Top 10 Xbox video game villains

Reapers attacking Earth
Reapers attacking Earth (Image credit: Electronic Arts)

During the 16 years that Xbox has been available, a plethora of iconic video game villains have made appearances on the platform.

While protagonist characters usually steal the spotlight, most gaming stories would be nothing without the villains that you have to take down. There have been countless amazing antagonist characters who have graced the Xbox platform over the years. Here's our list of 10 of them that stand out.

Related: Top 10 Xbox video game heroes

10. Pandak 'Baby' Panay (Just Cause 2)

Some villains are loved because of the fact they satirically represent something. No villain of this variety is more hilariously brilliant than Pandak "Baby" Panay.

Throughout Just Cause 2, we are made aware of just how ridiculous of a dictator Panay truly is. Roadside propaganda trucks, over-sized billboards with his face on them, and a policy to have anyone who disagrees with him killed are only a few of the ways that Panay asserts his authority throughout the land of Panau.

At the end of the game, as he fired a rocket launcher at me whilst we were both riding live nuclear missiles (while wearing a bright green suit), I couldn't help but feel that Panay was Avalanche Studios' own satirical take on some of the mad-with-power dictators of the real world. This makes him surprisingly memorable, more so than many other characters.

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9. Vaas Montenegro (Far Cry 3)

Vaas's legacy stems from his unparalleled unpredictability. One moment he can be friendly and humorous, and the next he can be the cruelest and most sadistic person you've ever observed. You truly don't know what you're going to get from Vaas.

This led to him instilling great fear into all who surrounded him, including his own men, many of which were arguably just as crazy as he was. He maintained this influence on people all the way up until his death. While many villains are considered psychopathic, few characters are truly as psychotic as Vaas.

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8. The Prophet of Truth (Halo series)

The Prophet of Truth's most notable attribute is his undeniable prowess in the art of deception and cunning.

Truth ordered Elite forces to hold back on Delta Halo, allowing the assassination of the Prophet of Regret by the Master Chief in order to have an excuse to replace the Elites with Brutes throughout the Covenant, citing their incompetent protection of Regret. He then ordered the Brutes to slaughter the Elites, starting the Covenant civil war, or Great Schism.

What neither species realized, though, was that Truth had been laying the groundwork for this event for years. Because of this meticulousness, the Elites were successfully removed from the Covenant, and were it not for the actions of the Arbiter and the remaining Elites weeks later, Truth and his newly-appointed Brute military leaders may have succeeded in wiping out both the Elites and humanity.

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7. The Illusive Man (Mass Effect series)

Like the Prophet of Truth, the Illusive Man was a character that excelled in the art of manipulation and subterfuge. The mysterious Cerberus leader was able to build up an extensive and advanced military power in a galaxy full of arms restrictions because of this quality.

In addition to this, though, you can't help but admire his dedication to the survival of humanity in a rapidly-deteriorating universe. While he and Cerberus, in general, are undeniably racist towards other species, his passion for his own is commendable. It's unfortunate that he would come to be indoctrinated by the Reapers.

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6. The Combine (Half-Life series)

The Combine Empire is perhaps the most powerful and expansive in all of science-fiction history. Armed with the technology to teleport through the very fabrics of the universe at will, the Combine can arrive anywhere, anytime. Once reaching their destination, the Combine then rapidly conquer all planets they come into contact with through dominant military strength.

Defeating Earth's own military in just seven hours, the Combine enslaved humanity in the blink of an eye. Ironically, though, this isn't that impressive of a feat for the Combine. It is implied in Half-Life 2 that the Combine have done what they've done on Earth to thousands of other worlds, with the goal of establishing an interdimensional empire and controlling all life as we know it. Now that's pretty sinister.

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5. The Reapers (Mass Effect series)

The Reapers are, like the Combine, a massive and overwhelming force of destruction that cannot be stopped by any conventional means. This is shown to be true in Mass Effect 3, when even the combined fleets of every single space-faring species in the Milky Way was ultimately unable to defeat them without the help of the Crucible device.

What makes the Reapers so unique and even more dangerous, though, is their ability to influence and eventually control the minds of sentient species. Simply by being near Reaper technology, the Reapers can begin the process of dominating someone's mind through unknown means. This could be potentially catastrophic if a political or military leader were to be indoctrinated.

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4. GLaDOS (Portal series)

The Genetic Lifeform and Disc Operating System (GLaDOS) is, for all intents and purposes, a robot mad scientist. As she forces her test subjects through increasingly difficult and sadistically dangerous puzzles, she often humiliates them and cruelly makes fun of them, showing no regard for their feelings or well-being.

In contrast to her behavior, GLaDOS speaks in a soft, warm voice. Throughout years of gaming, few villains have made me smile to myself more than GLaDOS as she tells me, with a charming tone, that I'm an idiot.

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3. The Covenant (Halo series)

While not as powerful as the Combine or the Reapers, the Covenant possess an uncommon motivation for their conquest: obtaining religious salvation.

The entirety of the Covenant Empire believed fully in the concept of the Great Journey, and because of their unyielding faith, Covenant warriors often fought with a ferocity and dedication not seen in other fictional armed forces. Anyone within or outside of the empire was deemed a heretic and arrested for challenging the ideals of the Great Journey. Execution was the only sentence.

Were it not for the Great Schism, the Covenant would have undoubtedly wiped humanity from the face of the universe. Not even the Master Chief would have been able to stop the Covenant's war machine.

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2. Kreia (Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords)

Kreia is such an intriguing character thanks to the fact that she offers a unique philosophical viewpoint on the Force: both the Jedi and the Sith are wrong in the ways that they use it.

It's quite interesting to see the values of both the Jedi and Sith Orders challenged in this way. Throughout the game, Kreia will make you really stop and think about if either side is really right, and while she ultimately ends up becoming an enemy to you, you finish the game feeling like you've learned something valuable about the Star Wars universe.

Note: New Xbox copies of Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords are extremely rare and expensive, but you can find used copies fairly easily. It's also available on Steam for $9.99.

1. Handsome Jack (Borderlands series)

If there ever was a character that made me want to punch them as often as they made me want to hang out with them, it's Handsome Jack.

Jack is, undeniably, an asshole. Through his insults and abusive tendencies, he's a guy who really comes off as the world's biggest douche. Yet, the fact that he's so funny and witty makes you love him at the same time. More than any other antagonist on this list, you hate to love him, and love to hate him.

Of course, he's also not technically wrong about the planet of Pandora. Though his methods are way too extreme, he makes a fair point that the planet is nothing but a cesspit of bandits and other criminals and that it needs to be cleansed of these savages. Considering he's a savage himself, it's hypocritical. But it's always a huge plus when a villain has a view that has merit.

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Your thoughts

What do you think of our list? Are there any characters you think should have made it on here? Some we should have left off? Let us know in the comments.

Related: Top 10 Xbox video game heroes

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.