she has said to you turns to lies, deceit, and those unsure intentions become clear. You know exactly what to think of her. You don't like her very much now, do you? She totally punk'd you.
And then you totally punk'd her back! You escape her trap using the very tool she gave you to clear her deadly puzzles. Didn't that feel awesome? And didn't it feel even more awesome when her usually calm tone suddenly gave off a subtle vibe of nervousness and compensation? Oh yeah it did.
It actually matters when these villains start to lose their cool. They hold weight because of the gameplay and the way they present themselves. They're crafted so expertly. And we need more developers striving to create these same levels of expertise in video game villain writing.