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Top 10 Grand Buildings

GeekOut Top 10s

Grand buildings – Buildings which genuinely take your breath away with either the sheer immensity of it, or just at how lavishly it is decorated. We’ll be checking both into the same list here, where the more epic the setting feels, the better it’ll do on our list. So, let’s get right to it in this week’s Top 10 list.

And hey, before you go, please do go and check out the vote at the end of the article. Today marks the four year anniversary of our Top 10’s. Thank you to everyone who has been with us every step of the way.


Top 10

10) End Of The Line Club – Tron

Though we don’t see much of the outside of the club, the End of Line is pretty grandiose both inside and out. Vibrant against the dark of the Grid, the lights are turned up high, the drinks flow constantly, and Daft Punk play every night! All of this is overseen by the equally spectacular Castor (Michael Sheen), whose glowing cane and ever joyous demeanour make a party atmosphere by themselves.

Positioned at the top of the tallest tower that overlooks the city, the party floor has the greatest view a program could ask for. A shuttle-car brings guests from the floor to the top, meaning that security should be a flawlessly managed thing. Sadly, Clu’s security forces are better prepared for renegade club owners, and the End of Line club is now… ended.

9) The Tower of Isengard – Lord of the Rings

They’re taking the Hobbits to Isengard, they said. But what they didn’t count on is the fact that one of these powerful wizard-folk were going to turn on them. But I digress, Isengard is a bit of a dump when you really look at it on the outside. It’s just a bloody great big iron fortress, of which the name implies. It became the home of the almost hermit-like Saruman, a wise and powerful wizard. Who, y’know, betrays them all.

Anyway, ignoring the betrayal, the reason we chose the Tower of Isengard is the sheer immensity of it. Unlike the rest of the area, it’s just this massive spire which sits dead centre in the fortress. Don’t get me wrong, it plays an important part and is one hell of an image, but what doesn’t sit right with me is the lack of being able to see the insides. The film makes a great case for it; the book paints an impressive image… But we just don’t know what’s going on inside.

That summit however is rather incredible.

8) Cair Paravel – Narnia

The Kings and Queens of Narnia rule from within Cair Paravel, a massive, incredible castle in the realm of Narnia. Through them wardrobes you go, as you step into Narnia, where the castle houses the four thrones. Indeed, this castle is central to the story of Narnia in many ways, even if we’re not necessarily going to see everything about it, which is why we can’t rank this one much higher than this spot.

However, don’t let the placing on this list fool you. Cair Paravel is an incredible castle, home to many a people. Depending on where abouts you are, it’s just a castle or it’s a castle surrounded by a whole city. Naturally, a city isn’t a building, so throughout we’ve focused on the castle… Which is truly a shame, as hey, spoilers, that castle ain’t staying up forever. All in all, it represents power and position, which is always a surefire way for something to be brought down!

7) The Combine Citadel Tower – Half Life 2

The ominous scar that marrs the skyline of City 17, and for thousands of miles around, the Citadel is an icon of oppression. Literally scraping the sky, the tower reaches up high enough to define the clouds around its apex, and at its base it trails cables, a constant vampiric feed of information used to monitor, control, and subdue.

The monolith is so vast it requires a train to efficiently travel through. The space is filled by an enormous military force, a portal to alien destinations, and the leviathan “Advisors” that have come to enslave humanity. It’s hard to put a human face on a force that grim, and Wallace Breen is not the face any of us would have chosen.

6) The Dark Tower – Stephen King

If I were to tell you that The Dark Tower is basically about a gunslinger who’s taking over a tower, by, y’know, shooting stuff to get to said tower… It all sounds rather daft. But, that’s actually kind of what The Dark Tower is in a nutshell – And the imagery the book sets is amazing. Standing before the massive tower, one lone gunslinger is out for vengeance, from a disturbed childhood. It’s riveting reading and viewing.

Whether or not you’re a fan of Stephen King novels, you cannot deny the immensity of the tower. It’s arguably one of the taller constructs on our list. It’s hard to place what the tower is exactly, except for a nightmarish place which must be entered to be destroyed. Technically, it’s effectively a hub for many worlds… But we’ll let you read or watch it for yourself. We follow our protagonist through his perilous journey into the tower. However, you’d be better off not following Roland into the Dark Tower, as you’d be better off knowing it’s dark secrets.

