When it comes to popular gaming clichés, 'Space Marines' are right up there with zombies, turrets and third person cover mechanics. Enormous armoured brutes with massive guns make for easy cookie cutter protagonists, but the simple fact of the matter is that they're great fun to play as. Enormous Armour. Massive guns. Sold.
It's about time we took a look at the most shamelessly brash, most overwhelmingly powerful and flat-out most badass Space Marines that videogames have given us, and ranked them in order of empircal, scientific awesomeness.
Oh, and sorry Gears fans, but Marcus Fenix isn't a space marine. Because he doesn't go into space. Moving on...
10: Rico Velasquez [Killzone]
"What the f*ck's a Shakespeare?!"
Rico doesn't mince words. Instead, he minces Helghast into a fine paste with honking great guns, and tends to ignore anything that doesn't involve mincing Helghast into a fine paste with honking great guns. Some seriously poor scripting aside, we're big fans of the dumb galoot.
9: Captain Titus [Space Marine]
Captain Titus is another uncomplicated hero. He loves shooting heretics, chainsawing Orks and generally splattering the enemies of the Emperor over as wide an area as possible.
Sadly, controlling Titus never quite feels quite as powerful and awesome as it should. He never quite delivers the sense of empowerment or raw, brutal skill that you'd expect from a veteran warrior of the Imperium. Don't worry though, Warhammer fans, because Relic were also on hand to provide another true Space Marine who's much higher up the list.
8: Boba Fett [Star Wars Battlefront 2]
Stormtroopers make fairly lousy Space Marines, don't they? Their armour can't stop anything more powerful than a soft breeze, their accuracy is terrible and their ineptitude seems to be the product of years of clone inbreeding.
But it's worth playing as them in Star Wars Battlefront for the beautiful and brief moments where you can control Boba Fett, who merrily jetpacks around the battlefield handing out explosive death to all and sundry, a bit like a Mandalorian Santa.
7: Sergeant Johnson [Halo]
Good old Avery Johnson is the quintessential space marine... because he's based on the quintessential space marine. He's a
blatant ripoff loving homage to Aliens' Sergeant Apone, bringing his trademark cigar-chewing, ass-kicking, jingo-spewing, one liner-cracking persona into the grim battle for Earth and her colonies.
However, Bungie also created another Space Marine: a cyborg who redefined gaming forever. And no, I'm not talking about the Chief. I'm taking about...
6: The Tenth Mjolnir Cyborg [Marathon]
Master Chief may be pretty handy in a fight, but in terms of raw badassery, we've got to omit him from the list in favour of Marathon's security officer. Bungie's original cyborg hero takes the fight to the slaving Pfhor without backup or advanced weaponry, even resorting to using his spiked knuckle-dusters to reduce his enemies into piles of gory glop.
It's never explicitly stated, but poring over the sprawling Marathon canon reveals that the Security Officer is probably a Mjolnir Battleroid: a reanimated cybernetic shambling corpse with artificial memories and strength far exceeding any normal human. Whatever he is, he kicks alien ass to an insane degree and became a God at the end of the universe. Pretty good going, really.
5: Davian Thule [Dawn Of War II]
What's the one thing more badass than a legendary Blood Raven commander who's crushed legions of xenos and heretics beneath Ceramite heel?
One who's been interred in a Dreadnought, that's what. Thule is less of a man and more of a Main Battle Tank, an inexorable force of destruction that slaughters anything stupid enough to engage his chapter in futile combat. What's more, his constant source of tactical advice and immunity to Chaos corruption makes him a steadfast instrument of the Emperor's vengeance.
4: Commander Shephard [Mass Effect]
Commander Shephard is one of gaming's best protagonists, hands-down. Players can invest themselves fully into his each and every action; shaping the galaxy through conversation as well as the business end of a shotgun.
I shouldn't have to tell you how thoroughly badass Commander Shephard is. If you don't already know, go and play Mass Effect immediately. Come back once you've completed Virmire.
3: Bitterman [Quake II]
Our recent love-in with Quake II ought to tell you why Bitterman is a truly epic Space Marine. From the moment he sets foot on Stroggos, he's a one-man army capable of bringing the alien empire to its knees, decimating their forces and brutally murdering their Makron. He makes other FPS characters look a bit pathetic, to be totally honest. And all without a single one-liner or laborious, tortured cutscene.
Sadly, it seems that Bitterman comes to a bit of a sticky end if you take Quake III as canon (which I wouldn't advise). He receives years of Strogg experiments rather than a hero's welcome - and frankly, he deserves more babes than Duke Nukem.
2: Samus Aran [Metroid]
They don't make 'em like they used to. Samus is one of gaming's original space marines and is still one of the very best. Regardless of what planet she lands on and what missions she's tasked with, her enemies scatter and die in the face of overwhelming evolving firepower.
What makes Samus truly iconic is that her gender doesn't affect the way she's portrayed. It doesn't matter, since she's just a badass professional who gets the job done in the face of overwhelming odds. We'll forget about Metroid: Other M for the moment, though.
1: Sam Gideon [Vanquish]
Sam Gideon is one of the most legendary badasses in gaming history. This DARPA agent leads the last-ditch assault on a Microwave platform to save Earth from total conquest, using his insanely powerful A.R.S. armour to annihilate legions of enemies, move faster than sound and kick massive robots square in the face. He's got the power of an Abrams Tank and the speed of a Formula One car... not to mention a gun that can copy any weapon and use any ammunition. And a steady supply of smokes.
Discuss: Gideon could take down anyone else on this list in less than ten seconds. And what's more, he could probably take them all on at once.
But we're not shallow here at Dealspwn, and what really endears us to Sam is his personality. He's like a cross between Solid Snake and Nathan Drake (Solid Drake?) - delivering some classic one-liners yet never wavering from the mission at hand. Sam frequently goes above and beyond to save fellow marines in the midst of heated combat, giving him a heart of gold encased in a glorious mechanical suit.
That's your lot, guys, but badassery is definitely in the eye of the beholder. Get involved in the comments!