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When you throw 18 editors together and have them campaign for their favorite characters of the decade, not everyone leaves the room happy. Trimming the list to the 30 characters that defined the generation wasn’t easy, and many worthy candidates just missed the cut. Here are 10 characters that Game Informer staffers fought for, but ultimately didn’t make the list.
Altaïr – Assassin’s Creed
Altaïr only starred in the first game of the series, and he was kind of an entitled brat. However, players were just seeing the beginning of Altaïr’s story. In the time between the first and second entries, Altaïr brought the order of Assassins back from the brink of corruption, briefly bridged the gap between his organization and the Templar, and tirelessly searched for the pieces of Eden – research that Ezio just piggybacked on later. Altaïr’s rise to power is no less dramatic and impressive than Ezio’s – it’s just most of his transformation into a peerless master assassin took place off-screen. –Joe Juba
Carl “CJ” Johnson – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
While Niko Bellic is widely acknowledged as the Grand Theft Auto series most nuanced character to date, CJ Johnson from San Andreas set the stage for the ambivalent, troubled GTA IV protagonist. Drawn back to gang-infested San Andreas by the death of his mother, CJ must strike a delicate balance between his loyalties to his family, his old gang, and the corrupt cops that seek to manipulate him. He could have easily been another gangster stereotype, but by the end of San Andreas we see CJ as a flawed, but ultimately good man who did the best he could in the worst of circumstances. – Matt Helgeson
Isaac Clarke – Dead Space
Isaac Clarke is forced through an ordeal that would cripple most space marines. What makes Isaac’s journey through that nightmare so impressive is that he’s not a military grunt with years of combat training, he’s just an engineer trying to survive. Without speaking a word, Isaac gives us a deep glimpse into his tortured psyche. Isaac is a tormented individual in search of his lost love when he encounters the Red Marker, an ancient alien artifact that drives most men mad with hallucinations. Not only does Isaac manage to combat his own battered subconscious, but he ends up saving the universe from the spread of a deadly alien menace. That’s a true definition of hero in my book. –Ben Reeves
Max Payne – Max Payne
Before Rockstar started dabbling with film noir genre with L.A. Noire, the company published another gritty pulp tale starring a former NYPD cop whose life spirals out of control. Not many people could withstand the firestorm of personal torment Max Payne has endured. Over the course of two games, he lost his family to junkies, watched his best friend die, suffered a tarnished reputation, fell in love with a femme fatale assassin, got betrayed by his new partner, and eventually watched his new love interest die in his arms. If you could distill all of Max Payne’s bitterness and anger into a rock, it would be a 500-carat diamond. Max doesn’t have that luxury, so instead he uses his introverted rage to fuel his vigilante sense of justice, dispensing anger in the form of bullets. Dirty Harry would be proud. –Matt Bertz
Raiden – Metal Gear Solid
Raiden underwent a transformation over this decade that was more profound than any other on our list. No one was more hated than this blonde-haired, untested soldier when he yanked Solid Snake from the spotlight in Metal Gear Solid 2. However, his reappearance in Metal Gear Solid 4 drew more comparisons to the fan favorite cybernetic ninja Grey Fox than the whiny kid with relationship issues from 2001. Gamers would have balked at the idea of a Raiden-only MGS game before his transformation, but we’ve been psyched for Rising ever since we caught a glimpse of his true potential. –Dan Ryckert
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