5) Hyrule Castle – Legend of Zelda

Arguably the most classic example of a video game building on this list, Hyrule Castle has seen many iterations throughout the ages. It doesn’t matter what version you’ve seen, it’s always one of the grandest dungeons in any Legend of Zelda title. As of the time of writing, Hyrule Castle has been in 11 Legend of Zelda titles, which definitely makes it one of the most prolific entries on this list.

Hyrule Castle will always hold a place in gamers hearts; With a multitude of enemies having taken it over, the princess having been kidnapped and much more, Hyrule Castle has a checkered past. Here’s hoping one day Hyrule Castle will be a much more stable and secure place for a king and queen to rule from, but whilst we’ve got Legend of Zelda titles, you can bet that some serious adventuring is going to take place within the walls.

Tidy stone, royal carpets, throne rooms – This castle’s got the lot. It’s even got a dungeon underneath it, to keep the villains locked up.

4) The Disney Castle

Ahh, the iconic edifice that opens every Disney film, the many turreted, completely impractical castle over a river. I’m not saying it’s completely indefensible, but it’s not difficult to get passed that outer wall, and the compound beyond appears to be chaotic, without safe points of retreat and consolidation. Now, the original Neuschwanstein Castle, that’s got some holding power, check out that long runway, leaving invaders open to bombardment and forcing them to bottleneck for easy rep- y’know what, never mind.

The Disney Castle is iconic, a centrepiece to the visual spectacular that is every Disneyland, and the very image we have come to know from the House of Mouse. Despite the Mickey Mouse logo, we perhaps know the castle better now as a culture, since it rose to visual dominance in the days of Sleeping Beauty.

3) Tyrell Corporation – Bladerunner

From a vision of wonder, the the very epitome of domination. The great squat pyramid of Tyrell – producers of the Replicant androids – aglow with lights, but no less dark for the near-divine image it portrays. To refer to the compound as a pyramid is no mistake, creators of “life” after a fashion, Tyrell have created for themselves the image of a kind of god-king, and their temple dominates the horizon.

The floating obelisk-like outer buildings create an almost ethereal power about the thing, as though it defies physics. The interior is as temple-like as the outside, bedecked in fabric hangings, modelled to capture the image of the pope’s bedroom, or the inside of a grand cathedral. Make no mistake, this is dystopia concentrated, all hail the corporation, Tyrell is god to the people.

2) Stark Tower – Marvel

More accurately, Avengers Tower now, Stark Tower suffered some auspiciously cosmetic damage during the Chitauri invasion of New York, losing the S, T, R and K, somehow keeping hold of the stylised “A”. The landing pad sets it apart from every other tower in the Manhattan skyline, veering out from the side of the upper floors to really underline the fact that there are no helicopters putting down there, just a suit.

The lounge that overlooks the landing pad is spacious enough to host a party, a well stocked bar overlooks a seating and party space large enough to swing a god. Just below is a fully automated repair and maintenance facility for the Iron Man Suits and the Iron Legion, along with a variety of workshops and labs further and further down, including spaces specifically made to accommodate the other Avengers. The tower is impressive inside and out, and while it would serve no purpose, I still feel that New York itself would be improved for the addition of a fake one.

Not like Disney couldn’t do it for the giggles…

1) Hogwarts – Harry Potter

If you didn’t think Hogwarts was getting our first place spot, you’d have been sorely mistaken. Hogwarts is indeed our first pick – Although this wasn’t the only building in the Harry Potter universe that we considered. Indeed, we considered Ollivander’s Wand Shop, for the immensity of his collection of wands. We considered Gringotts, as the wealth of gold and the fact there’s a massive roller coaster to get to your vault. We considered Hog’s Head Inn, but that wasn’t that grand.

Indeed, Hogwarts was a fitting first place on this list. Without it, we’d have not seen so many exciting stories. We’ve gone to dark places that most wizards wouldn’t dream of seeing. We’ve been to all sorts of different wonderfully terrifying places within the walls of the school. The fact this massive, magical school is surrounded by forests filled with wildlife, vast luscious grounds, a Quidditch pitch and more is just the beginning.

Once you penetrate the fortress itself, there are staircases that move around. Grand, incredible paintings which are literally alive. A huge dining hall, where all announcements are made… Trust us, there was no better pick than the immensity of Hogwarts.


Honourable Mentions

Indeed, being grand is an important matter… Although the term grand is indeed incredibly subjective. Are we on about pure size? What about randomisation?! Indeed, we’ve got two more plausible entries which we couldn’t quite fit on our list, but we certainly had to give them a bit of a nod!

