So let's spice things up with a little cheer and optimism, as we list the most badass, lovable and just plain good protagonists who've arrived this generation. Introducing, The Top Ten 7th Gen Protagonists!
Let's kick things off with Platinum Games' shape-shifting, alluringly-proportioned witch, Bayonetta. She might not be the most well-written character - although it's much better to be so-bad-it's-good rather than just plain bad - but when you can summon dragons made of mystical hair and beat ten shades of holiness from demonic cherubs, you deserve a place on our list!
9. Cole McGrath
inFamous' crackling protagonist won over many a gamer's heart in 2009, with his so-gravelly-I-make-Christian-Bale-sound-like-a-schoolgirl voice and bald noggin. Despite his design being plucked from Superheroes 101, Cole was an eminently likable character whose journey you truly felt a part of. When Cole discovered a new power, fizzing in his palms, you experienced the same electrifying rush of possibility and potential.
Bolstered by superb writing and - at the time - revolutionary mo-capping for a videogame, Nariko was our first glimpse at how far storytelling had come with the next-generation. Equal parts bold and vulnerable, Nariko's terminal plight to put an end to an evil warlord intent on conquering the world was a predictable fable, but such was the quality of her characterization, it didn't matter.
7. Greyson Hunt
While I might have been burnt by the overall experience in Bulletstorm, I can't deny I fell head over heels in love with Greyson Hunt. His crude wit and sandpaper charm - provided by voice-over legend, Steve Blum - provided a much-needed anchor point in the plot, amid Epic's misguided attempts at parodying the shooter model whilst at the same time telling the most generic of stories.
6. Marcus Fenix
Another Epic effort, I can't deny how much I like Marcus Fenix. While at first I was skeptical - I've been hurt before... - I soon came around to his gruff charm and no-nonsense attitude. We've watched him escape incarceration at the hands of his own military to ascending the ranks once again and putting a stop to not one, but two potentially catastrophic Locust invasions. I'd just love to know what's under that do-rag.
5. Ezio Auditore Da Firenze
When he's not charming the tunics off young maidens, Ezio Auditore Da Firenze is out enduring the Italian sun under his bulky-looking assassins outfit, sticking carefully concealed blades in corrupt bureaucrats throats and swan-diving off historical monuments. Just for the fun of it. What's not to love? Ezio is an eminently likable protagonist, with understated writing and a compelling arc, growing from a vengeful young man to a wise master assassin. Bravo.
4. Commander Shepard
Unlike the rest of this list, Shepard is a character you created. You chose his or her look, their history, their choice of clothing and weaponry. You made bold choices with grave consequences, ultimately determining the fate of the universe. Maybe you were kind and compassionate, imparting wisdom and help in equal measure? Or maybe you kicked thugs out windows in the middle of conversations. Either way, you were great!
3. Niko Bellic
Eschewing their larger-than-life protagonists of old, Rockstar opted for a far more human character to fill the slot in Grand Theft Auto IV. Niko Bellic, an American immigrant harboring a shady past, isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. He'll eventually amass quite the body-count, too. But despite his questionable morals, you couldn't help but love the guy. Who doesn't grow bored of driving taxis?
2. John Marston
Niko paved the way, but it was John Marston who truly fulfilled Rockstar's promise and ambition. Developers are often worried their heroes aren't badass enough, so they throw as many quips and catch-phrases our way in an effort to conceal that from us. But not Rockstar. Sporting a gruesome scar on one cheek, an unreadable expression and murky past, John Marston exuded a calm, almost warm persona. Even when he was holding men at gunpoint!
1. Nathan Drake
It was a tough choice deciding first place. And whereas Marston's understated charm almost nicked it, I just can't deny Nathan Drake the commendation he deserves. It helps when the best in the biz give you state-of-the-art tech and a wonderful voice-actor to bring heart and soul to your virtual body, but Drake is more than the sum of his parts. He's a living, breathing character, the love-child of Indiana Jones and Mal Reynolds. A lovable rogue with a heart of gold who doesn't mind the old rough and tumble now and again. Preferably with less tumbling.
So tell us, Dealspwners, who's your favorite protagonist? We miss anyone out? Don't be shy now! We'll have a list of the worst for you same time next week!