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One of the best things about video game franchises is being able to watch protagonists grow throughout each installment; each game represents a new hurdle to overcome alongside our avatars and major NPCs. However, not everything goes the way we think and sometimes we end up facing off against someone we either played as or alongside.
Sometimes being the bad guy becomes too tempting for some video game protagonists and they end up switching sides. But not all protagonists turned villains are made equal; these are the best good guys gone bad that came out of nowhere. Beware spoilers for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 1 & 2, Prototype 1 & 2, the Metal Gear Solid Franchise, Resident Evil 4 & 5 and the Legacy of Kain franchise.
Gabriel – Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2
Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow positioned itself as a great reboot of the franchise; instead of hitting the same plot points as the original it took a new approach to the story and worked in a few nice twists. However, there was one twist that nobody saw coming. Throughout the story we follow Gabriel as he takes down the forces of evil; Satan’s included in this because, you know, Big Evil has to turn up, right?
Instead of just following the typical Good vs Evil storyline, we follow Gabriel as he has a crisis of faith which ultimately ends in him cursing God and becoming what the game sets up as the ultimate evil: Dracula. It was a twist that nobody saw coming and felt organic to the story being told. By the time Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2 rolls around, Gabriel has fully accepted his role as the games’ Lord of Darkness and gone full vampire, setting him up as the game’s main antagonist.
Alex Mercer – Prototype 2
Alex Mercer wasn’t really the good guy in Prototype since he was ultimately the one responsible for the virus being released and the subsequent events of the franchise. Plus there’s the fact that he eats people to heal himself which isn’t typical hero stuff. However, he does stop a nuke from being fired at Manhattan so anti-hero, maybe?
By the time Prototype 2 rolls around, he’s after giving up on humanity and unleashed another virus. At least he’s consistent. This ends up in the death of new protagonist James Heller’s family and his mutations and puts him on the path of revenge. We end up in a fight to the death with the former protagonist and consume him. With any luck we’ll end up facing James if Prototype 3 is ever released. Here’s hoping it’s another virus and another nuke.
Big Boss – Metal Gear Solid Franchise
Throughout the entire Metal Gear Solid franchise, Big Boss was always the main antagonist and was behind the majority of the events throughout the franchise. Anyone who knows anything about the franchise knew that Naked Snake from the prequel games Snake Eater, Peace Walker and Ground Zeroes would eventually become Big Boss.
However, that didn’t stop players from following Naked Snake as he journeys from a naïve and young idealistic soldier to the ultimate franchise villain. Though we first met him as a villain, we still end up seeing how and why he went from hero to villain over the course of a few years. In contrast to purely wanting to take over the world for the hell of it, he’s been broken down and eventually turned to the bad side.
Jill Valentine – Resident Evil 5
Jill Valentine had been the protagonist in the majority of Resident Evil games ever since she was first introduced. Because of that, nobody really expected that she’d stay dead after tackling Albert Wesker out of a window and into the ocean.
Suggested Reading: Nightmares Now and Forever | Resident Evil at 20.
Because of that, a unique twist needed to be made to re-introduce her in Resident Evil 5; with that twist came Jill Valentine working as Wesker’s right hand woman. Fans were left shocked but quickly surprised as Jill served as the tertiary antagonist for most of the game. Thankfully we soon learn that Wesker placed a mind-control device on her and we’re eventually able to bring her back to our side. That being said, she made quite the impact as one of the best protagonists turned villains, albeit briefly.
Kain – Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver
Kain is probably the most badass anti-hero that’s ever existed. Starting off as a nobleman who was assassinated, his lust for revenge was so all-consuming that he came back as a vampire to hunt for revenge. He quickly set off on his path and butchered anyone who got in his way, quickly becoming a vampire lord.
In Soul Reaver, Kain has realized there’s no cure for his vampirism and decided to let evil consume him. However, Raziel swears revenge on the vampire lord for tearing off his wings and generally being an all-round bad guy. Though installments have shifted from one to the other over the years, Kain manages to remain cool and collected no matter what role he’s in. This also gives us an insight into how and why Kain became the villain that he is, and how he manages to stay so badass.