Knightmare Castle – Knightmare

 

 

This was a fun pick to put in here – The Knightmare Castle doesn’t really have much of a name, other than the TV shows namesake, but honestly there have been so many great stories told in here. If you’ve never seen Knightmare, watch an episode of it above. This was a much beloved show which runs live events now-a-days and that’s about it. A pity, as honestly so many kids would love to see Knightmare on TV.

Dreaming aside, the castle was incredible. Sometimes it had people playing NPCs whose whole purpose was to kill the heroic kids; other times it had NPCs willing to get the kids out of harm’s way. Sometimes, people would get poisoned – And every time, the protagonist would be blinded by the magnificence of the castle; so much so, they would always say…

“… Where am I?!”

Unseen University – Discworld

Ankh Morpork’s campus for practitioners of the arcane is a wondrous place of learning. From the glass dome of the High Energy Magic Building and its strange atmosphere of thaumatological radiation, to the soaring, crooked Tower of Art, UU is a wonder of the mystic art of architecture and containing large amount of wizard.

Rivalled across the disc only by Buggerup Uni in Fourecks with its many-heighted tower, the university is a defining feature of the AM skyline on those days when it can be seen through the dust, smog, and general effluence of the Ankh. You could buy it in paper-craft at one point, pretty sure I missed my chance though.


So, we’ve got something to admit to all of you. Today marks the four year anniversary of our first Top 10 article, Top 10 Bears. It’s old, it’s outdated and so, so many of our classics are. But, we loved every one of them so much. To celebrate, we’re picking up three of our classic Top 10’s for a redo as we think there are many new entries we could consider – So, go ahead, select one for us to do a redeux on. Will they be better, or will they be basically the same as before?

That’s it for another Top 10 list – But as ever, we’re not quite finished yet. We’re going to pass the conversation onto you now. What did you make of our list today? Did we get the right buildings, or did we forget about any truly grand buildings? Did we get the order right? Could anything have toppled Hogwarts? Leave your comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.

Finally, on behalf of Timlah and Joel: Thanks again to everyone who has been with us every step of the way.


Top 10 – Tyrants

These vicious villains typically rule over their people through fear, oppression, cruelty and downright nastiness. They’re menacing, they’re daunting and imposing people in their own way – Sometimes through reputation, but often through physical violence or threats that even the most prestigious of world leaders wouldn’t be able to get away with. Cruelty is the name of the game in this weeks’ Top 10 Tyrants.

We took a little bit of liberty with the meaning behind a tyrant for this list. We took it to mean someone who rules over something; so it doesn’t have to be a definitive leader of a race, or over a land – They could rule over their peons in sweatshops, or over those who are their minor.

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Top 10 Charming Villains

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Villains are often rather evil beings, capable of destroying their opponents through raw might, or cunning plans. However, not all villains are content with outright destruction. Some prefer to take a more manipulative, or vocal route. Some like to make people their personal pawns, mentally enthralled to them. In fact, it could be said that some villains are even more charming than their protagonist counterparts.

This week, we’re celebrating our personal Top 10 list of antagonists who happen to be pretty charming, for one reason or another. Now, I command you to read all of this article, then comment in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter. After all, we could be the most charming villains of all… If we actually bothered to try.


Top 10

10. Lust – FMA

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If there was one character from anime that epitomised using her charms to win her enemies over, before going ahead and being brutal, then Lust would be at the top of the list. She only makes it in at number 10, as she’s not the most charming of all of the villains on this list, by a long way. But she doesn’t need to even say too much, for most men to have an aching, throbbing heart. What did you think I was going to say there?

She’s a beauty and as such, she is a real charmer to men who are most sinful to the deadly sin of Lust. Beautiful, yet deadly, she strikes out at Edward Elric and his brother Alphonse Elric with long, extending claw-like nails which can even pierce the toughest of metals. She’s often talking people into and out of things the homonculi don’t want to see happening, so Lust acts as their communicator for the most part, getting their message across… Sometimes even peacefully!

9. Bane – The Dark Knight Rises

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While the original version has unquestionable physical superiority, tactical brilliance and a certain amount of charisma to back it all up, Nolan’s adaption (played by Tom Hardy) possessed far more gravitas than his comic-book counterpart. Bereft of chemical augmentation and instead bound by a crippling deformity, Bane portrays so much in his body language, even the way he stands in a room shows a terror inspiring fearlessness and dominance.

Little wonder that the man who left the Pit commands a city, demands the allegiance of a criminal army, and put the fear into the Bat himself. In a few words he can make trained military men doubt even while he himself is bound at their feet. His allies quake in his presence and only one human being can instil fear in him, the daughter of the demon. Not even the Clown Prince can command such an audience without holding an entire TV station hostage.

