The Deus Ex series isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions about a world taking the next step in human evolution.
Analysis of the coming cybernetic enhancement revolution is handled through all manner of perspectives and lenses – what philosophical aspects will cyborgs, a new class of humanity, bring to our world? What ethical and moral debates will we reach when humanity is on the pinnacle of a new stage of evolutionary progress? And since the release of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, I find myself questioning the one thing that truly epitomizes this monumental quandary… Who exactly are the five most badass cyborgs in gaming history?
5. Meta Ridley
The first entry on this list and I’m already cheating. While usually the term cyborg denotes a human-being with cybernetic implants, Meta Ridley is just too cool to not deserve mention. After all, the only thing more badass than a cyborg human is a cyborg space pirate dragon.
After being defeated at the hands of Samus Aran in Super Metroid, Ridley returned in Metroid Prime decked out in a new mechanically upgraded body. While it’s never quite explained why Ridley only decided to cyborg-up this one time, despite being blown to bits multiple times before and after in the series, the stand-alone appearance of his Meta form still remains his most threatening. The feeling of foreboding is almost palpable as Samus notices Meta Ridley’s enormous shadow envelop the landscape of Talon IV while he soars the skies above.
4. Commander Shepard
It wasn’t until a sticky run-in with an ancient race of dangerous aliens in the beginning of the second Mass Effect that Commander Shepard became a cyborg. There’s no denying that bringing the commander back to life through Cerebrus’ “Lazarus Project” was a sneaky way to allow players to re-engineer their character’s appearance and abilities for the sequel, but I’m not complaining. After my own Shepard spent the entirety of the first game as a soldier class only utilizing bland weapons, his new cyborg upgrade allowed a proper in-game explanation for why he was suddenly able to hurl biotic forces and throw bad guys around the room with his mind.
Not only that, but Shepard’s cyborg enhancements also make for some sweet Terminator-esque facial disfiguration when he leans too far into the renegade choice system. Of course players can easily remedy their horrible facial scars revealing the inhumanity that lies beneath from a quick stop at the on-ship clinic. But really, why throw away such a gift?
3. Master Chief
This entry was actually one I was surprised to learn about in my extensive research on the topic. As it turns out, John-117, or Master Chief as he is affectionately known, is not just a tall dude in a super-suit, but also a man in possession of cybernetic upgrades to properly use said super-suit. Originally formed as a sort of “space police” (again, extensive research was done on the subject) the Spartan space warriors of which Master Chief is a part of were eventually utilized in the war between humanity and the Covenant aliens.
Taken from his family at a young age, John-117’s story is reminiscent of many other Spartan soldiers, trained to physical perfection and enhanced through technological means to exemplify the spirit of the ruthless Greek warriors of old. Not only the face of one of gaming’s most prolific series Halo, but undeniably Master Chief has become one of the most renowned video game characters of all time, embodying the Xbox pillar of gaming.
Fans didn’t exactly take to Raiden’s first appearance in Metal Gear Solid 2. In a twist only Hideo Kojima could pull off, Raiden’s replacement of Solid Snake as the playable character remained a secret throughout marketing and made quite a shock to players on launch day. Unfortunately, while he played a pivotal role in what the game had to say on player expectations and players’ ability to forge their own paths in life, the initial disappointment forever clung to some, as he never quite reached the same cool factor as Snake.
That is, until he became a crazy cyborg ninja in the sequels. It turns out that Raiden really wouldn’t follow in the footsteps of Snake, instead forging his path straight into that of a crazy anime-esque cyborg. Gone are the days of stealthily sneaking past his enemies, his tranquiler gun replaced with a high-frequency blade able to cut through entire Metal Gears. Raiden took the series to its craziest heights possible, and then blew right past them again with his own spin-off in which he literally fights a super-powered American senator seeking the presidency.
1. Rex “Power” Colt
Sergeant Rex Colt was once a simple but honourable U.S. grunt soldier in the futuristic era of the early 2000’s. After being killed in action during Vietnam War II, Rex Colt was revived as part man, part machine, all Cyber-Commando. By the time the events of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon take place, Rex Colt had already received enough cybernetic upgrades to be dubbed a Mark IV Cyber-Commando, more than enough to take on the incredibly dangerous mission to defeat the rogue Mark V former ally Ike Sloan.
Rex Colt’s lethality, cybernetic-action prowess, and sarcastic wit are what truly encapsulates the spirit of the ultimate radical cyborg. Not only does he prove the great potential possible from man’s unity with technology, he’s also played by Michael Bienhn from Terminator and Aliens. And that my friends, is badass.