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Top Ten games that let you play as the “bad guy”

When it comes down to it, if I could choose between being on the good side or being on the bad side, I’d choose the good every time. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy being able to kick ass as a bad guy in video games every now and then.

joker arkham asylum

Joker gets an honorable mention if you were lucky (well smart) enough to have the PS3 version

Before we begin, there are a few baddies that aren’t going be listed:

  • Darth Vader – he has been playable in everything from Star Wars: Battlefront, Soul Calibur, Lego Star Wars, and the Star Wars RTS, so he’s not too special
  • Any character from Mortal Kombat – the game is basically halfway built around bad guys anyways
  • RPGs – in a Role Playing Game that is the first of its series, playing as the bad guy isn’t very special since you just met the baddie
  • Postal – the main character is kind of in the grey area of “bad guy-ness”

Also, this list won’t include Duke Nukem, since he is a more of a Bad Ass and not a Bad Guy. Gotta love the Duke.

Here are the top ten bad guys that you can play as in a plethora of different exciting games:

10. Starcraft series – Zerg (or Protoss? … or Terran?)

starcraft races faces

Choose your race wisely.

In a Real-Time Strategy like Starcraft II (or any other for that matter), the idea of the “bad guys” is all relative to what team you’re playing for. There is often no clear cut side that is either Good or Evil, unless you’re playing a movie-based RTS like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.

With that being said, anyone that has played Starcraft II knows that the real bad guys are the Zerg. Well I do at least because I play Protoss, and the Terran are too weak to be “bad”.

But wait! Avid Starcraft fans would say that the Zerg are actually the good guys since the Protoss tried to control them.. or that the Terran are invading from another part of the galaxy and are trying to wipe out both the Zerg and the Protoss!

starcraft dark templar protoss

Although I don't know why you wouldn't want a Dark Templar on your team!

Ah well, like I said, it’s all relative to whose side you’re on. It’s best to choose the side that’s gonna win!

9. Mass Effect series – Renegade

mass effect renegade evil

One day you will look at yourself in the mirror - are you going to like the person you see?

Although it’s not a novel idea to let a player choose their own path in a game, or even make their character into a bad guy based on their choices, Mass Effect lets you get away with it on a more subtle level (ditto for Dragon Age, Fallout 3, and BioShock to some degree).

Instead of simply killing good people or saving bad people, you can also step into the grey area of Good and Evil with choices like letting people commit suicide, saving an entire carnivorous race, letting criminals go for their good deeds, or convincing people to give up irreplaceable medical cadavers for the sake of human decency.

mass effect dancer

Sometimes "grey area" can have multiple meanings

Each decision you make pushes your character’s balance to either the good side, labeled Paragon, or the bad side, which is called Renegade. A lot of people usually end up playing through the game twice, as each choice you make affects the story and your character’s abilities and perks.

When it comes down to it, you can be a real asshole in this game … and love it!

8. Grand Theft Auto series – Hardened Criminal

grand theft auto iv

Hardened criminal? Or hard-working immigrant? Or both?

With a massive reputation for being an open-world game with millions of possibilities, Grand Theft Auto games like San Andreas, Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: IV are like the sandbox for your evil side.

There are so many ways to kill someone, so many methods to hassle an NPC (non playable character), and so many ways to skin a cat (not literally of course), it’s no wonder the conservative media goes into a frenzy whenever a new version of this game comes out. But it’s much better for someone to do crazy things inside of GTA than to have them try it out in real life.

So Fox News needs to stop freaking out every time these games come out (yea … just stop it Fox).

7. Super Smash Bros. series – Ganondorf

ganondorf will haunt you

He is the king of evil

Anyone who plays Smash Bros. knows who the fast characters are, and anyone who knows the fast characters probably know that Captain Falcon is one of them. I play as Captain Falcon because he is awesome sauce.

Anyone who plays SSB or fighting games know what a cloned fighter is: basically a duplicate of an existing character with different color palettes, audio tracks, costumes, and sometimes a few different moves.

