While we might remember a game's sprawling levels, high-powered weapons or snazzy graphics every so often, it's the characters that tend to stick in our heads.
Whether it's empathy for a protagonist or pure disdain for an immoral baddie, our feelings toward them are often subconsciously based on our own life experiences and determine the choices we make in games. Not that we've ever grabbed a crowbar and eradicated an entire research facility overrun by Xen while wearing an orange HEV suit in real life, but you know what we mean.
As part of our annual PC Gaming Week, techradar takes a look at a few of our most loved and hated PC characters past and present.
Salwa Azar - Social Media Editor
Loved: Kain - Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (pictured)
One of the most enduring vampire-game characters yet, Kain was the ultimate pawn in a tale of mythic woe and epic battle. The character had a rich story that came to plenty of twists and turns and it even spawned a sequel.
Hated: Booker De Witt - Bioshock Infinite
Very few characters have left me feeling like I wished I never played a game, except that of Booker De Witt from Bioshock Infinite. He felt wimpish and helpless, which as the main protagonist, and coming from the brutal existence of Big Daddies in the previous game, felt like a tall shock of meh as I flopped around the world of Columbia.
John McCann - Mobile Phones Deputy Editor
Loved: Big Bertha - Total Annihilation
Not strictly a character, as Big Bertha was actually a Level 3 tower from top notch strategy war game Total Annihilation. It shared a person's name and a shot which could send highly explosive plasma shells to the other side of the map. I fell in love with Biggy B - we had so many wonderful adventures together, me and my tactical siege weapon.
Hated: Kane, Brotherhood of Nod - Command & Conquer (pictured)
That bald head, smug grin and absolutely criminal goatee gets my blood boiling every time - and that's before we've even addressed his truly horrific "acting". Also, get getter lighting, man. Half of your face is almost always in shadow - what sort of two-bit operation are you running over there?
Kane Fulton - Computing Editor
Loved: Fin Fin - Fin Fin on Teo
Fin Fin was a flying green dolphin-bird that starred in its own game at the height of the Tamagotchi craze in 1997. My first PC game, Fin Fin used to fly into view when I spoke into my PC's microphone. At the beginning, he would perch on a nearby branch to nip fruit out of my virtual hand and sing a song under the stars. At least, he did for a while, anyway. Like a cat, he began disappearing for days at a time. Flicking through the fictional world of Teo's various locations, I would sometimes find him in a cave or splashing around in a watering hole. But that was rare. His absences lengthening, Fin Fin grew distant. My green pal hardly ever visited. He became indifferent to my fruit offerings and his jovial birdsong faded over time. In the end, I was left whispering into the mic like a defeated librarian while staring into the empty forest. I miss you, Fin Fin. Please come home. (Sadface.)
Hated: Claptrap - Borderlands (pictured)
Borderlands' aptly-named character is meant to be annoying, which is of little consolation to me. CL4P-TP, to give the loquacious cycloptic robot its proper name, is the very worst type of companion a game can place by your side. Whether he's questioning what it would be like to have a belly-button, making farting-slash-beatboxing noises or dashing headlong into danger (every five minutes, then), I found myself constantly wanting to throw him off the nearest cliff. Fallout 4's Dogmeat is just as stupid, but at least he can't speak.
Cameron Faulkner - Mobile Editor, US
Loved: User-created avatars
I love stepping into the shoes of just about any random hero, but not as much as I enjoy creating my own character. The task of making myself in digital form is daunting, but super fun. Each hack, slash and random decision in a game has that much more weight to it when you inject yourself into the world.
Hated: Boomer, Left 4 Dead & L4D2 (pictured)
The Boomer is a signature character from Valve's hit zombie-shooting FPS series, Left 4 Dead, but for me, its notoriety comes from places both good and bad. First off, it totally fits the vibe and it a horrifying creature. But, man, I hate it. Its sole purpose is to screw you over by waiting around corners and barfing on you, which attracts a horde of zombies all at once. It makes popping it off from a distance all the more satisfying.
Patrick Goss - Editor
Loved: Barney - Half-Life (pictured)
Anyone who starts from generic security guard and becomes a lead character is pretty awesome, but even if you skate over the (brilliant) Half Life: Blue Shift add on, Barney is a pivotal figure in the Half Life world. A leader of the revolution is cool, but the man who throws Gordon Freeman his fricking crowbar in HL2...Epic. "Now, about that drink I owe you…"
Hated: The Hostages - Counter-Strike 1.4
Don't get stuck, don't get stuck, don't get...FFS!!!111oneoneone *ragequit*
Matt Hanson - How To Editor
Loved: Guybrush Threepwood - Monkey Island series (pictured)
Guybrush is the loveable everyman who just wants to be a pirate…but he's not very good at it. The fact that he fails so miserably at his dreams really endears him to me, and in the end he still marries the love of his life. Losers can still win!
