Earlier this week, we reported on the process of creating and designing the iconic look of Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield in the upcoming remake of Resident 2. This got me thinking about how some of the most popular and iconic looks have evolved from their original form to what we see today, and which of those looks are the more recognisable. Some of these characters are pretty well known, even to the general public, who might not know their name or who they are, but will instantly know it comes from a very popular video game.
So here’s a list of six such characters. And I’m not talking about characters that never change such as Mario or Sonic, but rather those that have undergone some kind of an evolution since they were first introduced to the character we see today:
Leon Kennedy – Resident Evil 2 (1998)
The Resident Evil series has been going for quite some time now, so it comes as no surprise that it has one of the biggest and most colourful cast of characters that all inhabit the same universe. None of those characters (except maybe one) is probably as popular as Leon Kennedy, which started as one of the main protagonists of Resident Evil 2. He’s probably also the character that has undergone the biggest evolution of anyone from the series, starting out as a fresh-faced Racoon City Police officer with the worst first day on the job, to a much slicker and deadlier agent we see in Resident Evil 4 and 6. During this time, we saw him undergoing quite a change, from wearing a RCPD uniform to a tight blue shirt and jeans to a leather jacket and button shirt. It is quite a change over the years but none of those are as popular as the original blue police uniform. It is the first thing that pops into my head when I think of Leon, even 20 years later, and there is no doubt that the upcoming remake will cement that sentiment come 2019.
Jill Valentine – Resident Evil (2002 Remake)
Yeah, I know I’m cheating here because I’m using two characters from the same series, but it’s my list, so deal with it. Jill Valentine is probably just as popular, if not more so, than Leon Kennedy. She was after all the very first character we played as because admit it, playing as Chris Redfield was just too damn hard. She too has undergone quite a few changes over the years, with a lot of the later iterations being more revealing and form-fitting outfits and uniforms, but once again, none of those come close to the iconic S.T.A.R.S uniform she had in Resident Evil, more specifically, the remake for the Gamecube in 2002. It is essentially the same look she had in the 1996 original, but because of better graphics, it simple just sticks. Some might argue the “night out on town” she sports in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is more recognizable, but let’s be honest here, we all know and love her for her original iconic look, which we got to see in much better graphics in 2002. Okay, I am done with the Resi series now.
Solid Snake – Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001)
Here’s the thing. I don’t know much about the Metal Gear series. I want to, but I honestly don’t know if I have the time and emotional investment available to go through the drama that is MGS. I do however know that Solid Snake (Or Old Snake, or Big Boss or whatever you want to call him) is the main protagonist of the series. I also know that what is probably his most iconic look is from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, a game where he is ironically not even the main playable character. Now, the hardcore veterans might argue that the look from MGS3 is more iconic, but look at it from my perspective and this whole list might make a bit sense. I never played these games, yet I know that the Greyish Blue suit he wears in MGS2 is instantly more recognisable than the brown camo he has on in MGS3. It is honestly the first thing I think of when someone mentions Snake. That, and Kiefer Sutherland.
Ezio Auditore Da Firenze – Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (2010)
Ezio Auditore is the most popular character of the entire Assassin’s Creed series. He had a certain level of charm and charisma, that we all simply fell in love with, and he had a tremendous character arc from where he was introduced in Assassin’s Creed II to Revelations. He’s also probably the best looking assassin of the entire series, and while I personally liked the look from ACII more, it was his stylish outfit and hooded beard from Brotherhood that is probably the most iconic. We all know that picture, the one where he has his arms across his chest with the exposed blades, you know the one, it’s the one I used as well.
Commander Shepard – Mass Effect 3 (2012)
This is a bit of a strange one, but please bear with me for a moment. From the start of the Mass Effect series in 2007, Commander Shepard has been a bit of a generic looking soldier guy with a short shaven head. It was mostly used for marketing purposes, and you can play as that generic looking dude, but for the most part, the idea was to have a character of your own. It was only in Mass Effect 3 that Shepard really began getting that identity. This was mostly due to the female version finally being used in the marketing, and giving the character that personality it so sorely needed. It was almost strange how the female version not only became instantly identifiable but in a way almost became the face of Shepard in Mass Effect 3. This is not entirely true, but you’d be hard pressed to not find the one when looking for the other.
The Prince – Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2003)
Ezio might be known for his character development and evolution, but he certainly wasn’t the first character designed by Ubisoft that underwent a change. Few changes are probably as dramatic as was the case of the titular Prince, from the Sand of Time trilogy. He went from a charming, friendly and likeable character in Sands of Time, to being moody, angry and aggressive in Warrior Within (2004), back to a friendlier, yet wearier protagonist in Two Thrones (2005). It is, however, his look from the original Sands of Time that is probably the most recognisable with the more stereotypical “Persian” look he has at the beginning of the game, and gradually tearing parts of his shirt off as he progresses, to get to the point that is essentially the boxart. It is his most iconic look and the first thing I think of when I wish I could have a new fresh take on the Prince of Persia series.