Strictly speaking anyone with a mechanical augmentation that replaces a body part (or becomes a body part) is a cyborg, so why not call this list Top 10 Cyborgs?
Well, there’s another list in that somewhere. There are plenty of names to pick out for that one; but this week we’re focussing on those who are still (mostly) human. Someone with a few new limbs, maybe a replacement set of eyes, some kind of blood-born technology, so long as they are recognisably human, all essential parts intact. Human+ if you will.
So let us check the specs on some of our modified men and women. Welcome to our Top 10 Mechanically Augmented humans.
10) Big Daddy – Bioshock
The Big Daddy of Bioshock are huge, lumbering hulks who stomp around in what appears to be a divers suit. The most impressive part about these beasts are the fact that they are entirely engineered that way; spliced in fact. They weren’t always like this, they are the result of a lot of engineering. What’s left from the spliced mutations is basically a monstrosity created by the most crazed of humanity.
These behemoths are able to really slow you down at the start of the game, but as you go through, you eventually find what makes them tick. You can generally go through a game without killing one, although where’s the fun in an action game where you’re not downright murdering things?!
9) Gaige the Mechromancer – Borderlands 2
The first DLC character from the series, 16 year old Gaige’s major technological upgrade is the hovering murder-robot Deathtrap she made for a science fair on Eden 5, complete with razor-blades, lasers, and a concussive blast. But while she’d be pretty vulnerable without it, the Deathtrap is nothing without her either.
Following an accident in the construction process, Gaige lost an arm. Being a reasonable engineer, instead of seeking medical attention she saw the opportunity to make an upgrade, replacing her arm with the heavy digistruction module that conjures her hovering bodyguard. That takes a special kind of ingenuity, and gives her scope for a lot more upgrades.
8) Kano – Mortal Kombat
Kano was a member of a crime syndicate called the Black Dragons, who committed many crimes against humanity. He has a metal faceplate, which has a cyberkinetic eye. The eye is able to fire lasers and is basically a laser eye in general. He is a sworn enemy of the Special Forces.
He installed the faceplate mostly due to an altercation with a character from the Special Forces; another character from the franchise known as Jax (who is also a mechanically augmented human). During the battle, Jax injured Kano’s eye which forced him to get surgery to replace it. Since his debut back in the early 90’s, Kano has always had the faceplate and is easily one of the most recognisable characters of the Mortal Kombat franchise.
7) Batou – Ghost in the Shell
Batou or Bateau (which translates to boat in French) is a huge man who is an incredibly skilled fighter of Section 9. He’s one of the main protagonists of the series and is even second in command. It’s never great being second, but Batou makes his presence known throughout. He’s a light-hearted behemoth of a man who is able to make a joke and bring the tension in the air right down to normal levels once more.
In Japanese however, Batou means horse, which is representative with his tiny, beady little eyes. These aren’t just a case of a man squinting all day long, these are actually robotic eyes implanted in his head. Now, there’s not too much to say about this, other than the fact this is a massive man who is in an incredibly well known anime and has a distinctive design thanks to those tiny eyes. Such, tiny, undersized, lifeless eyes…
6) Seven of Nine – Star Trek Voyager
Firmly in the minority on this list is someone whose upgrades have been a tremendous burden and a curse, and has sought to remove them in pursuit of greater humanity. Formerly Annika Hansen, and assimilated into the Borg Collective along with her parents at a very young age, Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01 (shortened to Seven of Nine) is freed from the cybernetic hivemind by the crew of Voyager and has many of the “upgrades” are removed over time.
Say what you will about Voyager, Seven of Nine makes for one incredible exploration into what makes us human (that and the holo-doctor is one of the best characters in the whole franchise, shut up, don’t argue) and Jeri Ryan’s performance balances the cold and humourless machine with the slow exploration and discovery of emotion and experience.
5) Mr Freeze – DC
Unlike most of the members of our list, Freeze is rarely represented as having any mechanical replacements or additions to his body, but without the refrigeration suit that keeps his body below freezing temperature he’d die. Fortunately Viktor Fries is also an ingenious mechanic and scientist, so the suit is also heavily armoured and equipped with a range of cold-themed weaponry and tech.
Perhaps more suited to this list is Nora, whose frozen body is equipped with some heavy duty monitoring equipment while Viktor fights to cure his terminally ill wife. The master cryogenicist has aided many of Gotham’s residents in the pursuit of a cure, hero and villain alike, all eventually seem to come begging. While he may be separable from his particular augmentations, there’s no doubt that he is next to nothing without them.
4) Tony Stark – Marvel
Much like Fries, Tony’s major upgrade is more of a life support machine. Oh sure, everybody remembers the cool suits that deflect bullets, help him fly and shoot frickin’ laser beams, but let’s not forget that the power supply that’s embedded in his chest is keeping him alive. Shrapnel from the blast that changed Stark’s life stayed in his blood for years, held in place by the magnet powered by the same Arc reactor that he’s since upgraded to power the Iron Man suits.
The same tech has been used in the comics for incredible feats, including hovering cars, and powering the reconstructed Asgard. Tony Stark’s greatest asset is also his biggest vulnerability, he starts dying rapidly if the reactor is removed or loses its charge, sadly using the suits drains the power. No wonder he started drinking.
