Best Character: GLaDOS and Wheatley (tie), Portal 2
It’s rare to be honouring two characters for this Aggie award in tandem. It’s similarly rare to be recognizing two characters that aren’t even alive, at least in the traditional sense. Welcome to the world of Portal 2 and the stars of its demented show, GLaDOS and Wheatley. The former was the stand-out star of the original game, whose scathingly funny taunts and insults return for an even more impressive encore in the sequel. We’re used to megalomaniacal evil-doers with nefarious plans of domination, but what makes GLaDOS such a different take on the archetypical villain is that she can do just as much damage with one lash of her barbed, computerized tongue. Conspicuously absent at the beginning of the game, she later takes center stage to lay down another healthy dose of backhanded cruelty, and we loved every sadistic minute of it. And yet GLaDOS also shows a very “human” side, even as her appearance devolves from towering mechanized robot to a… well, you’d just have to see it to believe it.
This time around, proving every bit her equal is Wheatley, the bumbling companion who accompanies you on some of your travels through Aperture Science. A round metal ball, he’s the first character you meet and sets the tone for the game beautifully, innocently declaring that “you’re proof that brain damaged people are the real heroes.” To call him merely a sidekick would be doing Wheatley a disservice, though at first he follows you through the crumbling structural mazes, sometimes aiding and other times hindering your progress. Before long he becomes much more than that, however, setting the wheels in motion for a game-spanning battle of wills with Aperture’s reigning A.I. From that point on it’s GLaDOS vs. Wheatley, Wheatley vs. GLaDOS, with us caught in the middle, right to the bitter end of a final confrontation. Sort of like this Aggie award. The difference is, we never could decide which of the two came out on top. Though not voted in as a pair, there’s just so little separating them that the two finished in a dead heat, fated to go down in history as the first co-winners of our Best Character category.
Runners-Up: Wilbur Weathervane (The Book of Unwritten Tales), Doc Brown (Back to the Future), Critter (The Book of Unwritten Tales), Harvey (Edna & Harvey: The Breakout)
Readers’ Choice: Wilbur Weathervane, The Book of Unwritten Tales
How can you not love a shy, adorable little Welsh-accented gnome who bravely confronts his fears with the fate of the world resting in his hands? You readers were certainly fond of Wilbur Weathervane, voting him the top character of the year in an extraordinarily competitive race that settled lots of in-game debates along the way (Wheatley over GLaDOS; Sam over Styles; Doc over Marty; Harvey over Edna; Joey over Rosa; and Missile over Sissel).
Runners-Up: Hector (Hector: Badge of Carnage), Wheatley (Portal 2), GLaDOS (Portal 2), Samantha Everett (Gray Matter)
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Next up: Best Gameplay... the envelope, please!