In Super Smash Bros., Gandondorf is a clone of Captain Falcon, minus the speed, plus more power .. and plus purple smoke flame things.

ganon punch super smash bros

Definitely try to stay away from this thing

He’s pretty much amazing. Plus, when you start kicking ass, the crowd chant (in SSB if you dominate other players, the “crowd” cheers for your character), is the sound of a delightful monotonous group of people, whom we assume are Ganon’s slaves cheering for their master.

And if you play with Captain Falcon as much as I do (97% of the time), then you will have fun trying to learn his altered move times due to his lower speed.

6. Swat 4 – Terrorists

swat 4 arrest

The swat is coming for you - even in the bathroom!

Swat is a fairly well known series for PC gamers, created by Sierra (makers of games such as King’s Quest, Crash Bandicoot, and Spyro the Dragon).

Built on the still handy Unreal 2 engine, Swat 4 has an exceptional single-player campaign – not to mention the ability to play the campaign with up to eight people! There’s nothing better than busting bad guys with pepper spray, beanbag shotguns, flash bangs, and pepper paint balls.

But aside from the story campaign, Swat 4 also boasts a wonderful multiplayer experience: split into two teams of the Swat Team vs the Suspects, players are given a heavy arsenal of lethal and non-lethal weapons, ranging from lightweight tasers to fully automatic machine guns and powerful pistols.

swat 4 hostages

Sometimes you gotta taser them a few times before they "get" the message

With game modes like VIP, Hostage Rescue, Bagman, Capture the Flag, and a pure deathmatch style (where non-lethal take downs with handcuffs give a player more points and penalize the victim), players have tons of ways to battle it out.

And since the police officers have to play by the rules, Suspects can get away with a lot more, using lethal force as they please and breaking all the rules. Playing as a bad guy against your friends can’t get better – they have pepper paint balls and you have an AK47. Pure fun!

5. Street Fighter series – Akuma

akuma street fighter

Basically he is the epitome of evil

While most fighting games have bad guys and good guys (as mentioned earlier with Mortal Kombat), very few have such an intricate balance of great characters that compliment and match up with the others as well as the Street Fighter series does.

With such a large amount of characters that are a blast to play, SF can dominate your afternoon gaming with friends. Akuma, the self-titled “Master of the Fist” who made his debut in Street Fighter II Turbo, is a very evil man who can kick your ass.

akuma special move

If you see this screen, you're probably already dead.

His intro to the players is a quick scene of him beating the crap out of M. Bison, and rightfully so – Akuma is like a pumped up version of Ryu. And you can play as him too – he was a secret character that only “those in the know” could choose.

But the best part? He is still balanced against the rest of the fighters, making him a great addition without being “broken” (like Marth in Super Smash Bros. – he’s broken).

4. Super Mario RPG – Bowser

bowser super mario rpg

The enemy of my enemy is my ... enemy?

Bowser is one of the original bad guys of video games – he was stealing princesses before some people were even born!

So it was a pleasant surprise to many gamers when they discovered that they could play as the spiky lizard … turtle … well … Koopa, in the Super Nintendo game “Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars”.

Besides the quaint oddity that was Mario and Bowser joining forces to take on a greater enemy, Bowser’s abilities in the game were actually good. He was a great addition to your RPG squad and really lived up to his expected level of villainy.

bowser dancing hand

And if he wasn't bad ass enough, he can also serve you on the dance floor!

You should pick this game up off the Wii Virtual Console – it’s a fun and really high quality title.

3. Counter-Strike series – Terrorists

counter strike source dead

Get used to dying - you will be doing it a lot.

Similar to Swat 4, Counter-Strike pits online players against each other as either Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists, and has had a steady player base for more than ten years.

Counter-Strike: Source, the sequel to CS that was released alongside Half-Life 2 in 2004 is quite popular as well (and my personal favorite). Players on each team are given a large selection of weapons, from Pistols, Shotguns, Machine Pistols, Rifles, Machine Guns, and Sniper Rifles to some tactical grenades and a very deadly knife – with a few unique weapons for each side of the chaos.

counter strike source market italy

Make sure to cut off their food supply first. Then play the waiting game!