Hated: The Bank Manager - Theme Park
I love theme parks, and when I discovered Bullfrog's classic sim game Theme Park, I was in love. I was able to build the amusement park of my dreams! Filled with vomit-inducing rides and brain-scrambling rollercoasters! Well, that was the plan.
Sadly, building and maintaining rides comes at a cost, and if you spend too much time placing rides and designing themed parts of your park (otherwise known as 'the fun stuff') and not enough time micromanaging staff salaries or altering how much salt you put on the fries (the more salt = thirstier guests, making them pay for a drink as well), you'd soon get a meeting with the bank manager, telling you you've run out of money. Thankfully a few choice cheat codes would keep the bank at bay - why doesn't that work in real life?
Joe Osborne - Senior Editor
Loved: Minsc and Boo - Baldur's Gate series
He's one of the most beloved and recognizable characters of PC gaming history! From the voice work done for him to the script-writing, BioWare managed to somehow make a both menacing warrior and a loveable goof out of a single character.
Hated: Arthas Menethil - The Lich King (Warcraft series)
Talk about a poorly developed descent into madness. Without reading a novel or two, there's little knowing why exactly Arthas decided to forsake every teaching of his holy order and become its antithesis. Plus, I spent a good few, hair-pulling months trying to ice this guy – get it? Eh? – in World of Warcraft.
Kevin Lee - Associate Editor, US
Loved: Mordin Solus - Mass Effect 2 & 3 (pictured)
With most scientifically inclined characters you get a pretty one dimensional nerd. For the most part Mordin follows the stereotype with his fast talking, analytical and quirky personality. However, the depth of his character goes much deeper with a strong sense of guilt and regret, which fuels his desire to help others from starting a clinic and ultimately sacrificing himself.
Hated: Kefka - Final Fantasy VI
You might not remember FFVI being PC game, but technically came to Steam last December – so there. Anyway, Kefka is arguably the greatest video game villain of all time. While the big bad in most games are just there as comedic relief, Kefka has committed genocide twice over, burned down cities and essentially becomes god by the middle of the game. It's rare to see the good guys lose and that's exactly what happens in FFVI, and the cost is billions of lives, which all adds up to make Kefka one of the most hated video game characters in history.
Marc Chacksfield - Managing Editor
Loved: Big Daddy - Bioshock (pictured)
That sound, that slow, suffering sound. Big Daddy could have been one of the most annoying characters in a gaming franchise but he ended up being one of the best for me, thanks to not just the look of the character but the whole thinking behind it. The idea that there's this monster encased in a diving suit, dealt a card that means they forever protect the little sisters from the real monsters of Rapture. And they had a drill for a hand, which will never not be awesome.
Hated: Johnny Cage - Mortal Kombat
Johnny was the worst character in Mortal Kombat but put him in any franchise and he would still be the worst. If I could sum up what's annoying about Cage, it would be everything: his stupid fist pump, the way he puts his glasses on when he wins a fight, his splits special move… then in later sequels to the game he has a tattoo of his name on his chest. Which goes to show that he isn't just a terrible fighter but a Grade A tool.
Gabe Carey - Contributing Editor & Producer
Loved: Chloe - Life Is Strange (pictured)
Life Is Strange is one of my favorite games ever despite being a "hella" poor attempt at pandering to teenage girls. While the main character, Max, is painfully vanilla, there's something of a redeeming quality about her best friend Chloe. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for blue hair and tragic backstories.
Hated: Jason Brody - Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 came out when I was in high school, and I was super pumped for it. At the time, I adored the story. I regret to say I found the characters relatable and the story engaging. That is, until I went back to play it last week. The opening scene of the game explains with minimal dialogue why I despise Jason Brody. He's a fraternity-born douche hat with unbridled access to an arsenal of guns, and I hate myself for ever thinking he was cool.
The TechRadar hive mind. The Megazord. The Voltron. When our powers combine, we become 'TECHRADAR STAFF'. You'll usually see this author name when the entire team has collaborated on a project or an article, whether that's a run-down ranking of our favorite Marvel films, or a round-up of all the coolest things we've collectively seen at annual tech shows like CES and MWC. We are one.