8. Dr. Wallace Breen – Half Life 2

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Collaborator, but what hope have we to advance if we do not collaborate and work together?

Breen may only be a puppet to the Combine forces that seek to enslave humanity, but even under the illusion of leader of all humanity he still has a certain benevolent tone to his tyrannical propaganda lectures to his people as his masked police force beat down on the populous for throwing trash around. He seems oddly caring, forward thinking, and determined that humanity needs to advance despite what costs may come, and that those who fight against these changes are narrow minded fools who would drag the species into stagnation and extinction.

Or we could be food, slaves, or subjects of dangerous scientific experimentation to create highly powerful soldiers to protect and advance the terrible interdimensional empire Breen serves as a kind of traitorous maître-de.

7. Hans Gruber – Die Hard

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It’d be a cheap disservice to the memory of Alan Rickman to place him in a list where he does not belong, and to give him an unjustly high ranking in the process.

But there was no way we were letting Hans Gruber get away without a mention. Everyone’s favourite Christmas film features a criminal mastermind so thoroughly charismatic that he even has maverick action hero John McClane convinced he’s just an innocent victim in need of saving, if only briefly. Cold, cunning, exceedingly clever, he always has time for a polite chat with the people he’s going to kill, and has one of the most elegant back-and-forth villain to hero patters in cinema history, mocking, probing and funny as all hell.

Little wonder that McClane tries to keep Gruber alive at the end of the film, and so often the stunned look from the plummeting thief is the most memorable moment and not his quips, his glibness, and his classical education. Constructing a terrorist attack in order to execute an enormous heist is simple brilliance, and no one else could have done so with such theatrical aplomb.

6. The Master – Doctor Who

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The Master is a primary antagonist of the British classic Doctor Who, of which has seen countless fantastic iterations. When one thinks of The Doctor, it doesn’t take long for people to bring up The Master, who is not only an intellectual equal to The Doctor, but perhaps even a superior. When The Doctor and The Master were studying in Gallifrey, The Master would always outperform The Doctor. Whilst being out right brilliant, if there was one weakness to The Master, it is his thirst for dominance.

Forever engaging The Doctor in conversation, The Master is known for often being rather pleasant to chat to. Although this may be the case, it doesn’t stop him from being vile and pure evil, often with murderous intent. He’s talked people to kill themselves to be turned into robots, only for those robots to go back in time and then kill their former selves, to create some incredibly crazy time paradox. The Master might be intelligent, but if this is what intelligence does to you, then I’m going to remain blissfully unaware.

5. Jareth the Goblin King – Labyrinth

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“Your eyes can be so cruel, just as I can be so cruel” – Jareth

Yes, we’re feeling a little bit soppy about the passing of both David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Couple this with Lemmy of Motorhead and now the death of Glenn Frey of the Eagles. Oh, this has been a dreadful start to 2016, hasn’t it? However, let’s look past that right now and let’s look at why Jareth belongs on this list.

Labyrinth is a cult classic film; It’s one that many people in the world consider a great film, yet when it was released, critics didn’t think much of it. With his stunning good looks, even by attractive human standards, Jareth plays with protagonist Sarah’s heartstrings and knows how to wind her around his little finger. He knows what makes her twitch, he knows how to make her skin crawl at the right moments and how to get her to obey his commands. Jareth knows it, he knows he doesn’t need to resort to his minions to get to her. He knows in his mind that he can make her his bride, which would mean that all of his professions of love for Sarah would have been for something all along.

If you’re not charmed by Jareth and by extension David Bowie, I’m not sure what you are charmed by. Gender and sexuality knows no bounds when it comes to this great. Thank you, Bowie, for Labyrinth.

4. Kuja – Final Fantasy IX

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Now, a lot of people might turn around and suggest other antagonists from the Final Fantasy series, although I will immediately stop to point out that none of them were charming. They were usually very verbose and intelligent, such as Kefka and even Garland. With all this in mind, how could we single out Kuja to be the most charming of all of the villains from the franchise? He has some very defining features which make him so:

When we first meet him, we don’t have a clue who he is really. He’s just some guy who watches as you are beaten down by a very powerful foe. He points out who may be trouble to the Queen, who he seems to act as a kind of advisor for. As you play through, you find out that he has been a weapons dealer for Queen Brahne, but further to that, he’s also acted as an advisor of kinds. He would tell the Queen about what places are next to attack, instilling confidence in the Queen that she was doing this to make Alexandria the most powerful city in the world. He wasn’t lying, either, as they unleash ridiculous powers, before he finally turns on the Queen and kills her.

