Video game characters are known for a lot of things: violence, puzzle-solving abilities, violence, heroism, violence, walking places and feeling sad, violence. What they’re not often known for is their sartorial strengths. Still, there are some characters that do know, and as such should be celebrated. On the other hand, there are those whose fashion crimes are worse than anything else they get up to. So without further ado here are the best (and worst) dressed characters in PC gaming.
Agent 47, Hitman: Season One
A man so sartorially influential that everyone else is inclined to have their clothes tailored to his exact dimensions in case he wants to nick them, 47 is a shining light in a sea of clothes-based catastrophe. His most famous outfit – a single-breasted two-button affair with standard notched lapels, a tasteful inner lining that resembles the colour of deoxygenated blood, and trouser pleats that would have your eye out—is nice enough, but complement it with the sort of shirt that would make Turnbull and Asser (Bond’s favourite) proud and you’ve got something truly wonderful. He even managed to make a short-sleeve shirt work in Sapienza, which could have been full ‘Yir Da’, and for Marrakesh he resembled nothing so much as a (much) balder Maurice Ronet in the first adaptation of The Talented Mr Ripley, Plein Soleil. One thing, though: it’s probably time to ditch the red tie, Mr 47, lest you look like one of A Certain US President’s Praetorian Guard.
Rochelle, Left 4 Dead 2
A simple but effective one, this. While other members of this list may opt for complex looks, sometimes a good t-shirt and jeans is all it takes. Enter Left 4 Dead 2’s Rochelle, who not only is fairly-well attired for zombie killing (what idiot would wear a tie, LOUIS) but it’s also a Depeche Mode shirt. And you can’t have a best of fashion feature and not feature the person wearing a shirt in honour of a band whose name translates to ‘fashion news’. So there.
Emily Kaldwin, Dishonored 2
The devil, they say, is in the details, and Emily Kaldwin’s outfit is proof of that. It must be difficult to cultivate a look which gets across that you’re both a) royalty, and b) well up for murdering everyone, but this does it. Just look at those fasteners, or the facemask, or generally the whole baroque influence. Topping it off is what the cape does to the silhouette, which like all good mullets suggests something different at one end than the other: refined elegance at the collar, blink and you’ll miss it death at the ankle. It’s a strong look, compared to certain real-world heads of state whose outfits approach ‘boxiness level: Goro-sized former NFL player’, and are so visually loud you have to politely ask them to turn them down to hear anything they say.
Manny Calavera, Grim Fandango
Another easy one, this: imagine Humphrey Bogart, but dead. Wait, he is dead. Imagine Humphrey Bogart, but he’s a skeleton. There you go. As Manny proves: a double-breasted white dinner jacket with shawl lapels is something to be seen dead in.
And the worst
Alan Wake, Alan Wake
While pretty much nothing Remedy does is by accident (remember when people missed the fact that this game is about an insomniac called Mr A Wake?) that doesn’t mean that their characters are exempt from having the eye of sartorial judgment fall upon them. Max Payne wore a white shirt under a flowery shirt underneath a leather jacket, but his family had just been killed so we can let that slide: the fact he wore any clothes at all is to be commended. Mr Wake, while no doubt disturbed, has no such excuses: Herringbone tweed over another jacket over a hoody? No, especially when the lapels of the middle jacket are so wide that even John Travolta would consider them ‘rather gauche’.
While the ‘structured tweed over hoody’ look was popular (particularly among uni students) around 2004-5, Wake’s commitment to adding yet more texture makes him look like the sole survivor of an explosion in a particularly low-rent end of season H&M sale. Cracking game, mind.
Max Payne, Max Payne 3
At the beginning of his third go at murdering everyone on the planet, ol’ Max appears to have turned a corner, fashion wise at least. Out are the leathers, in is a slim grey two piece, a lovely white button down (shame about the breast pocket, mind) and a full, thick beard and hair combo which would put him at least third in the search for the winner of ‘Bradley Cooper’s older, drunker brother’ competition. (That exists, totally. I’ve won it twice.)
Sadly, like anything good in Max’s life, this all falls apart after the slightest contact with reality, and by the end he’s plumbed new depths. Out go the suits. Out go the leather jackets. In comes an ensemble sourced from the big ‘n’ tall section of a grade A mental breakdown. The flowery shirt is back, but this time it’s palm trees and parrots. This time there’s a vest—a VEST—which screams 9-1-1. The hair has been shaved, with the beard topping off a look which suggests ‘Bronson’s Day Out.’ The bottoms are khaki, and—whisper it—are also combat trouser. Topping it all off is a set of sunglasses seemingly on loan from Gadaffi, to go along with an imitation Rolex Daytona. Say no more.
Larry Laffer, Leisure Suit Larry
Yeah, yeah: he’s meant to look like this. Well, that’s good character design, not good fashion sense. The eponymous Larry looks like the sort of man whose potent combination of Lynx Africa, Brut, and overwhelming personal disgust means he gives off the sort of fear-inducing aroma which would see him get (at least) a summer internship with the Scarecrow. The flared trousers; the white suit (not even linen, the huckster); the medallion last seen on The Gong Show; the slashed blue ‘dad on the pull’ shirt with a collar boasting the wingspan of an F-15: ghastly business, I’m sure you’ll agree.