Videogame assassins are the best assassins. The sheer variety on display is staggering. From your standard stoic man in suit and your typical femme fatalef, right through to the stranger end of the spectrum that deals with killer robots and aliens who pray for their victims – we have an assassin for you my friend.
As such, it’s about time we shone a spotlight on some of the more glamorous murderers in gaming. Please do remember that here in the real world, killing is never okay. But if you’re in control of one of these stylish, cold blooded hitmen (and hitwomen), it’s laughs aplenty.
Nina Williams (Tekken)
Okay, so you never actually get to take control of Nina Williams as she goes about her murdery business, but she is one of the most popular characters in Tekken, and her job description puts her down as an assassin – that’s good enough for me.
Nina holds the distinction of having appeared in every Tekken game to date, and she’s set to wreck shit up in the upcoming Tekken 7, too. She also stars in her very own spinoff game, Death By Degrees, which isn’t a deadly educational game about protractors and angles, as the name might suggest.
Death By Degrees wasn’t very good, funnily enough. Still, we all love Tekken – and that’s what counts.
Rikimaru is described as a “master ninja” which pretty much instantly makes him one of the coolest characters in videogame land. Trained by the bloke who killed his mum and dad, he soon became a pretty badass assassin in his own right.
He first appeared in the excellent Tenchu: Stealth Assassins for the PlayStation back in 1998, and soon became a firm favourite among gamers. It’s funny what starring in a great game will do for your popularity.
Many critics actually credit Rikimaru and Tenchu with shaping the PlayStation era stealth action game way before a certain Mr Snake came on the scene. That’s some pretty big praise.
Corvo Attano (Dishonored)
Corvo Attano is definitely one of the cooler looking chaps on this list. Just look at that mask. Functional and stylish. That’s a fine line to walk.
Attano first appeared in Bethesda’s Dishonored. Our boy was a bodyguard for the Empress until he was framed for her murder and imprisoned. Unsurprisingly, Attano breaks out of prison and the game follows him as he seeks revenge against the douchebags who framed him.
Attano has a range of awesome gadgets and tools that make him an 11/10 assassin in stealth and direct combat situations. He’s also got the ability to stop time, run faster, jump higher, and love harder. Not that last one, though.
Gray Fox/Cyborg Ninja (Metal Gear Solid)
It doesn’t matter if he’s going by Gray Fox or Cyborg Ninja – both names are fucking awesome (and kind of sound like overpriced hipster ales).
But seriously, the first fight against Cyborg Ninja in Metal Gear Solid was a harrowing experience for many a child. Who can forget walking into that room and seeing the bloody corpses slumped against the walls? I remember slowly realising that whatever had done that was coming for me, and I wept.
Oh, and he makes Otacon literally piss his pants, which was pretty funny. And firing off as many bullets as you could at the bastard, only to have him effortlessly swat them away with his sword? Fuck.
HK-47 (Knights Of The Old Republic)
There are some pretty sick assassins on this list, but only one can brag about taking out Jedi Knights for a living. HK-47 was a Sith assassin droid specifically created to hunt down and kill Jedi. I would give a year of my life to see him get his own spin-off film.
This devilish droid appeared in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel, and soon became a fan favourite for his wonderfully dry and hateful sense of humour. Enjoy some of his best bits below.
Despite the fact that he’s been reprogrammed not to run around murdering Jedi, he still displays a healthy passion for violence and casually refers to humans as “meatbags”. Robot racism. Wonderful.
Thane (Mass Effect)
Thane comes from that category of assassins who don’t really seem to enjoy what they do. To him it’s more of a burden, and he always prays for his victims before killing them, which is quite thoughtful. Not as thoughtful as just not killing them – but what can you do?
Are you ready for the irony though? Thane is actually dying, and feels guilty about the fact that he’s gone and done a load of murder. As a result, he decides to join up with Commander Shepard in his quest to save the galaxy… and kill quite a few people on the way.
Thane is also a potential romantic interest in the game (but only if you picked a female Shepard, which is a bit backwards). Still, if you ever fancy seducing a scaly alien assassin with eyes as black as night, Mass Effect is the game for you.
The Smiths (Killer 7)
Killer 7 is an incredibly stylish game from 2005 that follows an assassin with split personality who can physically transform into one of (you guessed it) seven deadly killers.
Each of the seven assassins are wildly different characters, and were actually their own men/women at one point. That’s until the elderly Harman Smith absorbed each of their souls after they died, because that’s what he does. It’s a weird game, to be honest, maybe play it and see for yourself.
Killer 7 is an often overlooked gem, and if you can look past the convoluted plot and downright strange concept, there’s a lot of fun to be had with one of videogame’s most unique assassins.
Travis Touchdown (No More Heroes)
No More Heroes Travis Touchdown has what is arguably one of the coolest videogame weapons of all time – the beam katana, and he uses it to gleefully slice his way through a group of deadly assassins and rise though the ranks.
Somewhere between a Quentin Tarantino creation and your typical “nerd” anime character, Travis is one of the more unconventional assassins on the list. He’s as far removed from the serious Thane and the cold blooded Agent 47 as you can get. That doesn’t stop him from slicing his way to the top, though.
Travis usually uses his contract kill earnings to buy anime, action figures, and pornography, just like I’m sure we all would in the same position.
Ezio Auditore (Assassin’s Creed)
It’d be a bit of a dick move to put together a list on videogame assassins and not include one of the characters from Assassin’s Creed. Ezio Auditore takes the top spot because he’s easily the most interesting of the bunch, and the most popular among fans of the franchise.
In typical Assassin’s Creed fashion, his story is a complicated weave of conspiracy, murder, revenge, and lots of stabbing. Still, he probably has the better arc out of any of the other characters from the series, and we get to follow his exploits across multiple games, from brash young man to an aged retired assassin.
Plus, he gets to fight the Pope. How many people get to fight the Pope? Not many, my friend. Not many.
Agent 47 (Hitman)
Agent 47 is easily the suavest motherfucker going, and in so many ways is the definitive assassin. Cold, calculating, silent and deadly, this isn’t a silly alien from space or a trash talking robot. This is a guy that will straight up walk in to a room, find his target, single them out and garrote them in the bathroom.
Agent 47 is the ultimate avatar assassin, a bald blank slate for you to project yourself onto. You can always count on him to approach your targets in a myriad of ways, giving the player the freedom of choice to pick off victims in a manner of their choosing.
With the new episodic Hitman game kicking off this month, we’ll be getting even larger sanboxes in which to play – and kill loads of people, in creative ways of course. Isn’t that what getting to play as these assassins is all about?
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.