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Top Ten Tuesday 25
My Top Ten Rebel
There are many top ten lists, but this one is mine. If you think a game is
missing here, I either didn't play it, didn't have any interest in it, or I
just hate you.
celebrate America's birthday I'm reminded of how much I love Summer and how the
holiday perfectly embodies everything that's great about it: Friends, family,
swimming, barbeque, and generally good time in the sun. But the reason we get
to celebrate is because a group of idealistic and passionate people wanted to
rebel against their tyrannical government and form their own nation. The act of
rebellion is often romanticized in many cultures - the slaves rising up to cast
off their chains, the underdogs fighting back against their oppressors, and
it's echoed in many of our best stories. For Independence Day this year I've
put together my list of the Top Ten Rebel Leaders in gaming. Give me liberty or
give me extra lives!
Top Ten Rebel Leaders
10) Johnny Klebitz and The Lost
(Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned)
The first downloadable
content released for Grand Theft Auto IV, The Lost and Damned puts players in
control of Johnny Klebitz, your typical biker badass that's currently acting as
interim leader of the notorious biker gang The Lost. While not technically a
rebellious uprising against the government, The Lost are all rebels with little
cause against the establishment, and rebel by committing lots of crimes,
killing sprees, gang warfare, and assassinations. To his credit, Johnny manages
to remain a badass leader while still trying to steer his gang onto a more
respectable and less bloodthirsty path.
9) Anders and the rebel mages (Dragon
introduced in the Dragon Age: Origins expansion pack Awakening, Anders is a
free-spirited, laid back mage that harbors a deep resentment to the Templars
and the way the world of Fereldan treats mages. Basically, mages in Bioware's
fantasy world are like mutants from Marvel - they have unique powerful
abilities that they're born with, but it makes them hated and feared by the
rest of the population. Of course there's good reason for this, as mages are
also highly susceptible to possession by demons, and it's such a problem that
all mages are sequestered inside the Circle of Magi under the watchful eye of
the Templars, a faction of zealous warriors whose sole purpose is to cut down
any mage practicing forbidden blood magic or showing signs of demonic
Age II, Anders represents the more terrorist views of a rebel leader, going so
far as to set off a bomb to destroy the Chantry in Kirkwall and forcing a war
between the mages and Templars. Throughout the game Anders' convictions (helped
in large part by being possessed by the spirit Justice, also returning from
Awakening) never waver and his actions force the player to take a side between
the conflict - either the oppressed but dangerous mages or the callous but
8) Abraham Reyes and Reyes' Rebels
(Red Dead Redemption)
Reyes is not exactly a positive example of a rebel leader. When John Marston
arrives in Mexico he's quickly embroiled in a civil war between the reigning
tyrannical despot and the passionate guerrilla warriors known as Reyes' Rebels.
What seems like a clear good guy bad guy situation grows murky as John continues
to work for Reyes, who reveals his own harbored racism that echoes that of the
Nazi party - the idea that certain races are superior to others. He constantly
refers to his own people that fight for him as peasants, and it's pretty
obvious that Reyes will become an even worse dictator than his predecessor.
Better luck next time, Mexico!
7) Banon and the Returners (Final
Banon himself is a relatively minor character in the sweeping epic that is
Final Fantasy VI, the Returners are the main good guys throughout the first
half of the game, and are the closest thing to a classic idealistic and good
rebellion fighting against the oppressive and clearly evil empire in this list.
All the heroes join up with the Returners and serve in some capacity, and Banon
helps to organize a lot of the behind the scenes struggles while the various
heroes get to accomplish the more exciting tasks, ultimately resulting in an
all-out attack on the Empire's capital. Also, he looks like he could be
6) Ulfric Stormcloak and the
Stormcloaks (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)
recognizable character to anyone that's played Bethesda's latest open-world
adventure, Ulfric is introduced in the intro as the feared and hated leader of
the rebel Nords known as the Stormcloaks. Of course, as the player is also
being summarily sentenced to death right next to him, your feelings on the
current reigning Empire might align with his. You're given the freedom to
eventually join up with the Empire or the Stormcloaks (or play hundreds of
hours without joining either), and you'll work for Ulfric directly should you
head for the rebels. It's not all black and white in Skyrim however; while the
Empire did agree to allow the Aldmari Dominion to establish embassies and carry
out business, they did so as a means to end the war. The Stormcloaks,
meanwhile, are all for returning Skyrims back to its native people the
Nords....at the cost of prejudice and racism toward all the other fantasy races
inhabiting the land. The displaced neighboring Dark Elves are viewed as vermin
and openly despised by the Stormcloaks. Armed with this knowledge the player
has a difficult decision to make in Skyrim's civil war, as Ulfric remains a
charismatic and persuasive leader and one can't help but root for the
5) Atlas and the working class of
the first 2/3 of BioShock the figure known only as Atlas remains the player's
only human link to what the hell is going on in the fallen city of Rapture. Cut
off from the rest of the world, Rapture was built by Andrew Ryan as a testament
to man's accomplishments - with no religion or government interference.