Manipulative, but all the time he acts charming. He tries to get Garnet to be his, as if they were in a play the whole time. He’s dashing and makes heads turn, but most important is his intellect, coupled with his incredibly dangerous sensibilities: Kuja is a charmingly destructive force to be reckoned with. Also, how many men do you know can pull that look off?! Very few.

3. Light Yagami – Death Note

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Hold your horses folks, you might need to understand a little bit about why we’re bundling Light as an antagonist in this list.

See, Light Yagami is indeed generally pretty much a good guy. He fights the good fight, but his methods are all wrong. He doesn’t do the honourable thing, more taking justice into his own hands, a vigilante. Whilst this isn’t so bad unto itself, he does literally go around killing people with the Death Note. Sure, it might be villains that he’s killing off, but he’s doing basically what the villains were doing in the first place, which basically makes him a bad guy.

Part of the joy of Light’s works is that he’s very manipulative, but it’s all for the perceived notion of ‘good’. Whilst a brilliant and highly intelligent mind, able to make people do whatever he wants them to, he’s also incredibly self-absorbed. He believes he cannot be wrong, but in going around murdering criminals, he’s only mimicking the criminals. Perhaps what he does is for the greater good over all, but it doesn’t stop him being a villain in his own right. What do you think? Villain or not?

2. Magneto – Marvel

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The Brotherhood. What a name, and what a leader. “Villainy” becomes a somewhat difficult term to apply to someone like Magneto, he’s a man that made it through a genocide and has vowed to never see another – at least not against his own kind. In his loathing of nazis he has in his way become very similar to them, despising the “lesser race” and making every effort to kill or convert them, and seeing the efforts of those mutants who would find peace as treacherous and abhorrent.

And yet there are times when even he concedes that there is a greater good worth fighting for, puts aside his hatred and his anger to join forces with the X-Men of Xavier’s Institute and fight for life itself and not the differences that divide it, before sliding back into his resentment. And the sad fact is that he is often absolutely right, his point is so often proven by fearful and fear-mongering humans that countless mutants can’t help but follow by his lead.

1. Hannibal Lecter – Silence of the Lambs

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Who else?

Here is a man who’s very brilliance lies, not in the counterplay of his intellectual brilliance and culture against his feral and primal crime, but in his personality. Something in Hopkins’ snake-like charm, at once threatening and beguiling and his mastery of conversation makes him no mere villain, but a nemesis. Locked within a cage he still presents a threat with only words and information as his weapon, and with that and only that he manages to walk from his glass box a free (but hunted) man.

I will, at some point, get around to watching the widely acclaimed series based on the original books, but for now I’m content to rewatch Silence, Hannibal, and yes even Red Dragon to an extent – the Tooth Fairy was a good concept worthy of recognition – but I needn’t have seen it to know that here is a monster born with a silver tongue.


Honourable Mentions

Amos Zelig – The Shivah

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Avid fans of GeekOut might remember a while back, when I started including galleries in video game posts where possible, I reviewed a game called The Shivah. It’s a game about a rather bitter Jewish Rabbi, who was sort of on the path to redemption for his actions. Along the way, there’s a murder mystery to be solved, along with trying to suss out what’s going on in the world of the synagogues. There’s a lot of deception and deceit in this game, which mostly comes from one man…

Amos Zelig, another rabbi for another synagogue, on the face of it is one of the most honest working rabbis around. People seem to agree with this too, as he runs a way more popular service than you do. However, he does this through lies and deceit. Amos is a cold blooded man, who talks people into a variety of different things. He doesn’t hesitate to kidnap, to murder, to do anything un-Jew like. Why? It’s true what they say; Money is power.

Gabe Newell – Steam

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Curse you Newell, you’ve got us all dancing to your merry tune, tempting us with trinkets and toys so that we forget the failings of your past, and your negligence! Where’s Half Life 3? Where’s Half Life 2, Episode 3? Something, anything? Why have you forsak- 50% off whatnow? All right, we’ll bite but you’re not getting away wi- Steam Machine? What’s that? Ohh, that looks pretty cool actually, I’m not a console person but I think I could get to grips with- HEY WAIT A MINUTE!

