Saturday, March 2, 2013

Creating Likable Bad Guys - A Lesson from Far Cry 3

Continuing my week of video gaming, I decided to give Far Cry 3 a try. It was a pretty decent game and the developers did one thing very well. They created a likable villain completely by accident. I say they did it completely by accident because the two or three other villains in the game don't have the same level of likableness that one of them does.

Meet Vaas Montenegro, pirate psychopath leader of the island.

Note: This video contains foul language, nudity, violence, and gore.

In the video, we see how despicable of a person he is, but that doesn't mean we don't like him. We like him for the same reasons we like Norman Bates in Psycho. He has a problem that he just cannot seem to overcome, the main character.

Now, most video games have issues with the main character foiling the villains plans. In Far Cry 3 however, it's not the main character directly foiling Vaas plans. It's luck and that's the reason he is still a relatable character.

Lets count the ways that Vaas fails to kill Jason Brody, shall we...

1st - Jason running through the jungle after being pursued by Vaas men, Jason falls down a cliff into a river.

2nd - Vaas tries to burn Jason and his girlfriend alive, however, the fire weakens the floor and Jason goes crashing through. Jason's chair breaks during the fall and he climbs his way up to help his girlfriend escape.

3rd - Vaas tries to drown Jason by tying him to a brick and dropping him down a cistern. Jason is able to wiggle his way out of the wrist straps and free himself.

4th - Vaas has had enough. After shooting down the helicopter Jason stole, Vaas walks up to a wounded Jason Brody and puts a bullet in his chest and buries him in a mass grave. Oops, Vaas forgot about that lighter he stuck in Brody's pocket earlier.

What makes this even better is Vaas keeps quoting the Albert Einstein definition of insanity.

Whoever was the script writer for Vaas character did an excellent job of making the character psychotic yet deep and relatable. Like Norman Bates, Vaas is trying to overcome setbacks. He's making these decisions to kill Jason but he is unable to follow through. He lets his men handle the situation the first time, when they fail, he steps in and tries to kill him with fire, when that fails, he tries to kill him with water, and when that fails, Vaas says screw it and just tries to put a bullet in Jason Brody.

Who doesn't like a villain that fails with style?

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