A brilliant villain can often be the defining factor behind the success of story-driven video games. A protagonist can never prove their worth if they are never tested, as there is no success without adversity. So in many ways, a good antagonist is just as vital to the overall narrative of the story as a good protagonist.
Story-driven video games have always been the crown jewel of the gaming world, providing fans with countless hours of immersion and enjoyment. A good game is one that gets players invested in the storyline, and there is no better way to do this than through a convincing villain.
Note: This article solely reflects the opinions of the writer and contains spoilers for certain video games.
Cliff Unger (Mads Mikkelsen), Officer Tenpenny (Samuel L. Jackson), and 3 other villains in video games played perfectly by Hollywood actors
1) Rami Malek in Until Dawn
Released in 2015, Until Dawn is an interactive survival-horror game that employs the concept of the Butterfly effect to create an immersive choice-based narrative. This means that the choices made by players during key moments in the game shape the overall narrative and the direction in which the plot moves.
The game follows a group of eight young adults stranded on Blackwood Mountain. Players can assume the perspectives of different characters to experience various events throughout the game. The group is hunted by a masked killer as well as cannibalistic creatures called wendigos.
The masked killer is later revealed to be Josh, one of the eight friends, played by Rami Malek. While the wendigos are the primary antagonistic element in the game, Malek steals the show with a bone-chilling and sinister performance.
2) Mads Mikkelsen in Death Stranding
Developed by Kojima Productions, Death Stranding was released in 2019 by Sony Interactive Games. It is an action-adventure title set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic world. Players assume the role of Sam Porter as he traverses the land ravaged by mysterious destructive creatures in order to deliver packages to the various civilized colonies.
The game features a host of prominent Hollywood stars in various roles, including Norman Reedus as the protagonist Sam Porter and the likes of Lea Seydoux, Troy Baker, and Guillermo del Toro. However, one of the most impressive performances comes from Mads Mikkelsen, who plays the role of secondary antagonist Cliff Unger.
Cliff Unger is by far one of the coolest and most intriguing characters in the game, and Mikkelsen's convincing performance adds to the overall depth of the narrative.
3) Kevin Spacey in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Call of Duty is one of the most recognizable names in all of gaming. The franchise has produced some of the most commercially successful and popular video games of all time, especially in the first-person shooter genre.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was released in 2014, placing the series in a dystopian futuristic setting, a significant deviation from previous titles. With exo-suits, jetpacks, and other futuristic weaponry at their disposal, players assume the role of Jack Mitchell in the single-player campaign.
While the legendary Troy Baker voices the protagonist, Kevin Spacey steals the show as Jonathan Irons, the CEO of a military corporation called Atlas. Spacey's signature monotone delivery makes him the perfect casting for this role, as he presents an extremely intimidating and menacing depiction of the antagonist.
4) Samuel L. Jackson in GTA: San Andreas
The Grand Theft Auto franchise has delivered some of the most ambitious and genre-defining video games over the years. With massive open-world maps, immersive storylines, and intriguing characters, the GTA series has secured a cult-like following.
GTA: San Andreas was released by Rockstar North in 2004. It chronicles the adventures of Carl 'CJ' Johnson as he returns to Los Santos after the murder of his mother, getting drawn back into a life of crime and gang violence.
Samuel L. Jackson plays the role of Officer Tenpenny, one of the most iconic antagonists in the series. Tenpenny is a corrupt senior cop who accosts CJ on his return to Los Santos and constantly manipulates and blackmails him into fulfilling his motives. Jackson's performance is incredibly convincing, perfectly portraying the slimy, corrupt cop that players just love to hate.
5) Mark Hamill in the Arkham Series
With the Arkham series, Rocksteady finally provided fans with superhero-themed video games that truly captured the essence of the source material and delivered an enjoyable and immersive experience. The superhero genre had always been plagued by mediocre video games, but the Arkham series defied all norms and delivered the ultimate Batman experience.
Mark Hamill portrays the Joker in multiple forms of digital Batman media, such as animated movies, series, and video games. His portrayal of the character is nothing short of legendary. It is regarded by many to be the perfect encapsulation of everything that makes the Joker such an intriguing character.
The legendary actor reprises his role in the Arkham series as he voices the iconic villain in multiple video games, including Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, and Arkham Knight.