Now we’ve been loyal customers, and yes you’ve changed the way the PC gaming industry works, and no we wouldn’t have such platforms as Good Old Games or the Humble Bundle if it weren’t for Steam. Valve have produced masterpieces of games, the legendary Portal and Portal 2, the beloved Team Fortress 2, and the infamous saga Half Life, Half Life 2, Half Life 2: Episode 1, Half Life 2: Episode 2… AND THEN WHAT? Cliffhanger? Really? Nothing, after (counting – because you clearly can’t) nine years?!

Trading cards you say?


Charmed, I’m sure. But these villains have now had their say, from those romantic types, to the downright terrifyingly fearsome. You can’t help but at least listen to what they have to say for themselves and their plans. Regardless, they’ve said their piece now and we’re here to say they are our entries to this list, but the conversation needn’t end here!

As always, please remember to vote for next weeks’ Top 10 topic. If you want to get involved with one of our Top 10s like Murray did last week, please just get in contact with us. If you felt our list was good, let us know, but equally let us know if you disagree with any of our entries, or if we missed someone you feel deserves a space in the list that we just didn’t even put up here. As always, leave your comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter. See you next week for another Top 10!


Top 10 Sidekicks in Games

Sidekicks, the oft-forgotten but ultimately necessary addition to any great main character. Let’s face it, what is Batman without Robin? Sure, we all care about the main guy more, but let’s face the facts: The sidekick serves more purpose than just comedic effect, (although some seem tied into this role.) Some are actually intelligent, capable and sometimes are more rounded than the main characters themselves.

In honour of all of the best secondary characters out there, as voted by you, this week we’re dedicated to bringing you our Top 10 Sidekicks in Games.

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Top 10

10) CL4-TP – Borderlands 2

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Specifically Borderlands 2. Why? In the first in the series CL4-TP units were everywhere, each had their own variation on the basic personality type of arrogant and cowardly, and they would eventually come to rise up against their Hyperion masters and endeavour to assimilate various main characters. In the pre-sequel, the Interplanetary Ninja Assassin model becomes a playable character.

In Borderlands 2, that same Claptrap is the last of his kind, living in a mausoleum made of his broken friends. Hard to feel bad for him though, while he is essential to the plot, he spends most of the first chapter referring to you as “Minion” while shaking in a corner as you deal with his problems. He’s full of catchphrases and soundbites, and every one makes you want to throw him off Sanctuary just to watch him bounce. Sadly for us all, he’s necessary.

9) Lydia – Skyrim

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Otherwise known as Housecarl to the Thane of Whiterun, trap springer, arrow catcher, and “Dammit, get out of the way!” there is no more dedicated a sidekick than Lydia. Willing to fling herself into danger in the name of her Thane, no matter the consequences, literally no matter what the consequences, good/bad/irritating, it doesn’t matter.

She can take a beating, and she is sworn to carry your burdens, so she’s not all bad. And worst case scenario you can always tell her to go home. She’ll even stand in the cold and unfurnished shell of Breezehome, diligently awaiting your return. She’s not quite so keen as Oblivion’s adoring fan, but at least she has a name.

8) Ora – Mark of the Ninja

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Ahh, here we go, a sidekick who knows what she’s for!

Mark of the Ninja’s Marked rarely sees his companion Ora except when she drops in to inform him of security measures up ahead that he may not have seen already, or critical changes in the situation. After that she vanishes, presumably to go deal with things off-screen while you get on with the game. She may very well be running her own little mission for all you care, but stays broadly by your side for when you need her most.

There may be a reason for this however [SPOILERS] Ora may very well be a hallucination brought about by the markings on the Ninja protagonist, and you are eventually faced with the possibility of killing your friend and ally, or possibly slipping into psychosis [SPOILERS OVER]. She’s a creepy question mark hovering over your narrative, but she’s also indispensible.

7) Murray, The Curse of Monkey Island

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“I am Murray, the evil demonic skull! Muwahahaha!”

Murray is an interesting character overall. He’s a comedic relief, in a game series known for its humorous dialogue. The Curse of Monkey Island has a relatively ‘serious’ plot, in that you are trying to save Elaine from being a solid gold statue and defeat the evil pirate LeChuck.

Technically, this demonic talking skull isn’t really a sidekick, but in some situations he certainly acts like one. He gives you little hints and tips, all whilst realising the inevitability of his circumstances, (y’know, being just a skull means you can’t do much.) Whilst he’s snarky and nasty to you a good 95% of the time, he not only sometimes just appears out of the blue, (questionable how a talking skull gets about so much), but he’ll even go in your inventory and talk when you open it. At least he’s always there for you. Annoyingly.

