Every games platform worth its salt has played host to an iconic hero (or heroine, for that matter), and Sony’s PlayStation family is no exception to this tradition. Sure, old school leads such as Solid Snake and Lara Croft are still kicking around today, but PS3 has introduced a whole new generation of memorable heroes, from wise-cracking Nathan Drake to the permanently pissed-off Kratos. Conversely however, there’s also been some right stinkers on offer, with a variety of generic, soulless faces populating even some of Sony’s biggest franchises.
It’s these chaps and chapettes we’ve come to highlight in our latest feature, from the stereotypical, flawed, to the downright rubbish game leads to populate PS3 since launch.
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DUKE NUKEM (Duke Nukem Forever)
Duke is something of a legend, though unfortunately, his current-generation offering left a lot to be desired. Wonky gameplay and generic baddies aside, The King himself is also a colossal let down. Throughout the entirety of the game, we almost forgot why we used to love the potty-mouthed meathead so much back in the 90s, as his performance in Forever was positively foul. Yes, Duke’s humour has always been a little close to the edge – particularly when it comes to the female species - but has always landed on the right side of tasteful. Here however, our roid-raging hero descends into pure undiluted, disrespectful mediocrity. Duke’s attempts at making you laugh boils down to cack toilet humour, slapping alien tits (yes, really) and massaging his ego. It’s coarse, irritating and…just not fundamentally funny. As such, he comes across as a washed up relic, who has seemingly been dug up from the year 1997 with no good reason as to why gamers should care about his trials and tribulations.
NATHAN HALE (Resistance: Fall of Man)
The phrase ‘Silence is Golden’ obviously resonated with the perpetually mute Nathan Hale of Resistance: Fall of Man, who spends most of his time frowning and shooting aliens in the face. Bald, grizzly and not one for talking, Hale is unfortunately one of the most forgettable heroes on PS3, joining the legions of ‘generic soldier grunt’ types you’d commonly associate with bad B-movies. It’s a pity too, since the story is actually decent enough for a shooter, and the concept of an alien-like race inexorably laying waste to Europe and its surrounding regions definitely adds a sense of desperation to the proceedings. Sadly, it’s difficult to get any palpable sense of fear when you’re in command of a stoic lead like Hale, whose emotions are about as rampant as a Monk’s sex drive. Indeed, our grizzled grunt has two discernible personalities throughout: angry, and very angry. As such, there’s a firm detachment from player to protagonist, resulting in Hale’s comrades stealing the show – at least they give you a sense of how severe the situation is becoming, and feel somewhat human. In comparison to Joseph Capelli, Hale leaves a lot to be desired.
TOMAS ‘SEV’ SEVCHENKO (Killzone 2)
Killzone is a tent pole PS3 franchise, and ticks pretty much every box in terms of visual clarity, adrenaline-fuelled shoot-outs and intensely competitive multiplayer. What it doesn’t really excel at however, is creating a memorable hero for which to weave its admittedly decent narrative. Hero Sev is cut from the same cloth as Nathan Hale, in the sense he joins an endless conveyer belt of forgettable military sorts bulldozing his way through the colossal bloodbath that is Killzone 2. There’s nothing particularly wrong with Sev, he’s just decidedly average; in fact, the Helghast by comparison prove far more compelling characters. He gets the job done and is a dab hand with an assault rifle, but you could honestly replace him with a PlayStation Home avatar and you’d probably never even notice the difference.
DESMOND MILES (Assassin’s Creed)
Poor old Desmond, he never really stood a chance did he? Stacked up against the cool, calculated Altair and womanizing, exuberant Ezio Auditore, Assassin’s Creed’s boring barman ends up being distinctly underwhelming. While voiced admirably by the ubiquitous Nolan North, it’s impossible to shake the feeling of pure monotony when stepping into Desmond’s shoes when all you want to do is hop back in time and stab people in the face. The problem is he’s just not a compelling hero. While he spends most of the time twiddling his thumbs strapped to the Animus, Desmond’s tale is the core of the game, and one should feel intrigued by his background, how he came to be there in the first place, and ultimately, what type of person he is. Sadly, most of the time we do get to go hands-on with Desmond he merely wonders around hacking emails and being told to go back to bed and get some rest. It doesn’t help that his historical alter egos are such memorable leads in themselves. Even when stacked against Altair, a chap who isn’t exactly renowned for showing his emotions, at least manages to grow somewhat by the end of the game, questioning his mentor’s requests and uncovering an ancient conspiracy in the process. Desmond on the other hand fails to offer any stimulating material, and in some ways it would have been better to eschew his playable sections and set the action permanently in the past.
A wonderfully idiosyncratic game like Catherine needs an enigmatic, standout lead to carry its narrative forward. Unfortunately, Vincent isn’t quite up to scratch. While managing to get his leg over with two gorgeous birds throughout his sheep-populated journey, Vince spends most of his time whining and bitching about his life. That is, if you can call it a life, with our floppy-haired computer buff spending most of his time down the local boozer getting pissed with his mates. Lack of ambition seems to plague Vincent, as he’s none too keen to take things to the next step in his romantic life either, lacking any desire to put a ring on the finger of his lover, Katherine. It’s not hard to sympathise with Vincent when he’s stuck in his hellish, sheep-infested nightmare, but it’s even harder to maintain any strong bond with such a weedy, unmotivated 30-something geek at the same time.
-Altair (Assassin's Creed)
-Snow (Final Fantasy XIII)
-Shane Carpenter (Haze)