Thanks to the likes of Super Smash Bros, Dynasty Warriors and Kingdom Hearts it no longer feels weird seeing characters from one game show up in another. We’re always amused when we see Gears of Wars Marcus and Dom pop up in Lost Planet 2, or when we can pit Link against lumbering Bowser in SSB:B.
Sometimes, however, the idea of character swapping goes further than just an amusing cameo: we at Megabits like to ponder the changes that would occur if you completely swapped characters in certain games. Sometimes the outcome is amusing, sometimes disturbing, and very occasionally you hit on a mash up that would create a game you’d really like to play.
10 Gordon Freeman in Mass Effect
Mass Effect is so longwinded it could make even Hideo Kojima roll his eyes and make the ‘Yakety yak’ hand signal. Often we’d find ourselves embroiled in half hour discussions of intergalactic politics where the only concession to the notion of interactivity was a dialogue selection that would allow you to decide if the next half hour of waffle would be on the subject of cosmic quantitative easing, or Adam Werrity’s inappropriate relationship with the Salarian defence minister. Amidst all that unceasing prattle we found ourselves thinking: “What this game needs is a mute with a crowbar.” Step up Gordon, the galaxy needs your steel alloy conversation-stopper.
9 Commander Shepherd in Half Life 2
Of course, the flipside to seeing Gordon Freeman cut through the crap in Mass Effect would be to see Commander Shepherd take on the brook-no-argument fascists controlling City 17.
Combine: “Put the can in the bin, human.”
Shepherd: “The pan-Galactic treaty signed after the fourth Kuboobrian exodus destroyed the Flogrian fleet prohibits the arbitrary dispensation of menial tasks on the basis of species discrimin...urk...”
Combine Truncheon: “Thud. Thud. Thudsplat.”
8 Sparrow in Dark Souls
Ah, Sparrow, the chirpy protagonist of Fable 2, running around Albion with a faithful canine companion and treasure shovel, levelling up his skills after every encounter. Pretty much standard behaviour for the RPG genre, no? Sparrow is such an RPG archetype it’s a wonder no one asked him to take care of the town’s rat problem, but RPG’s aren’t what they used to be.
Nowadays they seem to be at the forefront of a movement to restore gaming’s long lost difficulty, and no game typifies this more than Dark Souls. Imagine plucky Sparrow, coming from a game where dying means nothing more than the addition of a small scar to your character, then put him in the death dealing Dark Souls, a game where you can die six times before breakfast. And then your breakfast kills you.
7 Kratos in Castevania: Lords of Shadow
Just imagine how different the fixed-camera slash-em-up would be if you replaced gloomy, dead-wifed, chain-blade wielding Gabriel with Kratos, a gloomy, dead-wi...oh, hang on. Oh well, at least the game offers some originality in those bits where you have to clamber up giant monsters and atta...sorry? Shadow of the what? For shame, Castlevania, for shame.
6 Chris Redfield in Just Cause 2
Sometimes you come across a character swap idea in which one side is so brilliant you can’t believe no one has done it yet, while the other side is so disastrous it’s laughable. To wit: Lumbering, inventory challenged, can-only-aim-when-standing-still Chris Redfield being transferred from the grubby world of Resident Evil to the towering kinetic playground of Panau, a world in which you can parachute onto moving motorcycles whilst shooting at helicopters and chain-whipping soldiers. It would be an unplayable mess, but we get a nasty thrill of amusement at the thought of Resi’s leaden hard man standing bewildered in the tropical sunshine, sobbing softly at his inability to function in this nimble new world.
5 Agent Rico in Resident Evil
The flipside, of course, is Resident Evil with Agent Rico. It wouldn’t make much of a full game, but as a piece of comedy DLC it would be inspired. An entire game built around the idea of a shambling menace slowly building up the tension as it inches towards you, upended by the presence of an acrobatic CIA man with a machine gun and an elastic grappling hook. Granted, the zombies would become easy prey, but a million Chinese-style hack and slash games have proven that defeating scores of easy opponents can be fun, and just think how enjoyable it would be to unleash Rico’s grappling hook on Resident Evil’s glorious but formerly static environments-whipping up the central shaft of the Raccoon City Labs, riding atop the cable car in Resi 4. Mint.
4 The Vault Dweller in Oblivion
When we first saw Fallout 3 it bore such an uncanny resemblance to Elder Scrolls IV that the majority of the internet took to calling it Oblivion with guns. Yes, one took place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and the other in verdant fantasy world, but their playing styles were hugely similar.
There was one huge hidden difference, however. In Fallout 3 levelling up increased your chances of meeting tougher baddies. In Oblivion, all the baddies levelled up with you. The end result was that every time you levelled up and spent points on anything other than your combat skills, you technically became slightly weaker than your opponents.
By the time you had a level twenty thief who could sneak past any guard and pick every lock in the game, you’d find you also had a character who could be killed by a glancing blow from an angry hobo. Oops. Just once, we’d like to insert our character from Fallout 3 into Oblivion. A level 30 colossus with top marks in all the toughest categories, violent perks falling out of his ears, a rocket launcher that fires eight nukes at once and a seemingly indestructible suit of power armour. If they thought the Daedra were a lethal scourges, just wait till the Vault Dweller lays waste to a few towns.
3 Marcus Fenix in Deus Ex: Human Revolution
It’s all about choice, they say. Kill or pacify, fight or sneak, persuade or intimidate, Deus Ex will let you choose your own methods. Until you get to a boss fight, that is. A boss fight where you can’t sneak, subdue or schmooze your way past. Choice is out, violence is in, and suddenly you’ll wish that your super-charming semi-pacifist agent had the personality and hardware to deal with things directly. I revelled in the gleaming futuristic world of Deus Ex for a good two hours, then I got bored and annoyed, and wished I could replace Adam Jensen with the moronic but direct Marcus Fenix and just smash my way through the rest of the game.
2 Batman in Dead Rising 2
Dead Rising 2’s big selling point was the sheer, stupendous number of zombies you could have on the screen at once, while Batman: Arkham Asylum made great play of its beautiful, Guinness-smooth combat. For all the joy to be had battering zombies with novelty weapons in Dead Rising 2, it did eventually start to feel a bit stodgy and clumsy. If only there were a more acrobatic, lively, speedy way to carve through them. Frankly, we’d give our last Zombrex syringe to be able to unleash Batman’s brand of combat-gymnastics onto the undead. Hmm...combat gymnastics, now there’s a gameplay concept waiting to be exploited...
1 Dominic Santiago in Tomb Raider
You know how we said that the character swapping train of thought sometimes leads to disturbing places? Well, we thought of missing family members, awkward running gunfire, and a tendency to vault over small, incongruously placed obstacles, and naturally enough, we ended up with the most horrifying vision in gaming: Gears of War’s Dom, in Lara Croft’s wetsuit. That fizzing noise you can hear is your brain corroding under the caustic assault of that image.