Seemingly targeted toward a predominantly male audience, the video game world is rife with busty, scantily-clad female characters who often receive more attention for their virtual sex appeal than anything else. Here is a list of some of the most memorable female characters that stand out for their brain, brawn, and skill as much as their allure.
A non-playable character in Half-life 2, Alex is a technical whiz that is adept at hacking computers, repairing vehicles and machinery and bypassing locked doors/security systems. She also wields a gun skillfully, which is always a desirable trait in a female companion; in addition, she can survive a fair amount of damage with relative ease. One of the main reasons we like Alyx so much is because she doesn’t have to try so hard. She’s not running around in scantily clad clothing and clearly hasn’t gone on a Fifth Avenue shopping spree; she wears jeans and a brown leather jacket with work boots (sexy, kind of.) In Half-Life 2, her character model was incredibly detailed, including a birthmark on her neck and a small scar above her eyebrow. Alyx has a sort of Rocky Balboa meets Jodie Foster look going on and it works for her.
Introduced in Street Fighter II as an undercover Interpol agent on a mission to avenge her father's death, Chun-li was the first ever playable female character in a fighting game. She is the self-proclaimed strongest woman in the world and while that may not hold true, she is well-known for agility and her incredibly muscular legs, as anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of her Lightning Kick attack can attest to (spamming that attack was a personal favorite strategy). She gives a whole new meaning to “thunder thighs,” as her thighs are just as large as fat-boy E-Honda. Unfortunately, there have been two failed attempts to bring Chun-Li to the big screen (I forgive you, Ming-Na Wen, but not you, Kristin Kreuk), but maybe in the future someone will actually create a Street Fighter movie that works.
Resident Evil earns props for having a slew of strong, capable female characters to choose from. We went with Jill for several reasons. She was recently recognized by Guinness as the “First Female Player Character in a Survival Horror Game.” Jill is fearless in the face of zombie hordes and there are few things more bad-ass than gunning down zombies. A dynamic mix of brains, beauty,and skill with a gun to boot, she's definitely the girl you want by your side in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Jill Valentine has been voiced by six different voice actors, has appeared in ten different games and been in six different big screen adaptations of Resident Evil, in one form or another. Oh, she’ll give you STARS, alright!
Of the numerous female characters in the Final Fantasyseries, Tifa stands out in VII as the most bad-ass. The New York Times hailed her as the pin up girl of the “cyber generation.” Don't be fooled by her compassionate, motherly nature either; Tifa Lockheart possesses serious martial arts skills and is tough as nails. When Cloud failed miserably in the rescuing department, she took matters into her own hands and decided she wasn't going to wait on a man to rescue her anymore. Beautiful, intelligent and deadly, Tifa is the total package. Who needs Cloud, anyway? He may have chosen Aerith, but there are plenty of fanboys out there whose hearts Tifa has stolen with her heart of gold (and her DDs).
Lieutenant Sonya Blade is a female soldier and a member of the United States Special Forces. Most of her signature moves involve her powerful legs; leg grab, cartwheel, flying kick, bicycle kick; and she also has the ability to stun her opponent by blowing a kiss. Several of Sonya Blade’s fatalities are a more deadly variation of this kiss. Interestingly, she nearly didn't make it into the Mortal Kombat series; she was tacked on last-minute for the sake of adding a female character to an all-male cast. She’s bad-ass because she likes to do things the hard way. Not bad, for a chick that was created as an afterthought. We definitely hope to see more of Sonya Blade in the upcoming Mortal Kombat web-series reboot.
Speaking of damsels in distress, who could forget gaming's most well-known? Also known as Princess Toadstool, she first appeared in Super Mario Brosfor Nintendo. Throughout the series, she was kidnapped by Bowser and forced to rely on our favorite plumber to rescue her. Lacking the overt sex appeal of most other female game characters, she often rewarded Mario's efforts with a chaste kiss on the cheek and, in one instance, a cake. Sigh, poor Mario. In Super Mario Bros 2, she appeared as a playable character with the ability to hover briefly after her jumped.
Appearing in almost every game in the Zelda series, Princess Zelda has many different (yet similar) incarnations. Usually, she plays the damsel in distress when she is kidnapped by Ganon and requires Link to rescue her. However, unlike Peach, she is far from helpless. As the keeper of the triforce of wisdom, she displays varied powers of her own and often aids Link in his heroic quest; most notably in Ocarina of Time when she poses as Sheik, a male Sheikah. Princess Zelda uses her disguise to both hide from Ganondorf and teach Link teleportation songs on the Ocarina.
This secret-agent, who made her first appearance in Perfect Dark for N64, wins points for being one of the only female leads in a first person shooter (not to mention the awesome orange hair). Jo was born with spinal damage that requires experimental treatments and rendered her unable to walk until the age of five. This doesn't seem to have hindered her abilities though, as she travelled the world and learned to fight from her bounty hunter father. She was then recruited by the Carrington Institute for espionage and earned the nickname “Perfect Dark” for her flawless performance during training (and possibly because of the skintight, cleavage-baring black jumpsuit). Joanna Dark was created by video game designer Martin Hollis, who used Dana Scully from The X-Files and Nikita for a reference.
2. Lara Croft
No list of female game characters would be complete without Tomb Raider's Lara Croft. This pistol-toting heroine abandons her sheltered, aristocratic life in favor of exploring and adventuring, traveling the world in search of ancient artifacts. Gaming's number one sex symbol is also credited with redefining gender roles in video games and opening the door for future female main characters (though Lara Croft is still widely acknowledged as the hottest). She also earned several Guinness World Records, including “Most Successful Video Game Heroine” and “Most Recognizable Female Character in a Video Game.” Now that's an impressive resume. We'll see Lara again in 2013's Tomb Raider, in slightly more realistic proportions.
1. Samus Aran
The protagonist of Nintendo's sci-fi series Metroid is listed at number one due to the fact that she seems to be the only female video game character who doesn't exist solely for the purpose of serving as eye candy. In fact, throughout most of the game, you might not even realize she's a chick (although, underneath the Power Suit, she is, admittedly hot). Also, she is one of the original femme fatales of videogames. This warrior-turned-bounty hunter is equipped with a space suit that features a cannon, beams and missiles, as well as the Morph Ball ability, which enables Samus to collapse into a sphere and squeeze through tight spaces. She’s a woman with a full arsenal at her disposal, so to think twice before crossing her. She can still kick ass without the suit, though and look good doing it.