I've been playing a lot of Dragon Age II recently and, although I'm only about 20 hours in, I'm already bored of all of the characters. It's not a good state of affairs. Craving a writing hit that matched up to my shimmering nostalgia, I fired up Knights of the Old Republic once again, as I often do when I fear I'm losing the faith, and was instantly reminded why I fell so enormously in love with the game in the first place.
One of my favourite characters of all time - a misanthropic, borderline-psychotic robot - HK-47 is one of those characters that you love to see in any story-driven medium. Polite, urbane, informative, he has all of the stylistic trappings that suggest a protocol droid...until you ask for his advice on how to complete any particular mission and you begin to realise that mass murder is pretty much his one and only modus operandi.
HK-47 is not just an assassin, though. He's a philosopher too. Asked to ruminate upon the nature of love, he'll reply that love is 'making a shot to the knees of a target 120 kilometers away using an Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope'. He'll wax lyrical on determinism and the absolution of responsibility for the crimes he has committed, while displaying an unhealthy glee for the work that he does.
But he's no cardboard cutout of a character. In spite of his homicidal single-mindedness, HK-47 also proves himself to be a loyal and faithful companion to Revan, a fact all the more admirable when we find out later on that the droid had a hand in all of his previous owners' deaths. Upon the final confrontation with Malak, where Revan's memories come flooding back, HK-47 acknowledges the change in his former master - but notes that he's still fully capable of merciless action when required, and that this is a good thing. Moreover the droid expresses regret at not being able to defend Revan from Malak's betrayal.
But it's not so much his backstory that I find myself interested in. Rather than assembling my party based on complimentary skills and strengths, I found myself drawn towards certain styles of play, not to mention Dark Side decisions, because I absolutely had to have HK-47 in my squad wherever possible. Not so much for his firepower, but rather because I didn't want to miss a single line of dialogue. BioWare have always been lauded on the strength of their characters, but so very often it's easy to see the template they use from game to game.
For me, though, HK-47 was that rarest piece of character gold: the quintessential, award-winning supporting figure, playing his part to absolute perfection. A good chunk of the accolades must go to Kristoffer Tabori, whose portrayal of the droid is masterful to say the least. Exhibiting just as much knowledge and authority as Anthony Daniels' golden counterpart did in the films, but from a wholly different, morbidly humorous angle.
He's also responsible for arguably the best insult ever uttered by an AI character. That's right, I'm talking about you...meatbags!