Webster defines a villain as a “character in a story or play who opposes the hero.” The definition below that is “one blamed for a particular evil or difficulty.” As far as video game antagonists go, there is no other that is more menacing and unpredictable than Far Cry 3’s Vaas played by Michael Mando. Initially, Vaas didn’t exist in the “Far Cry 3” script. Instead the antagonist was a large and burly warrior with a nose ring aptly named Bull. Once Michael Mando appeared and auditioned for the part, the initial design evolved and Vaas was born.
“Far Cry 3” begins with the player/Jason Brody already in Vaas’s control. He holds a camera phone in the player’s face to explain how you’ve arrived in this current predicament. Jason is trapped in a cage adjacent from his brother and is a product in the human slave trade. Vaas answers to his higher-ups, but he is no mere middleman. He is an unpredictable force that money and power drew in, ate up and spit out.
“Jumping out of airplanes, flying like birds? F–k, that is crazy,” Vaas says before proceeding to yell at your brother. “What is it Jason? Jason, what is it? Why aren’t you laughing now like you did up there? Is this not fun anymore? Have I failed to entertain you?”
The metaphor is clear. Plummeting thousands of feet to the ground is safer than being on the ground, but it’s more than that. Jason and his friends come from a privileged California lifestyle, and when they all take a skydiving trip and assert their presence on an untamed world, they quickly realize that someone already has risen up to be ringmaster. And this ringmaster likes to act in the most violent and sadistic ways possible yet still retains enough consciousness to understand that his acts are evil.
As the game progresses and Jason Brody becomes one with the jungle, the player learns that Vaas was supposed to be a fearless warrior for the local natives but succumbed to the drugs, money and power. A good villain will stand in the way of the hero’s goals, but a great villain shows the hero what he/she could be if he/she doesn’t make the right choices.
A great villain will also become that which he or she hates most as the plot progresses. “Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity? Insanity IS doing the same f—ing thing over and over again, expecting s–t to change. That. Is. Crazy,” Vaas says to the player as they are tied to a concrete block sitting precariously over a cenote. “And it’s not like I am f—ing crazy. It’s like water under the bridge. Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?”
If Heath Ledger’s Joker from 2008’s “The Dark Knight” were placed on a tropical island hellhole, the result would be Vaas. Corrupt, psychological and unpredictable, Vaas provides evidence that game villains can make or break a game.
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