Unfortunately things went south after the discovery of Plasmids that gave
ordinary citizens super powers, and Ryan was forced to become a ruling despot
as the entire city tore itself apart. Atlas rose as the leader and voice of the
people, specifically the downtrodden working class, and harbors a deep personal
vendetta toward Ryan. When Atlas' true identity is revealed it makes his rise
and story even more compelling, and still remains one of the best plot twists
in video games.
4) Eddie Riggs and Ironheade (Brutal
roadie and never the rock star, Eddie Riggs comes into his own when he's
magically transported into the primeval world of Rock and Roll. He meets up
with the idealistic resistance consisting of Lars, his sister Lita, and Ophelia
who are fighting back against the hair metal overlord General Lionwhyte.
Together they cobble together a fighting force by liberating, aiding, and
convincing various ensalved denizens of the world, creating the rebel faction
Ironheade ("We're putting an 'e' at the end, so they know we mean business!").
Eddie's penchant for being a roadie (and his mantra for making everyone else look
good) ends up making him an amazingly charismatic leader and is one of the few
on this list that the player actually gets to lead both from a heroic angle and
as a leader of an army in the game's several Real Time Strategy battles.
3) Alyx and Eli Vance and The
Resistance (Half-Life 2)
official leader of The Resistance to the alien invading Conclave, scientist Eli
Vance is the closest thing to a leader and figurehead, and his capture midway
through Half-Life 2 galvanizes the rest of the Resistance (now seemingly lead
by his resourceful daughter Alyx) into a full on uprising. With the mysterious
return of Gordon Freeman, the Resistance is able to mount a proper rebellion
against the Conclave, and together Gordon and Alyx defeat Dr. Breen and shut
down the source of the Conclave's power. The Resistance fights all around the
player throughout the second half of the game and Gordon is even given his own
rotating squad of freedom fighters to compliment his own abilities, but it's
Alyx who keeps everyone together.
2) Roland and the Crimson Raiders
Three of the
four Vault Hunters from the first Borderlands end up becoming leaders in some
form in the sequel: Lilith becomes the worshipped Firehawke amongst bandits,
Brick rules another faction of barbarians calling himself the Slab King, but
it's the socially awkward yet totally badass soldier Roland that forms a
resistance group out of the deposed Crimson Lance from the General Knoxx DLC.
The Crimson Raiders build a home in the last free city of Sanctuary and attempt
to fight back against the current controlling corporation of Pandora, Hyperion.
Roland acts as their official leader and charismatic poster child as the
Raiders work to protect themselves from constant bandit attacks and the evil
machinations of Handsome Jack.
1) Jim Raynor and Raynor's Raiders
remains one of the most iconic figures in both leadership and rebellion roles.
Having witnessed the evils of the Terran Confederacy, small town sheriff Jim
Raynor is persuaded to join the rebel faction known as the Sons of Korhal. But
after their leader Arcturus Megnsk leaves his potential love interest Sarah
Kerrigan to die on a Zerg infested planet, Raynor leaves the rebels, finding sanctuary
among the Protoss. But word spreads of Raynor's general badassness and soon he
forms his own rebellious faction after Mengsk wins and ascends as the new
Emperor. Raynor's Raiders must join forces with the Dark Protoss and even his
hated former comrade Mengsk in order to stop the threats of the United Earth
Directorate and the new Queen of the Zerg, Kerrigan.
just the story told in the first Starcraft game and its expansion Brood War! In
the decade-in-the-making sequel, Raynor's grown much more grizzled and
despondent with his leadership role, and for the first time we get a rebel
leader who worries about the future. Not to mention he still has major hang-ups
about his former love but murderer of his friends Kerrigan. Through it all
Raynor retains the same Southern charm and desire for good that makes him such
an admirable hero and leader.
only two entries also appeared on my Top Ten Leaders list (for President's Day) although there
are some crossover in games and series. Every interesting rebel faction needs
their idealistic leader just as much as a reigning government or empire
needs their tyrannical emperor. It's easiest to put a face with everything, and
in creating narratives makes for interesting characters. Sometimes a leader's
army or tactical knowledge is put into direct use during the course of a game,
either through the player's own actions or via cutscenes; other times their
role is merely a backstory to help develop their character and set up current
situations. As evidenced by my own list, not every rebel faction represents the
good guys; plenty of power hungry people use their position and persuasiveness
to attack and possibly succeed the current ruling force, or in some cases to
simply burn it all to the ground. Either way, rebellions make for some great
conflict driven, epic storylines and like all forms of storytelling, video
games will never tire of them.