One thing I’ve always enjoyed about BioWare games is the strong sense of camaraderie you get when you’re kickin’ it with your NPC buddies. Whether they’re intricately tied into the main quest, a sword or gun for hire, a devil may care traveling with you for excitement or treasure, or simply a bodyguard sworn to watch your back because they owe you a life debt, the NPC’s in BioWare RPG’s are usually quite enjoyable to hang out with.
Admit it, there’s always at least one NPC in a BioWare RPG you neglect. Sometimes you just don’t need another specialist class on your team, or maybe you don’t care for the character’s stats, powers, or equipment restrictions. That’s all well and good, but in some instances the character in question gets ignored because they annoy the bejesus out of you and you can’t bear to be in their presence for one second longer than you have to. BioWare seems to have a pretty good (or bad, depending on how you look at it) track record of coming up with, shall we say, divisive NPC’s for your adventuring parties.
So ready your crossbows, blaster rifles, and Kessler pistols — here is my take on the most annoying and/or useless party members in BioWare RPG history.
10. Amy Rose (Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood)
Granted, this character was originally a Sega creation, but I’ll take any opportunity I can get to bash the horde of horrible furries hanging on to Sonic’s coattails. Yes, there are actually worse characters that have been added to the Sonic canon over the years (Charmy Bee anyone?), but it all started to go downhill when this pink furred Jezebel showed up trying to woo our intrepid blue hedgehog away from his bro-mance with Knuckles and his Bruce Wayne/Dick Grayson relationship with Tails. She’s already sullied Sega’s brand with her presence, now she sullies BioWare’s too.
09. Sky (Jade Empire)
I think I was against Sky from the start because he’s voiced by Cam Clarke. If you don’t know who that is, he’s the guy who does the samey, monotonous voice for every other random NPC villager or merchant or brigand in every RPG ever made featuring a voice cast. Inflection, cadence, nuance — these are words that have no meaning to Cam Clarke. I hate to advocate putting a person out of work, but seriously game studios, stop hiring this guy. He can always fall back on the six hundred billion anime shows he does voice-over work for.
Regarding the character Sky specifically, well, he’s a bland goody two shoes. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: he’s a ‘dashing’ rogue with a heart of gold. How very original. To make matters worse, he’s doing this grieving widower trope which has popped up in one BioWare game too many for my liking. When I think grieving widower out for justice, I think of Dirty Harry or Charles Bronson in the Death Wish movies, not some whingeing douchenozzle cosplaying as unmasked Sub-Zero.
08. Valygar Corthala (Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn)
He sounds like he’s taken too much Dramamine. And he’s intolerably dull. And if you happen to favor the evil or neutral path, he decides to start making veiled threats at you later in the game. As if he’s going to put you down with that wussy sword he’s packing. Uhh… I’m the spawn of the Lord of Murder, buddy. You really want to mess with the Slayer? Really?!
07. Grunt (Mass Effect 2)
06. Juhani (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)
Juhani is one of the most pointless characters in all BioWare games. Although she doesn’t annoy me like other characters on this list, she is wholly unremarkable and serves no purpose in the overall plot (the character and her small amount of content was originally cut from the game before being reintroduced very late in production for some strange reason). Her big drawing point that we’re all supposed to stop and marvel at is that she’s gay. Oooh! How very edgy and adult of you, BioWare!
The first time I played KoTOR, I completely missed recruiting her into the party. That’s because I killed her. So mundane is the initial encounter with her, I mistook her for just another red shirt destined to be cut down with my twin vibroblades. It was only later that I figured out she could be ‘redeemed’ and recruited into your group. You’re not missing much by leaving her behind though.
05. Garrick (Baldur’s Gate)
Listen here, Garrick. I only took you on because I had an empty spot in my party early on and I need all the sword blockers I can get. But I swear, if I ask you to move over there or use your wimpy bard song ability and you respond with that smug “Yes, siiiiirrrrrrr.” one more time I’m going to sell you to the nearest temple of Cyric so you can be sacrificed in the most horrific, bloody, barbaric fashion imaginable. Capice?
Oh, and while we’re at it, lose that “Once more, unto the breach, dear friends!” battlecry you’re always blurting out. King Henry, you are not.
04. Haer’Dalis (Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn)
Speaking of an annoying voiceset for a bard… Click on Haer’Dalis for the first time and you’re likely to be greeted with something along the lines of:
“This sparrow is ready to fly. At your command, of course.“
Uh? Say what? *clicks again*
“Readier than a red-cheeked maiden, my friend!“
What?! Get out of my party, you poncy tiefling prat! You fight like an anemic newt and need to be resurrected every five minutes, anyway.
