In honor of it being Black History Month (and for the sake of getting a new Top 5 out to you guys), we’re going to count down the best video game characters of African descent.
In picking these, I tried to keep in mind to avoid characters who were either very one dimensional or offensively stereotypical. There may be exceptions if the character is memorable or hilarious or have other redeeming traits that win over any negative qualities. Otherwise, we’re mainly looking for actual well-developed fictional folks here. Let’s get to it!
5. Augustus Cole (Gears of War series)
We kick off this list with none other than the “Cole Train” himself, Augustus Cole! Yes, he’s loud and plays the equivalent of football in the Gears of War universe making him guilty of falling in the stereotypical category. He wins out simply because of his personality being a fan favorite of the franchise and voiced by Lester Speight AKA Terry Tate from those awesome Reebok commercials. When a guy oozes that much fun and charisma, I can’t fault him too much for not living up to the “Cosbian” standard of black men.
4. Dudley (Street Fighter series)
Wish you could fight like a gentleman? Let Dudley show you how! This British boxer made his debut in the Street Fighter III series where he immediately became popular for his combo heavy play style and pompous quips. You know when a proper beating has gone down when you’re called “gutter trash” with a rose flung on your battered body.
3. Barret Wallace (Final Fantasy VII)
Everyone’s favorite potty mouthed eco-terrorist from one of the most popular entries in the Final Fantasy franchise was a shoe-in for this list. If the Mr. T look and badass gatling gun for an arm isn’t enough to win you over, there’s also the legitimate love and care he shows for his daughter Marlene. His more tender moments contradicts his rough exterior nicely to make Barret a complex character whom we can believe in.
2. David Anderson (Mass Effect series)
As the only character to appear in practically every iteration of the Mass Effect franchise (games, books, and the animated film Paragon Lost), this former captain of the Normandy has become a prominent figure both on Earth and all over the galaxy. He’s a decorated war hero and was almost the first human to become a Spectre (galactic agent) before Commander Shepard is bestowed the honor. Voiced by the undeniably cool Keith David, Anderson is a natural leader with a level head and instinctual call to duty for what he believes in.
1. Lee Everett (The Walking Dead)
If you know me, then this was an easy choice for the top spot. I freakin’ loved The Walking Dead by Telltale Games and a big part of that had to do with the characters. Lee is already in a bad situation before stumbling into a world overrun by the undead. Despite being a convicted killer, he runs into a little girl named Clementine and takes it upon himself to protect her at all costs. This paternal relationship he forms with her along with a straight forward approach to handling problems makes him an interesting and endearing character. The voice work by actor Dave Fennoy really sells the underlying guilt and confliction this man is going through as you’re faced with one tough decision after another. I won’t spoil the ending here but our last time seeing Lee is one that requires a box of tissues for even the hardiest of folks.