If you have been watching the news the last couple of weeks, it seems that our friends in the Motherland are slowly regressing back to their action movie villain ways in what seems like a blink of an eye. The tensions in the Ukraine, anti-gay laws and the imprisoning of mediocre punk bands are just a handful of the weirdness going on in Russia.
At the center of all this is President Vladimir Putin, who’s become the talking point in all things Russia these days. Many people are painting him to be terrible villain which got me asking the question, “Is Putin really a good Russian villain?” I get it, folks like the idea of an accented bad guy bent on ruling the world or shooting John McClane in the Die Hard movies. I started to think about who are my favorite Russian videogame villains, and I decided to rate my villains based on a 1-5 hammer and sickle scale of of villainy. Prepare to see a lot of red and angry men.
Street Fighter Series
Hero of the working class, Zangief embodied the raw strength that the USSR represented. You can only assume he achieved such physical stature by doing stereotypical Russian things like wrestling bears for recreation. When playing any iteration of Street Fighter, especially Street Fighter IV, Zangief always managed to completely obliterate me with a variety of suplexes and spinning clotheslines.
In Wreck-It Ralph Zangief turned out to be a misunderstood gentle giant who is simply filling the role of bad guy. Which means that Zangief has achieved a level of villain self-awareness which places him above mindless thug but still under local crime boss. His monstrous size, general lack of clothing and having the personality of a professional wrestling heel, Zangief has easily become one of our favorite lovable bad guys. Points docked for being a giant softy on the inside.
Yevgeny Borisovitch Volgin (Евгений Борисович Волгин)
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
I don’t think Metal Gear fans will be hard pressed to find another evil-doer who fits perfectly into the height of Cold War paranoia. Volgrin is a sadistic power hungry madmen who tortures for fun and can generate electricity out of his body.
Here’s just some of Volgrin’s career highlights:
-Took part in the execution of over 20,000 Polish soldiers.
-Put down uprisings in East Germany and in the Hungarian Revolution.
-“Disposed” of over 100,000 anti-communist protesters.
What really gave me the impression that Volgrin doesn’t mess around is he FIRED A GOD-DAMN PORTABLE NUKE ON HIS HOME SOIL and framed the United States in the first 25 minutes of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
Throw in the torturing of Naked Snake and piloting Metal Gear Shagohod with the intent of world domination clearly makes Volgrin a very bad Red.
Command and Conquer Series
Kane and his perfected manicured goatee managed to be thorn in your side in almost all of the Command & Conquer games. Messiah complex and ridiculous pseudo-philosophical rhetoric not only make him a great bad guy but bonifide crazy person. Think of Kane and the Brotherhood of NOD as a more successful version of Cobra Commander and COBRA.
The charming and manipulative adviser to Joseph Stalin, Kane managed to orchestrate the war between mother Russia and the Allies. He later assassinates Stalin via a super hot assassin named Nadia. So why all this subversion? All of this was so Kane and his wacky followers of the Brotherhood of Nod could to take over the known world. Kane has employed weapons of mass destruction, cyborgs and war bears. Yes, genetically-altered and trained to kill, these war bears were a small example of the lengths Kane would take to ensure victory.
Now there’s a debate on whether Kane is actually Russian or not, since Kane might actually be immortal. Oh yea, there’s this whole not-so- subtle religious subtext to Kane’s origin that may link him to being THE Cain from the bible. Let’s not go down that path because it hurts my head. Either way, since he uses the Soviet Union for his dastardly deeds, I’m calling him a Russian villain. He does lose points for adding cyborg parts to himself in the later games. Too cliche.
Vladimir Makarov (Влади́мир Мака́ров)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3
Do you remember that level in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 called ‘No Russian’ where you can actively (or passively) participated in the massacre of a bunch of civilians and police officers at a Russian airport? You should have, because FOX News makes it the center of every violent videogame discussion that came afterwards. Anyway, Makarov was behind it and framed an American undercover agent for the attack prompting Russia to invade the US. Macarov also has other large scale terrorists acts to his credit like detonating the nuke that kills over 30,000 marines in the most talked about levels in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, ‘Shock and Awe.’
We can also add the abduction of the Russian president in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 to his laundry list of crimes. Macarov is more of a doer than a sit-back-and-scheme-type of terrorist like someone Jack Bauer would punch in the face. Macarov was a great adversary that you wanted to defeat. The Call of Duty franchise knows how to produce some great psychopaths. Macarov was smart, ruthless and not afraid to get his hands dirty. This makes it totally OK that you killed him.
I know what you’re going to say? “Jorge, how could harmless blocks from my most favorite game from my youth be a villain?” Well I’m glad you asked. What if I were to tell you that the humble beginnings of the original Tetris wasn’t true? That is wasn’t really the brainchild of Russian computer engineer Alexey Pajitnov but a more devious plot by the KGB?
Just sit back and think about it. How many hours have you spent playing Tetris in your lifetime? Now think about what if I told that that Tetris was part of a larger plan to reduce the productivity of the average young adult American. The Soviets would invade while all our young fighting people were too busy being mindless drooling Tetris zombies. Scary, right? It’s also something I just made up. IF it were true the Tetriminos would be the perfect sleeper agents of chaos. Just saying.
Putin’s Naked Body
Putin Gay Dress Up
I normally try to shy away from writing anything overly political since politics have a way of violently dividing even the most sensible of people. Putin Gay Dress Up was just too funny not to write about. This free game was created in protest of the Anti-Gay Propaganda Bill that Putin signed back in June. Basically, you could be fined and/or imprisoned for engaging in any behavior that could be considered “gay propaganda” in Russia.
Putin Gay Dress Up is a dress up game where you put a variety of unflattering or flamboyant outfits on the Russian president’s naked figure. Some of the outfits are definitely NSFW so I decided to go with something classy for the sake of the article. Feel free to make your fabulous Putin and tweet it out.
As you can see, the ‘Red Scare’ is still alive in videogames and casually watching the news just reinforces two certainties. 1) is that Russia has some really awful public relations and 2) Russia can still make some great videogame bad guys. I’m curious to know who are some of your favorite bad Russians? Hell, lets open the discussion to include non-videogame villains also. Pictures are encouraged.