With the two main game types, Hostage maps and Bomb maps, Terrorists can have a great time either trying to plant a bomb on a CT protected location, or protecting their captured hostages from a CT-lead rescue.

There is nothing better than scoring headshots or throwing out flashbangs, knifing someone, and then planting the bomb as a Terrorist. It makes for a game with tight teamwork, power plays, epic shootouts, and silent stalking.

counter strike source shoot out

Counter-Strike: Source shoot out

Plus there are tons of mods, like zombies, gun games, RPGs, hide and seek, as well as custom skins, sounds, maps and servers. This game will have legs for years to come – and keep you on the edge of your seat with your heart pumping!

2. Team Fortress 2 – Spy

team fortress 2 spy


It should be no surprise that there is another first-person shooter on this list, as online multiplayer against real people produce the most amount of fun (and lulls).

Team Fortress 2 is no exception – it is a stellar game with frequent updates, a friendly community for every type of player, and a hefty amount of active users. The gameplay is really refined and spot on.

With nine different classes categorized into groups ranging from offense, defense, and support, there are plenty of options for experienced and inexperienced players, as well as different play-styles.

Of all the character classes though, only one really stands out as the bad guy: the Spy.

team fortress 2 spy ambassador


With the ability to cloak, destroy enemy Engineer machinery, steal enemies’ identities with clever disguises, and ultimately stab the enemy in the back, playing Spy in Team Fortress 2 is the best way to be bad.

Aside from generally ruining people’s days in TF2, spies can also act as a counter for other spies, tracking them, blowing their cover, and negating their existence. On top of that, Spies can also be healed by enemy medics, allowing them to stay alive longer and wreak more havoc in one life.

Plus, Spies have the best taunts:

1. Left 4 Dead series – Various Zombies

left 4 dead 2 team

Armed to the teeth

Not only is our number one pick for the best game that lets you play as the “bad guy” another FPS, it’s also our third game by Valve – which means these people know what they’re doing.

Left 4 Dead is a simple concept: Four players (like the title says!) venture out into a dark, broken-down world, with environments like abandoned offices, apartments, theme parks, sewers, shopping malls, and more, and have to work together using team effort and communication to make it to the next safe house.

Also, there are zombies.

left 4 dead 2

Yea. Might want to stick together!

Playing through the campaign, players learn the basics of the gameplay, figuring out how to handle the zombie swarms, manage their ammo supply, health packs, and power ups (like adrenaline shots and pain pills). They also have to fend off special type zombies that have the ability to tear your team apart (that’s why you have to stick together!!).

Once people get the hang of Left 4 Dead’s (and it’s improved sequel Left 4 Dead 2) mechanics, they have the option to venture out of humans vs cpu campaigns and play the same stages… but this time with eight players.

One team plays as the four humans, trying their hardest to make it to the next safe house and escape the zombies. The other team of four rotates through the different types of special zombies, with the goal to prevent, maim, or kill the humans before they can make it to the barricades.

You can already guess that this makes for some very interesting online matches with a lot of tension and competitiveness. It is very satisfying to pin an enemy human player down with a Hunter while your teammate strangles another with a Smoker, while at the same time your other teammate decimates the remaining humans with a Tank.

left 4 dead special infected

Left 4 Dead special infected options

And the best part? Teams rotate – so you may start by playing as the human side for the first round, get pretty far through the level, only to die by the rotting, slimy hands of the special zombies controlled by enemy players.

But then you have the chance to get revenge when the tables are turned.

left 4 dead 2 zombies

You have a "slight" advantage on the zombie side. Slight.

So even if you didn’t make it to the safe house on your round as the survivors, if you ensure that the opposing team doesn’t do better on their try you can still win. And winning is good, especially when you’re a zombie. The thrill of the hunt as they say.

Sometimes, it’s good to be bad.