6) Ellie, The Last of Us

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The Last of Us is a game that took the world by storm and for good reason. The protagonist, Joel (not to be confused with our very own Joel,) loses his daughter and becomes a bit of a negative person. However, when push comes to shove, he is tasked with looking after Ellie and the two form a fantastic duo.

Perhaps it’s the strange bond of humanity that makes these two characters an absolutely believable team, or perhaps it’s the direness of the situations they’ve been faced with. Whatever the reason for these two and how they manage to look after one another, Ellie holds her own at such a young age. She makes a lot of sense in terms of character development and she’s up there amongst the most awesome youngen in video games.

Naughty Dog, you can be proud of yourselves for portraying Ellie so well in this. She’s the real hero to me.

5) Potato GLADoS – Portal 2

We struggled with this one, but frankly Wheatley made a far more interesting villain than sidekick. Somehow GLADoS’s journey from AI with god delusions – all-powerful within her self-contained domain – to science fair project with a personality disorder made her far more compelling a companion.

The excursion into Aperture’s abandoned projects and the narrative that unfolded their made her presence far more interesting, and her assistance felling the mad moron drunk with science was invaluable. Ok so her reward for restoring her to her rightful place was not killing you, considering her attitude towards you over the last eight years, you got off lightly.

4) Glottis vs Pey’J, Grim Fandango vs Beyond Good and Evil

Peyj vs Glottis

This town ain’t big enough for two non-human engineer sidekicks. It’s time for you to cast your vote as to which of these two behemoths are video games best engineer sidekick, but first, let’s explain who these two are.

Glottis, the Demon engineer who isn’t allowed to torch anything bigger than a cigarette without a form signed by the boss himself. After Manny manages to get a signature for Glottis to do his thing to Mannys company car, Glottis becomes Mannys personal driver. Turning the car into the Bone Wagon that we all know and love, Glottis is a fun and incredibly enthusiastic character. He understands rules, but most importantly: He values loyalty and friendship above all else.

Pey’J is a Sus Sapien. If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically a pig human. Don’t be fooled by his gruff looks though, Pey’J is also an incredibly loyal character, but unlike Glottis, his head is way more down to earth and clearly understands the importance of Jades discoveries. He likes to create electronic devices for himself and Jade, often to help Jade out… But sometimes just be cause he enjoys making things. Conversely to Glottis, he doesn’t like driving, but he’s a master mechanic and engineer.

3) Luigi

LuigiNSMBW

Luigi needs no introduction what so ever. The guy has his own stories and his own games that he goes through. Recently, there was even a year in his honour. If you missed out on that, then you missed out on a special part of the Mario universe. However, the Green Plumber is often picked over his own brother, which begs the question: Is he a sidekick, or an alternative hero at this point of time? Originally, he certainly was introduced as a sidekick, being the player two to Mario.

We can’t be too wrong with this one. Many other websites with similar Top 10 themes rate Luigi as a highly dependable character. With videos such as the below to support him too, whose to say he doesn’t deserve a top 3 spot? Honestly, the next two sidekicks however… They take it to the next level.

2) Tails – Sonic

Ok, so he’s not quite so good as Sonic, not as fast and not all that useful in multiplayer. But the twin-tailed fox has something unique that makes him surprisingly handy at exactly the right moment, and isn’t that ultimately what makes a sidekick perfect? Miles “Tails” Prower doesn’t exactly seize the spotlight but there are times you’d father rather you were flying than rushing past everything at breakneck speeds.

Unlike Knuckles – the third addition to the Sonic team – who has his own stuff to get on with unless he’s needed, Tails is friend and admirer to Sonic. Though he can increasingly depend on himself without the blue speedster watching his back, Sonic can always depend on him when he’s in a fix.

Plus he’s ginger. Gotta represent!

1) Alyx Vance, Half Life 2

Alyx_Vance

Alyx Vance is, for all intensive purposes, the perfect Non-Playable Character and I cannot fault her at all. She’s logical, she’s believable, she’s very intelligent and she’s very athletic and helpful. There’s no reason to dislike Alyx, even if you’ve never played Half Life 2, you will at least know of her. She’s considered one of the greatest NPCs of all time by many, she’s full of presence in Half Life 2 and she’s likeable.

What helps is that throughout Half Life 2, you meet characters who are good for helping you out. Alyx is a constant reminder that friendship and devotion to a cause can be a powerful combination. She cares deeply about Gordon Freeman, the silent crowbar wielding protagonist, which is apparent. Combine this with stellar AI which possibly helps her be one of the smartest AIs in video games at that, it’s apparent she’s the perfect sidekick.

