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God from the Machine: Five Cybernetically Awesome Video Game Characters

God from the Machine: Five Cybernetically Awesome Video Game Characters   (photo)

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One of science fiction’s greatest promises is the melding of man and machine. For decades, authors and creators have imagined what humans would be like with all of our free will bonded to inexhaustible carbon alloys or polymers that would replace bone and muscle. Of course, the question arises as to just how human a person is when silicon circuitry commingles with blood circulation.

In some fictions, there’s no angst whatsoever, Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers seemed pretty well-adjusted for being 40% (or whatever) robot, in the classic 1970s TV series “The Six-Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman.” On the other hand, “Robocop” showed future Chicago police officer Alex Murphy’s humanity as deeply submerged under all that plating.

In video games, cyborgs have prowled the virtual worlds of arcade machines and home consoles since almost the very beginning. “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” features Adam Jensen, the latest machine-augmented hero in the storied cyberpunk franchise. Jensen follows in the footsteps of J.C. Denton, the protagonist of the original Deus Ex. While both seek to root conspiracies in their stories, Jensen’s tech is a generation or two behind Denton’s, since “DXHR” is a prequel to the 2000 release. These two characters aren’t alone, though. Below, you’ll find a list of some of the most memorable bionic warriors to show up in video games.

Nate ‘Rad’ Spencer from “Bionic Commando”

If he’s not the first cyborg hero in video game history, then he’s definitely the most memorable. The 1987 arcade title featured a special agent The gimmick in Bionic Commando was that the playable character couldn’t jump–a rarity in those days–and instead had to navigate the game’s tiered platforms with the grapple hook attached to his arm. The excellent “Bionic Commando Rearmed” remake in 2008 hit the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, and the downloadble hit featured co-op play so two people could get their hook on. (There was also a modern, gritty 3D update in 2009 that, frankly, sucked.)

The Big Daddies from “BioShock”

Any game rises and falls by its antagonists and one of the reasons that “BioShock” is regarded as a classic is because of the Big Daddies. These hulking monstrosities had their organs transplanted into armored diving suits so that they could protect the creepy Little Sisters who harvest the ADAM substance require for genetic splicing. You often heard them before you saw them in the iconic underwater city of Rapture and any encounter with them was brutal and often humiliating. “BioShock 2” casts you as a prototype Big Daddy with free who searched for the Little Sister he was once paired with. For as much as they’re fearsome figures, the Daddies are also a pitiable example of the cyborg’s lost humanity.

Master Chief from “Halo”

Arguably the most recognizable cyborg in all of video games, the hero of Microsoft’s “Halo” franchise is the one-man army players control in a massive war against an invading alien collective. Also known as John-117, he’s the last of the Spartans, cybernetic supersoldiers who represented humanity’s best hope against the Covenant, a marauding alliance of various extraterrestrial races. The Chief is a terse character, but shows some depth when relating to Cortana, the AI who guides him through most of the games. Microsoft’s putting out “Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary” to celebrate the 10th birthday of the game that started it all. And the Chief’s story will continue in “Halo 4,” announced this year at E3.

Jax from “Mortal Kombat”

Magic gets all the attention in the gory, long-running fighting series but the human warriors of Earthrealm have a few super-science stalwarts who can hold their own against Outworld’s demons. Chief amongst them is Major Jackson Briggs, better known as Jax. He’s a special ops agent who gets embroiled in the extradimensional conflict while searching for his partner, the leggy and lethal Sonya Blade. Jax’s robot arms give him superhuman strength and the ability to launch ranged enemy attacks. His Fatality finishers generally involve pounding the stuffing out of the poor fool who lost their fight, proving that this guy’s gun show is no joke.

Yoshimitsu from “Tekken”

Ninja + robot parts = awesome. The bionic shadow warrior in Namco’s hallowed martial arts franchise conforms the Robin Hood archetype and his reasons for entering the King of Iron Fist tournament usually have to do with fist-to-face wealth distribution. The radical changes in Yoshimitsu’s appearance from game to game get explained as various redesigns of his chassis. He’s the only character in the game who wields a weapon which make him just a bit cooler than the rest of “Tekken” crew.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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