games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Female Heroes

March 14, 2017 | Posted by Marc Morrison

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. I’ve been playing Horizon Zero Dawn lately, and enjoying it, but it got me thinking about games with female heroes in them. There’s…not a ton, even to this day. For every 20 games with a male protagonist, there might be 1 game with a female one, if that. So, I tried to single out some of my favorite female heroes and spotlight them. I picked characters where you play as the female character for all of, or at least most of, the game, with one exception. Characters like Elena Fisher or Alyx Vance are great, but you aren’t in control of them in the games they appear in. With that said, let’s begin:

Just Missing the Cut

  • Juliet Starling
  • Terra Branford
  • Faith Connors
  • Rayne (Bloodrayne)

    #8: Aya Brea

    Aya is a peculiar character on this list because she got progressively worse as a character in each Parasite Eve game. In the first game she was a tough, NYPD detective who is trying to stop the plague. In the second game, she forms a relationship with Kyle and has one of the most embarrassing shower CGI sequences in any game, period. In the third game, she becomes a blank slate, due to the removal of her memories and is trying to get them back. Also included in the third game was another gratuitous shower scene, and different outfits for Aya to wear that include “battle damage”, that reveal more of her body. What an ignominious ending to what was once a cool female hero.

    #7: Sarah Kerrigan

    Kerrigan started off a hero, then an anti-hero, then an outright villain before becoming a hero again. If anything, she repeated the cycle from hero to villain twice, the first time in original Starcraft and the second in Starcraft 2, specifically Heart of the Swarm. Really, Heart of the Swarm is the reason she’s on this list as she becomes a Zerg again to gain revenge on the Terran Dominion for killing Jim Raynor, or so she thinks anyway. In the first game, she was made a Zerg because of someone else, but in the second game, she becomes a Zerg to take vengeance and isn’t evil like in the first games.

    #6: Samus Aran

    While Samus is a cool hero, and can clearly take care of business, there’s not really much to her personality. Part of this was the design of the earlier Metroid games, it is literally Samus alone on a planet fending off alien threats or space pirates. There’s not a lot of deep inner monologue or conversations in those early games. Even in the Metroid Prime games she didn’t have much of a character. It wasn’t until Metroid Other M where she had a distinct personality that was…let’s just say at odds with what people thought of as Samus being. Sadly, Other M was also the last Metroid game released so far, so that is the only characterization of her to really go from.

    #5: Jill Valentine

    Jill Valentine was one of the earliest examples of a female hero in a video game, having predated Lara Croft by about 6 months. Not only was Jill an early pioneer in the group, but she was, quite frankly, better than Chris in the game. She could carry more items, her grenade launcher was more useful, and she could pick locks and didn’t have to rely on keys. While her own separate outing wasn’t as genre breaking as the original game, and paired her with a very stupid outfit, Jill is still a solid character in the Resident Evil franchise.

    #4: Cate Archer

    Ah, Cate Archer, the super spy from the game series that almost everyone has forgotten: No One Live Forever. While it is a bit of a pastiche of Austin Powers, NOLF surpassed it with great humor, unique spy gear, and a groovy heroine with Cate. She could be sarcastic and quippy, but always professional, in a rocking pair of go-go boots. While I’m happy Monolith is successful with Shadow of Mordor, and presumably Shadow of War, I want them to make another NOLF game and give Cate Archer the return that she deserves.

    #3: Aloy

    While she has a somewhat silly first name, Aloy is actually the reason for this topic. She’s a pretty interesting character in the game, not only for her strength and determination, but also because she is somewhat sarcastic at times and has no time for romance. Late in the game, the Sun King makes a pass at her, and while you can dictate the way she lets him down, there is no option to accept. She is too busy with completing her own quest than to deal with him, or really anyone’s foolishness in the game, and I enjoyed that about the character.

    #2: Lara Croft

    When I say Lara Croft, I don’t mean the Lara from the past Tomb Raider games. Back then she was basically a cipher, giving the occasional witty dialog and that was it. Even in the Crystal Dynamics games (Legend through Underworld), Lara didn’t really have any great motivations other than some vague mystery or quest. The 2013 reboot though finally provided Lara with a definite and heroic character that has realistic motivations in both games. First game it is “rescue her friends”, and the second one it’s “prove dad was right”. It helps that Lara is voiced/acted by a real person, and that definitely made her seem more human and relatable.

    #1: Bayonetta

    Bayonetta is entirely crazy and that fits her games perfectly. The world she inhabits is nuts, full of angels and demons and other nonsense, so it only makes sense she is as well. While she has an overt sexuality, she doesn’t particularly capitalize on it, or even have the game acknowledge it. While it is silly that the more attacks she does, the more her clothes disappear, it is always fairly tastefully done and presented without comment. I also just liked her personality, she was cheeky about almost everything, like referring to Luka as “Cheshire”, and the like. She is also voiced incredibly well by Hellena Taylor, who doesn’t tend to do a ton of VO work, but makes her stand out with personality. I hope Bayonetta 3 somehow makes it to the PS4 or XB1, or even the PC, because not a ton of people played Bayonetta 2 and that is a crime.

    For comments, list which female heroes you enjoy.

    Next Issue

    Top 8 Most Baffling Video Game Movies

  • article topics :

    The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison