This dilogy of PSP exclusives can be called a complete opposite of the GTA franchise. Instead of a car stealer, you are a ruthless cop. You don't steal cars just for lulz, you do it for the sake of the mission. You don't arrest the criminals, you throw them away from the driver seats at full speed! The games are great, and while the main character doesn't have any kind of personality (I guess, that's because you are supposed to identify yourself with him), he's lucky to star in two most jam-packed, high-octane collections of police action cliches that ever graced the video games.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I hardly care about The Legend Of Zelda. I know of its wild popularity and huge fanbase, but nothing about these series had managed to appeal to me personally. Ys I&II Chronicles, on the other hand, blew my mind. It combined beautiful setting, intriguing storyline and extremely memorable cast, led by the semi-silent protagonist. Back in the 80s Adol was a template of what later came to be all the modern hack-n-slash game characters, bringing down tons of monsters and bosses... and having three ladies go after him within one game!
God Of War happens to be the first ultimately successful video game franchise based on the Greek mythology. All the entries were extremely fun and gory mix between action-adventure and hack-n-slash, full of QTEs, giant bosses and not-that-censored T&A. And then there's the protagonist... Kratos is vicious, brutal, but somewhat streetwise (if this term can be applied to the ancient Greece) in his adventures. He doesn't have much to say, but his facial expressions and the Blades Of Chaos do all talk for him, and they talk business.
I REALLY had to put at lest one ninja here, right? Ryu's path to glory began back in the days of NES, when Tecmo has released the first Ninja Gaiden trilogy. The games were hard as Satan's horn and driven by thrilling anime cutscenes - check 'em out if you're for some oldschool action. Then the new series emerged on Xbox and subsequently on PS3, making Ryu do one of the loudest comebacks in history. And it's great - where else can you play as a ninja who slays the hordes of both the demons and military force, has a strongly written character and (in the newer games) a cast of scantily clad chicks backing him up?
Duke Nukem of the modern era. Starring in a wildly popular series of third person shooters, Marcus is a living incarnation of the term 'badass'. He's armor-clad up to his neck, he says 'Nice' when picks up ammnition, and there is a chainsaw attached to his sidearm. In Gears 2 he even has some interesting dialogue to say, which makes him not only a badass hero, but a badass hero with personality.
Again, it's the same situation as with Jill Valentine in the Top 10 Video Game Ladies list. Leon is lucky to star in two most praised Resident Evil entries, both often being regarded as the best in the series. From a scared rookie cop in RE2 to a cocky G-man in RE4, he sure knows his ways with the undead, not to mention that unlike RE2, his adventure in the fourth game was even Metal Gear Solid-esque at times, making him a definitive horror/action protagonist. If only that horrible CG film wasn't made, he'd be way higher on this list.
When it comes to male protagonists, Castlevania series has its proud roster of both the badass vampire hunters and menacing villains. Of all the games, Symphony Of The Night is forever considered to be the biggest and the best, with its Metroid-style gameplay that even Konami themselves were unable to perfect yet. One of the main reasons behind its success was in fact the main character. How can you go wrong with Dracula's son carrying a whole armory and magic spells library with him? Alucard is dark, stylish and powerful as fuck, regaining health from the monsters' blood and destroying the bosses 50 times his size. Plus, he is one of the extremely rare occasions when the American voice acting really outdoes Japanese, which also gives him some bonus dignity points.
What started as a fun platforming game (with its infamous 'You can't play that on Nintendo!' line), in 1996 grew up to be a landmark in first-person shooters. Duke Nukem 3D changed the way these games are made, introducing the legendary Build engine, as well as subtle irony and in-your-face sense of humor, half-naked strippers and levels jam-packed with triggers, puzzles and interactive elements. But it's the main character we all remember and love - Duke always has something to say about everything that happens onscreen, but his catchphrases perfectly balance the line between funny and annoying. Everybody in the world tried to replicate this, sometimes even successfully (Serious Sam), but still Duke Nukem is the most well-known video game character-with-an-attitude.
You won't argue that of all the Metal Gear protagonists (all two, yeah) he is the best. It was an ingenious move to give him the typical villain image up until the phenomenal MGS3 that redefined him as a badass action hero, infusing the best from both James Bond and John Rambo. Alone in the woods at the hostile Soviet territory, with no means of survival, having to eat rats (and considering them tasty... yuck!) and witnessing a nuclear explosion at the closest safe range possible... that's only 5% of his larger-than-life adventure. MGS Portable Ops and Peace Walker only beefed up his badass nature up until the point of him receiving the 2nd spot on this list.
Holy molars... This is one rampant AI that truly holds megabytes, and megabytes, and MEGABYTES of balls in his source code. In Marathon 1 alone he makes so many historical and mythological references that no Call Of Duty will ever surpass. You don't see him, you don't even hear him, he doesn't cover you, the most physical contact you have is picking up ammunition teleported by him right at the nearest corner. You don't even see his mainframe up until Marathon 2. You just read what he says to you, and the more interesting things come to his mind, the more you feel that your own mind is about to explode. It seems like Durandal knows everything about everything, he explores your whole inner sanctum right at the moment you first respond to his email. It's a revolutionary character - in an FPS, no less - that's frequently imitated nowadays, but while the impostors were pretty fun (SHODAN, GLaDOS), nobody can top the man itself. Durandal... I'm taking off my firewall before you.