3) Raiden – Metal Gear Solid
Now this is where things get really interesting – See, Raiden, whose real name is Jack (or Jack the Ripper), was a mercenary and a damn good one. He was part of many fights, in which he would often be the winner. Notably wielding swords in favour of guns (Although skilled with a pistol too), Raiden was just a codename behind a rather pivotal member of many different groups and affiliations.
Raiden gains some cookie points here – Although he’s often referred to as an android, he was most certainly human to begin with. Through his many battles, he’s slowly been ‘upgraded’ time and time again. As such, he’s become less human throughout his many fights and has slowly become more of an android… But he’s still very much human at his core.
2) Adam Jensen – Deus Ex Series
When we considered this list Adam Jensen was the face we had in mind, and the benchmark we set for how augmented the character has to be before they’re more machine than man. Jensen at least has most of a torso and head, I think there’s some organs in there. Anyway…
Former head of security for Sarif Industries who make all of the tech he’s been implanted with following his sacrifice for the sake of protecting his company and the woman he loved. Afterwards he’s dragged into a world of intrigue, walking between human purists and corporate control of people through augmentation. The game raises some potent questions about what defines humanity, and the incredible power corporatocracy has over us, even today.
Jensen himself features a full set of mechanical limbs, capable of incredible feats of strength, speed, and agility, containing a strong and sharp ceramic blade. Mechanical alterations to his organs and sensory organs make him more durable, accurate, and responsive. While his mechanical upgrades make him a more effective agent, it puts him in a rather vulnerable position when it comes to the matters of morality Deus Ex raises.
1) Edward Elric – Fullmetal Alchemist
Well, anyone who knows anime will know of Edward Elric, who gets our top spot this week. He’s clever, he’s in fact a bit of a prodigy and he has a spiffy piece of weaponry. One of the most skilled melee fighters of all of the State Alchemists, the older Elric brother is doggedly determined and ultimately one of the most well-rounded of all of the alchemists. However, he does put a lot of heart into his line of work.
He committed the ultimate taboo, by trying to do human transmutation to bring their dead mother back to life. In the process, they created a monstrosity known as a Homunculus. As well as this, Alphonse Elric, Edwards brother, was almost killed in the process, losing his whole body. Edward, who lost his leg for trying to bring their mother back, ends up losing his right arm as well to bind Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armour. Horrific backstory and all, Fullmetal is a well deserved title for the boy who endured unimaginable pain, became a dog of the military just so they could understand and ultimately aim to restore their bodies back to their former glory.
The type of metal used in Fullmetal’s arm and leg are automail, which is a tough and durable metal, which is incredibly hard to work with. Most people with prosthetics in their world have a much more inferior model than Ed’s own. Metal being connected to nerves, but at the end of the day, his limbs are literally functional as real limbs. Except for when they seize up… Although one could argue the point that joints do indeed seize up too. Ah, he’s just like new again.
We’ve now seen the very best enhancements a human can bare, so don’t be afraid of a little application gel on the arm. From the eery, down to the very brave, we’ve finished creating our list of mechanically augmented humans who took every opportunity to ensure they were the best they could be… But here are two more who deserve a mark of respect for their commitment to the cause.
Viktor – League of Legends
Viktor is a sad tale. We recently mentioned Veigar, the Tiny Master of Evil who has a rather fantastic story. Viktor isn’t so fantastic – Instead, his is a tale of woe and deceit… And a little bit of insanity. Known as the machine herald, he attended the College of Techmaturgy, a place where he was sure to make his mark. He created Blitzcrank, who he was sure would place him amongst the top of his field.
Of course, things never worked out that way. Instead his credit was stolen by his professor, who also used Viktors research to revive Urgot. Viktor felt betrayed and as such went into a depression. He secluded himself and ended up doing all he could… he ended up augmenting himself as his ultimate test to see how far the human body could go.
Johnny Matheny – Robotic prosthetics user and pioneer for John Hopkins College
Let’s be clear, Johnny Matheny is not unique, nor is he the ingenious mind behind the incredible prosthetics he now uses, he’s a self proclaimed hillbilly. He’s also the one of the closest things we have to a full blown cyborg!
John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory have grafted his new arm directly to his bone, with an innovative nerve control interface that allow far greater control over his modular arm, and more importantly with far greater comfort. He’s one a handful of people trialling the incredible developments that combine medicine and mechanics, new robotic components to replace what we lose in our life.
Other prosthetics being tested right now include functioning eyes that send signals directly into the brain, new implants to effectively cure syndromes like diabetes, and 3D printed replacement parts for hard materials like replacement skull plates.
Oi, put your screwdrivers and wrenches down, this Top 10 list is over. We’ve searched for the best engineered humans and we seem to have gotten to the bottom of the list. Whilst all of the humans listed are incredibly capable characters, we’ve once again had to be harsher on some of the bigger names due to what they represent from a technological standpoint. But now, you can help equip us with next week’s list.
As always, we love to see what you all have to say about our Top 10 list for the week – So why not have a ponder as to what’s the best mechanically engineered human on this list. Do you agree with the Fullmetal Alchemist himself being number one, or do you feel we valued his humanity too much? Do you think we were fair in our assessment of Mr. Freeze? Was there a character we totally forgot and should have put in? As always, leave your comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.