Top 10 Computer Game NPCs

Written by Joe Martin

July 18, 2008 // 7:10 a.m.

Tags: #best-ever #npc #top-10

Four – SHODAN

Featured in: The System Shock series

SHODAN isn’t strictly a person in the literal sense. Instead, she’s more of a construct; an evolved piece of software which has gained self-awareness but lost her sanity in the process.

Though the character was first introduced in the original System Shock, where it was the role of the player to reclaim the ship from her digital grasp, System Shock 2 saw SHODAN’s most popular incarnation.

The setup for System Shock 2 is largely the same as the original – a technologically augmented player is awakened to a ship full of chaos with zombies and aliens everywhere. There are only a handful of crew left alive and all of them are spread out over the huge ship like dice on a craps table. Thankfully though, the senior officer, Dr Janice Polito, contacts the player over the radio and puts you to work battling the aliens.

Top 10 Computer Game NPCs Top 10 Computer Game Characters - Four, Three
SHODAN's vaguely sexual, stuttering voice is enough to scare the most hardened of geeks

In a move that would later feature in BioShock though, Polito is not all she appears to be. Finding Polito’s rotting carcass has got to rank as one of the most terrifying moments of game history and suddenly all the graffiti and scrawled nonsense warnings that featured through the game come into focus.

And if that weren’t bad enough, it quickly becomes apparent that SHODAN isn’t behind all the mayhem, so while she may not be a role model in any real sense SHODAN did at least teach us that sometimes you do have to side with the lesser of two evils.

Defining Moment: Her tell-tale synthesised and stuttering voice screaming, mocking you contemptuously. If ever you want to scare a geek, sneak up behind him and say “Look at you, hacker”.

Don’t Mention: The fact that she’s an all-powerful AI but that she still has a stutter.

Three – Murray

Featured in: The Monkey Island series

The Monkey Island games are a serious passion of mine and one which I’m frankly a bit sick of talking about, but a list like this really can’t be complete without some comic relief and Murray is a comic as you can get.

Originally just another grunt in the army of the Zombie Pirate Lechuck, Murray first meets the player after his entire body is blow apart by a well-placed cannonball. Somehow kept alive by infernal magiks, Murray continues to exist as just a chattering head – though how he can talk without a tongue is almost as mystifying as how Guybrush can walk around without a brain.

Top 10 Computer Game NPCs Top 10 Computer Game Characters - Four, Three
Murray may be disembodied undead skull, but he still has style!

Murray crops up several times in the last two Monkey Island games, first as a charming if somewhat hellish cartoon, then later as a 3D realised blob with a mouth. Either way through, it isn’t his physical appearance which makes Murray so fun – though it is weird that you spend half the game carrying around his amputated skeletal arm.

Instead, what makes Murray so memorable and interesting is his ambition, bought to life by the excellent voice acting of Danny Delk. He may not be able to move in any way or form, but Murray is still possessed of a powerful demonic intelligence and is still eager to try and conquer the earth.

Murray is rarely crucial to the game, but he’s still managed to secure a place as one of the most loved characters of the franchise and that’s largely due to his inept, but largely quotable insults.

Defining Moment:I will roll through the gates of Hell, carrying your head on a pike” – Download

Don’t Mention:I’m not laughing for any reason in particular, but somewhere a fish is nibbling on my leg…
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