In light of the recent Tomb Raider reboot starring Lara Croft, one of the most iconic female video game characters ever, I decided to make a list of my personal favorite heroines in video games. This list includes both playable and non-playable characters. Pour yourself a cosmopolitan, ready your pink DualShock, and show some love for gaming’s greatest ladies.
Before you start scrolling down to the comment section as fast as you can to tell me how awful Final Fantasy XIII was, I know it wasn’t the greatest Final Fantasy game ever, far from it, but I do think Lightning was the most redeeming part of it. She is one of the strongest female characters in the franchise. She has her moody traits but she’s also very caring as her family means everything to her, and she’s a confident leader that wields her gunblade like no other. Lightning’s personality was based on previous Final Fantasy VII character Cloud, as Tetsuya Nomura, the character designer, mentioned, but obviously she is nowhere near as popular as our beloved Cloud. If you’re still shaking your head at Lightning making the list, at least she has awesome hair; you have to agree with that!
I’ve not played the most recent Resident Evil games, mainly because I’m not that keen on the look of them and I don’t want to wreck my memories of the game, so naturally I’m basing this on the RE games that I’ve actually played. Jill Valentine is one of the original RE characters and is definitely my favourite. She’s smart, confident, and in my opinion is the queen of survival horror games. She was designed to be physically appealing, but she’s also a strong role model.
Faith is a badass, and I know a lot of people who have said that she is their favourite video game heroine. She is the exact opposite of the female video game character stereotype as she’s not overly sexualized and has a realistically proportioned body, she’s not overly cutesy and you just wouldn’t mess with her. However, she is still a beautiful character who has impressive parkour skills and combat abilities; everything she needs to save her sister. She once was a thief, but we can’t hold that against her after becoming the heroic runner that she is. I thought Mirror’s Edge was a fantastic game and think it’s about time they make a sequel, pretty please.
Samus should be mentioned under the definition for heroine, because she is one of gaming’s original and most iconic female protagonists. I mentioned before how Faith wasn’t overly sexualized, but Samus is the least so due to everyone assuming that she was a guy! When her gender was revealed at the end of the first Metroid game, it was one of the biggest twists in video game history . She’s mysterious and tough and she has a canon for an arm and doesn’t take any nonsense!
It took me a while to start playing the Mass Effect series, but it has quickly became one of my favourite video game series ever. I obviously chose to be ‘Femshep’ not because she was the female character, but mainly because the voice acting is far superior to the voice acting from male Shepard. FemShep was played by Jennifer Hale, who you may remember as the voice of Samus Aran’s various death-screams and grunts of pain in the Metroid Prime trilogy. Shepard is a strong leader, makes hard decisions, whilst maintaining love interests and friendships. I enjoyed my interstellar adventures and grew really attached to Shepard and her bodacious ways.
The Walking Dead
Clementine is an NPC from TellTale’s The Walking Dead game. Lee and Clementine grew a strong bond, and so did we! She saves Lee’s life in the very first episode, and throughout the game she makes us reflect on our decisions, and is basically the moral centre. Of course, all that morality doesn’t stop her from picking up a gun of her own to help beat back the hordes of undead. I grew very much attached to her and cared about her fate from the very start of the game. I would talk more in detail, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers!
Alyx is not only one of the best female non-playable characters, but one of the best NPCs in general. She is good natured, funny, and to compliment her good looks, she has brains. She has useful hacking engineering skills and also has a pet robot called Dog and actually helps out during the game instead of being a damsel in distress. Some people consider Alyx annoying, but I personally think she’s one of the least annoying AI partners.
I just completed BioShock Infinite and felt that Elizabeth definitely needs to be mentioned. Above I mentioned how Alyx wasn’t just a damsel in distress and helped out loads, and Elizabeth was also a lot of help throughout the game. She doesn’t directly assist you in combat, but she helps a lot more by constantly stocking us with health, ammo, salts and flipping money at us whenever she finds some. Every person that I have spoken to about this game has mentioned how much they loved Elizabeth and how they grew attached to her, [MINOR SPOILER] even though she hits us with a wrench! I have so much praise for her character, and the whole game in general.
Lilith (The Siren) is one of the character options for Borderlands. She is a vault hunter and a crimson raider and one of the six sirens. Her phasewalking ability is one my favourite abilities in the game and is one of the most useful powers. It comes in helpful when sneaking
up on enemies for stealthy kills. In Borderlands 2, she has a few lines and becomes a lot more fleshed out compared to the first game.
Nariko is the protagonist of Heavenly Sword, but she also appears in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Who’s she voiced by? Once again, Jennifer Hale! She’s everywhere. Nariko was meant to be raised as the saviour of her clan, and was the only one who could wield the legendary Heavenly Sword. The clan dismissed her because the tale always said that it was supposed to be a male, but her father trained anyway, and a fighter she became. Nariko is strong and fearless and I feel like Heavenly Sword is a completely underrated game.
Final Fantasy X
Another Final Fantasy character! Yuna was the female lead in Final Fantasy X, sharing the spotlight with Tidus, and the main protagonist in Final Fantasy X-2. I think Final Fantasy X was my favourite game in the entire series. Not much can be said about part two, because honestly it wasn’t that great, but then again, we get to spend more time with Yuna. She is kind, compassionate and graceful. Still waiting for that HD version of Final Fantasy X to be released.
Beyond Good & Evil
Jade is a photojournalist. She gives children whose parents had died due to the war a place to stay in her orphanage. Jade has to get to the bottom of a government conspiracy before she, and all of Hillys, are enslaved by the sinister Alpha Sections. To discover the truth, Jade has to go through the game taking pictures of the DomZ’s shenanigans. She is very smart, brave and devoted, and, most difficult of all, can pull off green lipstick.
Of course Lara Croft is going to be on this list. I wasn’t a big Tomb Raider fan to start with, though I did take a perverse pleasure from trapping the butler in the freezer and killing myself multiple times in different scenarios. Don’t pretend you didn’t do it as well. To be honest, I didn’t really care about Tomb Raider getting rebooted, and didn’t even think I was going to play the game due to lack of interest. Then I noticed the praise it was getting, so I decided to give it a shot and was pleasantly surprised. I loved it. But yeah, Lara Croft at the beginning was basically designed as a male fantasy of women, and was, well, very curvy in certain areas. In the reboot, we get to experience a more fragile Lara Croft and slowly see
her evolving into the kick-ass woman she is!
Video games are often accused of being a male-focused, adolescent medium that objectifies and/or demeans women. While there have certainly been some embarrassing portrayals of the fairer sex in interactive media, this list proves that strong role models are there if you look for them. Agree? Disagree? Have a favorite female who didn’t make the list? Drop us a line in the comments.
[Written by contributor Heather Riddick]