I know for a fact right now that if nothing else, there’s one GeekOut reader who’ll see this at the number one spot and be fist pumping and will never stop talking about it, because the guy never shuts up (and we love him for it). He knows who he is.


Honourable Mention

We’ve been through the motions of our Top 10 but now that the heroes helpers have been honoured, it’s time to have a look at some more sidekicks who didn’t quite make the cut for the full list. Nevermind, they’re still winners to us, even if they’re rarely remembered. We remembered them… Wait, that’s not how this works! We remember these characters for very specific reasons and here’s why!

Navi, The Legend of Zelda

ARGH!!! STOP IT NAVI!!!

Actually, the whole issue of Navi being an annoying character is slightly inflated by the internet. Hear me out here – I don’t remember playing Ocarina of Time and having Navi saying this all that often. Yes it is somewhat annoying when she does decide to go on a “hey listen” rant, but that’s probably because you’re not actually, y’know, paying attention to what she has to say? She’s there to help and she tries her damned best.

Instead, she’s become a bit of a mocking point for the internet. A real shame, too. She is only doing her job.

Hey, listen!

Pikachu – Pokémon Yellow

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The infamous and least useful “Fourth Starter” was the first Pokémon to stalk you through the Kanto realm because he refused to stay in a pokéball. Well go to hell you stuck-up glorified battery! And stop turning your nose up and threatening to shock me whenever I try to talk to you. I have to go through Brock’s gym with you and a pidgey, that’s gonna be like trying to demolish a building with a pamphlet!

Much like in the anime, the pikachu in Pokémon Yellow edition grows to like you in time. He’s not entirely useless despite the fact that you can’t evolve him without losing the entertaining bouncy sprite following you around, and with it losing one of the most unique features of the game (certainly at the time, not so much anymore).


Quite so Watson, it’s time for us to wrap up this weeks Top 10. Much like our sidekicks that made the cut, this list is secondary to them. Hey, some of these may be scoffed at but we truly felt they deserved a mention. Don’t forget to hit that vote button for our next list!

As always though, we wouldn’t make these lists without you, the readers. Please cast your votes and let us know in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter: Do you think our choices were right for this, or are there any characters you feel deserves a mention? Did we put these in the wrong order? Is Alyx Vance really the top sidekick in video gaming, even above Luigi and Tails?! Let us know your thoughts and we’ll see you all again next week for another Top 10.

 


Top 10 Disgusting Enemies in Games

Yuck! Some enemies in video games are just downright disgusting. Sticky, smelly, slimy, grotesque… You name it: They’re at least one of these! But never fear, we thought we’d delve into the realm of the ugly and the vile, the gross and the gruesome.

Just to make the rules of this list as clear as possible: The enemies in question must be disgusting. This can range from being visually disgusting, metaphorically disgusting or even disgusting in flavour (no, we’re not on about their actual taste but what stories they may have behind them). This weeks Top 10 was chosen by you, so join in with choosing our next list at the end of the article!

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Top 10 Death Noises in Games

For the most sobering quote you’ll ever hear: Death happens. I’m sorry to tell you, but whether you’re playing through Half-Life, or even a jolly old game such as Super Mario brothers, death happens. One thing about death is that it does take you by surprise. Your character may let out a little yelp from pain, or perhaps he or she’ll get some form of fanfare in his or her honour? Honestly though, we’re not going to lie… We were a bit weirded out that you, the GeekOut universe, wanted to pick… the agonising… Screaming… Death sounds of the world of games.  But, you chose it and we’re going to deliver it! This is our Top 10 Death Noises in Games!

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Blogversation – The Silent Protagonist

Is it better to put yourself in the place of the hero, or would you rather play through the adventure of another? A fully fledged person with a personality of their own vs. a place-holder in whose eyes you see through, and whose life you live.

The name “Mary Sue” applies to any character who serves only to fulfil the private wishes and fantasies of the author. They often have limitless or all too convenient powers and abilities that make them effectively unbeatable, and a bland personality. The problem with the voiceless protagonist is that they tend to fall firmly into that category, Gordon FreemanLink, Isaac Clarke for examples. There are notable examples of speaking “Mary Sues,” most famous perhaps being Master Chief, who loses points for talking but gains them for hiding his face, allowing the player to narcissistically apply his/her own face underneath the helmet (another common factor of the Mary Sue). (more…)