03. Carth Onasi (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)
For a long time, Carth was the epitome of whiny BioWare characters. Pick an option that favors the Dark Side, and Carth whines about your decision.
Okay, you say to yourself, I’ll try and appease the guy — here’s a nice Light Side decision.
Nope. Carth still whines at you about it being dangerous or ‘not having a good feeling about this‘ or some nonsense.
Geez, what’s with this guy? Alright, I’ll take the middle, neutral path and see if he’d prefer that. He is the lamest of wannabe Han Solos, after all. Scoundrels like dealing in shades of grey.
AND YET CARTH STILL WHINES!
How is this wussy a war hero, exactly?
02. Minsc (Baldur’s Gate & Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn)
Much to my chagrin, Minsc is perhaps the most popular NPC in the Baldur’s Gate games. This boggles the mind. I get that people like him strictly from a gamer’s perspective. He has great stats for a warrior class and you can equip him with damn near any two-handed weapon and armor set and watch him wade through beholders and liches like there was no tomorrow.
That’s great and all, but has no one ever noticed how goddamn annoying this guy is? I find myself reaching for the mute button every time Minsc starts waffling on about what Boo says he should do, or “Butt-kicking for goodness!“. The ‘crazyman talking to his pet space hamster’ routine is cute for about five minutes but it gets old FAST. He’s like that kid in junior high school who sits at the back of the room making fart noises under his armpit and doing stupid voices every time the teacher tries to speak. You might find yourself giggling on the first day of school despite yourself, but when the stupid kid is doing his routine six weeks into school, you find yourself dreading going back to that class.
01. Alistair (Dragon Age: Origins)
Oh, Alistair. How I hate thee.
In short, the biggest Gary Stu man-child dipshit you’re ever likely to come across in a BioWare game. I’m convinced he exists solely to draw in fawning teenage fangirls who think characters like this are so dreamy.
This guy irritates me to no end. Whether it’s his shitty immersion-breaking jokes, his holier than thou attitude, or his incessant moping over the loss of his mentor Duncan (a guy he knew for all of six months), there’s not much Alistair can do right in my eyes. But for me the final straw, the act that pushes him firmly into the land of whiny, crybaby emo wieners is towards the end of the game, when you finally come up against pseudo-nemesis Loghain (I say ‘pseudo’ because the real big bad is the Archdemon).
Personally, I think Loghain is just a misunderstood general. There’s plenty of throwaway lines of dialogue in the game to suggest that the field was clearly lost when he turned the rest of the army around and left King Cailan to rot. (And just as an aside, the king deserved to have his army routed and get slaughtered. What kind of fucking idiot leader has a massive fortress designed to withstand siege and decides to just blindly charge out of the front gate into the oncoming swarm?) Loghain is not an evil man, he’s just got a bad case of tunnel vision when it comes to the best interests of the land. In that respect, he’s kinda like George Dubya, isn’t he? Unpopular wartime decisions with the belief it serves the greater good? Yeah, I can see Loghain in the President Bush role.
So if that’s the comparison we’re going for, then Alistair is a prick of the highest order like Michael Moore, so blindly outraged he won’t accept that ‘the Man’ could possibly do any good, even if the evidence slaps him in the face. Say you manage to defeat Loghain and, being a chivalrous sort and all, you spare his life. Well, that doesn’t sit well with baby Alistair, who throws a hissy fit of epic proportions. He claims that you can’t allow a tyrant to live. The alleged pious and noble ex-Templar demands blood! Revenge in the guise of capitol punishment! That’s not being a hypocrite at all, is it? A suggestion is then made that perhaps Loghain could be inducted into the Grey Wardens. He’s still a highly skilled warrior and brilliant military mind, after all. And he’d be under oath to serve the Wardens no matter what. Wouldn’t that serve the greater good, Alistair?
“ABSOLUTELY NOT!” Alistair says, now throwing his rattle out of the pram. “I WON’T STAND NEXT TO THIS MAN AS A BROTHER, WAAAAH!!! I’M LEAVING!“
Uh… the fuck you are, Alistair.
“WHADDYA MEAN?!!! I THOUGHT WE WUZ BUDDIES?!” Alistair whines.
You’ve seriously tested my patience for the last time, you little turd. And apparently you’re too dangerous to leave alive. Rebellions could be raised in your name to besmirch the honor of the good Queen Anora. Or something. Whatever. Have this brainless meatshield taken to the dungeons to be executed. Make sure to cut his balls off first. If he has any.
Just to show I’m not anti-BioWare, next time I’ll be running down a list of some of my favorite BioWare characters. Stay tuned.